Marrakech meat lover’s secret: the mechoui alley

After the hospitality of its people, Morocco’s best attribute is the quality and freshness of its food. Almost everything you’ll eat in Morocco is either fresh picked, trimmed, chopped or slaughtered. Livestock, produce and baked goods are routinely exchanged at the town market before being prepared at local food joints the same day. Morocco’s biggest city, Marrakech, is particularly renowned for its buzzing souks and bustling street food scene – where I fell upon a little known meat lover’s paradise.

Marrakech souk

Situated just off UNESCO world heritage site Djemaa El-Fna, in the souk street across le Café de France, is row of butcher stands that specialize in the preparation of braised lamb otherwise known as mechoui.

These stands are open daily from about 11 am to 2 in the afternoon and feature the animal’s cooked head on the counter as proof of the meat’s freshness and daily preparation. Upon your arrival, salute the men of your chosen stand with a warm “es salaam alaykum” and point to your desired piece of meat. Negotiate the price before eating – a good serving of lamb with a piece of bread should cost around 50 DH.

Mechoui alley

You can take your order to go, or sit at the little table area set behind the counter and indulge in the spice and salt mix on every bite. From this standpoint, you will be able to watch the men in action and get a glance at the “stove”. It is a long clay cylinder set into the ground at the bottom of which burning coals are placed to make the temperature rise. Once it is properly heated, an entire lamb is hung from a hook and plunged into the stove to cook for about 2 hours.

Mechoui alley in action

Mechoui plate for two

Absolutely delicious.

Here’s a short vimeo video that skilfully provides a glimpse of the stove and mechoui stand (credit to Vimeo’s “Into the World” user):

<p><a href=”″>Mechoui Alley – Marrakech – Part I</a> from <a href=””>Into The World</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>


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Categories: Travel


Aspiring food writer, serious traveler, media enthusiast and communications specialist from Montréal, Canada. Follow me on twitter @aalavoie

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