If you get sick of Marrakech souvenir stall sellers hounding you about entering their shop to check out their buckets of spices, genuine Moroccan argan oil, handmade leather goods, or gimmicky knick-knacks that will end up gathering dust on your shelves at home, you can always walk twenty minutes up the road from the main square in the Medina to what is known as “New Marrakech”.
Here you might still be followed by guys on the street trying to sell you a watch or belt, or insisting that they shine your shoes for a fee (guys, I’m wearing sneakers. Shoeshine is entirely unnecessary.). But you can also make the most of air-conditioned shopping malls and centres where shop assistants won’t follow you around the store insisting that you try everything on. It’s honestly a bit of a relief to not be hounded and to just have some room to breathe as a tourist.
There’s plenty of cafes in the area where you can grab a casual bite to eat of mainly quite Westernised food. There’s pizzas and sandwiches galore. If you want something a little more local but still accessible, Cafe Mama Afrika is a great choice.
While it’s always well-patronised by young holidaymakers taking advantage of the cheap drinks on the menu, it’s also popular with locals with a few younger and more modern Moroccan couples dining there.
I made the most of their non-alcoholic drinks – there’s plenty of fresh juices on the menu, but I chose the Coconut Kiss cocktail of pineapple, banana and coconut milk. Like a tropical party in your mouth, only tastier.
We got the traditional Moroccan khobz bread of course, that’s a given.
This was a nice surprise though – a little appetiser of marinated olives to start. I liked the green olives which had a little extra chilli spice stuffed into them, but found the black olives a bit too sour for my liking.
I chose their healthy vegetarian menu option of the Mama Detox, which actually turned out to be a surprisingly Asian-African fusion kind of dish. The peppers, onion and pineapple was fried in a sauce not dissimilar to a Cantonese sweet and sour sauce, and served on a bed of white rice. With some slices of fried eggplant and a healthy sprinkle of cheese on top, it was a deliciously tempting dish – I could have eaten much more! This is of course, not to mention its entirely adorable presentation as a mini-map of Africa!
K chose their fish dish – the Reggae Fish of plump juicy fish fillets wrapped in deep-fried Vietnamese rice paper. Served on top of a bed of lettuce leaves and a little scoop of corn and cucumber salsa, the fish was enhanced by the drizzle of sweet teriyaki-esque sauce on top. Yet another nod to Asian-African fusion that works extremely well!
This little stray cat takes up its residence in Cafe Mama Afrika, winding his way through peoples legs under tables and standing up to place his front paws on your lap in a reminder of ‘hey I’m here, feed me!’. I gave him some pieces of fish fillet which he gobbled up hungrily!
Cafe Mama Afrika is a reasonably-priced cafe bordering old and new Marrakech, offering local cuisine with an international twist. It’s nothing fancy but it is hearty and filling, and the whole cafe is very relaxed so it’s very possible to just grab a seat and while away the afternoon with a few drinks. Take a break from the hustle (and bustle) of old Marrakech, and chill out at Cafe Mama Afrika.
Cafe Mama Afrika is located on Rue Oum Errabii Gueliz in Marrakech, Morocco.