Kenya Restaurants and Dining

(Kenya, KE, East Africa)

Aerial view of central NairobiNo matter how many times you dine out at restaurants and eateries in Kenya, no two meals are ever the same. Nairobi has the widest variety of cuisines on offer, from local dishes to those which hail from much further afield, such as Thailand, China, Greece and India. In restaurants in other cities, such as Mombasa, and provincial towns, there is usually a good choice of food on offer, so it should be possible to suit most tastes and budgets when eating out.

In Kenya, lunch is definitely the main meal of the day. Whilst dining hours vary between restaurants, most open to serve lunch between 12:00 and 14:30. It is worth remembering that Muslim-owned canteens close for prayer on Friday lunchtime. For dinner, most dining venues stay open from 19:00 or 19:30 until until quite late in the evening.

Photo showing the al fresco dining at Nairobi's Hilton Hotel

What to Eat

Traditional Kenyan cuisine really does reflect the fact that the country is home to large numbers of different cultures. For most Kenyans, though, corn, maize, beans and potatoes make a regular appearance on the table. In inland areas of Kenya, a typical dish is 'ugali', which is made from maize.

Most dishes are served with roast meat known as 'nyama choma'. Traditionally, this is usually goat, chicken and lamb. However, it's often possible to sample anything from ostrich to crocodile. Nearer the coast, fish stews are more often found. Vegetable stews are a good option for those who choose not to eat meat or fish. Other traditional dishes include 'irio', a mash made from potatoes, beans, corn and spinach.

Picture of local Nairobi restaurantPerhaps the most distinct cuisine can be found on Kenya's eastern coast. Here, Swahili dishes dominate, including curry sauces that are made using lashings of coconut.

Where to Eat

If you are planning to eat out in a major city such as Nairobi or Mombasa, you will find that there's an abundance of choice.

Dining establishments range from daytime canteen-style restaurants in the centre of Nairobi, to modern suburban restaurants offering a range of international dishes.

View of the popular Carnivore Restaurant in NairobiNairobi also boasts a number of well-known fast food chains. Whilst the likes of the ever-popular Chicken Inn or Wimpy Restaurant may not be the best way to get to the heart of authentic Kenya, they are perfect for those occasions when you're looking for Western comfort food that makes you feel right at home.

Head for the coastal fringes of Kenya and you stand your best chance of tasting traditional Swahili cuisine based on fresh fruit and seafood. Head to inland restaurants and you are more likely to be served with meat-based dishes.