We were only in Casablanca for forty-eight hours, but during that time, I learned that the city is chaotic and too large for me, but that they have some excellent restaurants. In the short time, we were there, we visited the famous Rick’s Café, a Spanish Restaurant called Casa Jose Gauthier and La Taverna du Dauphin.
We had incredible meals in each of them for not a lot of money. In Tangier, many restaurants have the same “family outing” menu which offers pizza, pasta, some Moroccan dishes, and sandwiches.
There are a handful of restaurants that offer seafood, international cuisine, or Moroccan and sell alcohol. These can be much more expensive and fewer to chose from. That doesn’t seem to be the case in the Casablanca metropolis.
Rick’s Café who got its fame from the 1942 film, Casablanca, opened in Casablanca since 2004. It is designed to recreate Rick’s Café bar made famous by Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in the film. The restaurant is in a large villa with the piano bar located on the first floor.
The menu is upscale and varied, and I had a goat cheese and fig salad and Ben had a shrimp and avocado salad lamb shank tagine.
Casa Jose Gauthier serves a large variety of Spanish food. We ordered from their tapas menu. We had a large variety of foods including manchego cheese, marinated anchovies, fish eggs, salad and octopus with a bottle of wine.
The crowning glory of these three restaurants, in my opinion, was at La Taverna du Dauphin. We started our meal with Daklha oysters, which are like biting into the sea. I had never had them before coming to Morocco and they set a new standard on oysters. They were served on the half shell with lemon.
We also split a delicious salad of chicory and blue cheese with a delicious vinaigrette. For my entrée, I had pan-seared scallops with a creamy risotto and my husband chose a mixed grilled platter.
All of these meals were in the $20-$30 range per person including alcohol.
I have to return to Casablanca soon to pick up my passport. I will definitely make time to enjoy another wonderful meal!
Yes, Casablanca is a much larger city and has more well off people, so the dining options are more numerous. You do have some solid midrange choices in Tangier though, such as El Morocco Club, Anna e Paolo, El Tangerino, Casa de Espana, Casa d’Italia, and nearby Asilah has the lovely Casa Pepe, Casa Garcia, and Port XIV. All these options in the Tangier area serve good food in an attractive setting and offer wine or beer.
In Moroccan culture, most meals are eaten at home. It’s very different from the US where many people almost never cook. Most Moroccans I know will eat at a proper sit down restaurant maybe 2 times in an entire year. They eat most of their meals at home but when they eat out it’s a small snack at a café or sandwich shop, or it’s at a cheap local place like Restaurant Bashir. They might go to an upscale cafe like La Gelateria or La Fuga and have a panini or pizza.
Unemployment is high in Morocco and most wages are very low. The shiny new marina and the luxury cars you see on the street are mostly for the top 10%. The vast majority of Moroccans could never afford spending 300 dirhams on one single meal. That would be 10 percent of their entire monthly salary. The majority of Moroccans do not consume any alcohol and would not eat at any restaurant that serves it. (I’m aware that several Moroccans drink, but they are in the minority, probably 10 percent of the population) This is especially true in Tangier which is a more conservative and traditional city than Casablanca or Marrakesh.
So in short, the reason why Tangier only has a handful of attractive midrange dining options is because there is not a big eating out culture, wages are quite low, unemployment is high, and the majority of people would avoid places that serve alcohol. By contrast Casablanca is a relatively wealthier and more liberal city, with a much larger population.
Probably a third of the restaurants in Tangier did not exist 15 years ago. The dining options might seem modest, but it has improved a lot compared to the very recent past. In 2003 there was no El Morocco Club, no Anna e Paolo, no El Tangerino, and no restaurant in Tangier served sushi.