Nairobi is a bustling metropolis with a rich culinary history. While the city is known for its street food and traditional dishes like ugali and nyama choma, there are also plenty of upscale restaurants serving up fusion fare and international cuisine. If you’re planning a trip to Kenya’s capital city or just passing through, check out these six spots for an unforgettable taste of Nairobi:
Nairobi has a vibrant and ever-evolving food scene.
Nairobi is a cosmopolitan city with a diverse population, and this can be seen in the range of food options available. The city’s culinary scene is constantly evolving and adapting to the tastes of its residents. This evolution is influenced by Nairobi’s rich history as well as its people–a mix of Kenyans from different tribes, immigrants from around Africa and beyond, expats from Europe and North America who came during colonial times (and still do), refugees fleeing conflict zones such as Somalia or Sudan…
Nairobi has been home to these various groups for generations now–and they’ve brought their cuisine with them!
The city’s culinary landscape is influenced by its diverse culture, rich history and cosmopolitan makeup.
Nairobi is a multicultural city, and its culinary landscape is influenced by its diverse culture, rich history and cosmopolitan makeup. The city has a long history of welcoming immigrants from all over Africa who brought their own unique flavors with them.
The diversity of Nairobi’s food scene can be attributed to these factors:
- A large number of immigrants settling in Kenya after independence in 1963
- The popularity of tourism in Kenya since the 1970s (which brought many tourists to Nairobi)
From African street food to upscale restaurants, traditional dishes and fusion fare, the Kenyan capital has something for every taste bud.
Nairobi is a melting pot of cultures and cuisines and offers something for every taste bud. You can find traditional dishes in local restaurants, or you can explore the city’s African street food scene. If you’re feeling adventurous, try some of these exotic foods:
- Mto (or mato) – A Kenyan dish consisting of cow brain mixed with onions, chili peppers and spices
- Kitamu cha chai (or kitimu cha chai) – A creamy porridge made from cornmeal that often includes fish or chicken stock
Here are some of our favorite places to eat in Nairobi.
Our favorite restaurants in Nairobi are:
- Jiko – The Cooking Place, located in the Giraffe Manor Hotel. This restaurant is one of the most famous places to eat in Kenya and has been recognized as one of Africa’s 50 Best Restaurants by World’s 50 Best Restaurants. It serves up delicious cuisine with a South African twist, including braised beef short rib served over mashed potatoes and topped with honey glazed carrots, or pan-fried scallops served over saffron risotto with prawns and squid ink emulsion.
- The Chedi Clubhouse at Amboseli Serena Lodge, located near Mt Kilimanjaro National Park (about 4 hours from Nairobi). You can enjoy lunch here while watching elephants play nearby! Their menu includes grilled ostrich filet mignon steak served with baby carrots & beets; kingfish ceviche served on greens & garnished with lime zest & avocado cream; grilled duck breast served with puff pastry stuffed mushrooms & roasted garlic purÃ©e; or slow braised lamb shoulder pot roast served over rosemary mashed potatoes
Jiko – The Cooking Place
Jiko – The Cooking Place has been catering to the needs of guests for over a decade now. Located in Westlands, it serves an array of Kenyan dishes that range from grilled meats and stews to fresh seafood and vegetarian options.
The ambience is cozy yet upscale with an open kitchen where you can watch your food being prepared. The staff are friendly and well-trained, so don’t be surprised if they remember your favorite dish!
If you’re looking for something more upscale than most restaurants in Nairobi (and Kenya), this is definitely worth checking out!
This restaurant at the Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club was designed to be a tribute to the flavors of East Africa’s Great Rift Valley, where all the best ingredients are sourced from local farmers and producers. The decor is elegant yet organic, with a great view of Nairobi National Park in one direction and expansive views over Mount Kenya National Park in another direction (both parks are home to some of Kenya’s most famous wildlife). A wide selection of wines complements an equally excellent menu featuring dishes like chicken breast stuffed with pistachios; quail eggs served over sweet potato puree; or venison carpaccio with roasted cherry tomatoes, capers and arugula pesto sauce.
The restaurant also hosts events such as wine tastings or cooking classes taught by some of Africa’s top chefs like Mike Lwaigwa (former head chef at Equator Restaurant).
The restaurant is located in the Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club, which sits on the edge of Nairobi National Park. The decor was designed to be a tribute to the flavors of East Africa’s Great Rift Valley and incorporates elements from Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
The cuisine here represents authentic Kenyan and Tanzanian dishes, served alongside wines from South Africa and Bordeaux. In terms of ambience, it’s hard to beat!
The Chedi Clubhouse at Amboseli Serena Lodge
Located in the heart of Amboseli National Park, The Chedi Clubhouse is a luxurious restaurant with a menu that showcases Kenya’s culinary traditions. The setting is elegant and refined, but not stuffy–it’s intimate enough to feel like an insider’s club, but open enough for you to mingle with other guests.
The food itself is delicious: fresh ingredients combined in creative ways and served alongside local wines from Amboseli Vineyard (just down the road). Highlights include grilled beef tenderloin served with mashed potatoes and mushrooms; grilled calamari accompanied by aioli sauce; or spicy shrimp cakes topped with avocado salsa & lime mayonnaise sauce. You can also order traditional Kenyan dishes like matumbo (mashed sweet potatoes) or nyama choma (roasted meat).
For dessert? Try their signature crème brûlée or chocolate lava cake!
- You don’t have to be a guest at this luxury hotel to enjoy its restaurant; visitors can dine on locally inspired dishes like beef masala or grilled prawns with crayfish sauce in an intimate setting overlooking Lake Naivasha.
- The restaurant has floor-to-ceiling windows that look out onto Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya, making it a great place for people watching as well as food tasting.
- The ambience is warm and welcoming, even when the weather outside isn’t so pleasant!
Nairobi is a city with a long history, rich culture and diverse population. It’s also home to some of the best food in Africa! If you’re planning a trip to Kenya, we highly recommend that you stop by this vibrant capital city for an unforgettable culinary experience.