With its 536 kms of coastline stretching from Lamu in the North to Lunga Lunga in the South, Kenya has a long and straight forward fishing tradition – a seafood lover’s paradise. From the Swahili people who began fishing the shallow blue reefs with dhows, traditional sailing vessels with long thin hulls made of wood and coconut fibre rope in the 13th century, to the modern artisanal wavuvi, or fishermen in Kiswahili, who can still be seen sailing up and down the coast, fishing in Kenya is still mostly done from small fishing boats that the locals still refer to as dhows. Shallow-water fish from Snapper, Parrot Fish and Surgeon Fish, as well as deep-water fish like Mackerels, Barracudas, and Crustaceans such as Lobsters, Prawns and Crabs make most of the local fishermens’s catch.
Protected by coral reef, the Kenyan coast’s lavish sea fauna is a snorkeler’s, sports fisherman enthusiast and seafood gastronome’s paradise. Any attempt to catalogue the plethora of marine life is best left to a chapter in Jules Vernes’ “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.”
Here’s a short guide to a few of our favourite restaurants along this stunning coast:
At Karkadeh, slow food is the key word. Located in Old Town Lamu, Subira House is an eco-friendly hotel hidden behind the walls of a Swahili house. Recently opened, Karkadeh offers a 3-course dinner using locally caught seafood and locally grown vegetables. Guests can elect to hook their own dinner during a sailing trip and enjoy in the courtyard, sitting legs crossed on a carpet on the ground under the stars.
Ocean Beach Resort & Spa
The chefs’ inspired fusion menu marries the intoxicating flavours of Kenya, Italy, France and various angles of the culinary world in the hotel’s casual restaurants. Seasonal cuisine and daily menus are created by the celebrated chefs.
The epitome of a true Italian restaurant, rustic and authentic! The menu includes everything from exquisite seafood dishes, freshly caught to the perfectly seared steaks. And of course pasta!
Inspired by the proximity of the ruins of the ancient city of Gede, the food at Amandina is Mediterranean, Moroccan and North African. The slow-cooked, earthy stews incorporate delicate flavourings using the finest fresh local seafood and vegetables. Warm spices and tasty sauces accompany the dishes. After dinner, guests can delight in alfresco evenings on the terrace,
try the shisha in the star lounge or enjoy creative cocktails under the equatorial sky.
Boko Boko Porini
Boko Boko Porini is known for its delicious menu that combines traditional Seychellois cuisine with local delicacies. Try their creole fish soup or prawns, and don’t miss out on their succulent char-grilled steaks. Your meal coupled with the lush garden setting and smiling faces will surely make for a memorable experience.
La Marina Restaurant
Famous for its fresh Seafood and Barbeque, the menu at La Marina is designed to satisfy all tastes: Seafood, Oriental, Grilled dishes, Italian dishes, Pizza and more. Ideally located on the North Mombasa Coast and blessed with a picturesque tranquil setting, right on the edge of Mtwapa Creek, La Marina Restaurant has all the right ingredients to become a favourite with discerning diners. Excellent location, outstanding cuisine and attentive service.
Located on the scenic Mtwapa creek on the North coast of Mombasa, The Moorings is one of the few floating restaurants in East Africa. The extensive seafood menu includes a mouth-watering variety of fresh lobster, crab, prawns, calamari and fish.
Perched on a cliff overlooking the picturesque Old Harbour of Mombasa Tamarind Mombasa’s menu is a blend of the best of French, Asian and African cuisines. The Prawns Piri Piri, Chilli Crab and Lobster have earned the Tamarind restaurant worldwide fame and rave reviews from Gourmet, the London Times and the Herald Tribune. Built in Arab style with high arches and a crenellated roof, the elegant building is the perfect setting for a romantic, starlit dinner. Look for their amazing lime sorbet!
Ali Barbour’s Cave
Believed to be between 120,000 and 180,000 years old, Ali Barbour’s Cave is as unique as its setting. Made from the finest, freshest seasonal ingredients, cooked to perfection, well presented, and tasting just out of this world the seafood menu includes Ali Drunken prawns, Fresh Kilifi Oysters, a seafood platter complete with fresh Calamari, Crab of the mangrove, Lobster, King prawns, Red Snapper and Oysters. Situated about 30km south of Mombasa, it offers a unique dining experience.
Sails Beach Bar & Restaurant
At Sails, each top class dish that leaves the kitchen window does so under the watchful eye of Luke Doig – Almanara’s General Manager & Executive Chef at Sails. A third generation Kenyan, Luke’s extensive experience has propelled Sails to the top of the exclusive restaurants’ list in Kenya. Sails’ sweeping sails and curving beams offer a stunning and unique piece of architecture on the beach front within Almanara.
The Maji Beach Boutique Hotel
A wide selection of à la carte gourmet menus featuring Swahili, Indian, Mediterranean and other Ethnic specialties awaits you at The Maji. The emphasis is on fish and seafood brought daily from the ocean.
Dar Es Salaam
Cape Town Fish Market
Cape Town Fish Market, South Africa’s premier seafood restaurant, brings a fresh taste of South Africa to Tanzania. The menu offers a wonderful combination of both South African and Japanese dishes including fish and chips, grilled prawns, salmon teriyaki and a wide variety of sushi. It’s an ultimate feast of flavours.
As its name implies, The Rock restaurant sits on a rock close to the shore of the beautiful Michanwi Pingwe beach. Crab, calamari, prawns, lobster and octopus are all prominently featured on the menu. At The rock, the food, the light, colours, and the staff’s passion for cooking all conspire to create a one-of-a-kind magic. Breathtaking!