Tasting on the Sahara Desert

In early October, I took a four-day, three-night Sahara Desert tour. Unfortunately, lunch was always at restaurants designed for tourists. No locals would eat at these places, and they served dishes of mediocre quality at best. But the prices were at least twice that of what you’d pay in Marrakesh. I’ll just leave this post here for future reference.

The currency in Morocco is the dirham (Dh), and at the time of writing, the exchange rate was a bit less than 10 dirhams to US$1. All restaurants are listed from most budget-friendly to least.

Berber tents

Merzouga, Morocco

After riding camels for an hour and a half to reach our campsite in Erg Chebbi, and our sustenance was chicken tagine under the stars. This one had carrots, potatos, squash, onions, lemons, and an abundance of green olives. Though you don’t see many chickens in the desert, it’s an affordable protein.

Tagine in the desert

Hôtel la Kasbah de Dades Ex Chems

N10, Boumalne Dadès, Morocco

Between the first and third nights of the four-day, three-night Sahara Desert tour, we stayed in a modest hotel by the Dadès Gorges.

A nice break from the desert sands

Dinner was included in the tour, and the restaurant hall was comfortable and cozy. Later in the evening, live musicians entertained us with traditional Berber tunes.

Comfy restaurant

The courses were typical Moroccan fare: chickpea and rice soup, a smoky chicken tagine (with carrots, potatoes, squash, eggplant, and tomatoes), and honey melon with vanilla and strawberry yogurt. This tagine was the best one I tasted during the whole tour.

Decent food

Restaurant Taourirt

Ouarzazate 45000, Morocco

This restaurant wasn’t on the itinerary for the fourth day, but I complained to the driver that I had been to La Kasbah Etoile already on the second day of the tour. So he made an exception and let me cross the street to explore the smaller restaurants. I got the beef tagine (38 Dh) and a mango and passion fruit creamsicle (20 Dh). The prices were actually sane here, and I am a fan of these tropical creamsicles!

Beef tagine with green beans, potatoes, and carrots

La Kasbah Etoile

Bd Mohamed V, Hay Taourirt, Ouarzazate 45000, Morocco

You could tell this place was touristy because it’s located right next to the Cinema Museum in Ouarzazate. They also posted some photos of some actor who made a movie nearby in the bar area.

At least you could order a la carte and weren’t forced to order a set menu. Most of the dishes were 80 Dh, but I just got the vegetarian house couscous for 65 Dh. It was just okay and not worth the base price or the mandatory 5% service fee they tack on afterwards.

Bread and couscous

Maison d’Hôtes Anissa

10 Km Sur La Route Les Gorge de Todra, R703, Tinghir 45800, Morocco

This restaurant is next to the Todgha Gorge and only has a set menu, so all the options were 100 Dh. I ordered the beef brochettes, which came with a tomato salad and fruit for dessert. The salad was fresh, but the fries were sad. The rice was also boring.

Unremarkable lunch

L’Oasis d’Or

Ouarzazate, Morocco

We went to this place for lunch on the first day of the tour. I had no idea that it was overpriced until the Finnish couple I met complained about it at the end of the meal. They actually had an a la carte menu, but I didn’t get a chance to see it. Instead, I ordered the chicken tagine set menu with veggie soup and seasonal fruit (100 Dh). The fruit was actually my favorite part of the meal: the rest was passable.

Best part = fruit

Written on October 26, 2016