Bar and Restaurant Review
If you need a drink and have an hour to laze away in civilised surroundings, then drop into Cafe Arabe. It’s definitely a bar which deserves to be near the top of your list. It’s a useful place to know within the Medina, and one which actually offers alcohol – in particular, a well-chosen range of both classic and more unusual cocktails.
There is also an impressive restaurant on the ground floor which offers a largely Italian menu, with very fine pastas. It’s charming, with its lamp-lit lattice carving and decorative tiling, but we like the bar best.
Cafe Arabe is a 10 minutes walk through the periphery of the souk. Like all authentic places, entry is through a gate within an ancient wall. It’s in the rue Mouassine, a narrow road peppered with fascinating antique and decorative arts shops on the north side of the souk. And how do you find it ? Take a map or pay a small boy a few dirhams to take you there, otherwise you could find yourself wandering around for ages.
Once through the doorway, it’s yet another example of a theatrical ambience in which Marrakech excels. Part chic, part dramatic. The walls in the hallways and staircases are lacquered an atmospheric deep red. There is an indoor seating area with a small library for visitors to browse in, though most books are in French. But we head outside into the main bar with view of the roofs over the souk. There you can lounge on the meandering cream sofas under the fluttering sea of dozens awnings which provide welcome shade from the heat of the African sun. In the hottest months, a discreet system of pipes releases fine sprays of water to cool the air.
As for prices: Alcoholic cocktails range from 80 dh to 120 dh (say roughly £6 – £10); a good range of fruit juice cocktails around Dh 40 (£3), and herbal teas Dh 25 (£2).
And why do we like it so much? It’s an engaging mixture of informality and sophistication. Also a place where gay couples and friends would be very comfortable. I’d say it’s an essential part of the Marrakchi experience.