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Restaurants in Nairobi

The most famous restaurants in Nairobi are out in the suburbs, but there are some excellent choices downtown, catering to a mixture of tourists, office workers and expats. Taxis loiter around outside the top spots in the evening, offering a safer alternative to walking back to your hotel at night.

The Nairobi restaurants below have been handpicked by our guide author and are grouped into three pricing categories:
Expensive (over Ksh1,500)
Moderate (Ksh500 to Ksh1,500)
Cheap (up to Ksh500)

The above prices are for a three-course meal for one and do not include drinks or service. Tipping is not necessary in cheaper restaurants in Nairobi. In more expensive establishments, a ten percent service charge may be added to the bill. If you pay by credit card, you may incur an additional 16% VAT charge.

Expensive

Nairobi Tamarind

Cuisine: Seafood

Nairobi's premier fish restaurant is elegant and expensive but well worth the money. Fresh fish, crab, lobster and prawns are flown in from the coast daily, and the menu also runs to venison and excellent steaks. Specialities include delicious mangrove oysters and prawns cooked in just about every way imaginable - although battered are most popular. Local freshwater fish such as Nile Perch and tilapia from Lake Victoria are also worth a try. Service in the Arabic-styled dining room is excellent and the atmosphere outstanding.

Address: Langata, Karen Road, Nairobi, 00200
Telephone: +254 71 934 6349.
Website: http://www.tamarind.co.ke/tamarind-nairobi

Seven Grill and Lounge (Temporarily closed)

Cuisine: International

A glamorous addition to Nairobi's dining scene, Seven has proved a huge hit with expats and well-heeled locals alike, largely as a result of its sleek interior (including an agate bar) and a well thought-out menu of international classics. Although it describes itself as 'Afro-fusion', most of what's on offer is upmarket nyama chomo (grilled meat) – not a bad thing. Expect tender cuts of dry-aged local meats spiced up with Indian flavours, plus well-cooked chips and really good side salads.

Address: Gigiri, The Village Market, Nairobi,
Telephone: +254 73 777 4477.
Website: http://www.sevengrill.net

The Mandhari Restaurant

Cuisine: Mediterranean

Tucked away in the luxury Serena hotel, the Mandhari is one of the fanciest dining spots in Nairobi and perfect if you're in the market for candle-lit romance. The dining room is pared back and elegant, lit with tea lights come nightfall, and looks out over the Nairobi skyline. The menu is mostly Italian, although several French and Spanish dishes have crept on. Either way, nearly everything is delicious and much lighter than the local fare.

Address: Central, Processional Way, Nairobi,
Telephone: +254 20 282 2000.
Website: http://www.serenahotels.com/serenanairobi/mandharirestaurant-en.html

Moderate

Carnivore Restaurant

Cuisine: African

An outing to this restaurant, just outside the city, is an essential part of any visit to Nairobi. The city's most famous nyama choma (grilled meat) eatery is arranged around an enormous roasting pit upon which meat of various kinds is skewered upon Masai swords, and the food only ends once the diners put down the white flag in defeat. Carnivore no longer serves plains game, but you can dine on farmed camel, ostrich and crocodile as well as mainstream meats like beef, lamb and pork. It's as much a show as it is a restaurant, and one that doesn't disappoint at that.

Address: Nairobi West Estate, Langata Road, Nairobi, 00200
Telephone: +254 73 361 1608
Website: http://www.tamarind.co.ke/carnivore

Thorn Tree Café

Cuisine: International

Travellers have been gathering in this historic café-cum-brasserie since 1959 to escape the bustle of downtown Nairobi and post messages on the thorn tree in the courtyard (the current tree is actually the third to stand on the site). Located within the historic Stanley Hotel, the clientele is a mix of expats and well-heeled locals, with ladies who lunch making up much of the midday traffic. The menu runs to sandwiches, pizzas and cakes, and live bands play most evenings.

Address: Central Business District, Kenyatta Avenue, Nairobi,
Telephone: +254 20 033 3233.
Website: http://www.sarovahotels.com/stanley-nairobi/culinary-experiences/thorn-tree-cafe.html

Trattoria

Cuisine: Italian

Nairobi's longest-running Italian restaurant has been doing business since 1981, and it remains popular with locals and expats alike. A bustling downtown bistro with waiters in blazers, convincing pizzas and street-facing balconies that spill over with pot plants, its convivial atmosphere and to-die-for squid ink pasta are reasons alone to visit. Easy to find, it's an excellent bet when a taste of home (or Europe at the very least) is exactly what you need.

Address: Central Business District, Corner of Wabera Street and Kaunda Street, Nairobi,
Telephone: +254 20 224 0205
Website: http://www.trattoria.co.ke

Cheap

Malindi Dishes

Cuisine: African

Just northeast of the centre of Nairobi, this lively canteen is a great place to sample food from the Swahili coast, including fresh fish cooked in coconut milk, goat curry and Indian-style biryani (fried rice). When it comes to starch, take your pick from naan bread, boiled rice or ugali (maize porridge). It's no-frills dining but delicious fare, cheap prices and cheerful clientele all make up for it.

Address: Central, Gaborone Road, Nairobi,
Telephone: +254 72 229 2525
Website: https://www.facebook.com/malindidishes.online/

Nairobi Java House

Cuisine: International

This justifiably popular coffee shop is Kenya's answer to Starbucks. Once confined to a single branch on Mama Ngina Street, it now boasts several Nairobi branches all over the city. This is no surprise given that it is one of the best places for a decent coffee in the country, with excellent Ethiopian and Ugandan blends as well as the usual South American suspects. They have since expanded their menu to both lunch and dinner, though the extensive breakfast options remain a highlight.

Address: Central Business District, Mama Ngina Street, Nairobi,
Telephone: +254 20 350 4468
Website: http://www.javahouseafrica.com

Nook Cafe

Cuisine: Mediterranean

If you're looking to get some value out of your holiday funds then Nook Cafe is not a place to skip out on. This small, hidden gem offers more of a brunch/snack than a full meal, but with a menu that's different every week (based off whatever fresh ingredients owner/chef Nicole can get her hands on), it's an experience worth going for if you're in it for the flavour.

Address: Hurlingham Estate, Argwings Kodhek Road, Nairobi,
Telephone: +254 70 174 9142
Website: https://www.facebook.com/cafenook/

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Hotel Ambassadeur Nairobi

Standards have slipped slightly since the days when this tall tower hosted politicians and presidents, but it's still a cut above the competition. The comfortable rooms are well appointed, and there's a good bar and restaurant. It's a popular venue in Nairobi for weddings and conferences, so book ahead.

Sarova Stanley

One of the most historic hotels in Nairobi, the Sarova Stanley first opened its doors in 1902, and boasts a rich history of famous former guests, among them Ernest Hemingway. Rooms are well appointed and soundproof, and there's a gym, sauna, rooftop pool and bar. Don't miss out on the legendary Thorn Tree Cafe either, a travellers' haunt since British times.

Nairobi Serena Hotel

One of the more elegant options in Nairobi, this sophisticated place draws on influences from across Africa, and the interiors are full of tribal sculptures, textiles and wooden furniture. The spotless rooms have marble bathrooms and views over the grounds and lush gardens. There is also a swimming pool, health club and shops. Although the hotel itself is very secure, adjacent Central Park and Uhuru Park are not safe to walk around at night.

Central YMCA

This is a well-appointed, central hostel in Nairobi. Good-value rooms, reasonable food, swimming pool, tennis courts and an aerobics studio make this feel more like a small hotel, and you don't have to be male or Christian to stay here.

Sentrim 680 Hotel

This reasonably priced mid-range hotel in Nairobi is in a decent location. It is a bit shabby and not much to look at, but is safe, has clean rooms with en-suite bathrooms, useful facilities, a restaurant and its own bar. Rooms facing the main road can cop a bit of noise, so ask for one at the back.

Upper Hill Campsite

Part campsite for overland groups, part backpacker hostel, this expansive place is a hike from the centre of Nairobi, but it makes up for this with excellent facilities. Staff can organise all sorts of safaris and excursions, and the spacious, secure compound has its own bar, restaurant and games room.