Ever since it was immortalized on film as a grayscale dreamland, the name Casablanca has evoked the romance of a bygone era. But the city isn’t stuck in the past. It’s the largest city in Morocco, home to 3.4 million citizens, the economic hub of the country, and one of the largest ports in all of Africa.
When the French established a protectorate over much of the country in 1912, they transformed the small city into a waypoint for international traders from across Europe and sub-Saharan Africa. European ships exchanged manufactured goods for resources like salt, infusing the city with a wealth of international flavors in the process. On the streets today, you may hear a half dozen languages. Men and women wear traditional djallabas (hooded robes), or suits, or jeans and T-shirts. Traditional Moroccan architecture stands side by side with crumbling art deco edifices. Modern apartment buildings dot the skyline while villas hide behind gated walls away from the city center.
No matter where you land in Casablanca, you’re certain to see and experience this cultural mishmash, but nowhere is it clearer than the city’s eateries. Before the protectorate, restaurants likely served the same food as Moroccans would eat at home, but as immigrants flooded the city, the food scene came to reflect this global mixture. Today, Cassouis, as Casablanca residents are known, are just as likely to enjoy sushi as a tagine.
Taste your way through Casablanca, old and new, at these 12 essential restaurants.
Prices per person, excluding alcohol:
$ = Less than 100 dirham (Less than $ 10 USD)
$ $ = 100 – 250 dirham ($ 10 – $ 25 USD)
$ $ $ = 250 dirham ($ 26 USD and up)
The level of service offered in response to the COVID-19 pandemic is indicated on each map point. For updated information on coronavirus cases in Morocco, please visit ma.usembassy.gov.
Amanda Ponzio-Mouttaki is a food and travel writer based in Marrakech, Morocco, where she owns a culinary tourism company in addition to her writing work.