Zanzibar Restaurants and Dining

(Zanzibar, Tanzania, TZ, East Africa)

Zanzibar is revelling in its recently discovered role as a destination for food lovers. Its cuisine, which majors on fresh produce and wonderful spicy aromas, can be sampled in restaurants and cafes all over the archipelago.

At the top end of Zanzibar's dining experience are smart establishments that are aimed, in the main, at tourists and international visitors. However, there are plenty of cafes and restaurants that are aimed more at local trade, suiting those who want to dine out on a budget.

Zanzibar's dining scene is at its most vibrant in the streets of Stone Town, where it is possible to enjoy a taste of the best of Zanzibar's traditional dishes.

When to Eat / Opening Hours

Some restaurants - particularly those attached to the larger hotels in Zanzibar, open throughout the day, from 08:00 to 22:00. Others only open for lunchtime service or during the evening.

What to Eat

Zanzibar's food bears the influence of centuries of trade, which have led explorers from all over the world to pay the archipelago a visit, including Arabs, Persians and Europeans.

Seafood and rice are two major staples in homes and restaurants here. Zanzibar isn't known as the Spice Islands for nothing. A myriad of tantalising spices are used in local dishes, including cinnamon and cardamon.

Where to Eat

Stone Town's narrow alleyways and courtyards are home to many decent dining venues, as are its waterfront areas and harbour. In addition, most of the hotels in this area have at least one good restaurant.

The Serena Hotel's restaurant is perhaps the smartest in town and lends itself well to a special celebration or holiday treat. The sea laps just a hair's breadth from its windows and there is a good chance that a local dhow boat might sail past as you are enjoying the international and Swahili cuisine.

The Rock Restaurant offers unrivalled views of the sea, so long as you don't mind wading across or taking a boat. Perched on a rock near Michanwi Pingwe Beach, seafood dishes are its speciality, as you would expect. Likewise, the Tower Top Restaurant, with its rooftop location amidst Stone Town's minarets and towers, offers great views.

Music-loving diners might like to visit the Mercury Restaurant on Mzingani Street, which overlooks the sea. Its menu makes frequent mention to Stone Town's favourite rock musician son, the late Freddie Mercury.

International cuisine is also available in Zanzibar. Stone Town has several restaurants that serve up both Indian and Italian food, as well as specialising in Chinese-style dining.

When you are out sightseeing in Stone Town, lunch breaks can include one of the town's many cafes. In the evening, however, as soon as the sun sets, it is worth heading down to Forodhani Gardens to sample the wares of the dozens of food stalls found here. Barbecue grills serve everything from shark steaks and octopus to chicken kebabs and curries. Also on offer is the most popular fast food, the Zanzibari Pizza. There are plenty of dining tables to choose from, or you can simply stretch out on the grass with your chosen snack.

Outside of Stone Town, it is possible to choose from a variety of restaurants and cafes, most of which serve reasonably priced food. In Nugwi, the beachfront is packed full of eateries and dining establishments. Stroll along by the sea, pick the one that takes your fancy and sit back to enjoy the view.