is located at the back of the Morocco Pavilion in Epcot’s World Showcase at Walt Disney World.
This table service spot is oft forgotten in part because of its location, in part because Morocco’s quick service spot Tangierine Cafe is so good, and in part because Restaurant Marrakesh just doesn’t have the reputation for wowing guests like many of the other World Showcase table service options have.
I like to revisit restaurants whether they’ve got a decent rep or not, and Restaurant Marrakesh is one that we needed to check out again. But it’s one of the options for this year’s Flower & Garden Garden Rocks Dining Package (click here for more info on Garden Rocks and the dining package!), so I was excited to return (and get a coveted ticket to the show!).
Restaurant Marrakesh is a dichotomy. On the one hand, the atmosphere features lovely design details in keeping with the overall styling of the pavilion itself, the building of which was overseen by the government of Morocco. On the other hand, the food at Restaurant Marrakesh is largely uninspired and lackluster.
The atmosphere at Restaurant Marrakesh celebrates some of the classic Moroccan design seen elsewhere in the pavilion (and in the, you know, country of Morocco).A sign outside the restaurant promises “the exotic world of richness and splendor that is Marrakesh.”
The menu is posted outside the restaurant if you’re ever looking for a walk-in reservation and want to browse the options before you commit. One good thing about Restaurant Marrakesh is that it’s often available for walk-ins as it’s just not that busy. (Maybe that’s not a good thing, depending on how you think about it.)
The dining room makes a bold first impression, with towering pillars and beautiful tile work, lights, and carved wood.
There are two raised seating areas on either side of a sunken seating area. The raised dining spaces afford slightly better views of the restaurant as a whole, while the lower area puts you closer to the entertainment. (More on that in a moment!)
Metal is used in a variety of ways, with brass railings, silver decorative items, and pewter light fixtures filling most of the space.
The centerpiece of the dining room is an empty tiled space with raised ceilings, massive light fixtures, and a small stage. It’s here diners find a musician and belly dancer at various times throughout the meal.
The belly dancer is especially fun for kids, as she often invites them to participate! This is accompanied by classic Moroccan music.
If you’re interested in some of the craftwork at Restaurant Marrakesh, take time to look at the wood carvings and light fixtures. All are beautiful and show an impressive attention to detail and craft.
Whether we can say the same for the menu… that’s a little unclear.
Restaurant Marrakesh offers an array of traditional Moroccan dishes. The menu cover design is dramatic.
There are plenty of drinks, including Specialty Drinks, Coffees, Specialty Coffees, tea and water, and Beers.
I ordered the Sahara Splash, a combination of Vodka, Cranberry Juice, Midori, and a Splash of Soda. It was… awful. Something in the combination reminded me of cough syrup, so if that’s your jam, you’ll enjoy this. I did not.
The Moroccan Mint Tea is a much safer (albeit not comparable) option. It’s poured traditionally from a lovely silver tea kettle from an impressive height.
This hot tea is warm and comforting — and not cough syrup-y, so yea!
The Garden Rocks Dining Package includes an appetizer, an entree, a dessert, and a drink (alcoholic included for 21+ diners).
There is also, if not purchasing the Dining Package, a three-course Taste of Morocco that begins with Moroccan Salads, includes a Couscous dish, and finishes with Baklava.
The meal begins with a piece of white bread that was actually pretty good.
Moroccan Merguez Sausage is an interesting lamb appetizer. The sausage is flavorful, carrying many spices; and the tomatoes are a simple combination of tomato, red onion, and cilantro. If you love lamb, this will be fine for you. Otherwise, it wasn’t very impressive.
The Chicken Bastilla is a baked pocket consisting of layers of flaky pastry that are packed with minced chicken, almonds, and seasoning. The whole thing is dusted with cinnamon sugar.
The powdered sugar/savory chicken combo definitely takes some getting used to, but the filling is decent and does have some good seasoning. My main problem with this dish was that it seemed a bit stale. It was hard to bite into and just tasted a bit…old. This COULD be a great dish if it were softer and fresher.
For entrees we went with the Grilled Beef Tenderloin Shish Kebab. This is probably one of the most diner-friendly dishes on the menu, which is to say it’s just some beef on a stick. The flavors are straight forward: salt, pepper, garlic, parsley. But it’s uninspired — which works if you’re dining with a picky eater who needs something they’ve seen before.
The Braised Short Ribs Meshoui Style was the best dish of the day (definitely aided by those cheesy mashed potatoes!). Meshoui refers to the marinading and cooking process, which is traditionally super slow (marinate for a day, cook on low for as long as possible). The meat was very tender, whether the kitchen follows this cooking process or not, and the seasoning of ras el hanout, chermoula, and more was delicious. This is absolutely the dish to get if you’re at Marrakesh.
Desserts at Restaurant Marrakesh are a mix of familiar and unfamiliar. Baklava is a natural choice here and includes layers of flaky pastry and simple ingredients like almond, cinnamon, and honey. This dessert is called a Moroccan Symphony, which seems a little dramatic for this dish, but this is a fun way to get a taste of tradition.
Beignets and Cream are pretty much always a good idea, and they’re EXCELLENT here! Whether they’re particularly authentic or not, I can’t say. But the dessert consists of four nicely deep fried dough balls filled with sweet cream and served with chocolate and caramel sauces.
The cream was similar to a custard or a pudding, and it offered creaminess in both texture and flavor. I really enjoyed the cinnamon/sugar on the outside and the dessert seemed soft and fresh. These were satisfying.
Since I reserved the Restaurant Marrakesh Garden Rocks Dining Package, I was given my ticket at the end of my meal. The ticket is good for a specified showing — 6:45 for us.
I arrived around 6PM (45 minutes early) and was able to sit in the third row. The seats were great, but note that the popularity of the act will determine how early you’ll want to line up.
I attended one of the first shows of the Flower and Garden Festival.
Steve Augeri, former (post-Steve Perry) frontman for Journey! Plus some great musicians!
The show was a blast, and I was happy with the proximity of the Garden Rocks seating. If there’s an act performing that you love and want to see up close, the Dining Package will give you a little leeway with how early you need to line up, and having a guaranteed seat is a nice perk.
Nosh or Not?
Belly up to Restaurant Marrakesh if:
- You are a student of Moroccan architecture and design and absolutely must see the inside of the restaurant.
- Something about the traditional tea service and belly dancing summons you.
- You’re okay with some basic Moroccan food that isn’t very exciting.
Go elsewhere if:
- You want to try inspired table service cuisine in World Showcase.
- You’re satisfied with your taste of Moroccan cuisine from Tangierine Cafe (which we wholly recommend).
- Any of the other 15 Garden Rocks Dining Package restaurants sounds good to you.
Restaurant Marrakesh is not an Epcot must-do. While the details in the decor are beautiful and something worth appreciating up close, the food is a downer…at least it was on this visit. And that’s disappointing because we know the Morocco Pavilion was designed and built with care. The pavilion draws guests in to explore its winding paths and stores packed with beautiful collectibles. Unfortunately Restaurant Marrakesh fails to engage the diner with the vibrancy that the pavilion otherwise celebrates. We’d love to see a menu overhaul that is inspired by the energy of a country rich in culinary history and nuance.
At $52, Restaurant Marrakesh is one of the least expensive Garden Rocks Dining Package restaurants. Its price is matched by Spice Road Table (also located in the Morocco Pavilion), and I recommend going to Spice Road Table if choosing between the two.
Have you taken a meal at Restaurant Marrakesh? Share your dining experience in the comments below!