Seven Must-Try Restaurants In Nairobi

Nairobi, the glistening City Under the Sun, is home to some of East Africa’s best restaurants. The city’s food culture is wonderfully diverse, with even international restaurants integrating a taste of Africa into their meals. Whether you’re passing through before heading out on safari or here to visit, East Africa’s most sophisticated city provides an ideal backdrop to relax and indulge. Memories are created at the dining tables, where you can soak up the atmosphere over local favorite nyamachoma (grilled steak) and the popular locally brewed Tusker beer.

These are the restaurants to add to your Nairobi itinerary:

Java House

You can’t miss Java House in Nairobi. Even if you try to, you’re eventually bound to encounter one of its 34 branches sooner or later. The new and spacious Java House on Kimathi Street has the best views of the city and is the perfect stop to refuel after strolling around the CBD. Ask for the special homestyle chicken dhania and a side dish of spare pork ribs if you’re looking to indulge. Wash it down with their refreshing pineapple mint juice or apple cider.

News Cafe

Sprawling with elegant decor, soft lighting and an intimate indoor seating area, South-African based News Cafe offers the perfect aura for a special meal. A favorite choice is the chicken tikka on the bone. Wash this down with their signature sweet-but-strong cocktails, such as the Love Potion. News Cafe at the Sarit Centre  is strategically placed as the ideal restaurant stop-over after a whole ton of shopping.  One is spoilt for choice; from their stir-fry shrimp entrees, fresh tomato garlic & basil pasta or a crispy pesto cheese pizza. If you want to have a decent conversation over drinks without music badgering your eardrums, then walk into News Cafe.

Urban Eatery

Overlooking the busy urban Westlands area, Urban Eatery combines six different restaurants into one, and you choose which one you want to eat at. The options range from an all-day dining bistro, Indian food, an Asian noodle bar, Mexican and Mediterranean cuisine, a milkshake bar and the Mercury signature bar for beer lovers. Grab your plate and sit among the mahogany-crafted tables surrounded by animal-skin rugs,  making it feel like you’re on a food safari.

Art Caffé

A breathtaking city view is your backdrop eye gallore when you dine at Art Caffé. The crowd at Art Caffé Oval is young and energetic. The restaurant is adorned with modern and sophisticated white décor and includes a relaxing magazine corner. It’s also candlelit by night. Definitely go for the pizza and finish of with the classic vanilla eclair for dessert. Soft jazz playing quietly at a corner is the lovely soundtrack for lunch, while the attentive customer service is spot on.

Kafé Afrikana

Smack in the middle of The Mall in the busy urban streets of Westlands, Kafé Afrikana is the ultimate grab-and-go restaurant, packed full of ready-made meals if you’re in a hurry. Inspired by the world-renowned premium coffee grown in Kenya, Kafé Afrikana derives its name from the green fertile highlands of Kenya and offers authentic African snacks such as the beef pilau (spiced rice) or Swahili chicken, with re-fills of the best coffee ever.

Zen Garden

Located along Lower Kabete Road, Zen Garden is a pan-Asian heaven and has been many times the talk of town because of its comfortable, relaxed and lush dining experience. The scent of fresh bamboo hangs in the air as you enter. When it comes to the Japanese dining and culinary prowess, one thing stands out: the culturally-rich flavors infused in the food, such as the papaya salad, prawn crackers, assorted sushi options, curry chicken with mushroom and the Zen Garden special fried rice & noodles. For coffee lovers, the Zen Café is one to try out, with contemporary coffees and freshly baked desserts. Remember to ask for the ‘Zen Garden Desert Special’ – tastes better than vanilla-wrapped waffles coated in pistachio ice cream.

Dusit D2’s SOKO

Soko means market in Swahili, and Dusit D2’s SOKO restaurant (www.d2nairobi.com) is a bountiful selection of gourmet food. What should you order from this market? Try the grilled pork ribs washed down with a refreshing glass of their signature gin & zing cocktail, which is a twist on the classic gin & tonic special. Located on the south wing of Dusit D2, part of Dubai’s international luxury hotel chains, it goes without saying that SOKO is cut above the rest with its flawlessly elegant interiors and lavish décor. The à la carte menu offered as well as buffet dining served at SOKO goes on to show that this is a restaurant willing to leap great lengths to satisfy its customers.

 

Lose Yourself To The Alabaster White Smooth Sinking Sands In Diani

Our arrival itinerary at the world-renown Leopard Resort Beach & Spa was at about 3pm.

Right on time for the wedding; the guards informed us. Wedding? We wondered. Apparently there was a wedding going on at the hotel.

We’re here as guests – we informed them.

The thought of a beach wedding some few steps from where we would be staying for the weekend was enough to send excitement thrills up my spine. Yippee! That was the sound of the holiday mood kicking in.

Fast forward to our check in at the Dakarai Villa, an all en suite house with three lavish bedrooms and state of the art living room, adjacent to a gorgeous dining set overlooking your very own personalized infinity pool beyond the glass doors.

As one might imagine, the entire hotel is one world; Big. The feel of the ocean waves is magnificent and the entire place is so large that it’s impossible to do a complete tour in one sitting. Nonetheless, the food is great and the ambience is to live for.

Day II

The next day got us sightseeing the wonderful town that is Diani. There’s only one word that can describe Diani, Serenity. The people are friendly, the temperature is cool, the food is spectacular, the air is peaceful, the ambience is quiet and the place is as clean as a whistle!

I finally got to understand the fuss behind Diani white sands; the water is clear as day and the sands as white as milk. So at home is the place that it could be quite tempting to simply sit down, have a meal and an entire meditation about life and how you’ll be quitting your job soon just to sit by the beach all day looking into the horizon and literally do nothing for the rest of your life.

Day III

We were on a glass boat trip, where the locals took us a water tour to view the ocean bed and the jungle of life that lives underneath the ocean. My favorite part was sighting an actual star fish! It was so red and pretty that I just wanted to take it home with me. Then we anchored on a sandy island literally in the middle of the ocean. We swam till we couldn’t anymore, took loads of pics and swore that for real, there was a God or spiritual being up there because ain’t no way this wonderful feeling was man-made!

Then we headed out to a local famous restaurant by the ocean – Bidi Badu – and had some delish chicken biryani (you can’t go to the South Coast and miss on this) and a platter-full of fresh sea food; some lobsters, prawns, Nile perch and a bunch of other tasty finger-licking fishes.

Day IV

We were chilling by the hotel, where we got to talk to the hotel manager, who gave us insights about Leopard Beach Resort & Spa – of how it’s one of the most acclaimed beach hotels in Diani and of the numerous awards they’ve gotten.

5pm got us feeling nostalgic as we had to leave this place of a paradise an back to our old mundane ways of living back in the city… sigh. But one thing’s for sure – DIANI ROCKS!

I’m definitely coming back for a sundowner or four. To sip on some chilled white Sauvignon Blanc wine and laze by the Forty Thieves bar, legs up on a random tree branch by the beach, hat and yellow sun dress on and have a ball!

Images by: Dan Waiharo & Jean Wandimi

Zen Garden: An Oriental Pan-Asian Piece Of Heaven

The scent of fresh bamboo wafts in the air as you enter this exotic, oriental pan-Asian restaurant. Located along Lower Kabete Road, Zen Garden has been many a times the talk of town, and if you haven’t been yet, then I hope this should be encouragement enough to get you going.

Eyeball Galore

The first thing you’ll notice when you get to Zen Garden is perhaps the nounification of the word ‘Zen’. The place is full of lash vegetation and tall green trees. A stroll down the driveway then welcomes you to a panorama of an exotic café and the renowned Bamboo Restaurant. True to its name, Bamboo Restaurant gives you the Bambooic waft of a tropical rainforest, fused with dining elegance and gourmet specialty.

First meal on the table

A starter assortment of fresh crisp prawns, some colorful tuna and of course, the ever-organic papaya salad served with 3 different sauces to cleanse you out as you dig in to the yummy daintiness.

The main dish was quite the spectacle straight from foodie heaven, specially made and served by Chef Den herself – head chef at Zen Garden. She laid out an entire platter of grilled fish served in a wooden salver, herbal-infused chicken curry, Japanese noodles freshly made at Zen Garden and lastly but definitely not least, the ever delectable Chinese rice. I love me some Chinese rice.

The fish was crisp and yum and the chicken curry? Fit to peacefully lull you to an afternoon siesta with a big fat smile plastered on your face. The noodles were thick and long, just how I like my noodles, with a dash and spruce of a spicy sauce.

Japanese dining and culinary prowess

When it comes to the Japanese dining and culinary prowess, one thing stands out: the culturally-rich flavors infused in the food. That, mixed with the classy and elegant ambience that is the Bamboo Restaurant at the Zen Gardens is the perfect combination to the perfect lunch!

And just when we thought we were done, full and completely stuffed, Chef Den then surprised us with some freshly baked dessert: Black Forest Cake coupled with the ‘Zen Garden Desert Special’ – which tasted somewhat like vanilla-wrapped waffles coated in pistachio ice cream! Absolute heaven to the taste buds.

Gastro-tourism in Nairobi

Without a doubt, our quest as Team #TwendeMara to bring out gastro-tourism in Nairobi was accomplished, by having Zen Garden host us and allow us to have a delectable experience of food and new places – right at the bull’s eye of their own garden!

All thanks to EatOut Kenya, for allowing and encouraging us to eat out more often. I hope you go out and find a new place to bring out the vibrant gastro-tourism in our beautiful country.

We look forward to the tales you’ll tell about it.

All Images Courtesy: Brian Gatimu Bwathanga