Located on the coast of Zanzibar in Tanzania, Stone Town is the home of some of the most delicious food in Africa, rich with flavors from African, Persian, Arabic, Indian, and European cultures. Stone Town’s dining scene is a foodies’ dream. Here are some of the best restaurants to try.
Emerson on Hurumzi and the Tea House Restaurant, Zanzibar
Located on the top floor of an historic 19th century hotel, Emerson on Hurumzi Hotel’s restaurant has breathtaking views of the town and sea, and it’s a beautiful spot to have a sunset dinner. Upon entering, you’ll be asked to remove your shoes before sitting on floor cushions to dine from a different perspective (although traditional tables are available upon request). You are then served a decadent, three-course Persian-inspired meal, modeled after a Persian wedding feast with specific dishes rotating daily. Bathe your hands in fragrant rosewater while listening to live taarab music for a one-of-a-kind, atmospheric dining experience. Be sure to make reservations.
Once an Arabic house and one of the oldest structures in the town, Zanzibar Coffee House provides a warm, romantic atmosphere to enjoy freshly brewed coffee and enjoy cake. An array of continental breakfast items are also available for a heartier start to the day, and their more savory dishes also make for a fine lunch. It’s easy to while away a few hours in this charming establishment, and well worth it for the coffee alone; you’d be hard pressed to find a better brew in all of Zanzibar.
Popular with locals and tourists alike, Lukmaan Restaurant serves up local cuisines in cafeteria-style for both lunch or dinner. The bare walls and wooden tables aren’t exactly ritzy, but the variety of food is delicious and fresh. The seafood is especially tempting; try the rich octopus curry with pilau rice or the fish biryani, paired with a refreshing glass of fresh passionfruit juice. Located conveniently in the heart of Stone Town, it’s an ideal spot to grab a quick meal in the midst of a busy day of exploring.
Located above the Shanghai Post Office just off of Kenyatta Road, Lemongrass is a sleek, modern restaurant with self-proclaimed “Oriental” food that blends the flavors of Thailand and Tanzania to create truly unique dishes. With an indoor dining space and an open-air balcony, this restaurant offers a contemporary ambience (and free wifi) for a charming dining experience.
House of Spices is more than just a restaurant; this multipurpose venue was once a 18th century merchant’s house, and was more recently restored to serve a variety of functions in the community. The room in which the restaurant is situated used to be where spices were dried. Offering a fusion of Indian and Italian dishes, such as tagliatelle with squid and sand lobster in coconut sauce, the space now provides a romantic, relaxing atmosphere for a leisurely meal.
This outdoor café serves traditional Arabic brews in a small courtyard in the heart of Stone Town. It’s also a popular gathering spot where Stone Town’s residents come to drink coffee, nibble traditional peanut brittle, play board games, and discuss politics. Be sure to come here early in the morning if you want to interact with the local community while you grab your coffee. With a casual atmosphere and a great view of the busy streets at the city center, it’s the perfect place to relax and people watch.
Stretching over three floors, The Silk Route offers traditional Indian food in an atmospheric setting with amazing views. The decor is traditional with a twist, while the food is served in striking, traditional copper bowls. It’s best to come early to score a seat on the top floor, but regardless, this restaurant’s accommodating staff provides a wonderful dining experience that is not to be missed. Try the Kadai beef, chicken butter, and pistachio ice cream for dessert.
Lazuli is known for its smoothies, but its cuisine is also fantastic. An unassuming little spot just off Kenyatta road, you’ll have to be watchful or you might miss out on this spot. The simple decor makes this a good spot for a casual sit-down lunch or dinner. Although the service is sometimes slow when they get mobbed by a big crowd (which is often), it’s worth the wait for the refreshing smoothies, generous portions, and low prices. Try the mocha smoothie, and the chicken and mango with sesame sauce.
Offering a great selection of both food and drinks, The Post is the perfect place to sit and chat for a few hours. This restaurant/bar provides a cool, modern atmosphere where Stone Town comes to unwind, whether you’re hanging out at the bar or getting some air out on the terrace. They also offer tasty Italian-style meats and pizzas, and the option of takeout for those on the go.
Although it’s not a traditional restaurant, no list of Stone Town’s best eats would be complete without mention of the night market. As the title suggests, there is a fantastic food market every night after sunset at Stone Town’s scenic Forodhani Park. Offering a variety of cuisines from pizza to samosas, this lively joint is a must-see to experience the local culture while enjoying delicious street food. It’s a culinary experience that’s not to be missed, and a key experience for travelers to get in touch with Stone Town’s warm and vibrant community.