Restaurant Marrakesh is a table service restaurant in Epcot’s World Showcase at Walt Disney World. This Restaurant Marrakesh review covers lunch at the Moroccan restaurant, which seems fairly similar to dinner. Just compare the menus for yourself–the Morocco Pavilion actually has great menu pages with photos of each entree to help you decide what you might like before you visit. As you can see, there are a lot of similarities and only a few differences between the lunch and dinner menus. The biggest difference seems to be that lunch is significantly less expensive.
Before our recent visit, we had never given this Moroccan restaurant much thought because it doesn’t really seem to be on anyone’s radar. It’s not that we have ever really come across memorable negative reviews of this restaurant…we just have never really come across many reviews of it, period, and most we have encountered have only been vaguely positive. This was easy to understand when we stepped inside, as the restaurant was 50% full, at most. The reason it’s not on anyone’s radar is because very few guests are eating there!
Since Restaurant Marrakesh is probably one of the least popular restaurants at Walt Disney World in terms of guest demand, it is a great last minute ADR of walk-up place to eat. We think it’s low popularity can probably be attributed to two factors: 1) Restaurant Marrakesh is located deep in the Morocco pavilion, which is a pretty deep pavilion; and, 2) the cuisine at Restaurant Marrakesh, while mild enough for most palates, is probably the most ostensibly adventurous restaurant in World Showcase. This much is clear when you see the photo-heavy menu on display on a table in front of the restaurant that tries to entice the limited foot-traffic inside. Given the World Showcase shift towards more dining that is “accessible” to families in the last several years, it’s actually a bit surprising that Restaurant Marrakesh still exists as it does.
“Restaurant Marrakesh is my favorite restaurant in Epcot.” I don’t think that’s a sentence I’ve ever heard spoken or seen written by anyone. Well… Restaurant Marrakesh is my favorite restaurant in Epcot.
Let me qualify that a bit, as I know bold, “OMG IT’S THE BEST EVAR” or “ZOMG IT’S TEH LAMEZOR” proclamations seem to be the modus operandi of internet reviews, and my intent here is not simple shock value. In general, we do not think that World Showcase dining is all “amazing” or “lamezor.” In fact, with the exception of the once-excellent Bistro de Paris (R.I.P.), I would say that I think most World Showcase dining is on the upper side of good, with many restaurants that do a good-but-not-great job of balancing exotic cuisine with flavors reasonably Americanized to appeal to most tourists.
The bold proclamation that most be most apt and what I really want to get at is this: “Restaurant Marrakesh is a better restaurant than Le Cellier.” Obviously, Le Cellier has absolutely nothing to do with this Restaurant Marrakesh review, but please humor me with a brief rant of sorts. Regular readers of this blog may know that I have a bit of an ax to grind with Le Cellier. For years, if you read Disney fan sites, you might come to the conclusion that Le Cellier is Disney’s gift to the culinary world. For years, I’ve been essentially saying, “yeah, it’s good, but not all it’s cracked up to be.”
As its popularity snowballed and demand justified price increases and an elevation to “Signature” status, it seems many have pulled back from their undying love for Le Cellier, but I still think it’s not as good as the consensus of the internet suggests. This isn’t too surprising, as Le Cellier is the “safest” restaurant in World Showcase, and it is a steakhouse. Anyone with any sense loves steak, giving Le Cellier a bit of a natural advantage. I won’t fixate on Le Cellier, but consider this review me imploring anyone who thinks Le Cellier is the end-all, be-all of World Showcase dining to venture away from the steakhouse and try this superior restaurant.
Anyway, moving on to the part of the review actually relevant to the substance of the review, the design and ambiance at Restaurant Marrakesh are unparalleled in World Showcase. In general, I think most World Showcase restaurants are detailed and well-done, but Restaurant Marrakesh takes this to the next level.
I think the photos of the detail in the restaurant speak for themselves. From tile work to the tea dispensers to the ceilings and (especially) the light fixtures, Restaurant Marrakesh is stunning. I cannot believe I had never been inside this great Walt Disney World restaurant previously.
Then, of course, there’s the Moroccan belly dancer. A scantily-clad female dancing seductively in a restaurant…uh…ok? Although we were not seated anywhere near the belly dancer, the show did not strike either of us as being ‘family-unfriendly’ and was very tame. I don’t really know how to describe a belly dancing show, other than to say it was neat, I guess?
More interesting to us was the Moroccan musicians that performed traditional Moroccan music on instruments that looked pretty Moroccan (my musical skills are admittedly quite limited, so me not recognizing an instrument doesn’t mean a whole lot, but these looked “exotic” to me!). These musicians were excellent, and really added another dimension to the ambiance of the restaurant. Equally as important, their music wasn’t so loud as to stifle conversation, nor was it so faint that it could not be heard. Exactly what I like out of music in a restaurant.
As great as the ambiance was in Restaurant Marrakesh, the food was the real highlight. Since we wanted to sample as much of the menu as possible, we opted to order the Sultan Sampler and Taste of Morocco – Berber Feast, each of which contain a variety of small portions of other items from the menu.
Lunch started with bread service. We went fairly light on this as we had a lot of food coming…
The Sultan Sampler was the less expensive of the two samplers, coming in at just over $20 for an entree platter that could possibly be split among two people (probably with smaller appetites).
This includes a grilled brochette of beef (or chicken), beef brewat roll, chicken bastilla and was served with vegetable couscous. I’m not normally much of a couscous man (I basically consider it ‘filler’ to combine with whatever else is on the plate), so really the best I can ever say about that is that it didn’t stifle the rest of the plate, and that was the case here.
What we found really interesting were the brewat roll and chicken bastilla. The brewat roll was basically like beef pastry. Up until now, I never thought science had been able to combine two of my favorite things: meat and desserts, but the great people of Morocco had cracked that nut years ago! It was everything I ever imagined it would be and more.
Same goes for the chicken bastilla. Each of these dessert-entrees were juxtaposed contrasting flavors really well. They were sweet and slightly rich, yet spiced and savory. I don’t know how you combine flavors of almond and powdered sugar with spiced meats and have the end result actually be something edible, let alone delicious, but that’s probably why I am not a chef. To me, the very concept of these flaky pastries sounds like something that would come out of the test kitchen of Cheech and Chong. Yet, these turned out to be the highlight of the samplers.
As for the Berber Feast, it started with the Jasmina Salad, and there’s only one way to describe that: FRESH!!! So fresh(!!!) it was actually refreshing. An excellent way to start the meal.
On the main platter itself, we had Chicken Kebab and Couscous With Seven Vegetables. The chicken kebab was flavorful and mixed well with the couscous.
Then there was the star of the Berber Feast, the Roast Lamb Meshoui, which is billed as “a Moroccan tradition, roasted lamb shank in natural juices,” was excellent. This was fall-off-the-bone, cut-with-your-fork tender, and so juicy you could squeeze it and make lamb-onade (patent pending) out of it. While the flavor was nuanced and interesting, one thing that caught me off guard was the lack of intense spice to this.
Actually, this lack of intensity was true of just about everything we tried. As I later learned from Fes Cooking, just because Moroccan dishes feature a wide variety of spices and herbs does not mean that every authentic Moroccan dish has an intense flavor. (I’m trying to avoid the word “spicy” even though I think you’ll know what I mean in this context because these dishes did have plenty of spices, they just weren’t “hot” spicy, if you know what I mean.)
I really liked this about Restaurant Marrakesh–I do like spicy foods but some Mediterranean, MENA, and Moroccan foods I’ve had at hole-in-the-wall real world places have been a bit much for me. Everything at Restaurant Marrakesh that we tried had a complex flavor through its spices, while still being entirely approachable. This is actually why I am encouraging everyone to try Marrakesh, as even those with sensitive palates should have no issues.
Then came dessert, which is also included in the price of the Berber Feast (seriously, appetizer, large entree, and dessert for <$30 at Walt Disney World?!). The Berber Feast is supposed to come with Baklava, but our server brought us the Moroccan Symphony. We previously were underwhelmed with the baklava at Tangierine Cafe (about the only thing disappointing about that great restaurant!), but this totally redeemed the Morocco pavilion in terms of dessert. light and airy, somehow packed with amazing flavor. Each one of these was beyond excellent.
Overall, Restaurant Marrakesh does not get nearly enough appreciation. It’s a beautiful setting with enjoyable entertainment offering excellent cuisine at affordable prices. To us, it really harkens back to EPCOT Center in a way unlike anywhere else in the park. For a total of less than $50 for the two samplers we ordered (plus tax and tip), we felt that these were the types of ‘small plate’ values that Spice Road Table should have offered. We are confident in saying that Restaurant Marrakesh will appeal to most Walt Disney World guests, and we highly recommend it. If guests could find the place and get past their preconceptions, this would be the most popular restaurant in Epcot!
Have you tried this Walt Disney World hidden gem? What did you think? Any specific dishes you’d recommend? If you haven’t dined at Restaurant Marrakesh, does this review make you want to try it? If you have any questions or thoughts to share, please post them in the comments. We love hearing from readers!