I have food allergies.Where can I eat in Essaouira?

Food allergies and intolerances can be a challenge to manage on holiday, but it is possible.

Wheat is seen as a big issue,as the Moroccan staple is bread or couscous (made with wheat semolina) but if those two items are avoided, tajines and couscous toppings can be eaten hassle-free. For information on gluten-free eating in Morocco, read my post here.

For those allergic to nuts,these are normally only used in sweet dishes and cakes, so you’ll need to avoid all the delicious Moroccan pastries. Sorry!

The best thing to do when managing allergies is to frequent restaurants where the chef is present and you can communicate with them in a language you both understand. This means avoiding the tourist-trap tajine restaurants where waiters can be are less well-informed about the menu and cooks are often local women who do not have any contact with customers.

I suggest you try the following restaurants:

La Découverte – owner Frederique is always present, has designed the menu herself and is very aware of allergy and intolerance issues.She strives to work to a slow food, sustainable development philosophy.
– La Triskala – offers a short menu of simple veggie and fish dishes,and it should be easy to figure out the ingredients.
Umia – a popular and more upmarket restaurant, chef Bibi designs the changing menu herself and is always on hand to advise
– Vague Bleue – owner Brahim makes a very simple Italian-based menu which is cheap and delicious and he is usually on hand to recommend a suitable dish

Of the above, if you turned up and they didn’t have something suitable, I am sure that all (except potentially La Triskala) could offer to make something specific for the following day on request.

Some of the crepe restaurants in the medina offer non-wheat options. 

As for a bakery, that’s a harder ask for the wheat-intolerant and gluten-free. I know Patachou in the new town make rye bread (seigle in French) and they might be open to a special order. I don’t suppose they could guarantee that it would be made in a nut and wheat-free environment though….

4 thoughts on “I have food allergies.Where can I eat in Essaouira?

  1. Jenni

    This post is so helpful! Thank you!!

    I will be visiting Morocco in April and am planning on being in Marrakech, Fes, and Chefchaouen. (As well as trying to figure out a desert tour that is affordable, feels private and isolated, and can accommodate food allergies!).

    Any restaurant recommendations for Marrakech, Fes, and Chefchaouen that can accommodate severe food allergies? (Peanuts, nuts, chickpeas, lentils and soy.)

    Thanks so much,

    Jenni

    Reply
    1. lynn Post author

      Hi Jennifer,
      the closer you can get to the people cooking your food, the easier it will be to ensure your allergies are catered for. Peanuts are relatively easy to avoid. Nuts are everywhere, but obvious – for example in sweets and cakes and chicken or beef tajines with almonds. Chickpeas often make an appearance in tajines or on couscous, so just ask (and make sure you are clear that you are allergic, ie. you can’t eat a sauce that they have been in even if they are taken out). Lentils are normally served on their own. You won’t find soy very easily. If you eat fish, you are unlikely to find any of the things you are allergic to in a traditional Moroccan fish dish.
      In Fes, try the Ruined Garden, Cafe Clock and Jardin de Beihn restaurants. You should also find someone there who speaks English. In Chefchaouen, I found a great little pizza place, Mandala, if you get sick of tajines! And the Auberge Dardara outside the town has fantastic food from their own kitchen garden. For Marrakech, check out the blog and food tours of Amanda, a.k.a. MarocMama – https://marocmama.com/. There is an increasing number of organic and health food restaurants in Marrakech. If you eat meat, head to “Meat Street” near the Montechristo night club. The restaurants there literally just add spices and grill!
      Have a great trip!
      Lynn

      Reply
  2. Aqeel

    Hi,
    my cousin and brother are allergic to sesame seeds/oils, nuts, beans, legumes and peas. We are planning to go to Essaouira in a month or so. I have been told it id difficult to avoid these types of food. Is that true?
    Also i’ve read on forums that they don’t particularly understand allergies etc and won’t pay too much attention to it even when requested (travel agent told me that), again is that true?

    Reply
    1. lynn Post author

      Aqueel,
      Sesame oil is not commonly used in Morocco, although argan may be and it may be worth checking if that is an allergen, as argan is a kind of nut. However, the oil is very expensive and will normally be highlighted on a menu as something special.
      Sesame seeds are sometimes used in sweets, and occasionally in savoury dishes, but they will be visible. The same goes for peas, legumes and beans. Nuts are common in sweet and biscuits, so best avoided.

      The best way to avoid any issues is to build relationships with people who understand the seriousness of these allergies. This means finding small restaurants and guest houses where you can have contact to the people cooking your meals. I don’t know where you are staying, but in terms of restaurants, I would recommend you try La Decouverte, or for something more upmarket, try Umia. The fish grill places near the port are pretty basic and the based around fish, so you’ll be fine there. I also highly recommend that you schedule a cooking class and/or meal at Khadija’s Kuzina. Khadija and her husband speak English and will not only be able to make delicious dishes your cousin and brother can eat, they will be able to advise what you should look for when you are out and about.
      Have a great trip!
      Lynn

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.