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Moroccan cuisine reflects the country's history, with elements of Africa, Arabia, and the Mediterranean adding spice and color to a rich array of fresh produce available throughout the country. Combined with the culinary traditions of both the Berbers and Arabs, dining in Morocco truly becomes an experience rather than just a meal.

Moroccans tend to eat three meals a day, in similar fashion to the Western world, but usually taken after prayer. Breakfast is usually served from 7am onward, with most cafes opening at this time and serving a small selection of pastries and fresh bread to accompany a mint tea or coffee. Western travelers often despair at the lack of diversity when it comes to hotel breakfasts; expect baguettes, croissants, orange juice, tea and coffee, and not much else in most lower- to midrange accommodations. Staying in higher-end accommodations should reward you with additions to the norm, such as fresh Moroccan breads, yogurt, cereals, fresh fruit, and perhaps eggs.

Lunch is considered the most important meal of the day, hence the midday closure of most businesses, shops, and offices from noon to 2pm, sometimes 2:30pm. It's therefore also the longest meal, and can include any number of courses. The traditional lunch -- often offered by top-end and palace-style restaurants -- begins with a meze selection of olives and cold and cooked salads, and can fill you up on its own. This is usually followed by a tagine, couscous, or both. Rarely will Moroccans use cutlery; rather they will eat with their freshly washed right hand (the left mainly used for passing food around), using khübz (bread) to mop up the juices and sauce. Mint tea, and perhaps sweet pastries, may then be offered for dessert, followed by an early afternoon nap.

Dinner tends to be served after the sunset prayer, and is more along Mediterranean and Latin times, from 7 or 7:30pm to 10:30 or 11pm. A popular pastime in Morocco -- and one I am particularly fond of -- is an after-dinner stroll, followed by an ice cream or cake and coffee. Families are usually in the streets, squares, and parks after dinner to socialize, play, chat, and generally watch and mingle.

I have separated restaurant listings throughout this guide into four price categories based on the average cost per person of a meal, not including tip. The categories are Very Expensive, more than 240dh; Expensive, 160dh to 240dh; Moderate, 80dh to 160dh; and Inexpensive, less than 80dh. A compulsory 10% government tax (called TTC) is usually included in the cost of each item on your menu. If it isn't, it's normally stated somewhere at the bottom. Very rarely, however, will a service charge be included in your bill, so a tip of at least 10% is expected, no matter if you've had a meal or just a drink. Expensive restaurants are usually the only ones that accept credit cards, and even those that claim to can sometimes bring your card back asking for payment in cash, usually due to telecommunication problems or, I kid you not, because they've run out of paper in the credit card machine. Also watch out for a 5% bank administration fee that is sometimes added to your bill.

Because Morocco is a predominantly Muslim country, alcohol is not served at all restaurants; I have noted where it's available in the review's listing information.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.