Intriguing Food Stalls of Jemaa el Fna, Marrakesh

Intriguing Food Stalls of Jemaa el Fna, Marrakesh

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Bubbling cauldrons of soup, steaming bowls of snails, sizzling meat skewers, steaming lambs’ heads, and piles upon piles of fresh green mint–welcome to the incredible Jemaa el Fna, the grand square at the heart of Marrakesh’s ancient Medina!

Intriguing Food Stalls in Jemaa el Fna, Marrakesh.
So many food stalls to choose from!

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Jemaa el Fna – The Heart of the Medina

Every morning the square comes to life as the first of the juice stalls is trundled into place, later followed by the full kitchen food carts. A confusion of iron bars, padded seat covers, lattice work awnings, and of course, heaps and heaps of fixings for the days’ meals are unloaded and expertly assembled. Some of these vendors have been in business for decades and have been going through this daily routine of setup, sell out, and tear down non-stop day after day after day for years.

Ornate food cart ready to serve in Marrakesh.
Start out your evening with a warm appetizer of steamed snails served in their own broth.

The whole square acts as an enormous, open air entertainment district. You’ll enjoy the show before and after dinner as fortune tellers predict the future, impromptu bands belt out traditional favorites, and street performers show off their acrobatic skills. Somehow, I can’t think of a better way to spend an evening in Marrakesh!

Hot coffee or tea served at a Jemaa el Fna food cart.
Sip on a hot, steaming cup of coffee or tea while enjoying the spectacle taking place around you

The square really gets hopping just before sunset. Now, you’ll need to be extra careful to avoid being run over as the night time vendors show up with cart after cart for the last minute rush to setup and prepare for the diners.

Additional Reading:
Magical Marrakesh
The Gorgeous City of El Jadida
Exploring the Souk and Tanneries of Fez
Visiting Volubilis – A UNESCO World Heritage Site
What to See in One Day in Essaouira
The Shining Gem of the High Atlas Mountains – Ben Aithaddou
Sensory Delights at a Berber Market
Sunset on Morocco

Workers roll a food cart into place in Marrakesh.
Watch out! Food cart coming through!

The food stalls of Jemaa el Fna are the original pop up restaurants. They roll in on a car sized trailer, with everything needed to build and operate one restaurant for the evening crowds. Sometimes two or three carts are assembled together into one large dining room with seating for thirty or forty hungry visitors.

Workers set up awnings, tables, and benches to form eating areas in the Jemaa el Fna square.
Construction under way, who needs a hard hat?

These guys have been setting up the same food carts for years. Insert tab A into slot B, fold and twist, every part has its place and they could do it with their eyes closed. The average time to go from loaded cart to packed restaurant with food on the tables is about one hour.

View of the Jemaa el Fna square as more food carts arrive and food preparation begins.
The structure is up, now to finish prepping the food!

The food stalls are setup, it’s time to eat!

You can find almost anything to eat in this ultimate pop-up food court. We tried the snails, some fried calamari, one or two kebabs, tajine (of course), and we ended the night with a soothing glass of Moroccan mint tea. Why not?

Men prepare food in a stall in Jemaa el Fna, Morocco.
What tasty morsels are waiting to be served at this stall?
A man serves snails while hungry customers look on.
Serving hundreds of satisfied customers daily!
A man tends a very large cauldron of soup in a food stall.
Look at all of that mint ready for serving.
A man deep frying what looks like fish filets in Jemaa el Fna, Morocco.
Keep everything cooking, fresh, and hot! Just the way we like it.

Where We Stayed

We stayed a the comfortable and intimate Riad des Arts, right in the Medina. We highly recommend it!

Have you been to Marrakesh? Were you tempted by the intriguing food stalls of Jemaa el Fna?

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Intriguing Food Stalls of Jemaa el Fna, Marrakesh

11 thoughts on “Intriguing Food Stalls of Jemaa el Fna, Marrakesh

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  6. Ruth says:

    I have seen so many pictures and videos of this place … It is really one of the top places I want to visit. As food lovers, I think you can understand why is that. #TPThursday

  7. Rhonda Albom says:

    Jemaa el-Fnaa is a market, entertainment, and food all rolled into one. I like how each of the restaurants/carts is numbered so you can return to the same place every day. Although most of the dinner carts have the identical menu, some taste better than others. Just don’t look at how they wash the dishes 🙂

    • Corinne Vail says:

      Rhonda, Sometimes you can’t get caught up in the small stuff. I think the carts pretty much are put up in the same place everyday, but not by number. You just have to memorize its location.

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