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Eating out in Nairobi

Nairobi is well stocked with places to eat particularly in the centre, where you can choose anything from the cheap workers’ canteens around River Rd to Chinese feasts and full –on splurges off Kenyatta Ave. For dinner it’s also worth heading out to the suburbs, which offer dozens of choices of cuisine from all over the world; westlands has the best range, and there are some excellent choices in Hurlingham. All of the posher places listed here accept credit cards, and most of them add 17% VAT to the bill.

Kenyan & Swahili foods

Like the rest of the country, lunch is the main meal of the day, and the city workers flock to the dozens of cheap canteens dishing up simple, classic Kenyan dishes along with Western staples like chicken and chips.

Chic Joint
(Utalii house, Utalii st. mains Kshs 150-250)

One of the favourite’s new bar-restaurant discoveries, chic might not be the first word that springs to mind but grills, stews and nyama by the kilo should never go out of fashion. Fresh fish is delivered daily and the tilapia is generally brilliant. The patio seating is separated from Uhuru highway by a thick hedge, with some sizable speakers providing music in the evening.

Malindi Dishes
(Gaberone Rd; mains kshs80-120)

A fantastic Swahili canteen. As the name suggest, this place serves fantastic food from the coast, including pilau (curried rice with meat), biriyani and coconut fish, with side dishes such as Ugali, naan bread and rice. You’ll get a grand feed here, but it’s a Muslim place, so it’s closed for prayer at lunchtime on Friday.

FK Restaurant
(Hazina Towers, Monrovia St; mains Kshs120-200)

This immaculate daytime cafeteria at the rear of an office block makes an appealing alternative to the grubbier canteen around it; there’s an interior gallery area if you like to look down on your fellow diners. The special breakfast is excellent value at kshs130.

Dancing spoon café & Wine Bar
( 20th century plaza, mama Ngina st. Dishes Kshs 200-350)

Next to the 20th century cinema, this bright canteen serves excellent Western and Kenyan food into the evening and it’s a fantastic place for a steak and beer before you take in a movie.

Beneve Coffee House
(Cnr Standard & Koinange st; Dishes Kshs 20-140)

A Small self-service chop shop that has locals queuing outside in the mornings waiting for it to open. Food ranges from stews to curries, fish and chips, samosas, pasties and a host of other choices, all at low prices

Tropez
(Banda st; meals Kshs 200-290)

A handy modern restaurant offering quick grills curries, chicken and the like. The Kshs 280 lunchtime buffet is top value, and the Kshs 200 breakfast isn’t terrible either. There is another branch of the same chain, with sports bar, at Zeep (Norwich Union Towers Mama Ngina st.)

Seasons Restaurant

(Nairobi Cinema, Uchumi House, Ag khan Walk; mains Kshs 240-280,buffets Kshs 280; Kimathi St; Ancient mutual Bldg)

Whatever the season, the cafeteria vats here always brim with cheap Kenyan and Western favourites. The Nairobi Cinema outlet has a well loved bar and beer garden, and there are a couple of similar branches around the centre. You can bring in your own booze food or miraa (twigs and shoots chewed as a stimulant) for a ‘cockage’ fee of Kshs 2500.

Nyama Choma- Not only Lions are Carnivores in Kenya

Kenyans tend to give small shrift to vegetarianism-nyama choma (barbequed meat) is the national dish and just about every pub-restaurant in town will throw a goat leg on the coals for you any time of the day.

For more exotic take on things there are some incredible restaurants where you can really do nyama in style. The law now limits what game meat can be served, but should the fancy take you, you can still sample ostrich, camel and even crocodile (like sweet, slightly fishy chicken) these places categorically do not cater to vegetarians.

The two most well-known nyama choma restaurants here are carnivore in Langata and Horseman in Karen

Nyama Choma Place
(Sagret Hotel, Milimani Rd; meals Kshs 400-600)

This restaurant at the mid range Sagret Hotel is highly rated by Kenyans. There’s a butchery here where you select your meat and then it’s tossed on the Barbie-any day of the week you’ll see clouds of tasty-smelling smoke rising from the restaurant. Its best to some in a group, as meat is sold by weight in the form of whole goat legs or complete racks of ribs. Chips or Ugali are available with the roast.

Nyama Choma Stalls (Haile Selassie Ave.)

A certain step down the scale, but worth it for the atmosphere, are the backstreet stalls near the Railway Museum, behind the shell petrol station. Foreigners are a rare sight, but you’ll be warmly welcomed and encouraged to sample other Kenyan Dishes such as Matoke (mashed plantains). A decent lunch should cost no more than Kshs 200. There are similar stalls near the Kenyatta National Hospital, but you might not want to eat so close to sick people!

Robert is a travel expert in Kenya east Africa and tour consultant with Landmark Safaris. Make a free enquiry on best Kenyan restaurants and eating places here.
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