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Dining in Nairobi - An Overview

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I just posted this in reply to another thread and though it might be useful to repost as a seperate topic for anyone who might interested in the future.

I was born and brought up in Nairobi and while I've been away at school for a year or so now the list below should be pretty up to date. I am terrible at remembering addresses so you may have to use some initiative to find these places - most will be listed in the local edition of the Yellow Pages, or just ask a good taxi driver.

One point worth making is that the list below is by no means comprehensive as Nairobi is chock full of restaurants with new ones opening (and old ones closing) every week.

Finally, I'll give fair warning that many of my favourite places are more upscale and expensive by Kenyan standards - but in US money they'll be pretty cheap.

Happy Eating!!

Java House
This is a local chain of coffee shop / cafes very popular with both locals and members of the ex-pat community. They have a number of different locations and serve an excellent selection of coffees, teas, sandwiches, burgers etc. My personal favourite there is the fish and chips.

Another coffee shop chain with a good menu which is slightly less cafe-ish than Java House. Again they have a number of locations through out the city.

A restaurant / bar chain owned by a white Kenyan called Bell (Kengele in kiswahili) which is slightly more down market and is very popular with locals. The food is pretty standard but it's a good standby for cheap eats and a cold one or two.

Probably the best Indian food in town (Kenya has a relatively large population of people from the sub-continent). Located in a shopping mall called 'The Mall' in Westlands, which is restaurant and bar central. I haven't eaten here much as, being of Indian descent myself, we tend to cook this kind of food at home.

Open House
Again located in Westlands. This is a relative new comer to the scene serving very authentic Indian food and is very popular with the Asian African (as we call ourselves) community.

Hashmi Pan House
Located in a mall known as UK Centre also in Westlands. Excellent tandoori food that tasty and cheap! Try the ice-cream too and, if you're adventurous, pan - betel nut, spices and various other tasty things wrapped in a betel nut leaf (a traditional digestif on the sub-continent)

Diamond Plaza
This mall in Highridge is a little slice of India in Africa. As well as various stores selling everything from saris to incense there are a number of little restaurants serving Indian food and street snacks - try dropping by one afternoon for a cold glass of passion juice and some maru bhajia (potato slices deep-fried in spice gram (garbanzo) flour).

There are a number of chinese restaurants in Nairobi but most (if not all of them) cater to the local palette and aren't as authentic as places here in the US or in the UK.

Hong Kong
Located downtown near the Nairobi Safari Club (aka Lillian Towers) this is probably Nairobi's oldest Chinese restaurant and one my parents used to take me to when I was a kid. Still popular with businessmen and women as a venue for a working lunch.

China Jiang-Hsu
Probably the most authentic Chinese in town and one which was popular with our family when it first opened although I haven't been there in a while. Located in Westlands in Soin Arcade.

Also, there's a new Chinese trade centre that's opened in an area called Hurlimgham which I haven't been too but which apparently has a good food court.

Siam Thai
The best of Nairobi's two Thai restaurants is located in Rank Xerox House in Westlands. A bit pricey by local standards but I love the food here - especially the spicy fried prawns (shrimp) and the date pancake with vanilla ice-cream for desert.

My favourite of Nairobi's numerous sushi joints. Conveniently located in Westlands a little behind the Sarit Centre (Nairobi's biggest mall). Try the 'dynamite roll'.

Again this can be found in Westlands (on Raphta Rd). My friends like it but I tend to stick with Furusato. They also have a small outpost at "The Village Market" a mall out near the US Embassy and UN HQ in Gigiri which also has an excellent food court that's great over the weekend as a place to hang out and people watch.

Located downtown at the Six-Eighty hotel (I think) this is another strong Japanese venue which is popular with businessmen for lunch - they're bento box is pretty good value.

There are a number of excellent Ethiopian restaurants in Nairobi all of which are fairly hole-in-the-wall-y and cheap, cheap, cheap. My favourite is located on Arwhings-Kodhek Rd in Hurlingham just after the junction of Elgeyo-Marakwet (if you're coming from Lavington). I can;t remember the name but it's located in a converted house and has a big sign outside the gate - if you have local guide, or a decent taxi driver they should be able to find it.

There are a number of good italian restaurants around the city - but I can't remember any of their names! There's one in Westlands next to a place called China Plate (in a strip mall) that I like going to. Look out also for Mediterraneo another old favourite in Westlands.

Alan Bobbe's Bistro
Sadly Alan Bobbe passed away recently but the restaurant has been taken over by his long-term partner Christian who pretty much ran it for the last few years anyway and who is doing a great job of keeping the flag flying at one of Nairobi's best, oldest, and well-known restuarants. Located downtown on Koinange St.

Ibis Grill
The restuarant at the Norfolk hotel has a an excellent reputation and on the one or two occassions I've been there I've always enjoyed the food though the atmosphere can be a bit lacking at times as it isn't always busy - more about the price than the food

Kenya's best seafood. Ideally you want to go to the Tamarind in Mombasa, which sits on a small cliff overlooking the ocean (or even spend a night on the Tamarind dhow enjoying your meal as you sail down the Mtwapa creek) but if you can't get there then make sure you make it to the Nairobi branch. It's great!

There are a number of other fine restaurants you could try many of them located at the finer hotels but these are my favourites.

NYAMA CHOMA (Roast Meat)
Nyama choma (NC) is Kenya's answer to BBQ. This could truly be called the national cuisine. There are hundreds of places to try this out ranging from special NC nights at fancy hotels to any number of little dives and shacks across the country. You go in order meat (normally goat or beef by the kilo) and wait for it to be served with a number of local side dishes; sukuma wiki (sauteed greens), ugali (maize-flour cooked into a stiff and sticky porridge), irio (mashed pumkins, potatoes, and corn), and kachumbari (a local salsa of onions, tomatoes, lime, and chilli).

I like to go to a place in the Kariakor Market which my dad first took me to (he's been going there for 40 years!) but I wouldn't be able to explain to you how to get there. Your best bet is to ask somebody local and get them to go with you - if you offer to buy them lunch they're bound to take you somewhere good! :-)

The Carnivore
Without a doubt Kenya's most famous restaurant. Located on the outskirts of town this is essentially (although don't try telling Kenyan's this) an African take of a Brazilian churasciria complete with a local cocktail based on caiphirinias- 'The Dawa' (medicine in kiswahili). Popular with tourist and locals alike it's an all you can eat affair with meat taking centre stage (I think they have some veggie options but then again maybe not!). If you want to check this out I suggest either going at lunch-time or, if you're up for making a night of it, a Saturday night after which you can head into the adjacent disco and try to dance off the calories!

The Village Market Food Court
Located in Gigiri and a great place to grab a bite to eat. This is where my friends and I go on a Sunday afternoon to sit in the sun, eat, and drink.

Karen Blixen Coffee Gardens
Located in the old neighbourhood of Karen (named after the late author Karen Blixen aka Isak Dinesen of "Out of Africa' fame) this is a lovely little place to grab afternoon tea or a simple lunch.

The Rusty Nail
Another Karen stalwart this is popular with many of the locals in the area (mostly of European descent) and while I haven't eaten there the bar is a great place to throw down a few and the food is meant to be good too.

A very popular bar/restaurant in Westlands which served surprisingly good food. The fish piri-piri here is a particular favourite of mine (grilled fish in a hot sauce). A good place for a working lunch in Westlands but also for dinner before drinking the night away downstairs.

A popular nightspot in Hurlingham (though I can't remember the address) that does fabulous cocktails (or at least used too)

Mercury Lounge
Located in ABC Plaza in Lavington this is probably the best cocktail bar in Nairobi and serves excellent tapas style small plates. It's expensive by local standards but packed with a young and hip crowd of locals and ex-pats.

The Outside Inn
Located in Karen this pub is a great place for Sunday brunch over a few beers especially if there's a rugby/soccer game being shown on TV.

I'm sure I could think of more given time but I'm sure this will keep you busy and full!!


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  1. Hi..Siam Thai is actually located in Unga House Westlands on the first floor....someone had come to us after reading this blog saying they went to rank xerox and couldnt find us!!!

    1 Reply
    1. re: appleberry001

      lsn't the place that was in the Xerox place gone now? Or is it Siam that has the special spicy prawns? l remember it was there back in the early 90's and that dish wasn't on the menu, but we could request it. lf this is your restaurant, l'm coming back for a visit in September, and you can definitely expect me to stop by!

    2. Hi A -

      Just came back from a trip to Kenya a couple weeks ago. Wanted to say "ditto" on your recommendation for Chinese at Jiang Hsu in Westlands. Had a full Chinese banquet-style dinner there with my dragon boat team (hosted by the Chinese Consulate) and it was as authentic and yummy as any Chinese restaurant I have been to here in the states . . .

      --- M.

      1. Great list.

        Just only have one issue, I've been to Siam Thai a while back. The cuisine was far from Thai. Biggest faux-pax was their Pad Thai, it was made with hokkien noodles and tasted nothing like a Pad Thai. My reference Pad Thai is the one from Thip Samai in Bangkok.

        The Stanley hotel has a Thai restaurant, I have not been there yet. But will post here after I do.

        1 Reply
        1. re: pikapakua

          tai chi its called, thai restaruant at the stanley. while overly formal and over priced, decent thai food---well balanced curries with jasmine rice and good satay a real cut above siam thai in westlands.

        2. Thanks for the exhaustive list Amar; as someone very familiar with Nairobi, I'll add that the name of the Ethiopian restaurant is Habesha. The food is excellent, and my friends from Ehiopia say it's very authentic. It's located in a somewhat rundown compound with other houses with other businesses in it (e.g. travel agent), and it all has a pleasingly non-slick atmosphere. The resto itself looks a little dusty and not fancy but the food is excellent and very reasonable.

          The other thing about most Nairobi Chinese eateries is that they're bigger on Indian-Chinese than more authentic Chinese dishes (wonder where all the highway construction staff go and eat). There's a new eatery called Zen Garden out beyond Spring Valley that promises dim sum and sushi, so let's see how that is (how Zen can you feel with a huge wall topped with razor wire; and a corporate logo that looks like a target) :)

          There are also several restos in converted bungalows (e.g. Another Thyme and Le Rustique) in Parklands, which have great brunch dishes, and other meals too, of the soup, salad, pasta, mains type. They double as art galleries so it's fun to visit. Also, River Cafe near Village Market does the same thing, with a river bank location so that's extra fun.

          Haandi is the oldest and quintessential India n resto: very old style classic Mughlai food, heavy on the ghee, butter, cream, nut pastes etc. Have lunch there and you'll sleep for a week (in a good way). I think they've branched into including Udupi, for South Indian food. I LOVE the mall food courts (not joking) because they have a nice variety of African, Asian, and Western (burgers etc.) stuff.

          And the lovely thing about eating all over KE and TZ is that vegetarians are widely catered to just about everywhere, whether it's in nice sit down restaurants, or in the safari parks, or in tiny rural truck stops (ugali, sukuma wiki, and githeri, add some pili pili and you can't beat these simple comfort foods).

          1. Hi all

            An update to the original 2 year old post, more for information’s sake:

            Open House
            Tucked away in a corner of Westlands, the place serves standard north Indian cuisine at half the price of Haandi and with much better quality. Signature dish is the special ginger chilli chicken that has deepfried ginger, garlic and chillis as a garnish
            Ethiopian food at its best and on various days during the week they have everything from spank poetry to open mike nite to entertain. Large fluffy Injera and a really nice and spicy dora wat

            The former head chef of the Ibis grill has taken over a fine dining restaurant at the Fairview hotel with a white linen restaurant that has a cave wine cellar underneath, good wines for a change served at the correct temperature and extremely good steaks. Service varies, but the management takes complaints seriously and rectifies them immediately
            A firm favourite for their delicious fork tender lamb tagine and fish Zanzibari (coconut based sauce), pricey but worth it for the occasional splurge. If you are a fan of good Caesar salads, avoid theirs at all costs, and the fajita wrap is more of a thick chapatti. A place where you can get a good Irish coffee and sinful desserts
            About Thyme
            A restaurant set in a house with the bulk of the tables set outside to make the most of Kenyan weather. One of the owners is a pastry chef who serves up a delicious tatin and the menu changes weekly
            Le Rustique
            A place that’s popular amongst the expat community, with a menu that also changes weekly. Famous for crepes (sweet and savoury) and large desserts. Not a particular favourite of mine, primarily because food quality has gone down while prices keep being hiked up
            Still a firm favourite with good steaks, fresh fish and well cooked burgers. Stingy on the French fries and heavily overpriced on drinks, but definitely worth a visit
            A bar/ restaurant that has a rep for the best fajita’s in town. Their bar bites are perfect when watching a game, and on certain days the owner will arrange for a whole suckling pig or goat. Can get pretty busy after hours tho
            Mercury Lounge
            Has just got a new manager who is keen to revamp the menu to meet consumer tastes. Not quite tapas, but good snacks and a very relaxing place to have an after work martini
            This is part of the South African restaurant chain, it is extremely child friendly and is one of the few places where you can get a decent steak that hasn’t been beaten to death. Large portions and good service.
            Café des arts
            Tucked away in the leafy suburbs of Gigiri, this is an ideal place to while away a Sunday afternoon drinking ice cold prosecco and then indulging in a large plate of linguini pesto. Desserts need improvement but ambience is fabulous
            Art Café
            Popular café/ bakery in Westgate. Burgers, sandwiches, pasta and a couple of hot dishes. Good food and a great place to people watch. Also a great place to pick up fresh bread
            Fogo Gaucho
            Brazilian churascaria that has great service, and enormous salad bar and some of the best meat in Nairobi. Extremely reasonable for all you can eat, and if you enjoy fresh grilled prawns by the platter, this is one place you will get your money’s worth
            Newly opened Japanese restaurant at Westgate, standard Japanese menu, a bit pricey but very good ambience. They experiment with ‘fancy’ sushi including a fresh tuna roll covered in wasabi peas
            A casual sandwich place in hurlingham that’s extremely basic but serves up huge salads and freshly made sandwiches
            Still a firm favourite for cozy dining at its best. A daily specials menu that changes to meet seasonal availability, a hot grill that serves fish, steak and lamb cooked to order with accompanying sides and a good vegetarian selection. They also have a fabulous jazz band in the evenings.

            More to come, regarding chowing in Kenya

            3 Replies
            1. re: waytob

              Hi, I have a few recommendations to add:

              Abyssinia - Muguga Gardens, Brookside (behind Safaricom House)
              New Ethiopian which I like more than Habesha, the food tastes fresher and the flavours are brighter. The setting is similar to the Hurlingham Habesha, with a big garden with lots of tables and many different separate seating areas, so good for big groups.

              Tamambo Tapas - Village Market
              Pretty much the same food as Tamambo in the Mall but cheaper. Same reliable quality, with lots of small plates and good Belgian-style frites with spicy mayonnaise.

              Nihonjin Club - Dennis Pritt Road, Hurlingham
              My favorite Japanese, though not for sushi. Good for gyoza, yakitori, ramen, katsudon, teriyaki. Very peaceful with low tables in the outside area.

              Phoenician - Karuna Road, Westlands
              A Lebanese-pizza-sushi restaurant that manages to do at least 2 out of 3 (Lebanese and sushi) quite well. The Lebanese food is a bit overpriced but quite tasty, and most of my friends seem to agree that the sushi is the best in Nairobi.

              Zen Garden - Lower Kabete Road
              A huge place with three separate areas for a cafe, bar and Asian restaurant. The breakfasts are good, and the Asian food, particularly the dim sum, can be patchy but generally not bad (for Nairobi...). The mushroom dumplings and salt-and-pepper prawns are particularly good.

              1. re: duma

                Agree with pretty much all of the above except for Zen, found it overpriced, the char siu was rubbish and all their thai curries taste exactly the same.

                Tamambo tapas is great for peopl watching, and on my recommended list too. There is a new tapas place on riverside drive (can't recall the name at the mo) thats really quaint and perfect for a saturday afternoon of basking in the sun with friends drinking wine

              2. re: waytob

                Great, thanks so much to those hounds posting from Nairobi. I haven't been to Kenya in years but hope (!!) to get back next spring and will likely spend several days in the city and look forward to a variety of restaurants.

              3. Great list. As a Chinese who is living Nairobi currently, I'd like to add one authentic Chinese restaurant to your list -- Bangkok Chinese Restaurant. This restaurant is located on the ground floor in Rank Xerox House Westlands. Although it has a strange name as a Chinese restaurant, the food is as good as the one you can find in China. Soon they are going to offer the tranditional Dim Sum in their restaurant and opening a Dim Sum branch at Yaya Center in this September. I had the opportunity to try their Har Gau and Shu Mai, Yummy! That's real Dim Sum not the one that you mentioned in Zen Garden.

                1 Reply
                1. re: lifeinnairobi09

                  Thank you! l figured l'd read through all the replies before adding the ones l missed, but l couldn't help myself when l asked about the place in Xerox house on the first reply, and Bangkok is the place l was wondering about. l'm SO excited it's still there; for some reason, last time l visited in '07, my dad said it had closed down so we never went. l'll have to rectify that in September. Although l did actually think it was Thai.

                2. Question: Where can I find decent vegetarian food? Doesn't have to be a veg restaurant, just a place with a few veg dishes.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: piccola

                    Depends what you are looking for. There are some pure vegetarian places like chowpatty and ruchira"s that do vegetarian south indian dishes, but also have a variety of sanwiches and pizza's.
                    Most chinese restaurants have a good vegetarian selection - try Bankok in Westlands
                    You can never go wrong with Italian - Mediterraneo has a large range of very good pastas and pizza's
                    The food courts in malls are not half bad, nothing like what you get in America - sugar and spice in Westgate does an excellent gyro with paneer, tofu or vegetarian falafel replacing the meat
                    A firm favourite of ours is Phoenician - behind sarit centre - their vegetarian meze is excellent.
                    And for a whole range of choices, make your way to Diamond Plaza - our version of little India

                    Please let me know if you're looking for something specific, as its a lot easier to narrow down choices

                    1. re: waytob

                      Thanks for the suggestions (and sorry for the late reply). I'm actually in Nairobi right now, and I have to agree with a lot of your choices: I love Diamond Plaza and the food court at Village Market. Now I just need to try the others...

                      1. re: piccola

                        Gosh....I guess I am really late in replying, how did your trip go? Find any good locations?

                        I have just returned to Nairobi after a brief hiatus in Mombasa and have found plenty of new restaurants to explore so will post an update quire soon

                  2. Thanks to everyone for the corrections and updates.

                    I haven't really been on the boards since moving back to Nairobi from LA and it was a pleasant surprise to find that there are 'Hounds'' here too. I guess I will have to start logging in and updating more regularly!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: AmarV

                      Hi: I am another latecomer to this thread. We've just finished a 2 year sojourn in Nairobi. Most of the recommendations above are accurate (e.g. Zen garden is patchy and overpriced); Abyssinia is very good, etc.

                      There are vegetarian options in almost all eating places, because of the historical Asian (mostly Gujarati) presence. Gujarati Jains and Hindus used to be strict vegetarians, though that's changing.

                      One more very good and off beat eatery, very much a local, working class place. It is a Seventh Day adventist eatery in Downtown Nairobi, off Valley Road, run from a church. It has excellent vegetarian lunch every day, hot and freshly made, and not a tourist in sight.

                      They serve buffet style and you make your choices, pay accordingly, and join the other officegoers. This was one of the best meals and deals in Nairobi.

                      There's also another very good Mediterranean restaurant called The Cedars (also in the downtown area)

                    2. tratorria italian restaruant--located downtown behind the stanley hotel-- has always been a diamond in the rough for me, coming off the dusty bush and beyond for a ..homemade pastas, fresh seafood--oysters, fresh shrimp, gratis bruschetta, and a killer tiramisu. cosy wood beamed dining area, and overgrown hangling plant patio for smokers (otherwise outlawed inbars, restaruants, and all city center sidewalks these days) legit. heaven.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: toddray

                        When we first moved to Nairobi back in '86, the Trattoria was where we went for ice cream, primarily, but l remember loving the bruschetta and the food in general.

                        When did they outlaw smoking?? Damn! l may have to quit.

                      2. furasato is a long time Japanese favorite (note new location--now further behind westlands mall/peponi junction roundabout, heading towards parklands)

                        Sleek, modern, minimalist and spacious Onami grill the new westgate mall is good spot for reliable sushi.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: toddray

                          Onami actually has a fabulous business lunch deal for those on a budget. I find the bento boxes at Phoenician are also a good buy and value for money.

                          We recently went to Corner Bistro off Raphta road, definitely worth a mention as one of the few places in nairobi where you can get a good medium rare steak that hasn't been beaten to death...wine list is limited tho, however they allow your own wines at a 500/- corkage fee ($7).

                          Indigo spice on Muthithi road is a mish mash of cusisines and follows the realm of all jack of all restaurants....master of none with the exception of their spicy chicken wings

                          A must try for those looking for quality, is Brew's bistro, off Ngong road. Micro brewery with amazing bistro food.

                          1. re: waytob

                            i like Brew's bistro, they have very good beer

                            1. re: antonymken

                              The latest addition to the scene....MEdusa....is very good too. Good and reasonably priced wine list (a rarity) and a limited but well designed menu. Portions are on the smallish side but satisfying enough if you go for the whole 3 courses.

                        2. Any recs for someone flying in in the evening and staying in Karen? My first night I will probably be exhausted from the gazillion hours of flying but will want a tasty, low-key meal with decent wine. Probably will not want seafood. Budget not a huge issue. Medusa sounds good but where is it located?

                          I can't believe I will finally be back in Kenya in just a couple of months! Very excited.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Leely2

                            The talisman in Karen is always a good bet, good food and good portions. Mediterraneo the junction for standard Italian fare and the latest newcomer on the scene, Brew's bistro is good for a steak and a reasonable wine list plus a decent selection of wine by the glass - a novelty in Nairobi.
                            Medusa is in Westlands so if you're willing to brave Nairobi traffic then make the trek over and sample their delicious confit of lamb.

                          2. Hi,
                            Does anyone know if Alan Bobbe's bistrot is still open? I went there two years ago, and I know Christian who gave me his personnal mail and mobile number.
                            I'll be in Nairobi in May and tried to reach him before, but the phonenumbers of the restaurant don't work,and he doesn't answer my messages.
                            Notice that his address had changed, he was now located in Riverside.
                            By the way, I'm French and live in Mayotte, a French Comoro island.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Debelay

                              Hey there, Christian opened up Alan Bobbe's on riverside drive 3 years ago, but closed that last year.
                              He has now moved to Andrews Apartments at the end of Rhaphta road and is open for lunch and dinner.
                              The menu has changed due to the different location, but he is still serving up alot of his old classics, including the deliciously garlicky escargot.

                            2. l moved to Nairobi in '86 and left in '94, and my last visit was in 2007, but l believe these are still current.

                              Chinese - l'm not sure if it's still there, but we loved the Rickshaw, which is downtown in an office building, l believe. There's also Chopstix in Hurlingham (APA Arcade
                              Grnd Flr, Argwings Kodhek Rd.), which l also love, though l'll say the Rickshaw is so far the best l've had there.

                              Gyros - Yaya Centre. This place has been there since the mall opened, and it is AMAZING. ln the States, you get some pita bread, tomatoes, lettuce, tzatziki, and hopefully some meat that is authentic and sliced off a rotating skewer. The best part about an American gyro is usually the meat, and that's a 50-50 shot to begin with. This place (can't remember the name but l think it's on the second floor somewhere) uses chapatis instead of pita -which is fine by me, since it's less filling and the gyro itself is pretty decent- but the meat is authentic and tasty. They include onions, pickles, and about ten sauces, including piri-piri, garlic, and eggplant, and every time l go back, this is the first place l want to eat. l'm sure it's in part because it's so nostalgic for me, but that doesn't change the fact that the gyros are absolutely fantastic.

                              There used to be a Japanese place in the same area called Shogun. Does anyone know if it's still there?

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: freikja

                                With the change in attitude towards town, alot of town based restaurants seemed to have faded away...for more authentic Chinese you'll probably find China Xiang Su is a better option, and there's always Bangkok for the spicier more Indian version.
                                For Gyros, the place has now opened up a sister branch in Westgate shopping mall, and the menu has expanded to include items such as chicken tikka wraps and paneer rolls. Shogun has disappeared...however the old Japanese club has re-opened as the Nihonjin club (Lenanan road) and stills erves up some delicious authentic fare.
                                Plenty of good eats in Nairobi...a must have is Ethiopian at Habesha

                              2. Hi,
                                I'll be travelling to Kenya in February and spending a few extra days in Nairobi. This thread has tons of great suggestions.

                                I'd love to try the more hole-in-the-wall type places, but I speak only English, French and smatterings of Italian. Will I be able to make myself understood well enough? I'm a rather adventurous eater and don't mind gesturing then ending up with the wrong thing (so long as it's not shrimp, I've an anaphylactic shock allergy.....)

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: FrenchSoda

                                  Hi there, sorry for the late reply....have spent the last month on a gastronomic adventure in the East.

                                  English is fine, most places in Kenya are English speaking. However the really local places may have a more Swahili bend and it might make more sense to go with a local person.

                                  If you enjoy grilled mutton and choose to go to a traditional Nyama Choma place.....you will generally go up to the butcher and pick out your 'mbuzi' (goat). he will then grill it for you and serve it up with some 'kachumbari' (tomato, onion and green chilli salsa) and 'ugali' a corn meal based starch similar but not quite polenta. You can order a side of sukuma wiki which is quick fried kale or spinach.

                                  Morning places serve up 'mandazi' and 'chai' - a version of the local donut with stewed tea

                                  For a roadside snack you can have a 'mahindi' - roasted corn slathered with lemon, red chilli poweder and salt

                                  From a restaurant POV however, should you go to places like abyssinia and habesha for Ethiopian or Blanco's for more traditional African fare, English will suit you just fine

                                  1. re: waytob

                                    Thanks! I'm headed out next week and very much looking forward to it.

                                2. We're living in Eldoret, Kenya, for the year, and our first trip into Nairobi after living for 2 months in Eldoret was like a country girl going into NYC.

                                  The friend I was traveling really wanted Korean food, so we got some at Tokyo (in Village Market), which also serves Japanese food. Split a bento box and bibimbap. Bibimbap was excellent; the tuna nigiri in the bento box tasted like it had been frozen and thawed. Also got some gelato at Village Market (it's one floor above + across from the food court)...was dancing when I found out there was gelato! And it wasn't bad.

                                  That night, we had dinner at Seoul Garden (I think that's the name) near Yaya Centre. This is Korean through and through, with lots of banchan (stuff I haven't seen in the States, even). The seafood pajeon was quite good, as was the japchae (yum). However, the quality of meat in the kalbi and bulgogi wasn't fantastic - the kalbi in particular was quite tough. We spent about $14 per person including drinks + tip (party of 4).

                                  Our Kenyan-American friend took us to Brew Bistro and Lounge for after-dinner drinks. It's a microbrewery, so I tried one of their beers - can't remember the name but it was one of the darker ones. It was okay, but seemed to be lacking the roundness and depth of most dark beers. There's a large selection of cocktails here as well that look good, but they are quite pricey (in the U.S. price range).

                                  The next morning we had breakfast at the Java House in Yaya Centre - had a chocolate croissant and a latte - both were great. (especially after not having anything resembling either in Eldoret).

                                  Our next trip to Nairobi, after four months in Eldoret, found us at Furusato. It is also a Japanese/Korean restaurant like Tokyo, only much bigger and nicer. We had the udon+tempura, which was fantastic (though the tempura was served in the soup so it was soggy by the time it got to the table), as well as the bibimbap - also delicious. We were served a complimentary salad and complimentary ice cream (a secret we discovered: if you order the "red bean" ice cream, you will get this delicious red bean concoction served on top of whatever flavor of ice cream you order...it's good).

                                  We went to the Phoenician for lunch and the hummus was excellent, as were the grape leaves (our favorite, probably). The baba ghanoush was way, way overly smoky - so much so that we had to send it back for hummus instead. We also had a kebab platter, decent flavor but not outstanding. We noticed that most of the patrons looked Lebanese, but ordered Japanese food. It's an interesting pairing of Lebanese/Japanese!

                                  By the way, Akasaka (the Japanese restaurant in 680 Hotel) is no longer open.

                                  Not that anyone travels to Eldoret for tourism purposes, but in Eldoret, we like the nyama choma at the Royalton (it's on the dry, flavorful side). Mamma Mia's has the only pizza in town, and it's decent (the Indiana and the Americana are both good). Sikh Union has the best Indian food. Milkshakes can be found at Sizzlers (burgers - not great), Oasis (burgers/sandwiches), Sikh Union, and Mamma Mia's. Mango lassis can be found at Sunjeel and Sikh Union, of varying quality each time we've ordered them.

                                  12 Replies
                                  1. re: tigerswims

                                    How Nairobi has changed for the better for food.

                                    Medusa is my favourite at the moment with their Fish and Chips (beer battered lobster tail), and salmon with nero pasta served on a lobster bisque. The wine list is good.

                                    A new seafood restaurant has opened at ABC Place. It is called Seven and has a great menu and wine list. Very fresh.

                                    Brew Bistro does excellent food (beer battered calamri, satay, steak with foie gras, wild mushrooms, truffled mash and madeira sauce). Their beer is great, and good value for money.

                                    For Chinesse I like Spring Garden on James Gichuru Road. Authentic and well priced.

                                    Nobody has really mentioned Mediterraneo restaurants with their branches in Westlands and The Junction Shopping Mall. It has a very extensive menu and is excellent value for money. service is good. Portions are large.

                                    Then there is La Sulemeria in Dhanjal Apartments in Lavington. It is a small Italian restaurant with home made pasta's and breads. Good food and good service.

                                    Hotels in Nairobi do not really rank well when it comes to food, except for Fairview. We have dined several times at Sankara in Westlands, and while the food is good, it is overpriced and service is lousy. Their pastry's are excellent, as it their wine selection. They have a great roof top bar called Sarabi, which is great for one drink before you move on.

                                    The best burgers in town I would say are at Burger Hut, which is in Westlands, Been around for more then 20 years, and they are tasty and cheap. US$5 for a double cheese burger with bacon and fries.

                                    Went to Habesha Ethiopian on saturday for lunch and it was BUSY. Expats and locals alike. Food is excellent and good value for money. The tibs (roast goat meat) was especially good. I was with a vegan and he loved the other dishes.

                                    There is also a new website called www.eatout.co.ke that has reviews and guides to the dining scene in Kenya.

                                    Happy chowing:)

                                    1. re: roadwarriorafrica

                                      Is there a High end Restaurant serving typical Kenyan food?
                                      Is there a National Dish?
                                      Will only be in Nairobi for a couple of days and would really like to try Kenyan food
                                      Thanks in advance.

                                      1. re: erly

                                        Erly - Hello. There are really no high end restaurants serving Kenyan food. You will find all hotels will have a few Kenyan dishes on their buffet.

                                        Typical Kenyan foods included starches (Ugali, Irio, Mukimo, Githeri), and then greens (sukuma, cabbage, potato's) and meat (usually grilled called Nyama Choma).

                                        There are heaps of Nyama Choma joints around, but none would be upmarket.

                                        Where will you be staying?

                                        1. re: roadwarriorafrica

                                          Have just finalized the Itinerary for the Safari's have not yet booked Hotel.
                                          We will have a Driver with us.
                                          It sounds like Blanco's is the place.
                                          Will try if possible to try Nyama Choma if possible.
                                          Thanks all

                                          1. re: erly

                                            Blanco's does not serve authentic Nyama Choma. All their other dishes are excellent. They also have a good wine list. It was set up by two former employee's of The Tamarind Group, so excellent backgrounds there. I am not sure who runs it now.

                                            For Nyama Choma, you could try Segret Hotel near CID Headquarters.

                                            1. re: roadwarriorafrica

                                              We will be at the Norfolk Hotel
                                              Will make Segret Hotel our second meal
                                              Thanks again

                                              1. re: roadwarriorafrica

                                                Upon doing a search, is it "Sagret" as opposed to "Segret"? Is it near Mombasa road?

                                                1. re: jennjen18

                                                  Hey there, its hotel Sagret and its on Milimani road in Nairobi, just off the city centre

                                          2. re: erly

                                            Hey there, you can try Blanco's, the closest you can get to African food in a higher end environment.

                                            They serve alot of the typical AFrican side dishes and have very good lamb chops.

                                            1. re: waytob

                                              Total recommend for Blanco's. We only had two nights in Nairobi so I can't compare to other restaurants, but the food was delicious. We were pleased to be able to try their version of the local dishes.

                                              1. re: FrenchSoda

                                                Just had lunch at Tamambo. They have a few African dishes, or their take on African dishes.

                                                A new wine bar has opened at The Junction. Very pricey wines by the glass. It is called WW Bar and Wine Shop.

                                                Medusa has closed down:(

                                                Brew Bistro is still around, and has great dining options, and a very happening bar and terrace with good entertainment.

                                      2. My husband and I will be in Nairobi in the middle of September, at the end of a safari. As usual, the safari company has us booked at Carnivore the last night. I want to try something else because it sounds very touristy and anyway, I am vegetarian (although my husband enjoys meat).

                                        Any recommendations? I am not looking for something with only vegetarian dishes, just something with some tasty veg options. We would prefer to eat more local cuisine - either east african or indian (we are visiting from San Francisco). From what I have read, some potentially good options include:

                                        Thanks so much for your thoughts.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: megek

                                          Hi there

                                          I agree with you, especially being a vegetarian, Carnivore is a bit of a rip off and very touristy. Depending on which area of Nairobi you are staying at:

                                          Abyssinia - a bit of a dive but good food and very cheap - Ethiopian cuisine.

                                          Stavrose is good for meat eaters - very limited on vegetarian and Haandi - the posh North Indian version of a tourist trap, I prefer Open house, which has similar cuisine at half the price

                                          Chowpaty in shimmers plaza has a good balance of North and South inidan with excellent paper dhosa's, and it is completely vegetarian

                                          Blanco's would be my recommendation for African choice, however not hundred percent sure on veg options as focus on the menu is predominantly meat driven

                                          There's a new place thats modern Indian that has just opened called Benares, it might catch your fancy. very different from normal restaurants here

                                          A firm favourite for me is Tamambo, the sister restaurant to Carnivore, but not a tourist haven at all.

                                          You might want to try out our version of Chinese - its very indianised but delicious, theres a restaurant called Bangkok that does excellent ginger garlic crab and has some great vegetarian options too.

                                          Let me know if this helps

                                          1. re: waytob

                                            Thanks so much! This is very helpful. I think we will try for Blanco's or possibly Open House. I'll report back how we liked it once we are back at the end of September.

                                            1. re: megek

                                              If you are vegetarian definitely go to Chowpaty. Get the chili paneer and your husband will not miss the meat. Lots of unusual options you don't usually see in Indian restaurants in Europe and the US.

                                        2. For great authentic african dishes (kenyan) try AMAICA on peponi road. Just delicious, non greasy and very earthy.