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Laksa ticks at the all-vegan Boho Eatery
Photo: Boho Eatery

The 12 Hottest New Restaurants in Nairobi, Kenya

Where to find Mexico City-style tacos, Kenyan beef burgers, and haute vegan feasts on a garden patio

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Laksa ticks at the all-vegan Boho Eatery
| Photo: Boho Eatery

Today, Eater turns its attention to Nairobi, Kenya, the country’s bustling capital city, whose restaurant scene has experienced what can only be described as an explosion in recent years. Incredible eateries run the gamut from roadside food stalls to five-star dining establishments and everything in between. We asked local food writer Soni Adriance to share with us her picks for the city’s hottest openings of the last 12 months or so.

“Nairobi’s booming restaurant industry is a reflection of the growing middle class and economy as a whole,” says Adriance. “Some of the newest openings have been wildly successful, offering cuisines that previously have not been available in Nairobi, such as a dedicated vegan restaurant (Boho Eatery) and a number of new Mexican spots (Fonda, Taco 254).”

Looking for the essentials? Head to the Eater 18. But for the newest and hottest, in geographic order, here now is the Eater heatmap to Nairobi:

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Fonda

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P.O.Box 49172-00100
Nairobi, Kenya
+254 735 053829
Visit Website

Four Mexican restaurants have opened in Nairobi over the past year. They’ve been a long time coming for those who crave tacos and tequila (who doesn’t?). Fonda NBO is the buzziest of the newcomers, thanks to its earnest devotion to authenticity. Hanging on the back wall are photos from the owners’ recent trip to Mexico City, which was the inspiration for the yellow, cobalt blue, and earthy red dining room. The menu features fresh Mexican ingredients, like avocados, corn flour, and black beans, which are organically available locally, while the drinks list rightly focuses on agave spirits, used in more than 50 different margaritas.

Encacahuatado de Platano
Photo: Fonda / Facebook

2. Taco

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+254 724 924974
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Another addition to Nairobi’s Mexican food scene, this stall, in the new Village Market mall food court, focuses exclusively on tacos. Come here early (they sell out fast) and get three tacos of your choice for $7.50. Currently, there are two vegan tacos on the menu. The rest feature standard taco fillings — chicken, pork, fish — as well as goat, in a nod to the local cuisine. The best part is the salsa bar, with more than 10 spicy toppers to choose from. The classic margaritas are winners, along with the locally brewed beers on tap.

A spread of tacos
Photo: Taco 254 / Facebook

3. Sigiria Cafe

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Thigiri Ln
Nairobi, Kenya

Located at the entrance of Karura Forest — a natural park that runs through the center of the city — this outdoor cafe is a perfect spot to stop on the way to or from a hike. Sigiria offers refreshment in the form smoothies, juice, and coffee, as well as fresh-baked cookies and other small bites to be enjoyed on the patio.

Sigria Cafe
Photo: Soni Adriance

4. Sierra: Burger + Wine

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Muguga Green
Nairobi, Kenya
+254 772 776308
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The new location of Sierra off Brookside Drive lends itself well to the casual, sophisticated, New York-style ambiance it’s striving for. In the mid-afternoon sunshine, guests gather on a small balcony to enjoy award-winning South African wines and craft beer from Sierra’s own microbrewery. Inside, leather seats and warm, low lighting set the mood. Burgers are made with Angus beef reared on the foothills of Mount Kenya and aged at the restaurant’s in-house butchery, and on select Tuesdays, the eight-seat Kitchen Table offers a five-course tasting menu with pairings from its boutique wine shop.

A burger at Sierra
Photo: Sierra Burger and Wine / Facebook

5. Mama Rocks Kilimani

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Parklands Rd
Nairobi, Kenya
+254 705 155155
Visit Website

The famous Mama Rocks food truck has opened a second, semipermanent structure in Kilimani with a slightly more expansive menu. The brightly colored structure is built from shipping containers that have been decked out with African-inspired painting and decor. You’ll find a few more burgers here than are offered at the truck, as well as sweet potato fries (which shouldn’t be skipped) and unique cocktails. The space is small, and the management often books live musical acts, so come early on busy days to snag a booth or share a high table with friends.

6. Bao Box

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8th Floor Pramukh Towers, Westlands Rd
Nairobi, Kenya
+254 715 226269
Visit Website

Bao Box calls itself a cafe, but what really drives people here are the board games. For $10 you can choose one of a hundred games to play at your table for an unlimited amount of time. The food is an afterthought, but that doesn’t keep anyone from enjoying a cold beer or glass of wine in one of the the big, colorful couches on the large balcony. Keep an eye on its Instagram page for quiz nights and other special events.

A spread of board games
Photo: Bao Box / Facebook

7. La Tasca

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James Gichuru Road
Nairobi, Kenya
+254 743 144992
Visit Website

Exposed bulbs artfully strung from the ceiling add to the charm of this intimate Spanish wine bar with space for 40. Maurizio, one of the founding managers, is the type who offers a complimentary glass of sangria to waiting diners, and will remember you after a single visit. Wine bottles double as decor on the floor-to-ceiling shelves, and the menu features a classic selection of Spanish tapas.

Paella at La Tasca
Photo: La Tasca / Facebook

8. Gyros 2 Go

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Valley Arcade
Nairobi, Kenya
+254 704 424424
Visit Website

What’s better than sheets of warm flatbread encasing freshly sheared, spit-roasted chicken or lamb, topped with hummus, baba ghanoush, and crisp pickles? Pretty much nothing. Gyros 2 Go is a popular fast-casual dining spot to grab a quick, healthy lunch that’s fresh and filling. Everything is made from scratch every morning with locally sourced ingredients, and the menu is simple, Middle Eastern, and straight to the point.

Gyro at Gyros 2 Go
Photo: Gyros 2 Go / Facebook

9. Silk Noodles

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Hurlingham Estate
Nairobi, Kenya
+254 707 383808

This hole-in-the-wall Northern Chinese noodle restaurant is well hidden behind the exterior of a shopping center with a fast-food chicken joint out front. But once you find it, between a Chinese grocery store and nail salon, the menu is simple — although mostly written in Chinese — with images to guide you. Watch the skilled Chinese chef toss your noodles by hand while you dig into the always satisfying beef noodle or braised beef noodle. Expect to share one of the five large wooden tables with strangers and spend around $10 for a hearty meal and a drink.

10. Nook

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Woodlands Ln
Nairobi, Kenya
+254 701 749142
Visit Website

Open just Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays, the Nook is constantly changing its menu, with an entirely new slate of dishes on offer each week. The ingredients are always organic and locally sourced, and the recipes often skew Southeast Asian. Come for brunch on Sunday, when you can get a meal and a drink for $10, but you’ll have to pay in cash or with MPESA (Kenya’s mobile money system).

A dish at Nook Cafe
Photo: Nook Cafe / Facebook

11. La Cantina

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+254 724 513326
Visit Website

The Italian chef behind Nairobi’s Mediterraneo restaurants, known simply as “Chef Dario,” has branched out to open La Cantina. The restaurant’s wooden tables and chairs, dark red cushions, and red-checkered napkins are reminiscent of a small family-run restaurant in the south of Italy, and the menu of handmade pizzas and pastas completes the vibe. Be advised: Save room for the tiramisu.

A pizza at La Cantina
Photo: La Cantina / Facebook

12. Boho Eatery

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60 Ndovu Rd
Nairobi, Kenya
+254 727 502416
Visit Website

Located about 40 minutes outside the city, in a leafy suburb, this converted home — complete with domestic furnishings and a large garden and pool — is one of Nairobi’s most ambitious vegan restaurants. The best seat in the house is on the patio, where two sets of large swing chairs with pillows hang near picnic tables and an indoor-outdoor bar. The menu is large and offers a wide variety of fresh, light, Instagram-ready dishes.

Laksa ticks
Photo: Boho Eatery

1. Fonda

P.O.Box 49172-00100, Nairobi, Kenya
Encacahuatado de Platano
Photo: Fonda / Facebook

Four Mexican restaurants have opened in Nairobi over the past year. They’ve been a long time coming for those who crave tacos and tequila (who doesn’t?). Fonda NBO is the buzziest of the newcomers, thanks to its earnest devotion to authenticity. Hanging on the back wall are photos from the owners’ recent trip to Mexico City, which was the inspiration for the yellow, cobalt blue, and earthy red dining room. The menu features fresh Mexican ingredients, like avocados, corn flour, and black beans, which are organically available locally, while the drinks list rightly focuses on agave spirits, used in more than 50 different margaritas.

P.O.Box 49172-00100
Nairobi, Kenya

2. Taco

Nairobi, Kenya
A spread of tacos
Photo: Taco 254 / Facebook

Another addition to Nairobi’s Mexican food scene, this stall, in the new Village Market mall food court, focuses exclusively on tacos. Come here early (they sell out fast) and get three tacos of your choice for $7.50. Currently, there are two vegan tacos on the menu. The rest feature standard taco fillings — chicken, pork, fish — as well as goat, in a nod to the local cuisine. The best part is the salsa bar, with more than 10 spicy toppers to choose from. The classic margaritas are winners, along with the locally brewed beers on tap.

3. Sigiria Cafe

Thigiri Ln, Nairobi, Kenya
Sigria Cafe
Photo: Soni Adriance

Located at the entrance of Karura Forest — a natural park that runs through the center of the city — this outdoor cafe is a perfect spot to stop on the way to or from a hike. Sigiria offers refreshment in the form smoothies, juice, and coffee, as well as fresh-baked cookies and other small bites to be enjoyed on the patio.

Thigiri Ln
Nairobi, Kenya

4. Sierra: Burger + Wine

Muguga Green, Nairobi, Kenya
A burger at Sierra
Photo: Sierra Burger and Wine / Facebook

The new location of Sierra off Brookside Drive lends itself well to the casual, sophisticated, New York-style ambiance it’s striving for. In the mid-afternoon sunshine, guests gather on a small balcony to enjoy award-winning South African wines and craft beer from Sierra’s own microbrewery. Inside, leather seats and warm, low lighting set the mood. Burgers are made with Angus beef reared on the foothills of Mount Kenya and aged at the restaurant’s in-house butchery, and on select Tuesdays, the eight-seat Kitchen Table offers a five-course tasting menu with pairings from its boutique wine shop.

Muguga Green
Nairobi, Kenya

5. Mama Rocks Kilimani

Parklands Rd, Nairobi, Kenya

The famous Mama Rocks food truck has opened a second, semipermanent structure in Kilimani with a slightly more expansive menu. The brightly colored structure is built from shipping containers that have been decked out with African-inspired painting and decor. You’ll find a few more burgers here than are offered at the truck, as well as sweet potato fries (which shouldn’t be skipped) and unique cocktails. The space is small, and the management often books live musical acts, so come early on busy days to snag a booth or share a high table with friends.

Parklands Rd
Nairobi, Kenya

6. Bao Box

8th Floor Pramukh Towers, Westlands Rd, Nairobi, Kenya
A spread of board games
Photo: Bao Box / Facebook

Bao Box calls itself a cafe, but what really drives people here are the board games. For $10 you can choose one of a hundred games to play at your table for an unlimited amount of time. The food is an afterthought, but that doesn’t keep anyone from enjoying a cold beer or glass of wine in one of the the big, colorful couches on the large balcony. Keep an eye on its Instagram page for quiz nights and other special events.

8th Floor Pramukh Towers, Westlands Rd
Nairobi, Kenya

7. La Tasca

James Gichuru Road, Nairobi, Kenya
Paella at La Tasca
Photo: La Tasca / Facebook

Exposed bulbs artfully strung from the ceiling add to the charm of this intimate Spanish wine bar with space for 40. Maurizio, one of the founding managers, is the type who offers a complimentary glass of sangria to waiting diners, and will remember you after a single visit. Wine bottles double as decor on the floor-to-ceiling shelves, and the menu features a classic selection of Spanish tapas.

James Gichuru Road
Nairobi, Kenya

8. Gyros 2 Go

Valley Arcade, Nairobi, Kenya
Gyro at Gyros 2 Go
Photo: Gyros 2 Go / Facebook

What’s better than sheets of warm flatbread encasing freshly sheared, spit-roasted chicken or lamb, topped with hummus, baba ghanoush, and crisp pickles? Pretty much nothing. Gyros 2 Go is a popular fast-casual dining spot to grab a quick, healthy lunch that’s fresh and filling. Everything is made from scratch every morning with locally sourced ingredients, and the menu is simple, Middle Eastern, and straight to the point.

Valley Arcade
Nairobi, Kenya

9. Silk Noodles

Hurlingham Estate, Nairobi, Kenya

This hole-in-the-wall Northern Chinese noodle restaurant is well hidden behind the exterior of a shopping center with a fast-food chicken joint out front. But once you find it, between a Chinese grocery store and nail salon, the menu is simple — although mostly written in Chinese — with images to guide you. Watch the skilled Chinese chef toss your noodles by hand while you dig into the always satisfying beef noodle or braised beef noodle. Expect to share one of the five large wooden tables with strangers and spend around $10 for a hearty meal and a drink.

Hurlingham Estate
Nairobi, Kenya

10. Nook

Woodlands Ln, Nairobi, Kenya
A dish at Nook Cafe
Photo: Nook Cafe / Facebook

Open just Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays, the Nook is constantly changing its menu, with an entirely new slate of dishes on offer each week. The ingredients are always organic and locally sourced, and the recipes often skew Southeast Asian. Come for brunch on Sunday, when you can get a meal and a drink for $10, but you’ll have to pay in cash or with MPESA (Kenya’s mobile money system).

Woodlands Ln
Nairobi, Kenya

11. La Cantina

Nairobi, Kenya
A pizza at La Cantina
Photo: La Cantina / Facebook

The Italian chef behind Nairobi’s Mediterraneo restaurants, known simply as “Chef Dario,” has branched out to open La Cantina. The restaurant’s wooden tables and chairs, dark red cushions, and red-checkered napkins are reminiscent of a small family-run restaurant in the south of Italy, and the menu of handmade pizzas and pastas completes the vibe. Be advised: Save room for the tiramisu.

12. Boho Eatery

60 Ndovu Rd, Nairobi, Kenya
Laksa ticks
Photo: Boho Eatery

Located about 40 minutes outside the city, in a leafy suburb, this converted home — complete with domestic furnishings and a large garden and pool — is one of Nairobi’s most ambitious vegan restaurants. The best seat in the house is on the patio, where two sets of large swing chairs with pillows hang near picnic tables and an indoor-outdoor bar. The menu is large and offers a wide variety of fresh, light, Instagram-ready dishes.

60 Ndovu Rd
Nairobi, Kenya

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