Kenya’s food and drink industry is the most developed in the region. Kenya has
more hotels than any other country, Nairobi has more restaurants than any other city on the African continent and its supermarket sector is the most advanced. Nomad Africa’s self-confessed foodie and eat-aholic, Christine Siamanta explored and reviewed Kenya’s top restaurants.
With tourism being one of the region’s biggest earners and with a huge growing middle class, the food and beverage industry in Kenya is set for substantial growth. With the market developing, there is the growing need for access to new and international products and with global supermarkets entering the region and new restaurants constantly being launched, now is the time to enter this flourishing market.
Below are Kenya’s top notch food spots.
Lord Erroll Restaurant Nairobi
Located in the leafy green suburb that is Runda, The Lord Erroll serves the finest French cuisine. The restaurant is best known for its appetizers such as Smoked Salmon and Escargot. The house specialties at the restaurant such as flambé dishes, prawns and fillet carefully prepared for the best unique food experience in East Africa.
The green sprawling garden and their great gourmet dishes makes it a great relaxation spot. It is a nice place to unwind with family and friends. The restaurant’s interior design is a blend of two different cultures meshed together to bring a rather distinct ambience. I fell in love with the view of the restaurant, so calming, breathtaking and serene. The cocktails are also really good. If you are looking for a calm bar to just relax and unwind, while you quietly sip your gin tonic, then the Lord Erroll bar is your joint.
Enhance your dining experience with wines from the restaurant’s broad wine collection. Their wine list features wines, which are among the world’s finest. Imported wines include French champagnes such as Moet et Chandon and Dom Perignon.
Sunday Jazz brunch is one of the occasional events at the restaurant. The well-lit romantic setting makes the Lord Erroll a perfect wedding venue. The restaurant has mastered the art of great food, wine and music, what more could you ask for?
This is one of the best hidden secrets in Nairobi. Perfectly tucked in Garden Estate, Nairobi, most people don’t realize what a gem the 45degrees restaurant is. Chef Harold has a rapport most chefs can only dream about. Harold is a culinary genius! He is the Stephen Hawkings of all food and wine matters.
The restaurant has a rich African outdoor vibe, cozy yet effortlessly romantic at night. It gives you that serene, kind of zen feeling.
I had a chance to sample a few items on the menu and my palate literally got schooled. The menu is very extensive, incorporating great food with an expansive wine selection. Chef Harold does a six course meal, each paired with the best wine. The baked butternut squash served with asparagus and truffle oil was, for lack of a better word, effortlessly delicate, warm and nutritious.
I was impressed with the Karibu Africa meal from the African story menu. It was very fresh, tasty and nourishing. Every item on his menu will leave you craving for more. Chef Harold just has a way with food; he is hands down the best chef in Nairobi. I would recommend the tender beef bourguignon to all the meat lovers out there. It is definitely an experience to add on a bucket list.
For the wine lovers, 45degrees is the restaurant to visit. Advance your palate with the restaurant’s very extensive wine collection and the best of Californian wine. The striking thing about the 45degrees restaurant is not only the food and wine, but rather the chef himself. He is the heart of the restaurant, a fountain of knowledge when it comes to the culinary scene in Africa and Europe.
The floorless chocolate cake and chocolate dipped strawberry dessert served with Arbor Mist Merlot, blackberry will not disappoint either. It is the perfect way to finish one of the most unique and best food experiences any visiting tourist or local can ask for.
About Thyme Restaurant
Situated on the corner of Peponi Road & Eldama Ravine Road in the heart of Westlands, About Thyme is one of Nairobi’s most popular foodie destinations. It has a romantic, serene and dreamy ‘outdoorsy’ ambience perfect for a ‘date night’ and yet is diverse enough for small groups or corporate events too. It caters for all occasions, yet still manages to remain private and exclusive.
The serving staffs are friendly, yet professional and welcoming, making you feel right at home. My fresh tuna tartar starter was layered with a tangy avocado salsa, which perfectly complimented it and made me feel like there was a fiesta going down in my mouth.
For my main course, I opted for the gourmet ‘Big Beefy Fully Loaded Burger’, which was definitely something to rave about. A tasty, herby, aged beef patty charcoal grilled to taste and served on a toasted sesame bun fully loaded with crispy bacon, provolone cheese, gherkins, tomatoes & lettuce – served with French fries and ‘kale slaw’ it was huge, juicy and satisfying.
They also have a very impressive dessert menu. I took my waiter’s recommendation and tried the ‘Sticky Date Pudding’, which is apparently their most popular dessert and I could see why: It was so good and yet so sinfully bad…..an old fashioned sticky toffee pudding served piping hot, smothered with thick toffee sauce with walnut bits and the scoop of creamy vanilla ice-cream that it was served with was the perfect accompaniment.
The restaurant boasts a well-stocked bar and a comprehensive wine list to complement their meals and some of the best cocktails in town, I had a chance to try out their signature ‘Chilli Mango Caipirinha’, which had the right balance of chilli and sweet with the added kick of white rum.
I thoroughly enjoyed my ‘About Thyme Experience’ and left with a huge smile on my face, perfectly understanding why the restaurant was awarded a 2017 Trip Advisor certificate of excellence.
Located in Karen, near Karen Blixen, the tamarind restaurant is on a league of its own. The tamarind restaurant has been around for 40 years! It is one of the restaurants that have helped in shaping the Kenyan culinary scene to what it is now. This sea food restaurant is most definitely the unrivaled crème de-la crème in Africa. It is a restaurant that has been known to set the trend, while others follow. It hosts most of the world leaders who have visited Kenya and has won series of awards over the years, beating other restaurants across the continent of Africa.
The Tamarind restaurant has a Swahili coastal decor with African art well displayed and the decor, the ambience, music and lighting are all perfectly merged to give you the best intimate dining experience of your life.
The Tamarind dining experience is designed to celebrate the original classics from the 40 years the restaurant has been in operation. I had an oyster soup at the restaurant as a first timer and I loved it! It’s creamy, with a pinch of pepper and I would recommend it any time. The classic tamarind lobster is also a great item on the menu. It is very fresh, served with just a sprinkle of coriander. You get to fully savour the delight that it is a well-cooked lobster. It is very simple, but extremely delicious! The restaurant also has a wide range of wine and drinks, sourced from every part of the globe, from Italy to America and even local wines from Kenya.
The desserts at the Tamarind restaurant are answered prayers to cake lovers. The desserts have just got a way to make you feel like everything in the world is right! The mint chocolate cake at the restaurant is my favorite. It’s colourful, minty and chocolaty. Every ingredient on the menu is balanced perfectly to compliment each other.
Above all, it is not an easy feat to survive the restaurant business for 40 years, but then again with the great food and such exemplary cordial service, it is no wonder that the Tamarind restaurant is still running strong. The restaurant is number one on Trip Advisor since February 2016 and winner, Continental Luxury Seafood Restaurant 2017.
Tamambo is a restaurant located in Karen near Karen Blixen. It is majorly known as one of the best venues for huge corporate events and weddings. It has a natural garden outdoorsy atmosphere. The Tamambo bar is very modern, charming and artistic with various paintings hanging on the wall. The restaurant in general is big on the African theme even from the very amiable staff uniforms.
The Tamambo restaurant uses local products, ingredients and it has incorporated many African cuisines on its menu. For the best desserts, Tamambo is the place to visit. The cake dessert at the restaurant is creamy, chocolaty and a great stress reliever. It is appetizing even from just its beautiful presentation. The desserts are masterpieces. It is intensely palatable, refreshing to the taste buds and simply the best there is in Nairobi.
The Flame Tree Restaurant at Sarova Panafric
The Flame Tree Restaurant at Panafric is best known for its steaks. It’s home to the best exquisite steak meals south of Sahara. It is most certainly one of my favorite restaurants. I love the whole retro- outdoorsy vibe that it has going on. It is an ideal restaurant to have power lunches or corporate dinners because of its perfect location in the city.
The restaurant offers a variety of dishes, but they mainly major on steak. Chef Avraj, the executive chef at the restaurant has a lot to say on the culinary scene in Kenya. He talked of how the Kenyan culinary scene has evolved and is now being compared to London’s. We also had an illuminating talk on the growth of wine culture in East Africa and how it is rapidly advancing.
The restaurant serve freshly squeezed beetroot juice which is refreshingly saccharine and healthy. This, I would recommend for everyone even those on a diet. Their steak is very tender, succulent, well done and served with the most delicious creamy green vegetables I have ever tasted, steamed tomatoes and an onion. Chef Avraj doesn’t compromise on quality and he personally makes sure that their supplies are fresh. He is a chef committed to maintaining the integrity of the Sarova experience.
The chocolate brownie with nuts and strawberry ice cream at the restaurant is fantastic. It is chocolate rich; the nuts add a surprisingly crunchy taste to it. The best part is when you actually dip a piece in ice cream and then take a bite. It is the ideal way to complete the idyllic Sarova experience.
Cheka Izakaya Japanese Restaurant
This is one unique restaurant I had the privilege to feature. Located in Westlands ,Manyani East road, the Cheka Japanese Izakaya is a fully fledged Japanese restaurant in Kenya, East Africa. The restaurant is specifically designed and decorated to give you the most realistic taste of Japan in the city. Every bit from the fine dining to the cutlery is imported from Japan.
This is the best Japanese restaurant in Nairobi and in East Africa in general. Unlike other Japanese restaurant in East Africa, the Cheka Izakaya doesn’t serve any Korean or Chinese food and the restaurant is the only restaurant owned by a Japanese in Nairobi, Kenya. The restaurant solely offers a wide range of the best Japanese meals, from Japanese pancakes, sashimi, to noodles and just to name but a few. All products and ingredients are freshly sourced from Kilifi.
This restaurant is best known for its Japanese wine “Sake”. The Sake, also called “Nihonshu” is brewed using polished rice, water and white koji mold as the main ingredients. It is served either hot or cold and has an alcoholic content of about 10-20 percent.
If you are a foodie who loves trying out new food and culture, look no further for a Japanese experience. The Cheka Izakaya restaurant will give you that and so much more.
Le Grenier à pain
Le Grenier à Pain is a French restaurant situated at Riverside drive, Westlands in Nairobi, Kenya. It exudes a minimalistic, yet modern ambience. It is very picturesque and has a French vibe about it. I had a chance to enjoy its famous croissant with a piece of French cake and I had the best pastry experience ever!
The hot chocolate at the French restaurant is literally to die for. They actually use fresh hot milk and imported dark chocolate. Yes, real dark chocolate that is crushed and dipped into the hot milk. The Pain au Chocolat croissant at the restaurant is fresh, flaky and makes an amazing pastry experience, especially when you get to the middle part filled with the best dark chocolate. The cakes served at Le Grenier are unique in that they are made from traditional and classic French bakery recipes.
There is an outdoor space, the waiters at the restaurant are very welcoming and the prices are very pocket friendly. Mr Yan Welffens, the Managing Director of the restaurant said, “Quality doesn’t mean expensive or luxury, rather it is putting the best product for all to enjoy. “For a French experience in East Africa, the Le Grenier à Pain is the right spot.