Djibouti cooking is influenced by a variety of foreign cuisines, but distinct local flavors are very evident in many popular dishes. Some traditions are borrowed from the country’s African neighbors, as well as the Arabs. Portuguese influence is obvious in preparation techniques like roasting and marinating, while plenty of Asian fruits also show up in the recipes. French, Arab, Chinese, and Vietnamese cuisines are widely available and there are numerous places to dine out in Djibouti City. Even though drinking is not largely considered a social activity, the nightlife is vibrant for visitors. Clubs and bars offer excellent entertainment, and upscale restaurants boast excellent wine lists paired with delectable dishes. Food is quite expensive, so make an effort to avoid tourist traps and head to where the locals eat.
Bars and Pubbing in Djibouti
Most of the bars and pubs in the capital city are low key, making them perfect for laidback chitchats with friends. If you are looking to enjoy a livelier evening, head to the few (but good) clubs with pumping music and large dance floors. Club Hermes (Rue de Geneve, Djibouti) is an underground discotheque with good music and a steady flow of drinks, while Club Menelik inside the Menelik Hotel offers tasty mixed drinks and cocktails set to a blend of ’90s pop, R&B and hip-hop. Other interesting places to visit include Le Maries and La Oasis, both close to downtown.
If you enjoy seafood with your drink, La Mer Rouge (Ambouli, near the airport) is the place to go. This restaurant and bar specializes in crab and fresh fish dishes, along with other seafood delights like lobster, mussels and clams. It is one of the most popular restaurants in the city and features both indoor and outdoor seating at a beautiful location near the airport.
The club scene in Djibouti is mostly just for men, and as a result, the fancy local bars are overflowing with female waitresses. Women tend to hang out at the quieter cafés for good food and coffee, but these often close early. For female travelers looking to enjoy the nightlife, hotel bars are your best bet.
Dining and Cuisine in Djibouti
Dining out is enjoyable, but expensive and Djibouti City is known for its pricey restaurants. If you are adventurous enough to try to eat where locals eat, you can find excellent cuisine at reasonable prices. One of the most famous restaurants in the capital city is Melting Pot, (Heron, Bernard St., Djibouti), which known for its fusion food and specialties like steaks, camel meat, lobster, and sushi. Locals flock here for all-you-can-eat sushi nights. This restaurant has indoor and outdoor seating.
French restaurants are also very common in the city. If you are looking for good value, head to the famous Chez Marco, (Place du 27 Juin 1977, Djibouti). In addition to specialties like escalope de poulet au citron vert and the famed filet de boeuf sauce roquefort, they also offer French-Mediterranean fusion dishes.
For a quick snack, try local favorites like Restaurant Saba (ave Maréchal Lyautey, Djibouti), which offers a great variety of dishes from shark filets, shrimp and crabs to salads and refreshing fruit juices. Mukbasa – 7 Freres (ave 13, Djibouti) is also a must-try. It is right in the city’s African Quarter, and is famous for its oven-baked fish (poisson Yemenite) served with a devilish mokbasa (honey and banana or date purée) and chapati-like bread.