It doesn’t take long to realize that most Kenyans love their nyama (meat). With Nairobi’s rapidly evolving foodie scene and diverse cultural influences, however, vegetarians should not worry about finding a variety of delicious places to eat. Here are some especially great restaurants for veggie lovers.
Cafe, Fusion, Vegetarian, Vegan
Nook is a sweet little hole-in-the-wall restaurant, creating daily menus based on different themes and occasionally hosting special dinner events. It is run by Nicole McMahon of Pop-Up Nairobi, an organization that runs hospitality skills training and employment programs for youth and hosts an array of food-related fundraisers. Because Nicole is vegetarian, the menu always includes creative and delicious vegetarian options, along with meat versions of main dishes. Think Vietnamese, Mexican, or Malaysian, all of which can be challenging cravings to satisfy in the city. Ingredients are organic and homegrown whenever possible and everything is delicious.
Gua Bao with miso peanut tofu | Courtesy of Nook Café
About Thyme wins points for both its lovely garden setting and how many delicious vegetarian options it has. You can’t go wrong with any of their soups, halloumi with pomegranate – well, halloumi with anything – or the pumpkin and amaretto tortellini. Even meat-eater and pescetarians will enjoy the food here, like the king prawns in a Swahili style coconut curry sauce. Aside for their main menu and specials menu, they also offer quick lunch and brunch menus, and even a boozy brunch, featuring mimosas and cocktails.
Tin Roof is a shabby-chic little café set in a garden within The Souk in Karen. The café offers a vegetarian-friendly menu and an amazing salad bar, while it also serves delicious coffee. Try one of their hot soups or healthy salads, then pop into the boutiques, bookshop or Polka Dot Art Gallery that share the compound.
This choice may seem a bit ironic, considering nyama literally means meat in Swahili. Nevertheless, if you want some interesting Kenyan fusion and veg-friendly cuisine, Nyama Mama does not disappoint. You can upgrade traditional dishes, like sukuma wiki and ugali, to grilled halloumi with sukuma wiki and tree tomato chutney, or enjoy a wide mix of unique salads – like Samburu watermelon and avocado, or beetroot, orange and feta. Veggie wrap and burger options are available, while they also offer delicious, infused African cocktails served in tin mugs.
Do yourself a favor and go to the Pangani branch for a more authentic, inexpensive and overall delicious experience. It really is a hidden gem. Asmara offers Eritrean cuisine, which is great for vegetarians. Standard delights are the shiro, a delicious chickpea stew, and the mixed vegetarian platter – all served, of course, over a generous portion of injera.
Chowpaty opened in Diamond Plaza in the predominantly Indian neighborhood of Parklands and has since opened branches in Highridge and Westlands. It offers an entirely vegetarian – and yummy – menu, which includes both South and North Indian food, along with pizza and some Chinese dishes.