Top 10 Places to Eat Traditional Kenyan Dishes in Nairobi
Almost all restaurants in Nairobi will have one of the many varieties of Kenyan food. If not what you expected, then a variation of the same dish, but still as tasty. It would therefore be hard to pinpoint which of these restaurants is the best, but we will highlight the ones you can start with, especially if you are visiting for a short time and are looking for things to do in Nairobi.
K’Osewe Ranalo Foods
Located on Kimathi Street and open from 6.30 am to 5.30 pm, K’Osewe Ronalo Foods is an authentic Kenyan restaurant that is very popular among the locals. It is located in the city centre, so it should be a short walking distance from your hotel if you are sleeping in the hotels in town.
Order for fried Tilapia with ‘Ugali’ (white or brown) and ‘Sukuma Wiki’ or Spinach and share with friends or family. Alternatively, opt for some ‘kienyeji’ (traditional) vegetables which include ‘managu’, ‘sagaa’, or ‘kunde’. You can always ask the waiters to advise if unsure.
Budget should be anything from Kshs. 500 to about Kshs. 2000 per person.
The Carnivore Restaurant
This is the place to be in Nairobi if you are a meat lover. It is located along Langata Road on the outskirts of Nairobi city centre, and about 1.5 miles from the Nairobi National Park.
The Carnivore, just as the name suggests, is an open air meat speciality restaurant that sells anything from beef, ‘mbuzi’ (goat), chicken, and other varieties of animals including the crocodile, ostrich and camel, just to name a few.
You literally eat till you drop as the waiters keep bringing out a variety of the meat dishes until you lower a flag on the table indicating that you can continue no more. They also have a bar where they sell their famous ‘dawa’ cocktail.
As with most restaurants in the city, it can get a little noisy depending on when you go there so you can always ask for a quiet corner if you don’t want the noise. They also have live music and sometimes you will get to enjoy traditional dance performances.
Budget should be anything from Kshs. 1500 to about Kshs. 12000 or higher depending on how many people are eating.
This restaurant is also located along Langata Road, within the Nairobi National Park. It is constructed in such a way that part of it sits on a deck that overlooks a waterhole. The inside is also picturistic as it is decorated using African prints and has a variety of handcrafted wooden furniture.
The restaurant specialises in mainly African dishes, but also offers an international cuisine. If you are lucky, you might also spot some wild animals as you eat. These include the antelopes and warthogs.
Budget should be anything from Kshs. 500 to about Kshs. 1,500.
Nyama Mama KE
Located on Waiyaki Way at the Delta Tower in Westlands and about 2.0 miles from the city centre, the Nyama Mama KE is a must visit if coming to Nairobi. They offer everything from breakfast, lunch, dinner and even brunch. They also have a bar if you wish to drink as you eat.
This is another great restaurant with an awesome variety of Kenyan dishes. It is a fun, lively place to be in, with a brunch that has 12 stations that include ‘nyama choma’, seafood, soup, salads, desserts, etc. They also have fun combinations including their popular ‘ugali’ chips. There are also magicians and animators to keep the young ones busy.
Opening hours are from 7:00 am to 11:00 pm from Mondays to Thursdays, 8.00 am to 4.00 pm on Fridays and Saturdays, and 9.00 am to 11.00 pm on Sundays.
Nyama Choma Place
Located along Milimani Road at the Sagret Hotel in Milimani and a short distance from town, this is another must visit while in Nairobi. Famous with the locals, the place is known for its delicious, tender and hot goat ribs and legs. These come served with traditional ‘mukimo’, or ‘ugali’ and are an absolute delight to devour.
You choose your own meat as you enter the restaurant and you are charged as per the weight of the meat.
The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner only.
Mama Oliech’s Restaurant
This is another popular restaurant in Nairobi. It is located in the residential neighbourhood of Kilimani on Marcus Garvey Road and is best known for its large deep fried lake fish that comes from Lake Nakuru. It has a simple setup and simple but very tasty food sides to eat with the fish including ‘ugali’, ‘chapati’ and green vegetables.
Opening hours are 10.30 am to 11.30 pm every day.
Food prices are from Kshs. 700 to about Kshs. 1000 but of course it depends on what you are eating and how many of you are there.
Amaica the Restaurant
If you are thinking wild mushrooms, groundnuts and white ants and ‘bambara’ nuts while visiting Nairobi, then think Amaica. The name ‘amaica’ refers to a traditional cooking area in the ‘Luhya’ language, one of the many tribes/ communities in Kenya. The restaurant itself uses traditional cooking methods and cookware.
Located off Peponi Rd in the Getathuru Gardens of the suburban Spring Valley and opened from 9.00 am to 11.00 am every day, everything from the insides of the restaurant to the outside scream Africa. What with the stylish modern decor, sculptures and decorative calabashes, and even the furniture itself? Just amazing!
Even the outside of the restaurant is beautiful with swings and slides for children.
Budget should be about Kshs. 1000 per person.
Tamambo Karen Blixen
Tamambo Karen Blixen is located along Karen Road in the suburbs of Karen, and just next to the Karen Blixen Museum.
It is about 4.6 miles from the Nairobi National Park and is open every day from 6.00 am to 10.00 pm serving everything from breakfast, to lunch and dinner.
The restaurant features an indoor rest area attached to an outdoor terrace and garden for à la carte dining.
Apart from the amazing food varieties offered, the restaurant also has wonderful works of art displayed on its walls and an artist painting in the garden.
All in all, a great place to relax with family and friends as you enjoy some nice Kenyan food.
Simmers is located at the heart of Nairobi along Kenyatta Avenue at the corner of Kenyatta Avenue and Muindi Mbingu streets. It is opposite the popular 680 hotel.
It is an outdoor restaurant that serves a lot of ‘Nyama choma’, fish and drinks from its bar that you can enjoy with a side dish like ‘ugali’ or ‘chapati’. There is also a lot of music including a live band all day and night and lots of happy people.
It is also important to mention that there will be girls ‘working’ throughout the day and night so if you do not fancy such, then you might opt for a different restaurant in the city all together.
It would almost be a crime to talk about all these restaurants without highlighting the Kenyan ‘locals’. They are not called ‘locals’ for no reason. These are the places (joints) or restaurants in the estates all over the city where you can hang out with friends and family.
They offer just as great food as the big hotels (maybe even tastier), and are the places to visit if you want to interact with a real Nairobian, but with not so much expectations vis a vis, ambience, cleanliness, etc.
Most Kenyans frequent these places in the evenings after work or over the weekends to enjoy a football or rugby match, watch Kenyan athletes on TV, and just to relax after a long day.