A tropical island in the warm Indian Ocean off the coast of mainland Tanzania, Zanzibar is a place full of history and multicultural heritage. It offers endless wonderful experiences for travelers, including dining out in Arabian style houses, on rooftop terraces or even on a rock in the ocean. Enjoy eating out on the Spice Island with our hand-picked guide of the ten restaurants not to miss in Zanzibar.
The Rock is probably one of the most scenic restaurants in Africa. Literally located on a rock in the blue waters of the Indian Ocean, this restaurant is one of the most renowned in Zanzibar and a high-end stop for those who wish to enjoy fresh seafood recipes in exotic settings. Formerly a fishermans’ post, the restaurant has only 12 tables that are filled fast, so consider making reservations to be sure you get the best seats in the house. The menu is based on the abundant seafood available, serving delicacies such as octopus salad, seafood spaghetti, squid and queen prawns alongside vegetarian dishes and special children’s menus.
A great option for tourists with an appetite for well-cooked Italian food, La Taverna is the place to go for crispy pizzas and home-made pastas. Everything is made from fresh ingredients, some even imported from Italy to keep the flavors faithful and original. The menu contains all the delicious classics of the Italian gastronomy, starting with tagliatelle bolognese, panini and pizzas prepared using family recipes on a wood-fired oven, the only one of its type in Zanzibar. La Taverna also offers a wide collection of top international wines from France, Spain, Australia, South Africa and Chile.
Zanzibar Serena Inn is close to the beach, the historical sights of the sultan’s palaces and Portuguese architectural remnants that dominate the old part of Zanzibar known as Stone Town. This small luxurious hotel is a preferred attraction for visitors looking for sophisticated experiences in this eclectic African town. Its rooftop terrace restaurant offers dreamy sights over the bay and excels in serving fresh seafood dishes based on daily catches of kingfish, sea bream, red and white snapper, barracuda, cobia, tuna, sailfish, rock cod, lobster, prawns, calamari or crab.
Located in a former 19th-century Swahili sultan’s palace, which is today a trendy hostel also popular with the occasional celebrity, Emerson Spice Cafe has a reputation for being one of the best restaurants in Zanzibar. Serving dinner on its rooftop Tea House is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the warm colors of the sunset, but consider making timely reservations as this small restaurant gets booked up very fast. The menu includes lobster on green papaya salad, Tambi prawns with grilled mango or coconut chili king fish baked in banana leafs.
A reminder of Zanzibar’s long standing spice industry, the House of Spices is one of the most popular restaurants in Stone Town. The restaurant occupies one of the terraces where the spices were dried before being packaged. The other rooms of this three-floor 18th-century house have been used in the past for the production and selling of this valuable merchandise. The restaurant serves an international menu including Mediterranean dishes and tempting pizzas.
Restaurant, Hotel Restaurant, Tea Room, Middle Eastern
Emerson on Hurumzi and the Tea House Restaurant, Zanzibar
This must-try restaurant is located on the rooftop of the second tallest building in Stone Town after the Sultan’s Palace, the House of Wonders. Offering unique panoramic sights to the Indian Ocean and the surrounding mosques, the House of Hurumzi has its share of mystery and legends some even relating its name to black slaves’ freedom. Restored to its past glory after decades of oblivion, Hurumzi House functions today as a small hotel, its rooftop restaurant being one of the best locations in town to enjoy the exotic and unforgettable view of Stone Town and a fresh seafood-based menu.
Upendo gives you everything you’d want from an island experience: white sands, coconut trees and stunningly dramatic views. Part of a luxurious resort located on a beach in the Michamvi Peninsula from southeast Zanzibar, this restaurant is a true piece of tropical paradise and a definite stop for all those who wish to try crab, prawns, lobster and fish recipes while enjoying one of the most beautiful views of this African island.
For those looking to mix the seafood cuisine of Zanzibar with European-style dishes while visiting this small piece of tropical paradise, Loulou is the perfect choice. This restaurant is a unique presence in this African culinary landscape. Offering a Belgian-based menu, Loulou brings to the table some of the best-known gastronomical products of this country, from classical waffles and chocolate mousse prepared with imported Belgian chocolate to Blanc Bleu Belge steaks.
Located just steps away from the most popular attractions in Zanzibar’s historic center, Stone Town Cafe is a treat for those who wish to take their time and observe the daily going-ons of the area. This is a highly popular location among tourists, who can support local families in need by participating in its charity project ‘Pack for a Purpose.’
Abyssinian Maritim is a traditional Ethiopian restaurant in the heart of Stone Town and the go-to place for visitors who want to discover as much as possible about the tastes of Africa. This thematic restaurant adopts the Ethiopian custom of eating with your fingers as well as the plate sharing approach, a traditional symbol of friendship and loyalty. Among its specialties, you can try the Ethiopian bread injera and Maritim’s renowned fresh-roasted coffee.