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The 18 Essential Nairobi Restaurants

From fish fries to fancy five-star dining in Kenya's capital

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Nairobi’s culinary scene has been on an upward trajectory in recent years, with new eateries, cafes, and bars popping up almost weekly. A metropolitan city with a diverse restaurant culture, Nairobi’s best dining experiences run the gamut from roadside food stalls to five-star dining establishments. Don’t miss local specialities such as nyama choma (grilled meat, usually goat) and ugali, not to mention African-inspired gourmet burgers and a combination garden cafe and nail salon. Nairobi’s beautiful year-round weather means this is a prime destination for al fresco dining on rooftops, balconies, and gardens.

Editor’s Note: Eater is not updating international maps at this time given disruptions to global travel during the COVID-19 crisis.

Price key:
$ = Less than Ksh 1,500 (15 USD)
$$ = Ksh 1,600 - Ksh 3,900 (16 - 39 USD)
$$$ = Ksh 4,000 - Ksh 6,600 (40 - 66 USD)
$$$$ = Ksh $6,600 (66 USD) and up

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Talisman

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Talisman is widely considered to be one of the best restaurants in Kenya — for good reason. The elegant gastro-lounge serves a fusion of European, Pan-Asian, and African cuisine; quality and service are consistently great. Try the warm feta and coriander samosas served with a chili ginger jam, or the grilled filet with bhajia potatoes (a potato patty mixed with vegetables and deep fried) and a spicy wasabi-mustard sauce. [$$]

Wasp & Sprout

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This small cafe in the quiet neighborhood of Loresho has become popular for its great food, a comfortable atmosphere, and pocket-friendly prices. Visit during breakfast or brunch for ricotta pancakes, eggs Benedict, and baked goods. Bring a book and make yourself at home for a few hours. [$]

The Arbor

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The Arbor is an eco-friendly cafe set in a lush garden that also has a furniture store, a luxury cosmetics shop, and a small mani-pedi salon on its grounds. With an eclectic menu, featuring both Southeast Asian and international cuisine, this tiny eatery is a perfect place to unwind. Be sure to try the chicken wings and fried wontons. [$]

Brew Bistro & Lounge

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Nairobi’s micro-brewery scene is small but growing, and this restaurant, brewery, and lounge is one of the city’s most popular. Everyone flocks to the rooftop for German beer garden vibes and exciting nightlife, from salsa nights to live music. They offer five core micro-brews — from pilsners to stouts, and seasonal beers to boot. Order some bar snacks during happy hour and enjoy the amazing city views. [$$]

Mama Ashanti

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Kenyans have quickly come to love Mama Ashanti, a restaurant that serves West African food, specializing in Ghanaian recipes. West African cuisine is known for its spice and caters best to those who can handle lots of chili. Favorites include egusi (fish), pepe (a fiery goat soup), and plantains (both spiced and non-spiced). [$]

J's Fresh Bar & Kitchen - Westlands

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British gastropub J’s had a lot of success among both expats and locals at its first location in the Nairobi suburb of Karen. In October, J's opened a second branch in Westlands, the neighborhood that’s home to most of the city’s bars and restaurants. The new J’s is larger, and, with more outdoor seating and a built-in DJ booth, it delicately balances the atmosphere of a full-service restaurant with nightlife ambiance. Here, you'll find weekly events, like old-school hip-hop and R&B on Tuesdays and Thursday Night Live, a showcase for local bands. [$$]

Abyssinia

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Nairobi has an abundant selection of Ethiopian restaurants to choose from. One of the best is Abyssinia in Brookside, Westlands. Tucked away in a suburb, this restaurant has comfortable outdoor seating shaded by large trees. Wash down the spicy cuisine with Ethiopian beer or sparkling water. It’s also an excellent value. [$]

Mama Oliech Restaurant

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Located in the residential neighborhood of Kilimani, Mama Oliech is Nairobi’s hidden gem. The restaurant is best known for its large whole deep-fried lake fish from Lake Nakuru; order it with sides of ugali and kachumbari. It’s a particularly popular destination for hungry office employees who make the trek for lunch on Fridays. It's a must visit for fresh fish lovers. [$]

Roadhouse Grill

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Roadhouse, a local nyama choma spot, is famed for its maji maji grilling technique, which produces tender, medium-rare roasted meat (usually goat). Dig into the maji maji with your hands, and order sides of ugali (a stiff cornmeal porridge) and kachumbari (a tomato and onion salsa), just like the locals do. [$]

Le Grenier à Pain

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Le Grenier à Pain, a French bakery, opened its first branch in Africa right here in Nairobi. What started as a small bakery in the basement of a corporate building in June of 2016 is now a cafe in a quiet, peaceful setting. Here, you'll find croissants, quiches, croque madames, and more delicacies that are as traditional as you can get this far from France. [$$]

About Thyme

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About Thyme serves an eclectic continental menu in a comfy, formerly residential space that allows diners the option of dining in a “down thyme” garden. The space is decked out with fairy lights and there’s comfortable couch seating where shisha (hookah) is available for guests. Sticky date pudding, coconut battered snapper, and pumpkin and amaretti tortellini are just a few examples of what you'll find on the menu. [$$]

Furusato Japanese Restaurant

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This Japanese spot has been around since the ‘90s and is a popular destination for sushi lovers. There’s an extensive sushi and sashimi menu where you’ll find classic and speciality rolls; another section offers Korean favorites such as kimchi and bulgogi. One of the most exciting experiences is the eight- to 10-course teppanyaki grill meals which are a culmination of sushi, meat, and vegetables. [$$]

Mama Rocks at The Alchemist Bar

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This funky food truck is Nairobi’s first, serving up a variety of delicious African-inspired gourmet burgers from its communal space at the Yard. The Mango Masai Mama, inspired by East Africa with its mango and red bell peppers, is a must-try. The beef patty is topped with Mama’s signature chili mango sauce, cheddar cheese, and sweet roasted bell pepper. [$]

Havana Bar & Restaurant

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Havana Restaurant & Bar sits on Westlands’ “electric avenue” — a strip of bars with so much weekend traffic that the streets are as busy at 3 a.m. as others are at midday. This venue is small, with two floors and great DJs that spin club music. It’s the perfect spot to experience Kenyan nightlife. If you’re not one for a late night out, head to Havana at around 6 p.m. to take advantage of the more relaxing music and great food. Try the pressed pork belly or a chicken burger with a side of crispy onion rings. [$]

Burger Hut

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Burger Hut has been in business since 1986. It's a church-run restaurant with some of the best greasy, juicy burgers in Nairobi. A Double Hut Burger with two beef patties, cheese, a house-made mayonnaise-based special sauce, and an ice-cold Coke is ideal on a warm Nairobi afternoon. [$]

Connect Coffee

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Connect Coffee is a small cafe that follows the coffee-making process from bean to brew to bring its customers the most consistent cup. Connect sources its coffee from farmers in Kenya, Uganda, and Ethiopia, and specializes in modern brewing methods, using Chemex and Kalita Wave Drippers for pour-over coffee and Espro Presses for French press coffee. Call in advance to reserve a cup of Connect’s cold brew in either the fruity, floral Juliet or their signature Romeo blend. [$]

Sno-Cream

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Sno-Cream in the Central Business District is a local favorite, and not just for its perfect soft-serve ice cream. Walking into the space is like walking into a ‘70s ice cream parlor. Its charming retro decor is the perfect place to share a banana split or a soft serve cone with sprinkles. [$]

Diamond Plaza

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Diamond Plaza is Nairobi’s Little India: a sprawling mall with endless hallways and shops to peer into. It can take several hours to explore fully. Nairobians head here for delicious, casual Indian food. Grab piping hot bajias from Maru Bajia, chicken tandoori with naan, curries, or a warm chicken shawarma sandwich from Shawarma Corner. [$]

Talisman

Talisman is widely considered to be one of the best restaurants in Kenya — for good reason. The elegant gastro-lounge serves a fusion of European, Pan-Asian, and African cuisine; quality and service are consistently great. Try the warm feta and coriander samosas served with a chili ginger jam, or the grilled filet with bhajia potatoes (a potato patty mixed with vegetables and deep fried) and a spicy wasabi-mustard sauce. [$$]

Wasp & Sprout

This small cafe in the quiet neighborhood of Loresho has become popular for its great food, a comfortable atmosphere, and pocket-friendly prices. Visit during breakfast or brunch for ricotta pancakes, eggs Benedict, and baked goods. Bring a book and make yourself at home for a few hours. [$]

The Arbor

The Arbor is an eco-friendly cafe set in a lush garden that also has a furniture store, a luxury cosmetics shop, and a small mani-pedi salon on its grounds. With an eclectic menu, featuring both Southeast Asian and international cuisine, this tiny eatery is a perfect place to unwind. Be sure to try the chicken wings and fried wontons. [$]

Brew Bistro & Lounge

Nairobi’s micro-brewery scene is small but growing, and this restaurant, brewery, and lounge is one of the city’s most popular. Everyone flocks to the rooftop for German beer garden vibes and exciting nightlife, from salsa nights to live music. They offer five core micro-brews — from pilsners to stouts, and seasonal beers to boot. Order some bar snacks during happy hour and enjoy the amazing city views. [$$]

Mama Ashanti

Kenyans have quickly come to love Mama Ashanti, a restaurant that serves West African food, specializing in Ghanaian recipes. West African cuisine is known for its spice and caters best to those who can handle lots of chili. Favorites include egusi (fish), pepe (a fiery goat soup), and plantains (both spiced and non-spiced). [$]

J's Fresh Bar & Kitchen - Westlands

British gastropub J’s had a lot of success among both expats and locals at its first location in the Nairobi suburb of Karen. In October, J's opened a second branch in Westlands, the neighborhood that’s home to most of the city’s bars and restaurants. The new J’s is larger, and, with more outdoor seating and a built-in DJ booth, it delicately balances the atmosphere of a full-service restaurant with nightlife ambiance. Here, you'll find weekly events, like old-school hip-hop and R&B on Tuesdays and Thursday Night Live, a showcase for local bands. [$$]

Abyssinia

Nairobi has an abundant selection of Ethiopian restaurants to choose from. One of the best is Abyssinia in Brookside, Westlands. Tucked away in a suburb, this restaurant has comfortable outdoor seating shaded by large trees. Wash down the spicy cuisine with Ethiopian beer or sparkling water. It’s also an excellent value. [$]

Mama Oliech Restaurant

Located in the residential neighborhood of Kilimani, Mama Oliech is Nairobi’s hidden gem. The restaurant is best known for its large whole deep-fried lake fish from Lake Nakuru; order it with sides of ugali and kachumbari. It’s a particularly popular destination for hungry office employees who make the trek for lunch on Fridays. It's a must visit for fresh fish lovers. [$]

Roadhouse Grill

Roadhouse, a local nyama choma spot, is famed for its maji maji grilling technique, which produces tender, medium-rare roasted meat (usually goat). Dig into the maji maji with your hands, and order sides of ugali (a stiff cornmeal porridge) and kachumbari (a tomato and onion salsa), just like the locals do. [$]

Le Grenier à Pain

Le Grenier à Pain, a French bakery, opened its first branch in Africa right here in Nairobi. What started as a small bakery in the basement of a corporate building in June of 2016 is now a cafe in a quiet, peaceful setting. Here, you'll find croissants, quiches, croque madames, and more delicacies that are as traditional as you can get this far from France. [$$]

About Thyme

About Thyme serves an eclectic continental menu in a comfy, formerly residential space that allows diners the option of dining in a “down thyme” garden. The space is decked out with fairy lights and there’s comfortable couch seating where shisha (hookah) is available for guests. Sticky date pudding, coconut battered snapper, and pumpkin and amaretti tortellini are just a few examples of what you'll find on the menu. [$$]

Furusato Japanese Restaurant

This Japanese spot has been around since the ‘90s and is a popular destination for sushi lovers. There’s an extensive sushi and sashimi menu where you’ll find classic and speciality rolls; another section offers Korean favorites such as kimchi and bulgogi. One of the most exciting experiences is the eight- to 10-course teppanyaki grill meals which are a culmination of sushi, meat, and vegetables. [$$]

Mama Rocks at The Alchemist Bar

This funky food truck is Nairobi’s first, serving up a variety of delicious African-inspired gourmet burgers from its communal space at the Yard. The Mango Masai Mama, inspired by East Africa with its mango and red bell peppers, is a must-try. The beef patty is topped with Mama’s signature chili mango sauce, cheddar cheese, and sweet roasted bell pepper. [$]

Havana Bar & Restaurant

Havana Restaurant & Bar sits on Westlands’ “electric avenue” — a strip of bars with so much weekend traffic that the streets are as busy at 3 a.m. as others are at midday. This venue is small, with two floors and great DJs that spin club music. It’s the perfect spot to experience Kenyan nightlife. If you’re not one for a late night out, head to Havana at around 6 p.m. to take advantage of the more relaxing music and great food. Try the pressed pork belly or a chicken burger with a side of crispy onion rings. [$]