This years Taste Awards were bigger, better and more competitive than ever before. The special awards gala was held at the luxurious dusitD2 hotel and brought together restaurant owners, foodies and food bloggers in celebration of culinary art and our ever growing restaurant scene. Have a look at the red carpet pictures to see what you missed!
One of the most anticipated events of the evening was the announcement of the Gold List winners. This was a special category put together by the judges that sought to identify the top 12 restaurants and bars in Nairobi. The judging panelists selected the winners according to a set criteria including; food, beverage, service, ambiance, amenities and entertainment.
Wondering if your favourite restaurant made the cut? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Here are Kenya’s top 12 restaurants and bars.
Top 12 Restaurants
SOI brought contemporary Thai cuisine to Nairobi and continues to challenge palates with its fresh takes on classics. The contemporary homely ambiance is what SOI is all about; fuss-free and no pretense – a place where one can indulge in the exotic and refreshing flavours of Thailand undistracted. With coconut cream specially imported from Thailand, you will surely enjoy the classic Tom Kha, which looks elegantly simple but packs a punch when it comes to aroma.
One of Nairobi’s swankiest spots that opened in 2014, Caramel offers modern takes on American classics like Mac and Cheese, and pays exceptional attention to service. An evening at Caramel should always include the Dynamite Shrimp, which are crispy and meaty in texture with a little bit of zing to chase the light dressing; and the well-seasoned Pommes Frites. The creamy Risotto is a must have.
Jiko’s modern sophisticated ambiance matches the beautifully executed food. Incredible artistry is usually shown in plating and also the use of carefully grown fresh ingredients. The delicate and decadent pastries will delight your sweet tooth, but my most memorable meal at Jiko was a rich fillet of salmon, grilled with a simple soy sauce and brown sugar marinade highlighted with hints of lemon.
Bamboo is one of the few restaurants in Nairobi that takes you through a quick journey of Asia with a fusion offering of Chinese, Thai and Japanese cuisine at a beautiful property surrounded by lush gardens. The care that has gone into presenting the food is matched in ensuring each dish is well-balanced in flavours. Make sure you try the simple classic: Chicken in Chili and Basil with Jasmine Rice.
Having been named one of the best restaurants in Kenya in the past, Pango consistently offers an exceptional fine dining experience. The menu is mostly French with some Moroccan inspiration thanks to its chef’s heritage. If you’re a fan of molecular gastronomy, expect to find beetroot caviar and other delicious edible applications on theatrical plates. Sitting above one of Nairobi’s most extensive collections of wine, pairing each course with a different bottle is just part of the fun.
Cuisine: Steakhouse, European
The flagship restaurant of Norfolk, Tatu first began as a steakhouse and has since incorporated contemporary interpretations of their classics. Table-side Ceaser Salad is still a crowd pleaser. You should definitely try the Greek Salad re-invented with local tomatoes, cucumber, onions and peppers, Greek feta cheese and Kalamata olives whimsically placed on a bed of light mousse finished with fresh Greek yoghurt. These ingredients sprout off of the plate resembling an edible garden.
Cuisine: European, Pan-Asian
Talisman is a touch of tranquility, comfort and home in Nairobi. It combines the coziness of the indoors with the natural beauty of the outside. The Feta and Coriander Samosas have been a staple on the menu for years, but regulars still crave its savoury, creamy and bright refreshing filling. If you’re feeling more adventurous, try the home-smoked dishes such as the Smoked Ostrich Carpaccio with Rocket – rich and full of strong flavours.
Seven is one of the very few places in Nairobi that tackles the finest sourced from the Indian Ocean. Whether pan-fried in butter with fresh basil, cooked in a traditional Gujarati masala or slathered with a garlic white wine sauce – Seven’s prawns will stay with you for a while. If oysters on the half shell are available, don’t think twice.
The newest steakhouse in Nairobi fires their meat in a Josper oven and offers diners a New York-style experience through ambiance and well-seasoned caramelized crusts. Never has aged steak tasted so consistently true in Nairobi. Your choice of cut arrives with a side of delicious, nutritious and underappreciated bone marrow. The browned breadcrumb topping gives the slightest resistance; but the marrow underneath will literally melt in your mouth, almost instantly, like the lightest mousse ever created.
Located on the first floor of the elegant Nairobi Serena Hotel is The Mandhari Restaurant; renowned for the excellence of its unusually diverse yet intuitively chosen menu supported by an exceptionally comprehensive wine cellar. It is also celebrated for the welcoming elegance of its spacious interior dining space, which features a magnificent soapstone fresco, a pre-dinner cocktail and cigar lounge, a private dining area, a charming outdoor terrace and live piano music nightly – ideal for an intimate dinner for two as for a gathering of friends, family or business associates.
Cuisine: Continental, Seafood
Located at a historic property, the menu is as classic as its surroundings. Also known for its seafood, Tamarind is one of the most iconic restaurants in Kenya having served luminaries such as President Obama at their former CBD location when he was a visiting senator. Their Mangrove Oysters may be small in size but make up for it in taste! Whether grilled with garlic butter and coconut in their Mambrui style or simply on ice – this is a must-have appetizer. The Hibiscus Flamed Seafood is always memorable with its lightly flamed tuna, calamari, prawns, octopus served with a rhubarb, hibiscus dressing and finished with a sprinkling of pine nuts.
Cuisine: Multiple outlets all with different specialties
Urban Eatery incorporates six different restaurants and bar in one modern space, which ensures there’s always something for everyone, even for the most picky palates. The amount of choice is what sets Urban Eatery apart from its peers. If you look hard enough, you’ll always find something that appeals to your specific mood.