Although the traditional meal in Kenya is nyoma choma –roasted meat cooked along the roadsides and infused with a punchy, smoky flavor – the coast offers up a diverse variety of cuisine. We take a look at the top 10 restaurants in Mombasa.
Adjacent to a crocodile farm, Arturo’s makes it surprisingly easy to immerse yourself in the ambiance of the chic restaurant space and forget your scaly neighbors. Known to have been described by Italian expats as not only the best Italian restaurant in the whole of Kenya, but the best Italian restaurant outside of Italy, Arturo’s menu offers a slice of Europe in the heart of Africa. The menu veers away from a focus on pizza and pasta, replicating other regional delicacies such as carpaccio, minestrone and large, flavorsome salads. That said, if you crave an expertly prepared, crispy based margarita with plenty of creamy mozzarella and a rich tomato sauce, Arturo’s is the place to be.
Blue Room Restaurant
The Blue Room has an authentic pizza oven in the center of its open plan kitchen, concocting perfectly toasted bases and piping hot curries. This is a great spot to try if looking for African classics peppered with European influences. With a charming Afro-American vibe, the Blue Room offers burgers and milkshakes alongside their traditional curries, providing a home-from-home for tourists. The real star of The Blue Room however, is the cold ice-cream, providing a welcome respite from the penetrating Kenyan heat. Relax in their large, diner-style restaurant to enjoy familiar favorites in the heart of Mombasa.
If you are longing for authentic noodles, chow mein, or rice that doesn’t come automatically paired with a Kenyan fish curry, then Galaxy Chinese should be high on your list of places to visit. As well as the favorite Chinese culinary exports such as chicken chow mein and black bean beef, Galaxy also provides gourmet Chinese cuisine such as perfectly cooked, fragrant crispy duck with light, homemade pancakes and thick plum sauce. Ginger crab and garlic chicken are also locally popular, providing a welcome alternative to the hearty spice common to the surrounding area.
La Marina prepares perfectly cooked seafood right on the beach. Perfect for a magical evening by the water, this particular Mombasa favorite oozes romance, offering the opportunity to depart from the beach and take a ride in the restaurant’s dhow, the traditional Arab sailing vessel. Setting off at sunset, the La Marina dhow allows diners to enjoy fresh prawns pan-fried in garlic or grilled swordfish with delicate vegetables, while gazing out over the stunning, theatrical backdrop of the sprawling Kenyan coastline. For an extra touch of opulence, order a champagne cruise for you and a loved one, or celebrate an anniversary with a group of friends.
A wonderful Japanese restaurant in the heart of Mombasa, Misono offers familiar flavors perfectly styled in accordance with authentic Japanese cuisine. The traditional gong sounds as soon as you enter the restaurant, signaling the time to leave the outside world behind and relax within the minimalist, neat space, complete with Kabuki style, hibachi tables and an understated elegance. The seafood is fresh and the sushi expertly rolled, while the chili prawns are one of the best dishes in the city and notoriously moreish.
The Moorings restaurant boat is located on the north side of Mombasa and has an incredible seaside location, floating among the mangroves. As one of the oldest restaurants in Mombasa, and considered to be one of the best, The Moorings serves a selection of fresh seafood platters with sides of new potatoes and freshly cooked vegetables. It also provides a ‘landlubber’ menu consisting of succulent steaks and ribbons of fresh pasta – perfect for those more romantic occasions. With its beautiful thatched roofing and colorful, tiki vibe – derived largely from the vibrant flora and fauna surrounding it – the Moorings is an ideal spot to enjoy the decadent spoils of Mombasa.
The Recoda Restaurant Mombasa
Located just meters away from Mombasa’s famous Elephant Tusks national monument, the Recoda Restaurant offers traditional Mombasan fare such as lightly curried vegetables, nyoma choma, fragrant rice and deliciously flavored breads. Particular Recoda specialities include the smoky barbecue dishes and Swahili cuisine, including Mishkaki and Biriani. It is widely considered that no one should leave Mombasa without having sampled a native Mishkaki – a type of BBQ beef Swahili-style shish kebab. The Recoda’s homemade version is covered in their secret recipe spice rub, infusing the meat with delicious, aromatic flavors unrivaled throughout the city.
Shehnai Restaurant promises to evoke the old spice route that connected India and the East Coast of Africa, promising you a romantic cultural journey without ever having to leave Mombasa. Named after the Indian instrument of the same name, Shehnai offers a vast selection of premium spices perfectly matched to the sustainably sourced ingredients. Enjoy stir-fried minced mutton with oriental spices and topped with slices of boiled egg or enjoy succulent, fresh prawns cooked in coconut cream and topped with almonds. The restaurant itself is ornate without becoming austere, with high-backed wooden chairs and intricately designed tablecloths.
One of several Tamarind ventures in Mombasa specializing in sea-to-table produce, this ambient venue has deliciously cooked seafood which is considered to be the signature creation. Try the Mangrove Oysters, Tandoori Crab Cakes and the Siamese Prawns to sample some of the Oriental and Indian flavors typically paired with the fresh seafood in Mombasa. With an authentic tandoori oven rustling up Kenyan classics, this is fusion at its best. Wander out onto one of the restaurants many terraces to enjoy the lightly spiced meats with steamed vegetables, while overlooking the lapping Indian ocean. A far cry from the hustle and bustle of downtown Mombasa, Tamarind offers a haven of tranquility in which to relax after a hectic day in the city.
Thalassa restaurant and lounge
Thalassa restaurant is locally favored for its private pool and stunning panoramic views of the winding Tudor Creek, providing a perfect place to relax in the hot, tropical climate. French chef Etienne prepares a sumptuous menu that alters according to the seasons, typically featuring swirls of Italian fettuccine, hot vegetable curries and vibrant basil tartlets as well as a selection of fine meat cuts and beautiful buttery lobsters steamed to perfection. Situated less than five-minute drive away from Mombasa town, Thalassa is a well-situated retreat to shrug off the concerns of the day and turn your attention to a la carte dining with a sea view.
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