10 October 2011

Desta Ethiopian

Guest blogger, Rachel B, provides Dallas readers with an authentic African dinner option. I guess this obsession with  Ethiopian food runs in the family. I'm loving how Dallas has managed to turn Ethiopian cuisine into something minimalist, modern, and of course, a bit hoity toity (see picture below). Read on for Rachel's take on Dallas' version of African fare. 

25 September 2011

Grease Pit

Despite their name, the Grease Pit is one of the better places to eat and hang out when one is trapped in the NGO compound in Dadaab.  Located in CARE's compound many people migrate back and forth between here and the "new Pumzika" next door at UNHCR. 

There's always a good group of people to chat with around and currently the people watching is pretty entertaining as there has been a slew of random celebrities making their way through the "refugee safari." It's not Nairobi but between the sand between your toes and the random conglomeration of seating options, it's usually a fun night. Depending on the cds the bartender decides to bring there's usually some good music (trumping the usual strains of easy listening at the mess hall) and a slab of concrete to dance on. 

31 July 2011

Anvil Pub

Former expat, queen of snark, and determined vegetarian, Rachel B., recently returned to the motherland, Dallas, Texas, where she shares her initial impressions of the new bar and eatery on the scene, Anvil Pub.  


For those of you not intimately familiar with Dallas' foodie scene, it's like this: shopping and eating are king in this town and new restaurants, bars, and clubs open and close at an astounding speed as the locals rave and then, 30 minutes later, find a new hotspot to frequent until they once again grow bored. Entrepreneurial restauranteurs must seek the happy medium of becoming the neighborhood hang out as well wooing hipsters to a trendy new locale. It's a status seldom achieved and many promising and delicious start ups fall by the wayside in a sad collection of once celebrated venues now forgotten. Read on as Rachel details her experience and pronounces Anvil a temporary success:

29 July 2011

Nairobi Nightlife Needs You!

If you like to eat, drink, and be merry and want to tell the world what you liked or didn't like about a particular restaurant/bar/club or you just want to promote your favorite little hole in the wall, now could be your chance.  Your Nairobi Nightlife Guru, as one friend nicknamed me, is looking for people interested in either writing a one time review or someone who would like to join the foodie clan as a regular contributor.  As much as I enjoy going out it would be next to impossible for me to individually review every single venue Nairobi has to offer and I'm sure that my readers would love perspectives and endorsements from people other than just little old me.

There's no compensation involved, just fun times surrounded by (hopefully) good food. Reviewed locations don't have to be in Nairobi since the blog also includes a travel section.  So get eating and feel free to submit reviews on places you think readers would like to visit in your town or highlight the must-go place you seek out every time you visit a certain city. 

If you like to write and this sounds like something you'd like to partake in, email me at nairobinightlife(at)gmail(dot)com.  Please include your name, a small background on yourself so we can introduce you to our readers, and your review.  There are no rules dictating the content of the submissions, but they must include the name and location of the venue and a general idea of the price range.  Attach related photos (make sure you have permission to post them) along with credits.

Disclaimers: Guest posts become the property of Nairobi Nightlife blog.  We will always credit you as the author and source of the post with your name and links to your blog, Twitter, etc. as directed, but if your review is posted on the blog it becomes ours to reproduce elsewhere.  We also reserve the right to edit, revise, or simply not post as we see fit.  Posts can't have been published/posted elsewhere.

27 July 2011

Waterfront Bar and Restaurant

My colleague and I went to Dar es Salaam for a weekend of civilization away from the small Tanzanian village where we were staying. On our last night there we tried to go to dinner at a local nyama choma joint which we discovered was closed on Mondays so we went to the only other restaurant we knew in the area that had been recommended by her friend; Waterfront. 

Location: It's located in Slipway shopping center next to the Double Tree Hilton hotel in Masaki on the peninsula.
Price: Entrees seemed to range anywhere from 8000-25,000 TZS.  Drinks were a bit pricey for what I've seen reflected in other establishments throughout Tanzania; they were more indicative of Nairobi prices with house wine costing 5,000 TZS. 
Atmosphere: The shopping center is Village Market-esque with upscale stores overlooking the ocean. There are several restaurants inside; Waterfront is located in the back directly over the water.

26 July 2011

La Salumeria


Fellow foodie, frequent dining companion, and drinking buddy, Cocktail Contessa, writes about one of our favorite (and conveniently located) Italian joints in Nairobi: 

One of my favorite culinary discoveries since first arriving in Nairobi two months ago has been a little Italian joint by the name of Salumeria, located dangerously close to my flat on Gitanga Rd. It's dim candlelit atmosphere and inside/outside seating options offers the perfect environment for both casual indulgence and/or emotional overeating, depending on your state of mind. Start off with a litre/half litre carafe of the house red (again, depending on your emotional state of mind) while gorging yourself on the bread basket, which comes with an assortment of slightly undercooked and slightly overcooked options. According to our Nairobi Nightlife Guru, Micah, "The squishy bread is the best, the hard bread sucks. It's like a rock." I have to agree, although I was forced to consume large quantities of the hard stuff due to Micah's aggressive nature when it comes to bread baskets. Drowning it in oil helps.

20 July 2011

Local Moshi Lunch Spots

While working in Moshi my work colleague and I both wanted to find affordable options for lunch so each day we walked around town and picked a small local place to try.  Here's what we found:

Name: Chrisburger / Club Alberto
Location: On Kibo Road next door to the Impala Coach office just near the clock tower roundabout
Price: Their fast food menu is quite affordable.  Samosas are 500 TZS each; veg rice is 1500 TZS; and chai masala is 1000 TZS.
Atmosphere: the covered patio is enclosed with greenery and is a nice place to relax over lunch. Apparently it doubles as a bar/club in the evenings.

The service here is just as slow, if not slower, than most restaurants in Kenya. They forgot to charge us for our samosas one day and when we returned several days later for morning tea they hit us up for the amount. In general I find that very unprofessional since it was their mistake and it's not like they gave us a written bill in the first place so they couldn't show that we hadn't paid. However, I was worried the money had come out of the waitress' own pocket so we didn't comment.  

13 July 2011

Indoitaliano: Updated

To combat the boredom of cooking dinner sans electricity in our new rural locale about 45 minutes outside of Moshi, my work colleague and I stayed in town after work one evening to grab a bite to eat and a drink. We hadn't been in Tanzania long so we just kind of wandered down one of the main roads and asked around for this restaurant since one of her friends had recommended we try it. We finally found it just off a side street near the backpackers hotel.

Location: Corner of New Street and School Street near the Buffalo Hotel
Price: approximately 800-1000 TZS per main dish; 2500 TZS for local beer
Atmosphere: very expat-y: when we arrived there was one large table of expats with a few tables of locals, but by the time we left around 7:30 it was expat central up in there. Randomly, it is also one of the only places I have ever seen a mzungu waitress.

08 July 2011

Seven Seafood and Grill: Updated

This was my third visit to Seven but my first time for dinner. Previously I had only sampled their drink selection. Their dinner options had always looked a bit pricey for what you get and I'd been told that their lunch menu is a better value but the desire to celebrate my birthday on 7/7 at Seven (at 7pm) was too hard to resist. (I'm a sucker for the cutesy factor.)


Location: ABC Place (corner of James Gichuru and Waiyaki Way) next to Mercury
Price: definitely one of the pricier joints in town. As the birthday girl I wasn't allowed to pay for my meal, much less see the bill, but from what I heard the total for a table of 14 ended up somewhere between 55-60,000 KSH (approximately $611-667 USD).
Atmosphere: They have a small area for outdoor seating but even inside the whole restaurant feels very open.  It's got a very hip, modern feel about it.

22 June 2011

Planet Yogurt

While wandering through the mall last weekend looking for a Safaricom store my friends and I stumbled on something wonderful, a fro-yo place. For those of you not in the know, fro-yo is frozen yogurt and a delicious, and (in my head) healthier substitute for ice cream. Since I'm not a huge fan of Kenyan ice cream, I was quite excited to try this place.

Location: Junction shopping center at Ngong Road and Kingara located inside by the elevator in the new section of the mall
Price: Um, the Handsome Hamburgler paid so I don't remember; I think it was less than 500 KSH (~$5.50).  It's done by size and weight.
Atmosphere: I felt like a teenager again hanging out at the mall with my friends.

20 June 2011

Suggestions Welcome

Dear People of the Interwebs:

I have a request for you.  I feel like I have visited many great places to eat and hang out in Nairobi (some of which I may or may not have gotten around to blogging about yet), but I would like to know where your favorite happy hour places, restaurants, pubs, or late night hotspots are in Nairobi and around Kenya. 

My stomach thanks you.

Phoenician Sushi and Lebanese Restaurant: Updated

Location: Junction shopping center at Ngong Road and Kingara on the patio adjacent to Mediterraneo AND Matundu Lane
Price: 800 KSH (~$9) for edamame, Bento boxes start at 1100 KSH (~$12.50), Sushi platters start at 1200 KSH (~$13.50) We were also informed that the restaurant no longer accepts credit cards so make sure you are carrying cash; if you're caught without but craving some sushi Junction has just about every ATM known to man located just across the parking lot. 
Atmosphere: The atmosphere at the sushi bar outside the mall cannot compare to the garden patio at their former location on Karuna Road in Westlands. It is directly next to the entrance to the new section of the mall and while you don't notice your fellow diners at the restaurants nearby, I do wish the potted plants had taller trees to block all the foot traffic in and out of the mall. 

30 May 2011

Abyssinia Exotic Ethiopian Restaurant: Updated

In my quest to eat my way through all of the Ethiopian restaurants in Nairobi I revisited Abyssinia. A former work colleague was in town for a couple of nights so I introduced him to the deliciousness, because while in Kenya why not gorge yourself on Ethiopian food?

Location: Brookside Grove behind Safaricom House in Westlands
Price: Beers 200 KSH ($2.50), Around 300-600 KSH per dish ($3.75-$7.50)
Atmosphere: There is a large outdoor patio as well as private rooms around the perimeter of the parking lot. It's surrounded by trees and set up in an old house like most Ethiopian restaurants in the area. It has always been quiet and a relaxing atmosphere to enjoy a leisurely dinner.

Sierra Bar and Brasserie

Location: Yaya Centre, the bar is on the 2nd floor next to the food court and the restaurant and terrace is upstairs on the 3rd floor
Price: Starters and platters cost between KES 500-1800 ($6.25-22.50), entrees range between KES 800-1800 ($10-22.50), beers KES 180-200 ($2.25-2.50), wine KES 350 per glass (~$4.40)
Atmosphere: While the restaurant is located inside Yaya, which doesn't sound like the place you want to go for a fancy dinner, once you're seated on the terrace (or beer garden as they refer to it) you don't even think about the fact that you're at a mall.  However, the same can't necessarily said about the lounge on the 2nd floor.  It is directly next to the food court and surrounded by shops so you don't get the same quiet effect as when you dine upstairs.

26 April 2011

Fairview Hotel

The Fairview has four restaurants to choose from, two of which I've had the opportunity to try out. I have yet to venture over to their gourmet restaurant, Pango, and exclusive wine cellar/bar but am looking forward to visiting at some point. 

Location: Upper Hill on Bishop Road across from the Israeli Embassy
Price: Beers KES 250 (~$3.15), Cocktails starting around KES 350 (~$4.40), Mukutan Garden Cafe entrees KES ~400-1000 (~$5-12.50)
Atmosphere: The garden cafe has a lovely water feature and it is easy to forget that you are so close to the City Centre when sitting surrounded by plush greenery and are shielded from the honks of Nairobi traffic.

Osteria del Chianti: Updated

Osteria is the purveyor of delicious Italian food throughout Nairobi. I have dined at both the Hurlingham and Village Market locations and just discovered that there is yet another location in Karen. I have yet to go there but I think I prefer the Kilimani restaurant as there is also a building selling ice cream out behind back. The chocolate was a bit strong but the chocolate chip was delicious.

Rolf's Place

A group of about 15 friends and I spent Easter weekend just outside of Nairobi near the Nairobi National Park. We started our Saturday by stopping at Rolf's Place for a leisurely lunch on our way to Masai Lodge, located just down the road.  


Location: About 1 1/2 km from the Masai Gate of Nairobi National Park; you take Magadi Road past the Mbagathi Gate and keep right where the road splits and head towards Rongai. Take the next left onto Masai Lodge Road and head towards Kitengela Glass Factory.  
Price: EntrĂ©es are from KES 800 to around KES 2000 (approximately $10-25)
Atmosphere: The medieval style restaurant and lodge is built on a cliff face overlooking the Nairobi National Park and Nairobi skyline. They also boosts views of Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Kenya, and the Ngong Hills. As the namesake restaurant slash lodge slash entertainment venue of the successful chef/restauranteur they pay an inordinate amount of attention to detail down to the very silverware. Everything from the glass panes overlooking the river to the chairs and the silverware were embossed with the owner's name or initials.   

18 April 2011

Queen of Sheba

As my lunch buddies and I are obsessed with Ethiopian food, we were excited to learn about Queen of Sheba (also known as the Pink Lady) and even happy to discover that it is located in our hood. It's good food for a good price.  

Location: Hurlingham: Off Argwings Kodhek between Marcus Garvey and Rose Ave. It's located inside Metropolitan Court, the second gate on the right.
Price: Entrees KES 300-500
Atmosphere: When you walk up to the gate you aren't sure if you're walking into a person's compound or if it's an actual restaurant. Once you make it into the restaurant it's painted in bright colors and authentic African artwork. There are several seating areas inside and out; although the outdoor space is covered as an extension of the house.

Mediterraneo: Updated

Location: Ngong Road in Junction Shopping Center next to Java House, Westlands in Pamstech House on Woodvale Grove between Lower Kabete and Mpaka (now closed), Westlands at NineWest; Runda near the UN
Price: Entrees 800-1400 KSH (approx. $10-17.50)
Atmosphere: The Westlands location has a smaller, more intimate atmosphere, but the balcony and patio seating at Junction is nice as well. It's nicer to go later in the evening to the Junction location as the patio is directly next to Java House and it gets quite busy and noisy there during mall hours. 

15 March 2011

Masrawy Egyptian Restaurant

I only recently discovered that Nairobi had an Egyptian restaurant and close to my office to boot. My friend has spent a lot of time there utilizing their wifi and noshing on their food and recommended it. Since I haven't had any Egyptian food since my trip to Cairo last year I thought it was high time that I check it out so a group of friends and I went one Friday for lunch.

Location: Kindaruma Road behind Ngong Road behind Coptic Hospital and next to Saint Nicholas Primary School
Price: Starters 100-200 KSH; Snacks, Salads, Soups, and Sandwiches 100-300 KSH; Grilled Meat and Chicken dishes 300-800 KSH; Vegetarian dishes 200-300 KSH; Falafel meals 300-450 KSH; Beer 120 KSH; Soda 80 KSH
Atmosphere: Seating is around back in the garden and they have a tent, shaded tables, and even low tables with benches and pillows.
Bonus: free shisha with lunch and dinner dishes

04 March 2011

Iguana's

As some of you may have gathered from my previous posts, I'm a bit addicted to Mexican/Latin food. So when my friend told me that there was a restaurant in Westlands that serves Mexican and Indian (weird combo, I know) cuisine I was all over it. I scheduled a Mexican night event with a group of friends; prepared to gorge myself on tortillas, chips, and salsa; and dreams of margaritas danced through my head.

25 February 2011

Havana

The weekend begins on Thursday in Nairobi and Havana is where you want to be.


Location: Westlands- Woodvale Grove, around the corner from Black Diamond
Price: 200 KSH  domestic beers, food is reasonably priced
Atmosphere: Depending on the night and the time the atmosphere can range from a quiet, neighborhood Latin restaurant to a madhouse packed with expats.

17 February 2011

Que Pasa Bar and Bistro

I had been hearing about Que Pasa since I returned to Nairobi and since I was in the neighborhood one Sunday for church I took the opportunity to grab a bite to eat there. The place was extremely quiet at the time with few other patrons but the service was attentive and the food came out promptly.

Photo credit: www.kenyabuzz.com
Location: Karen Shopping Center
Price: reasonable
Atmosphere: The ambiance is lovely; I loved the tile floors and stone walls. 

16 February 2011

Blue Nile Ethiopian Restaurant: Updated

I branched out from my regular lunch time cuisine and walked over to Blue Nile Ethiopian Restaurant last week. Now, I'm no connoisseur, and have yet to venture to their lovely country, but I have been to various joints around Nairobi since discovering the greatness that is Ethiopian food. I had seen the restaurant sandwiched in the middle of Roughton Plaza on my many trips up and down Argwings but had never made it by to check it out. It had received mixed reviews from those who had ventured there previously so it wasn't at the top of my list to check out, but now that it's located so conveniently near my office and the fact that I can only eat so much ndengu in a week, I figured it was worth a shot.

Location: Hurlingham, on Argwings Kodhek between Rose Avenue and Woodlands in Roughton Plaza, across from Jabavu House and above the recently reviewed, Mika Cafeteria
Price: 350 KSH (~$4.40) for shiro
Atmosphere: quiet besides the Nigerian soap operas playing on the tv near the door

I find it very interesting that Ethiopian restaurants here have a penchant to a) have a tv on for staff/patron entertainment and b) find the crappiest shows to watch. Blue Nile's front room is set up like a living room with couches lining the walls and small coffee tables and stools in front of each couch. There is a bar at the end of the room that had a few people sitting there, but I'm not sure if or how they are getting around the new alcohol laws preventing the sale of alcohol before 5 pm on weekdays. There was another room off the bar that looked more of a restaurant style set up but I didn't venture back there for a peek. Instead I camped out on a couch with my book trying to ignore the goings on of the Nigerians soap stars across the room.

Savannah: The Coffee Lounge

While I usually gravitate to Java House out of convenience and their more expansive menu, I definitely prefer Savannah's atmosphere and drink selections. I hadn't made it over to Savannah since I returned to Nairobi a mere month ago and took the opportunity to meet some friends there prior to an evening play showing just a few blocks away. Despite the fact that a ketchup bottle exploded all over my friend and myself and the waitstaff was more concerned with mopping up the table rather than bringing us napkins to clean up, the bitings and smoothies were good.

11 February 2011

Mika Cafeteria

As I've completely given up on most Kenyans pronouncing my name correctly, I have resorted to going by Me-kah. So when my work colleague told me the local cafeteria was named that I knew I had to try it. On days that I don't hit up the street vendor outside the office for a 50 bob (~$0.65) fruit salad, you can find me grabbing a quick bite here.

Location: Hurlingham, it's on Argwings Kodhek between Rose Avenue and Woodlands in Roughton Plaza, across from Jabavu House and below Blue Nile Ethiopian Restaurant, next to a chemist (it's very much a hole in the wall and I had never noticed it before having it pointed out to me)
Price: "mini" meals start at 80 KSH (~$1) and larger portions are about 120 KSH (~$1.50)
Atmosphere: orderly (A strange term for a restaurant I know, but it's hard to describe.  The staff is polite and efficient but it's not somewhere you would necessarily linger.)

10 February 2011

Artcaffe

Artcaffe is usually where my friends end up when we can't think of anywhere else to go.  We always stake out a spot on the patio and some of my friends (you know who you are) have been known to camp out there for hours on end.  You would think this would be a problem for the waitstaff, but they are surprisingly lenient with large groups and people loitering with their computers using the free wifi.

Location: Westgate Mall in Westlands, Village Market in Muthaiga, Galleria in Karen, Junction Mall
Price: entrees start around 500 KSH (~$6.25)
Atmosphere: bustling, laidback, Western style cafe

04 February 2011

Sankara

Sankara is Nairobi's newest luxury hotel and is conveniently located near many restaurants and bars in the Westlands entertainment district.  The rooftop pool has a great view of the skyline and is a relaxing spot to hang on Sunday afternoon. 
Photo credit: sankara.com
Location: Westlands- Waiyaki Way at Woodvale Grove down the street from Gipsy's
Price: 290 KSH ( ~$3.60) local beers and wine "starts" at 300 KSH (~ $3.75) per glass
Atmosphere: hoity toity

28 January 2011

Brew Bistro Revisited

I figured it was about time to update my post on Brew Bistro and Lounge.  Since initially visiting this spot last May it became a regular watering hole for my friends and myself.  And since I've literally moved across the street, where else would I rather go than the Big Five Brewery upon my return to Nairobi?  Check out their facebook page here to keep up with their daily specials and events.

Keepin it classy at a lazy Sunday happy hour

19 January 2011

Kengeles

You may remember Kengeles from a previous post, Where to watch the World Cup.  This was a frequent haunt of ours during the games especially since it catered to the Dutch crowd and I of course went out in support of all my Dutch friends.  Kengeles on a non-sporting event night is a very different atmosphere than when jam packed full of rabid fans.

Dutch fans celebrating at Kengeles during World Cup 2010
Location: Lavington Green shopping center on James Gichuru
Price: 200 KSH (approx. $2.50) domestic beer, house wine; 500-1000 KSH (approx. $6.25-$12.50) entrees
Atmosphere: On weeknight evenings it is more subdued and the neighborhood hangout for area locals.

17 January 2011

Black Diamond

Dance floor on a Saturday night.  Photo credit: George Riach
Location: Westlands- Mpaka Rd. between Muthithi Rd. and Woodvale Grove 
Price: 200 KSH (approx. $2.50) for beer
Atmosphere: Depending on the night it's a mix between expats and Kenyans alike, most of whom split their time between the patio balcony and the dance floor inside. 

Black Diamond is the kind of place you can go any night of the week and something is going on.  For example, after a rousing game of euchre some friends and I went to check out a live band playing there on Sunday night and the place was full.  Granted, it wasn't packed like I've seen it on most Saturdays but all of the tables were full and people were standing around.  Pretty impressive for a Sunday.

16 January 2011

Gipsy Bar

Ah, Gipsys, how I've missed your Friday night dance marathons and fabulous people watching.  Upon my return to Nairobi this week Gipsys was where I headed on Friday night to catch up with friends.  It was no different than I left it three months ago; there were the same faces, same music, same fun atmosphere.


Location: Westlands- Waiyaki Way at Woodvale Grove across from Barclays
Price: 200KSH (approx. $2.50) for beers; 500-600KSH (approx. $6.25-7.50) for mixed drinks
Atmosphere: Friday and Saturdays it's packed, loud, and full of dancing fools.  The rest of the week it's more laidback and you can catch a game from the sports bar on the end or grab a bite at the restaurant over the dance floor on the other end. 

14 January 2011

Gracia Gardens

Upon my return to Nairobi my organization put me up in a guest house in the Hurlingham area at Gracia Gardens.  The accommodations were lovely.  They were quite full the night I came in so I lucked out with a huge triple room with a bathroom ensuite, wifi, dstv, and sitting area.  My room overlooks the pool and garden and is lovely at night with the smell of flowers wafting in and the sound of the fountain. 

Habesha

I love me some good Ethiopian food.  And as a favorite of locals and expats alike, I consistently hear Habesha referred to as "the best Ethiopian restaurant in town."  So of course I had to try this place out.

Photo credit: http://www.wix.com/aladorgod/zembaba-2
Location: Arwings Kodhek in Kilimani and Utalii House off Uhuru Highway behind Laico Regency Hotel in City Centre (new location in Runda)
Price: A bit pricier than other Ethiopian fare; you pay for the atmosphere.  One large platter, meat dish, shiro, and drinks was 1850KSH (approx. $23)
Atmosphere: Kilimani- The outdoor seating in the garden is great, lots of space for large groups, but separated enough you don't feel like you're surrounded by other patrons.

10 January 2011

Whiskey Cake Kitchen and Bar

I have been known to refer to Plano as the "land of the chain restaurants," but I was pleasantly surprised by the new addition to the suburb, Whiskey Cake.  Some friends recommended this place and I'm very happy we decided to try something new and venture a bit further north outside of the Dallas bubble.