Once upon a time Dar Zellij was a guesthouse. In fact, it was one of the first traditional houses to be converted into a maison d’hote and was thus partly responsible for kick-starting the whole ‘riad boom’ that has infected Marrakech ever since.
In contrast with many other ‘designer’ spots, Dar Zellij was a spartan affair with 17th-century detailing left nakedly on display rather than being restored by modern artisans. The fine stucco detailing, cedarwood ceilings, decorated doors and eponymous tiling are still the big draw now, even though the place is run as a restaurant.
The main courtyard is an appealing blend of whitewashed pillars and walls, and red carpets and rose petals. Aside from the main dining area there’s a series of more intimate alcoves, rooms and patios to dine in, as well as a charming roof terrace where you can enjoy an aperitif.
The menu is resolutely Moroccan – pastilles, tajines and couscous galore – and comes in the shape of a couple of fixed menu options (350dh/400dh), the contents of which morph on a monthly basis. Musicians play lively Arabo-Andalucian music nightly.