As you’ve probably seen on Instagram, Morocco has become quite the tourist hotspot in the past decade or so. Globetrotter Anthony Bourdain was no stranger to Morocco, having visited the country previously for his first show A Cook’s Tour back in 2002. For his return trip, however, he focuses on the northwestern city of Tangier.
Anthony Bourdain visited Tangier to film season 1 (episode 5) of Parts Unknown; it was his only visit to the city on-screen and gave him a chance to explore Morocco more on his own terms, following in the footsteps of writers like Matisse, Delacroix, Kerouac, and William Burroughs, and losing himself in the streets as he searches for his own personal Interzone.
If you’re planning a trip to Morocco or Tangier specifically, this guide will help you if you want to eat at some of the same places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Tangier. Below you’ll find a recap of the episode, the places Tony ate, and what he ate at each one. Let’s dive in and explore what this northwestern Moroccan city has to offer for the intrepid food-inspired traveler.
Cafe Tingis (Petit Socco)
They say that sooner or later, all trips to Tangier lead to Café Tingis, and for his first stop in the city Bourdain meets with local journalist Jonathon Dawson to discuss the role of the café as a central meeting point and people-watching hub. Here, the two discuss the sometimes-frenetic pace of the city, over a cup of English tea.
Saveur de Poisson
For his first taste of the incredible food on offer in this part of the world, Tony visits the Saveur de Poisson restaurant. Here the emphasis is proudly placed on the use of herbs from the nearby Rif Mountains, and nearly every dish on the menu uses them in one way or another.
First, a starter of fresh olives, roasted walnuts, and warm bread, together with a juice made of figs, raisins, strawberries, and a herb mix.
Bourdain is also reintroduced to a dish he is all too familiar with, tagine. This is a traditional Moroccan stew that can include vegetables, meat, or fish. For this serving, the meat of choice is baby shark, calamari, and monkfish with fresh mountain spinach, slowly cooked over charcoal in the classic clay pot that gives the dish its name.
There is also whole turbot fish, brushed with olive oil, salt, pepper, and some coriander, then grilled over hot coals, baby shark kebabs, also basted with herbs and likewise grilled, and finally a dessert of strawberries, pine nuts, and honey.
Hotel El Muniria
Famous for being where William Burroughs wrote his non-linear masterpiece “Naked Lunch”, Bourdain uses the experience of visiting Hotel El Muniria to give a breakdown on majoun, a somewhat psychotropic treat.
This Moroccan hash confection is generally made with fruit, nuts, chocolate, and honey, and is served as a sweet and mind-opening treat. Hash (or kief) is chopped and slowly added to melted butter and chocolate over low heat, to which spices are added, and then blended with cashews, almonds, walnuts, and dried fruit. The butter chocolate is then added, together with honey, to bind all the ingredients together, then mixed into a ball and refrigerated, before being consumed to interesting effect… Allegedly.
With the smell of sweet mint tea and a thick slow-moving haze of smoke, Anthony remarks that Café Baba “[reminds me] a lot of my old dorm room”. After enjoying a couple of glasses of the aforementioned tea, he indulges in a street food classic from a vendor across the alley, an omelet.
Made in a manner similar to the Spanish type of omelet, potatoes are boiled and diced then mixed with beaten eggs and cooked in a cast iron skillet. No seasoning or fancy herbs this time round, just good honest munchie satisfying goodness, served with a generous helping of ketchup and mayonnaise.
Unknown Market Stall (Grand Socco)
Being led by Cherie Nutting, part of Bowles’ inner circle and acting as a friend, record keeper, and photographer, Bourdain ventures into the labyrinthian souk, a rabbit warren of market stalls and eateries considered to be one of best in all Morocco.
Here he tries some jben, a fresh Moroccan goat cheese that is wrapped in palm leaves and eaten with freshly baked flatbread.
Restaurante Andalus (The Medina)
Returning to Tangier once again, Bourdain meets with Abdelmajid Rais El Fenni, a local boutique owner, and visits the Restaurante Andalus tucked away in the alleyways of the Medina.
Here, the food is simple. A salad of sliced tomatoes brushed with local olive oil, garlic, and coriander, then fried until soft, beef liver kebabs grilled over charcoal, and swordfish and orange roughy, grilled and served with fresh lemon.
Unknown Food Cart
For his final meal in Tangier, as he reflects on this truly unique city, Bourdain enjoys a bocadillo, which are Spanish-style sandwiches with tuna, vegetables, a hard-boiled egg and mayo, and a crispy layer of french fries within the sandwich.
Gazing at the twinkling lights of the Spanish coast in the distance as the night begins, he muses “Tangier is Morocco, but not like you know it.”
(If you know the name of this food cart – or the names of some places where you can find bocadillo, please let me know in the comments!)
Local Dining Experiencs Tony Had in Tangier
As during almost all of his travels, Bourdain also spent some time in local dining experiences, not just in restaurants. Here’s a quick recap of those two experiences and what he ate.
- Heading into the Jbala foothills of the Rif mountain range, Tony visits the village of Jajouka 85km south of Tangier, and home to the Ahl-Srif tribe (“Saintly People”). Here, he is guest at the home of Bachir Attar, leader of a group of master musicians local to the village, whose style has influenced jazz and guitar players the world over. The meal begins with briouat, similar to a kefta pocket. Envelopes of dough, filled with seasoned beef, are baked until golden then crisped in oil. There is a main course of tagine, this time with chicken as the main ingredient. There is also a side of bakoula, wild mountain spinach, chopped and cooked with garlic, cilantro, hot and black peppers, and finished with lemon and olive oil.
- Nearing the end of his trip, Anthony meets with Christopher Gibbs, an antique dealer, and longtime ex-pat at his villa for a dinner party. The main dish here is pastilla, a type of meat or often pigeon pie. For this version, chicken is slow-cooked in broth and spices, pulled or shredded, then folded into an egg mixture cooked in the reduced stock from the boil. This is layered with blanched almonds, powdered sugar, and cinnamon. Wrapped in brick pastry and baked to golden crispiness before a final dusting of more cinnamon and sugar, it’s then cut and served like a sweet and savory lasagna.
And there you have it – a full recap of Tony’s trip to Tangier. Have any questions about these places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Tangier, Morocco? Let me know in the comments below!