We asked the locals and pretty much everyone replied that Zanzibar’s best restaurants are in Stone Town. Here we have collected 6 of the most popular – and added the island’s most famous – located on the east coast.
Frontpage photo courtesy of: The Rock Restaurant
You eat, you cry – our driver tell us while banging enthusiastically on the steering wheel and laughing hard. He seems to be loosing his cool in the middle of a really funny joke. Shortly before, he displayed a lot of devotion to the many different spices that the Zanzibar farmers loves to spice their food with. Pepper, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, cardamom, lemongrass, cinnamon … but not chili!
The conversation actually started somewhere else. We are in his car – on our way to experience Stone Town – and I asked if he had a favorite restaurant? We did not get any wiser. But one thing was safe to say: Whether he is eating chili or telling about chili – tears will start running down his cheeks. But we did learn one thing that seems to be true:
ZANZIBAR’S KITCHEN SMELLS great from
EXOTIC SPICES …
Their cuisine is a fusion of African, Chinese, Arabic and Indian cuisine and most of the dishes consist of grilled seafood served with spicy rice, coconut and fresh fruit.
We were very impressed with our food experiences on Zanzibar. However, we primarily ate at our hotel, which was an hour’s drive from Stone Town on the east coast. Therefore, unfortunately we did not get the chance to eat through the list of the most popular restaurants in the city, which is why this is guide is based on the local recommendations. If you come by some of the dining places please tell us about your experience.
TIP: Be aware of any changed opening hours in connection with low season, holidays and Ramadan, and that several of the island’s restaurants do not serve alcohol.
1. ROOFTOP TEA HOUSE RESTAURANT
Situated on a rooftop terrace – at the top of a former palace, which today is the charming and historic Emerson Spice Hotel – the restaurant not only has beautiful views over the city roofs. The atmospheric restaurant also has a reputation of being among the best on the island. Their tasting menu consists of five dishes that mainly are delicately prepared seafood. Consider arriving at 18.00 where the restaurant serves cocktails as an accessory to the sunset. The food is served at 19.00 It is recommended to book a table in advance. Read more about: Rooftop Tea House Restaurant .
2. FOOD STALLS IN FORODHANI PARK
Do you want to dine with the locals and try some authentic food then take a walk past Forodhani Park, which is located between Stone Town’s waterfront and the old fort. During the day it is a popular place to pause under the shade of the trees. But when the sun sets the park changes to a lively evening market lit by moonlight and lanterns. Here the locals raise small food stalls, all of which offer a cheap, tasty Swahili meal. You can taste everything from seafood kebab, grilled meat and vegetables, stuffed samosa and freshly baked bread – to exotic fruits, filled pancakes and freshly squeezed sugar cane juice.
3. ARCHIPELAGO RESTAURANT
If you want to eat freshly caught seafood, but not tempted by Forodhani’s colorful street kitchen, then try Archipelago Restaurant, which is right next to the park. Here, they serve simple and rustic dishes, the portions are large and the prices reasonable. They do not serve alcohol but you are welcome to bring your own bottles. The restaurant is on the first floor and has a beautiful view over Forodhani and the ocean.
4. ZANZIBAR COFFEE HOUSE
Coffee, coffee, coffee! East Africa is world renowned for its production of coffee. And in Zanzibar you will find the island’s best cup of mocha at Zanzibar Coffee House. The cafe belongs to the small charming boutique hotel of the same name and is decorated with respect to the traditional Swahili architecture. Their range is adapted to the tourists’ preferences and includes everything from coffee drinks to smoothies as well as classic cafe-dishes such as crepes, salads and sandwiches. They brew the coffee on their own beans harvested in Zanzibar and in Tanzania, andit is served by educated baristas. The Chef Barista was the first to win the Tanzania Barista Championship in 2009.
5. LIVINGSTONE BEACH RESTAURANT
We had a lunch at this restaurant, which lured us in with its unique location on the beach. Here the chairs and tables are placed under the shade of the wide leaves of the palms, so you can enjoy the food while drilling your toes deep into the soft white sand – striking over the view of the water. In the evening local musicians play everything from reggae to traditional African music. The restaurant is located in the former British Consulate and is named after Dr. Livingstone. According to our guide the famous and popular explorer was brought here after his dead, so people could say their last farewells.
6. STONE TOWN CAFÉ
In the heart of the old town close to many of the historic attractions Stone Town Café is a popular place among tourists. The place has a nice outdoor seating area where you can sit among small green palm trees and gaze on the local life unfolding on Kenyatta Road. Stone Town Café is open from 08:00 to 22:00 and serves everything from coffee, tea and juice as well as classic café dishes – omelettes, salads, pizza and sweets.
7. THE ROCK RESTAURANT
Uniquely located on a limestone cliff that shoots up of the turquoise blue water The Rock Restaurant is the best-known eatery for a good reason. Surrounded by the Indian Ocean, The Rock is a popular place for anyone who wants to enjoy a dinner in an exotic setting that’s a bit out of the ordinary. On the menu you will find freshly caught fish and shellfish, among other things. Salad with squid, seafood spaghetti and grilled lobster. At low tide you can walk to the restaurant but at high tide you have to sail by boat from the beach, Michanwi Pingwe Beach. The restaurant only has 12 tables so it is recommended to book a table in advance.
What do you think? Please write to us if you think our tips were useful or if there is something you’re missing – we are happy to return with follow-up info. We also love to hear from those you who have visited Zanzibar and can add a few more tips. Please share your thoughts in the comments box below. Bon voyage, M & M