Top 10 Best New Restaurants in Nairobi That You Must Visit

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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:

1. Fonda

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.

2. Taco 254

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’s one vegan taco on the menu. The rest feature standard taco fillings — chicken, pork, fish, beef — 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 craft pale ale on tap.

3. Sigiria Cafe

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.

4. Sierra: Burger + Wine

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.

5. Mama Rocks Kilimani

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

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.

7. La Tasca

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.

8. Gyros 2 Go

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.

9. Silk Noodles

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

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).

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