‘The Prawn Place’
‘The Prawn Place’ is not its official name, but then again this restaurant doesn’t need an official name; everyone knows where it is. Venture down the alley beside the Liberty Street mosque in town, to try some of this secret gem’s grilled prawn mishkaki (kebabs) with sweet and sour sauce. They also serve a delicious coconut and kungu (fruit of an almond) juice, which is fantastic. Head there in the evenings, as they usually get started around 7pm, and be prepared to sit outside while you dine.
‘The Prawn Place,’ after the traffic lights, head toward U-Turn supermarket, turn right at the first corner on the right (Liberty Street) just before Uhuru Street. Turn down the alley on the right hand side directly opposite the mosque
This little-known delight is hidden in the backstreets of Mwanza, and serves the best BBQ chicken in town. Opt for the lemon-grilled chicken if you’re not a fan of too much spice or if you like a little bit more kick, opt for the Gujarati, similar to tandoori chicken but spicier, marinated with chili, ginger, garlic, cumin, and other spices. The chicken is moist, well cooked and full of flavor. Best to go there in the evenings; ambience is at a minimum but the bar is always high for good food here.
Mwanza Yacht Club
There are a few options for pizza in Mwanza, but the margarita pizza at the Mwanza Yacht Club is by far the best. A thin crust pizza with a flavorful sauce, fresh tomatoes and mozzarella. The Yacht Club is a prime Mwanza location right on the shores of Lake Victoria, a perfect spot for a sunset and a sundowner before pizza. The Yacht Club does charge an entry fee for non-members, but at only 2,000/= (approximately $1 USD) it’s well worth it.
Ryan’s Bay Hotel
The butter chicken at Ryan’s Bay is positively delicious and by far the best in town. The complexity of flavor far outweighs the other options available in Mwanza; a rich, creamy sauce, full of mild spices, ginger and garlic. Pair it with some naan bread and it’s a definite delight. Ryan’s Bay Hotel is right on Lake Victoria so the view is just as good as the food.
Ryan’s Bay Hotel, Station Rd, Mwanza, Tanzania, +255 (0)28 254 2347
Victoria Palace Hotel
Victoria Palace Hotel is up in Capripoint, not far from the lake but without the view. However, the food makes up for the slight disadvantage in location, especially if you order the Zanzibar fish; two fish fillets covered in coconut tomato sauce. You can choose what you accompany the fish with, so if you’re interested in sampling ugali (a typical Tanzanian dish, made from corn flour into a stiff porridge-like starch), it’s available and well prepared. You can also choose chips, rice or ndizi (fried plantain bananas) to go with your dish if ugali doesn’t quite strike your fancy.
A small diner off Airport Road, Awale serves up the most delicious pilau in the city. Pilau is a spice-infused rice dish most often made with beef stock, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, ginger and garlic. It typically has pieces of meat, vegetables and potatoes mixed in. Be sure to go during the day for lunch or an early dinner, as it’s not open in the evening. You’ll find the place full of local business people and office staff. Order the pilau, roast beef (or nyama roast, stewed pieces of beef in a tomato-based sauce), maharage (beans) and mboga za majani (greens) for a great lunch. The rich spices in the pilau and the stewed flavor in the meat will make you feel like you’ve just got off the ferry in Stone Town, Zanzibar instead of off the main road in Mwanza.
Many Mwanzanites love barbecued pork, locally known as kitimoto and you can’t come to Mwanza without trying chips mayai. Container Pub serves up a good version of both. This is a great meal to share with friends, to eat with your hands and to wash down with a cold beer. Chips mayai is in essence chips/french fries cooked into an omelette, which can be found on any street food stall and any restaurant in town, but try it with the kitimoto at Container Pub at least once; you’ll be glad you did.
The tepanyaki grill at Tilapia Hotel has grill tables that can seat about 10 people and a grill chef who cooks in front of you, serving your meal in small courses. Start off with a vegetable potato patty, followed by a mix of seafood, fish, chicken and beef. The meat and seafood is accompanied by fried rice and the meal is finished with ice cream. Be sure to make a reservation in advance.
Mwanza boasts an abundance of fresh fruit, and Kuleana Pizzeria takes full advantage of this. The fruit platters piled high with pineapple, papaya, bananas, watermelon and avocado are delicious. Try one of the fresh fruit juices (individual fruit or mixed cocktail juice). It will come without sugar so you can add to your taste or drink it as nature intended.
Pasiansi Chinese Restaurant
A new contender on the Mwanza food scene, the Chinese restaurant in Pasiansi is a must. Authentic Chinese dishes prepared with local ingredients and bursting with flavor are consistently available. For meat eaters, the sweet and sour chicken is a favorite. For vegetarians, there is a sweet and sour tofu and fried eggplant option. The sweet and sour sauce is delicious and almost sticky in consistency. Portion sizes are large, so be prepared to share with friends. The restaurant is in a converted hotel so tables are set up to seat 12 people, each table in its own private room.