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Kenya Travel Guide

Kenya — Food and Restaurants

Kenya has a thriving if basic pub culture, with local and overseas wine and regional beers, Tusker and White Cap, popular, cheap and widely available. Unlicensed home brews, referred to as changaa or busaa should be avoided due to unhygienic production methods and unregulated (or unknown) alcohol content. Restaurants, called hotels, are also popular and have a wide range of foods and prices. Many bars and eateries will feature live entertainment like reggae bands. Street food is common and tasty, with items such as the sweet bread-like mandazi or samosas (fried pastry with savory or sweet fillings such as curried vegetable or mashed banana) worth a try, particularly if cooked right before your eyes.

Bars and Pubbing in Kenya

Although many visitors head straight to the nature reserves or the beach resorts, those who spend a little more time in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, will have the opportunity to drink or dance in a variety or clubs and bars. Westlands, by the central business district, is the main bar area and a good place to catch live music or dance to local DJs. The dimly lit Black Diamond club (Mpaka Road, Nairobi) has a large, noisy dance floor that is often packed. Woodvale Grove has a couple popular nightspots such as the cozy and funky Havana Bar or Gypsy’s (Woodvale Grove) which has four differently themed bars in one building.

For those who prefer something a little more culturally focused, The Kenyan National Theatre (Harry Thuku Rd City Centre opposite the Norfolk Hotel) regularly hosts modern and classic plays, concerts and even beauty pageants while the Safaricom Michael Joseph Centre (HQ2 Waiyaki Way, Nairobi) has art exhibitions and concerts of jazz and African music.

Dining and Cuisine in Kenya

The Kenyans usually have breakfast, lunch and supper, as well as morning and afternoon tea. Arabic and Indian influences can be found in the cuisine with items like chapatti (eggless pancakes thicker than the Indian version) or biriani and pilau rice and spice dishes eaten for the first meal. One staple any time of day is ugali, a porridge made from cornmeal that is served with sauce and a little meat.

Nyama choma, or barbequed meat, usually goat, chicken or beef, forms the basis of a traditional meal in Kenya, often accompanied by beans, yam, fruit, rice, or fried dough. In Nairobi, a place highly rated by locals is Nyama Choma Place (Milimani Rd Milimani Sagret Hotel, Kilami, west of Nairobi center), where diners select their meat served with ugali or chips. The most famous nyama choma restaurant is Carnivore (off Langata Rd Langata, between West Nairobi and Langata Barracks) where waiters carve freshly barbequed beef, camel, chicken, crocodile, lamb, ostrich, or pork at the diner’s table.

The capital city has the bulk of Kenya’s fine dining that is often attached to international hotels, aimed at tourists and wealthy locals. The highly acclaimed Talisman (320 Ngong Road, Nairobi) serves up African, European and Thai fusion made from locally sourced produce in a sophisticated, but welcoming terrace garden. Alternatively, the high-end, award winning Tatu (Fairmont Norfolk Hotel, Kijabi Street, Nairobi) serves fresh seafood and aged steaks in a chic modern dining room.

The central business districts around Westlands and Hurlingham are more tourist focused, and are a good place to get Indian, Brazilian, Chinese, Thai, French, fusion or high-end Kenyan cuisine, while suburbs like Ayani, Kibera and Olympic are better for more authentic local dishes. Large urban areas often have fast food restaurants, with the Nandos chain being particularly common.

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