In a special feature for msafiri, Eat Out provide us with an overview of Kenyan coastal cuisine and make some tasty recommendations
The coastline of Mombasa is a world of enthralling history and natural beauty. Lined with pristine palm-fringed beaches, and the calm inviting waters of the Indian Ocean, the obvious culinary attraction on the coast is seafood – naturally abundant and fresh. Fish, crabs, lobsters and oysters are caught in the early morning and sold daily in the markets of Old Town to the top restaurants along the coast. There is also an abundance of fresh tropical fruit and vegetables, peanuts, cashews and wild honey.
The Kenyan coast is famous for its Swahili cuisine, a traditional blend of Arabic and African cooking styles. Swahili specialities are mild curries made from a thick coconut sauce and seafood cooked with cloves and cinnamon. The coast’s mix of African and Asian cuisines also produces a wide range of vegetarian dishes.
For those who wish to cook for themselves, the abundant supply of markets, shops and modern supermarkets will cater for their every need. Otherwise, here are our top places to visit if you’re looking for a unique coastal experience.
Best for African Cuisine
01 The Moorings Restaurant
Situated on the north coast of Mombasa, the Moorings Restaurant floats on the Mtwapa creek with a great waterfront setting and a spectacular view.
The Moorings seafood restaurant is one of the oldest well-known restaurants in Mombasa and should be your first choice for fish, lobster, crab and prawns.
As well as fresh local seafood, The Moorings offers a landlubber menu, with steak, chicken and pasta as, well as a pizzeria. Enjoy expertly prepared seafood dishes in an ambience of tranquility and charm on the Dhow or floating restaurant.
02 La Griglia, Malindi
The La Griglia restaurant is located in Malindi. The striking building, reminiscent of an ancient Roman house, is constructed using Ionic pillars that embrace and divide the spaces within the restaurant to create an intimate atmosphere. The noble architecture directs your attention to the perfect Italian cuisine.
La Griglia’s menu specialises in Italian cuisine and seafood, and you can find dishes as varied as oysters and lasagne. You will also enjoy being offered bottles of fine Ferrari and G.H. Mumm Champagne. The atmosphere at La Griglia is serene and the service is impeccable. The restaurant also offers entertainment in the form of singers such as Achieng Abura and dancers from the Bomas of Kenya. It is the perfect fusion of Kenyan and Italian culture.
03 Porini Boko Boko, Kikambala
The Porini Farm Restaurant is nestled in a tranquil, tropical garden in Kikambala, Mtwapa.
The restaurant offers alternative corners for a quiet meal. Whether you are going for a romantic dinner for two, a family outing, or with a larger group gathering, Porini is the ideal place. You will be met by staff in colourful Seychellois costumes and entertained in an open plan restaurant amidst the green of a tropical garden.
The house specialities at Porini include charcoal-grilled meat and fish. Seychellois spices and sauces provide the extra exotic flavour. The restaurant is also renowned for its tasty chicken dishes.
04 Tamarind Mombasa
Tamarind Mombasa, with a capacity of 160 people, is built in Arab style with high arches and a crenellated roof.It is a gleaming white building with a starlit terrace, perched on a cliff overlooking the picturesque Old Harbour of Mombasa. Tamarind has also undergone a refurbishment and while you’ll still experience the unparalleled view of Mombasa on a starry night, the renovation has infused a fresh sense of energy and modernism.
Their menu is a blend of the best of French, Asian and African cuisines and they have also newly introduced a sushi bar. Their speciality is seafood with their prawns piri piri, chilli crab and lobster earning them worldwide fame and rave reviews from publications such as Gourmet, the London Times and the New York Herald Tribune. Tamarind’s reputation is as one of the finest restaurants in Africa – achieving the ambition of its founder.
05 Ali Barbour’s Cave
Ali Barbour’s Cave is thought to be between 120,000-180,000 years old. It is situated about 30km to the south of Mombasa and a mere 200m back from the high water mark. The cave has a series of interlinking chambers at depths of up to 10m below ground level. The natural holes in the cave ceiling are open to the sky and seating is under the stars, creating an intimate and elegant atmosphere.
The cuisine is typically international, specialising in seafood. Ali Barbour’s Cave Restaurant is a truly unique dining experience.
06 Peponi Hotel Lamu
Peponi is a small hotel located on the island of Lamu, in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Kenya.
Peponi is full of old-world character and charm. Small and personal, it is the perfect rest after a safari or as a holiday hideaway from modern life. Their cuisine comprises fresh seafood, sushi and traditional Swahili- style cooking.
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