Are you visiting Essaouira and looking for a complete guide to the food and eating scene in Essaouira? Then we have three seperate blogs to help you enjoy the best Essaouira has to offer from a food and beverage perspective. Read on to know more!
So firstly… if street food is your jam then you are in the right place my friend. Because it’s our jam too! One of my favourite things about travelling the world is trying out the local specialities from the side of the road. And what’s more, as we travel the world full-time on a budget, street food is more or less in our price range. Tick, tick ✅✅
However, If this sounds a little too intrepid for you and you’d rather stick to the very best restaurants and cafes, then click here. Or if you’re looking for that perfect rooftop terrace for a sundowner, then we wrote a post on that for you too. Consider this your complete food guide to Essaouira!
This street food post goes into more detail about the traditional Moroccan food you can get your hands on in Essaouira. So, if you’re a food lover and you’re travelling on a budget, then read on to find the best street side kitchens that you absolutely must visit.
Moroccan street food is fabulous and Essaouira street food is no exception. Subsequently, we’re here to tell you exactly where to find it!
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Table of Contents
The Best Street Food in Essaouira
Couscous & Tagine
Firstly, we can’t really mention food in Essaouira, Morocco without mentioning couscous or tagines. However, I wouldn’t classify couscous and tagine as a street food in Morocco. Tagines are mostly found in restaurants, given the time they take to prepare. And while some of these restaurants are smaller, they aren’t exactly street food in my book.
IF it’s a great tasting tagine or couscous that you’re in search of, from a small off the beaten track type of restaurant, well we know just the kind of place you’re talking about! In which case, read this blog.
Also, if you want to learn how to make an incredible tagine and couscous, then read our review of a Moroccan cooking lesson.
M’semen & Harira Kitchens in the Essaouira Medina
This soup became a staple for us… and if you like warming and hearty then I’m sure it’ll became a go-to for you too. It’s a very popular street food. Often harira won’t even be mentioned on the menu. But when you look to the stove top there’ll be a big pot on the boil.
Lentils, chickpeas, tomatoes and spices are just some of the ingredients that go into harira soup. And actually no two taste the same. Jam packed full of Moroccan spices, a little meat and even vermicelli pasta, this little soup is delish!
In Essaouira, you might find some restaurants serving harira on the menu. But in our opinion, the best place for harira is on Av. de l’Istiqlal. Here you’ll find a few street side kitchens, hard at work over a hot plate making m’semem. Hang on, I’ll get to m’semen in a minute! You’ll know these little kitchens when you see them. Grab a small table order harira, m’semen and a mint tea. And this 20-30 dirham dinner will fill you right up!
Onto m’semen… we ate so many while we were in Essaouira! I think it might be virtually impossible to walk past the m’semen hot plates in Essaouira without getting one – or two.
These flat layered flat breads, are rolled into a square shape and then cooked on a hot plate with oil. Typically, Moroccans eat m’semen for breakfast, but honestly they are also good for lunch and dinner.
You can have them plain, savoury or sweet. The savoury m’semen are filled with a spicy mix of veggies and tomato. And the sweet came with chocolate, honey or a cheese triangle, I’m going to recommend honey with cheese… these were my favourites.
Seafood Stalls in the Essaouira Port
Given that Essaouira is a busy fishing town and port, seafood is everywhere. And the port is one of the best places to buy your own seafood.
But the beauty of buying seafood from either the market of the port market is that you can give it to someone else to cook. So this is what you do…
Around lunch time walk over to the market at the fishing port. Hunt out what seafood you’re in the mood for. From sardines, to prawns, even something a bit bigger if you like. Then when you have your fishy purchase look for the grilling stations.
These guys prepare and cook your seafood on their hot plates and they’ll serve it complete with a salad and bread. Actually it doesn’t get much tastier than that!
Cafe Populair – Street Food Kitchen
I’m going to sound like a broken record, as I’m going to tell you again how this is one of my favourite street food type kitchens in Essaouira. You’ll find it near the veggie market on the way towards Bab Doukkala on Av. Mohamed Zerktouni – look for the yellow sign. Let me explain how things work at Cafe Populair…
Similar to the seafood markets, the kitchen staff will make your tagine for you. Well they’ll make anything really. You can take them seafood too! But basically, it works like this. You buy the tagine ingredients at the veggie market on the main street just outside Cafe Populair. Some chicken, pitted olives, a potato, couple of carrots, tomato, beans and a preserved lemon.
Then you bring the ingredients to kitchen staff, hand them over the counter and ask for a tagine. We also gave them our spices, but they preferred to use their own. They’ll tell you what time to come back, maybe an hour or longer and off you go.
The result – you arrive back to a tagine cooked at a fraction of the price and absolutely delicious. Like a small cafeteria, you can grab a table and tuck in straight away. Bring your own bread and drink and happy days.
If you like the sound of this, read our post on visiting the Ida Ougourd Market and ordering a tagine – a short day trip from Essaouira.
Now before you think, hang on, am I reading the right post here. No you haven’t just jumped to a Mexico street food blog. Indeed tacos are a common street food in Essaouira, but not as you know it. Unlike a Mexican taco, Moroccan tacos are more of a wrap, and they’re pretty tasty. All you need to do is decide what meat and salad to add.
Not all are made equally I might add, we had our fair share of bad tacos. So if you’re in Essaouira and like the sound of cheap, light meal, maybe a lunch then grab your tacos on Av. Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah from Snack de la Mouette. Look for their counter (in the photo above). They didn’t get it right every time we ate there, but generally they did!
Note: They also sell other quick bites.
Harcha Bread – Breakfast
These breads are possibly the best breads for a breakfast food! Harcha stalls can be found in Av. Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah. I recommend you keep a look out between the timings of 8am and 10am. The Harcha man and his grill we be parked up somewhere along the street, cranking out Harcha.
In comparison to the normal breakfast m’semen or breads sold in the Essaouira market, harcha is a bit special. To start with… it’s warm and grilled fresh in front of you, it isn’t oily or heavy. Harcha is a fluffy flat breakfast bread, with a light dusting of semolina and it is divine with amlou. Which brings us to amlou… let’s investigate that next.
In short… amlou is best described as food from the gods. It’s a traditional Moroccan accompaniment to breads or crackers. Loosely explained, it’s similar to peanut butter, but in reality is in a whole other league.
This butter type product consists of almond butter, honey and argan oil. Sometimes it’s made with peanut butter instead of almond, however the almond version is hands down the BEST. Always ask to try before you buy.
It’s important to note that amlou is not at street food prices… but regardless it should still be on your to-try list for Essaouira.
The Candy Man (Don’t Say That 3 Times)
On the beach or around the Pl Moulaiy Hassan square in the evening, keep an eye out for the candy man. Unfortunately we can’t tell you his exact whereabouts as he’s always on the move. Although if he’s about, you really can’t miss him. Look for the long candy stick!
For a dirham, he’ll cut you a small piece and well… it tastes like candy. It’s a fun experience, especially if you’re travelling with the kids.
Happy Cookie Man
The Happy Cookie Man just had to be here really! It won’t take long for the cookie man or men usually, to spot a new face on the beach, or streets. Before you know it, he’ll be by your side with a tray in his arm, of some fine home-made baked cookies. And then you’ll hear the quiet hush in his voice… “you want happy cookies?”
Naturally, we were curious! And our interest turned to… well we’d better do some market research and try these things. In short, for a few Euros you can get the cheap ones, or for a few more Euros the stronger ones. For the purpose of our investigation, we kept it safe and tried the cheaper ones. And you guessed it… nothing. 🤷♀️
If you happen to try the more expensive happy cookies, we’d love to hear how you found them!
Every day we visited the donut stand. Actually, it’s no wonder we didn’t get more holes in our teeth! Open in the afternoons and pumping our hot freshly fried donuts this was our kids’ favourite street food stop in Essaouira.
We definitely recommend buying from the donut guy pictured above on Rue Mohamed El Qorry. As his prices were fair from day one. While the other donut guys were trying to sell them to us for five dirhams, this guy charged us the same as the locals at two dirhams each.
Sugar Cane Juice
If you haven’t tried sugar cane juice in your travels, then the beach in Essaouira is a great place to do so. You don’t need to worry that it might have been watered down, because they make it right in front of you.
The kids loved watching the process, as the cane stalk was passed through the press and every last drop of sweet liquid extracted. Then at the last minute, a lime is dropped in for a hint of extra flavour. So there we go… try it next time you have the opportunity. Sugar cane juice is the perfect naturally sweet pick-me-up for the afternoon.
Oh I do so miss the mint tea! I’m a coffee lover, who can’t function in the morning without one. But would you believe that I gave up coffee for three months while living in Morocco, thanks to the mint tea. Surprisingly, Moroccan tea is made with green tea and then fresh mint is added to the pot.
The fresh mint flavour infiltrates the tea and of course is typically drunk very sweet. We began making it ourselves every morning. If you’re staying in an Airbnb, check that there’s a tea pot in the kitchen, then grab yourself some fresh mint for two dirhams from the market.
Alternatively, if you are staying in a riad or guest house, then switch out the morning coffee for a mint tea. On that note, if you are invited to a mint tea in a shop or someone’s home, then jump at the opportunity. Moroccan people are extremely hospitable and they love to sit for a tea at any given opportunity. And we’ve had some of our most interesting interactions and conversations over a mint tea.
Orange juice and pomegranate juice is one of the most commonly found beverages in the streets of Morocco. If oranges are in season, then you’ll find OJ everywhere.
There’s not much more to be said about it really… it’s yum, tasty and cheap!
The Fruit and Vegetable Food Markets in Essaouira
As a matter of fact, some of the best meals we ate in Essaouira were cooked in our very own Airbnb kitchen. We prepared some delicious Moroccan inspired food with produce that came from the fruit and veggie market in Essaouira.
But in the beginning it can be a little difficult to navigate the markets and find out which places are best. Let’s face it, we might be travellers, but we don’t like getting charged loads more just because we’re outsiders. However, in actual fact we found prices were much fairer in Essaouira, in comparison with other cities we visited.
You will find the markets in Av. Mohamed Zerktouni on the way toward Bab Doukkala. Look for an alleyway on your left side with extra vegetable stalls inside. The area isn’t a big one, but shop here and you’ll find great quality fruit and veggies. The stall holders are friendly and won’t take advantage.
We also bought our chicken, from this tiny alleyway market. And on the street outside, we found our mint, spices, olives, biscuits and bread. Not to mention the trolleys laden with oranges, fresh figs, prickly pear and other in season fruits.
If you aren’t planning on doing any cooking, you must still take a look through the markets. We thoroughly recommend the cultural experience.
Bonus Entry – Biscuit Patisserie
Okay this little cafe isn’t exactly a street food location, but I’m putting it here as a bonus entry. On Rue Abdelazziz Al Fachtali very near the Retro Corner Cafe is this very cute little Patisserie. The homemade biscuit selection is fantastic and the owners are super friendly. You can get biscuits to take away, or you can sit in for a cup of tea with your biscuit.
I absolutely recommend the almond and coconut cookies… one just won’t be enough.
Is it Safe to Eat Street Food in Essaouira
We didn’t get sick from eating street food in Essaouira. However, we did get sick in our first month in Morocco after eating a salad. As a general rule of thumb, its best to be cautious with the salads as they are washed in tap water.
In terms of tagines, couscous, and any hot foods you should be fine. But just in case, I always travel with something in my first aid kit to fight a case of crook belly. Imodium works well and I also try to get antibiotics for travel, to have on hand if need be.
Drinking Water in Essaouira
The tap water is not okay to drink, so we recommend travelling with a Life Straw. We were able to fill up from the water stations throughout the medina in Essaouira and at no point did we get sick.
Because we travel full-time as a family we also carry our Life Straw gravity fed water filtration system. Consequently we don’t need to purchase bottled water and at the same time reduce our waste.
More on Morocco & Food Guides in Essaouira
Also check out our Essential A-Z Travel Guide of Essaouira… it contains everything you’ll need to know for the perfect Essaouira holiday. Also browse and click below for some of our more detailed travel guides from in and around Essaouira, including day trips, activities and getting to and from Essaouira.
- How to Take a Day Trip to Sidi Kaouki
- A Horse Riding Review on Essaouira Beach
- Getting From Marrakech to Essaouira
- The Best Things to Do in Essaouira
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