Sept, 2017: As you may have noticed from our Swahili street food guide, Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam on Tanzania’s coast got us pretty excited about food. It’s not just that we discovered some freakin’ amazing food, it’s also that we were eating in some pretty amazing spots. Whether it was digging our toes into the white sand of Nungwi beach while feasting on a fragrantly delicious fish curry; or tucking into delicate little fish cakes while listening to the muezzin’s final call to prayer across the rooftops of Zanzibar’s Stone Town; all our senses were treated to a bit of a feast on Tanzania’s coast. Here is our foodies guide to Zanzibar restaurants and Dar es Salaam good eating.
Zanzibar restaurants and good eating
Tea House, Stone Town, Fri – Wed from 6pm for sundowners and 7pm for dinner (closed Thurs), reservations required
Perched atop the Emerson Spice boutique hotel, Tea House was a bit of a splurge dinner for Fi’s birthday. But, at USD40/head for a five course set menu degustation (everyone eats the same menu, dietary requirements excluded) and sundowner cocktail, it’s spurge which isn’t exactly going to break the bank. Tea House guests are always invited for a sundowner cocktail from 6pm. With sundowner in hand, looking out over the rooftops of Stone Town to the twinkling Indian Ocean beyond was amazing. We started with the best fish cakes I’ve ever head, wrapped in spinach and served with a delicate turmeric sauce. Mains came out as a series of smaller dishes on a large sharing platter with highlights including panfried snapper with harissa and rose and a rich and fruity braise of goat. While all the feasting is going on a waiter comes out and gives you the low down on the food you’re eating and the traditions which sit behind it. That combined with the food, the view and a band of local artists made for an epicly good night.
Baraka Restaurant, Nungwi, open daily for lunch and dinner
We had good intentions of trying as many of Nungwi’s beach side restaurants as possible but the fish curry at Baraka kept bringing us back. Juicy fish in a lightly spiced and fragrant tomato base served with a choice of roti or rice was absolutely outstanding. They also had a range of squeaky fresh looking seafood which you could order grilled to your liking. While the food is definitely a major reason for coming to Baraka, it’s position right on the beach looking west across the turquoise water is undoubtably another. Come for a sundowner, wiggle your toes in the sand with a frosty beer or fresh passionfruit juice (vodka optional), and then feast till your heart’s content. YYYEEEEESSSSSSSS!
Zanzibar Coffee House, Stone Town, open daily 8:30am – 6pm
While not strictly about eating, Zanzibar Coffee House is an amazing spot to put the feet up with a quality coffee and soak up the Stone Town vibe. We initially sat at a little table downstairs but then realised there was a lovely terrace upstairs with sweeping views over the city’s tin rooftops. In hindsight, while the coffee is definitely good, I think it’s the combination of drinking that coffee while enjoying the rooftop views which made Zanzibar coffee house so special. Coffees include all your usual espresso based favourites, plus they have a range of teas and a full food menu.
Kibakuli, Stone Town, open daily 7:30am – 9pm
Kibakuli is a rough around the edges local’s joint just around the corner from Zanzibar Coffee House. We were attracted by a menu featuring lots of exotic sounding things we had never heard of but mainly the steady stream of locals coming and going. You can find lots of the breakfast treats mentioned in our Swahili Street Food blog but the thing that really tickled us was the Urojo. Tangy with tamarind, this tasty soup got loaded up with potato cakes, meat skewers, koftas and cassava chips. It was hearty and delicious and made even more so by the laughs to be had with all the locals as you try and navigate the menu / cabinet stuffed with fried goodies
Darajani night market, Stone Town, nightly from sundown
Forget about the touristy market on the water side of town, if you’re looking for super cheap, super tasty, super local treats at night in Zanzibar’s Stone Town, you need to head to the Darajani night market. Situated across the road from the Darajani (otherwise known as Estella) market building, this awesome night market kicks off each evening and is full of great food. Highlight for us was the Zanzibar pizza but there were plenty of other treats to be had including ugali (corn meal based dough) and stew, braised octopus, barbecue chicken or just big fat chunks of juicy fresh watermelon. Come for the food but stay for the people watching and amazingly friendly locals!
Street food, sidewalks everywhere at all hours of every day
While Zanzibar undoubtably has some great restaurants and cafes, some of our favourite dining came from the street food. Whether it was a little old lady sitting in her doorway selling samosa or a teenager grilling small kebabs of spiced meat (mishkaki), there is so much good food available on Zanzibar’s street side. Don’t be afraid of sticking your nose into whatever is on offer as most often this is where we find you get to experience the real local food. Check out our Swahili food blog for other examples of awesome street food to keep an eye out for.
For more Zanzibar restaurant ideas plus accommodation and things to do, check out Migrationology’s awesome Zanzibar Travel Guide here.
Dar es Salaam restaurants and good eating
Mamboz Corner Barbecue, Wed – Mon 6pm – 12:30am (closed tues)
Run by third generation Indian immigrants, Mamboz Corner BBQ combines Indian, Swahili and Chinese flavours to deliver lip-smacking barbecue goodness. Think charcoal fired BBQ’s filled with grilling chickens marinated in a variety of fragrant deliciousness, kebabs of goat meat or juicy chunks of grilled paneer. My personal favourite was a peppery, garlic infused, sticky set of goat ribs. The food is outstanding. Probably worth noting that Mamboz is a dry cafe so don’t expect a frosty beer to go with your barbecue chicken.
Summy’s Barbecue Centre, Tues – Sun 10am – midnight
Just around the corner from Mamboz is a 20m length of footpath jam packed with a street side smorgasbord of various different south Asian treats. While the enormous menu can be slightly off putting we had the best dosa (rice flour pancake from Southern India) since leaving India and some amazing dahi puri stuffed with potato, fresh coriander, tangy tamarind and a drizzle of yoghurt. So good.
Mzizima Fish Market, open daily 9am – 5pm
Just around the corner from the Kigamboni ferry terminal in Dar is a series of seafood stands which merge into the sprawling Mzizima Fish Market. We discovered this seafood lovers paradise after wandering off the ferry on our way to an afternoon exploring the city. Very quickly we found ourselves tempted by the various stalls selling braised octopus, fried fish, fresh prawns and little fish croquettes. Everything was cheap and chips, fresh and delicious. As we walked further from the stalls and into the market proper we couldn’t help but get excited by all the amazing produce on offer; huge snappers getting filleted, giant prawns being packed away on ice or squid being weighed up under the eagle eye of a prospective buyer. Walking further we found ourselves amid the fishing boats themselves where families squatted around pots of simmering soups or mildly drunk men playing animated games of dominoes. Even if not eating, the Mzizima fish market and surrounding stalls is a feast for the senses definitely worth checking out.
Miwa Sugar Cane Juice, open daily 8:30am – 8pm
We were suffering from mild dehydration when we stumbled upon Miwa on Libya street in the older part of Dar. A few local lads were pumping out a steady stream of glasses of fresh sugar cane juice and damn was it awesome. Normally we’re not that excited about sugar cane juice but when it’s icey cold and spiked with a little fresh ginger it really is a treat.