Several of Fez’s finest old mansions have been converted into palace restaurants, popular places, particularly with tour groups, for sampling (relatively) traditional cuisine in sublime surroundings. Some really do provide a Fassi banquet, but you’ll need to choose your “palace” carefully – the more elaborate the decor, the less, it seems, the need to worry about the quality of the cooking, and some menus are positively bland in comparison. The belly-dancing floor shows, musicians and, on occasion, staged “marriages” aren’t to everyone’s taste, especially when you’re paying a substantial surcharge for the privilege, but the whole package (usually around 300dh per person) can make for an entertaining evening
Al Firdaous 10 Derb Zenjifor, near Bab Guissa t 0535 634343. A rich merchant’s house of the 1920s is the setting for darkly atmospheric meals – there’s a choice of several five-course set menus, including pastilla made the original Fassi way, with pigeon (from 310dh, though the pastilla option will set you back 540dh) – and music and a floorshow (featuring mock weddings, fire dancing and belly-dancing) in the evenings. Daily noon–3.30pm & 8–11.30pm.
Laanibra 61 Aïn Lakhail, signed off Zkak Rouah t 0535 741009. A wonderful seventeenth-century palace that’s home to a friendly restaurant, serving a la carte dishes and a choice of menus (from 250dh). More intimate than the grander Palais des Merinides nearby, whose beautifully restored palatial interior is let done by the food on offer. Daily noon–4pm.
Palais Tijani 51–53 Derb Ben Chekroune, east of the Sidi Ahmed Tijani mosque t 0535 741071, e [email protected] Less grandiose than the other palace-style eateries and without the floor show, but better value for money – the range of ten menus starts at 130dh. The emphasis here is on the food (“Fez seen through its cuisine”), and the diners are as likely to be Moroccan as foreign. Daily noon–4pm.