Jack is Back and Bar L’Escale — Eating and Drinking in Marrakesh’s Gueliz

While the Medina is where most of the action is in Marrakesh, outside the walls feels less confined, more wide-open, but still a bit loud with construction. The city is falling under the spell of other modern Muslim metropolises where expansion and more modern facilities are springing up. Just inside the main gates of the Medina as bright and obnoxious mega-mall and entertainment complex.

With new business, there needs to be restaurants that cater to an upscale clientèle and the French glitterati. On the other hand, the old school eateries and cafes need to be appreciated. I made sure to visit one of both.

Located a few minutes walk from the Place du 16 Novembre, Jack is Back was a much needed reprieve from the traditional Moroccan food eaten among hectic settings. I just wanted a damn drink! Thankfully, they had a great cocktail menu. It was my last night in the city and needed something calming to wash down all the dust I was inhaling. Food wise, they offer bistro fair and pizzas. Yeah, I went with the pizza. As it turns out, you need two because they are tiny. When I ordered one, I had to say, “I’m probably going to need another one.”

The place has a cool, hip vibe with an eclectic mix for music of soul, funk, R&B and triphop. The crowd was mostly French business people and the well-to-do, even though the place is reasonable by my budget standards. I was amused by a large group that came in, all tall French women and one old, short French dude like the World’s Most Interesting Man. I tip my hat to you sir.

The staff was wonderful, and because I’d like to think I’m the Most Interesting Man in the World, I took a Polaroid with them to post on their guest wall. They probably thought I was John Cusack.

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Located off Avenue Mohammed V on Rue de Mauritanie, Bar L’Escale is as old school as you can get in the area. It’s where retirees and old timers go to talk the day away over grilled meats like lemon chicken and sausages. It’s folding chairs, plastic covered tables and a rickety wood bar with staff who’s probably been there since Morocco was a French colony. The menu is simple and the beer is cold, cheap and tastes cheap.

My big amusement was watching the local TV with commercials that were just bizarre and Arabic rap and pop music videos. What I noticed was the rap guys (who looked like Moroccan versions of Pauly D from Jersey Shore) all had big cars, splashy houses and big old chains while throwing money in the club. The one thing they were missing was women. Then, in the pop videos, all of them, both male and female singers, were singing to their bride or grooms on their wedding day. No kissing involved at all.

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