Thursday, November 09, 2006

The best little restaurant in Fez

Thami - the best kept secret in Fez.

The View from Fez team were divided on whether or not to reveal our favourite eating spot in the Fez Medina, but after a lot of discussion a vote was held and those in favour won the day.

Tourists visiting Fez are usually guided to "palace" restaurants where the menu is Moroccan salads, chicken or lamb tagine with couscous followed by fruit and mint tea. For the average visitor, street food is something they approach with undue caution. But we are here to tell you the street food is great.

So where do you go if you want to watch the crowds and enjoy a simple, delicious meal at very reasonable prices and no fuss? The answer is Thami's Restaurant.

At this point we should mention that in the context of Thami, the word "restaurant" should be taken to mean a simple table set on a street corner. In fact, the owner and chef, Thami started off a few years ago with a single table and four chairs. The following year he expanded to six chairs with two tables covered with a single tablecloth and now he has managed to take over another small area of footpath and has a second table with two chairs - such is capitalism.

On our latest visit we noticed that Thami has a gorgeous new red tablecloth and even matching seat covers. A candle twinkled in the neck of a tagine lid - such opulence! There is also a smart new menu in French and English. At the first sign of an approaching tourist, Thami weaves his way through the crowds on the street and presents them with the card. This is hard work, as his strike rate is often as low as one in fifty. Yet when the restaurant is busy, people in the know, find themselves having to nip around to the Batha Hotel to assuage their thirst while waiting for a seat. Once you get a seat you could well find yourself chatting with some of the Medina's most colourful identities - poets, renovators, English teachers and photographers.

Thami is up against stiff competition. To one side of his small hole-in-the-wall kitchen are a row of smart cafes and several terrace restaurants with ambiance much more appealing than a simple table on a busy corner near the Baboujeloud. So why do so many of the expats and Moroccan's regularly visit Thami? The answer is simple. The food is simple, cheap and fresh - and in five years of eating there - nobody has had any need to rush for the immodium! The second reason is Thami himself. He is a really nice person who looks after his regular customers as if they were members of his family.

The one drawback to Thami's is the fact that being located in such a great spot for watching the passing throng some of the locals have taken up almost permanent residence on some of his chairs and often need prying away from them with a crowbar.

We suggest you try the tagine of kefta with egg, the melange and his fish.

Thami's Restaurant is at the very top of the Tala'a Sghira on the corner that turns right to the Baboujeloud and the Tala'a Kbira. He is open for lunch and in the evenings from about 7 onwards. The restaurant is the best kept secret in Fez, so don't tell anyone else, okay?



Michael said...

Agreed, Thami has a good selection there, the ratatoille stlye dish with chilli is particularly fine, as are the fish. There's little room for expansion, however, you can sit at a table actualy in the kitchen I'm told. A great spot at dusk just as the medina gets lively.

Martin said...

Also my favorite nosh spot! Thami is a great guy and his food better than the regular crap in the big restaurants. Pity he can't get rid of the local guys who sit in his seats and don't buy anything - and tend to frighten off the tourists that Thami needs.

Anonymous said...

And nobody gets sick from street food in Fez?

Anonymous said...

Not at Thami's Restaurant - well not since I have been eating there.

woman wandering said...

Sigh ... I knew I shouldn't have popped over. Sounds very marvellous.

I'm looking forward to purchasing your next book as soon as circumstances allow. All reads good over your way :)

Morpheus said...

Thanks for the pointer. We'll check him out when we get there for our xmas "escape" :o) I think it's the street food that i am most looking forward too.


Morpheus said...

You were right! Thami treated us like old friends when we went back a second time.
First time we got handed a menu and had sat down before we realised we had found the place. We had taken this page printed out but had left it in the bags back at the hotel as we got caught up in exploring.
After that first visit we became regulars as the food, hospitality and welcome got better and better.
And it really is a good place to sit, people watch and meet some interesting locals. The old Berber lady making the pastille (sp) is a genius! She makes pastry, by hand, to die for!
If you don't eat at Thami's you will miss a treat... Try the fish, and the Melange. You won't be disappointed.


michael said...

We ate there just last week and it was terrific. Interestingly, Thami now has a printout of this blog posting that he shows passers-by along with his menus. At first, I was a little put off by the insistance, but I'm glad I relaxed, sat down, and tried some of the best food I had in Fes. It helped that I was with someone who spoke Moroccan Arabic, as I felt we got extra special treatment - including some of the eggplant/chili dish and fried fish gratis! A must experience. Thanks for posting.

Amaryllis and Marco said...

Me and my boyfriend visited Fez a few weeks ago, a bit before christmas, and even though not the most touristic time of the year, Thami's tables were quite full. When it rained, he send his customers to the near by cafe shop (where he usually gets the drinks anyway).
Thami's kithcen at first glance seems quite dirty, as of course everyone else's in morocco streets, so we were scared to try street food. After trying Thami's pastilla though, we became regulars, and we even order a pastilla as "take away" to take it with us on the plane on our way home!
Thami was very friendly, and everytime he would shake our hand. When he would see us walking around in the streets in the day time, passing near by his restaurant, he would wave, asking when we will come again and what time so he can keep us a place at the table!
And of course when we arrived he greet us with his usual handshake.
But it is interesting to mention about a local guy who sits near by all the time, and acts as a waiter. But not any waiter! Waiter for royalties! When there was rain and we had to sit at the cafe opposite, this "waiter" helped Thami, and he pissed off the real waiter, who kept on telling him to go away as HE is the real waiter, it is HIS job!It was really interesting to see. To us, the "not real" waiter was the best, very smily, excellent manners, he even lifted the chairs for the ladies and he kissed their hand when they left.
All and all very interesting experience eating at the streets of Fez...Unforgetable, especially Thami. Maybe Gordon Ramsey should pay him a visit (of course bearing in mind that the hygiene standards are different in morocco).

taoufik alaoui said...

10/10 thami restaurant , I recommend it to all ��
Cheap , tasty and fresh .