Eating in Zanzibar

When it comes to food, what locals and tourists eat on Zanzibar is quite different. Locals get their calories from cassawa and other vegetables, rice, mussels they collect from the sea, sardines and occasional octopus and meat. What you’ll find in restaurants is something adopted for tourists, nevertheless it is quite delicious and there is a lot to try.

You can find restaurants using TripAdvisor or Foursquare, but here are the places we’ve visited in Stone Town and around Zanzibar and our personal experience there:

Where to eat in Stone Town

Stone Town is the best place for food in Zanzibar. There you’ll find a lot of restaurants, and what’s important, there are also places that locals frequent, while in the villages around the island local people almost always eat at home.

Lukmaan Google Maps – this was probably the most favorite place and a lot of local people eat here as well. It is done in a form of a buffet, where you can just come and point at the food you’d like. The range is quite wide, starting from rice and curry dishes to seafood, sugar cane drinks and fruit juices. Prices are cheap and the value is outstanding.

6 degrees south Google Maps – more on the expensive side, meals are around $10 or even more expensive. Serving seafood and other dishes. We’ve tried fish of the day (Kingfish), it was delicious. Overall it is an OK place for tourists.

Forodhani Gardens Google Maps – an outdoor street food market takes place there nightly. We did go there, but didn’t try the food. We were advised by our hotel staff and other reviews on internet that seafood is not fresh. I don’t know whether it is true or not.

The Swahili House Google Maps – a place with a rooftop terrace, more on the expensive side, but their seafood platter for two ($25) was quite good. The atmosphere there in the evening is romantic and relaxing. I liked this place.

Swahili House, Stone Town, Zanzibar
Seafood Platter at The Swahili House

Emerson on Hurumzi and the Tea House Restaurant Google Maps – apparently this was number one on TripAdvisor. We went there for lunch and it was good, they serve set menu for lunch for about $10. There are also set menus for dinners, but there are not many seats, so you have to book in advance and show up at a set time. The view from their terrace is really good and aside from food I think this place is a must visit for its atmosphere.

View from the Tea House / Emerson on Hurumzi
View from the Tea House

Zanzibar Coffee House Google Maps – authentic cafe. The coffee is probably best you can find on this island. They also sell coffee to go.

Mukhy’s Cafe – this is a street food place with some seating inside. They specialize in Tandoori chicken and that is what we’ve had. Two pieces of chicken and some chips cost us about $6.50. Mostly locals eat here. Frankly speaking the chicken was fine, but not anything special.
This place is not on Google Maps, so just follow the directions from the link above.

Tandoori chicken in preparation at Mukhy's
Tandoori chicken in preparation at Mukhy’s

Fruit stands – this applies to the whole island. Don’t be afraid to buy fruits at the fruit stands. Anything you peel before consumption is generally safe.

Where to eat in Jambiani, Paje, Pingwe

I liked the eastern coast of Zanzibar a lot. It is less touristy than north and there a few places with a local charm.

Mr. Kahawa in Paje – a hip coffee place with a direct view to the ocean. The clientele are mostly kiters which are abundant in Paje. Food is kind of okay. Prices are on par with the rest of tourist restaurants in the area, i.e. about $10 for a dish.

Ocean Restaurant in Paje – nice view, relaxed atmosphere. Food is delicious and they have some interesting dishes to try, like Crab Caneloni. The prices are like other tourist restaurants.

View from the Ocean's restaurant
View from the Ocean’s restaurant

The Rock in Pingwe – this is the legendary place. You probably have seen in on some photos already. During high tide a boat would take you there. On low tide you can just walk to it. Prices are high, but you can go just for a desert (they are good) – about $8 each or drinks. I liked glazing at the stars during nighttime.

Stone Culture in Jambiani – this place is run by one local guy who does everything himself. It would take a while for food to be ready, so you can grab a bee and enjoy it at the beach in the meantime. The food is fine.

Lustania in Jambiani – this place is run by a family and you need to call them one day in advance to book a table. They do set menu dinners, which were $10/pp at the time + drinks. The food was actually quite good and the local atmosphere is amazing. It it quite ascetic but has a nice local touch. I recommend experiencing it.

Where to eat in Nungwi, Matemwe

Nungwi and North of Zanzibar is the most touristy area on the island. There are plenty of places there, but hard to find some with a local charm.

Baraka in Nungwi – It is my favorite in Nungwi. Set on the beach along a few other restaurants, this one provides good food at a more reasonable price. Go for seafood!

Guru Guru in Nungwi – we’ve tried pizza there. Took a bit over an hour for pizza to be cooked and it wasn’t really good. Won’t recommend getting pizza there. Pricing is a bit more expensive than average.

Guru Guru in Nungwi
Guru Guru in Nungwi

Smiles Beach Hotel in Nungwi – food was OK but not too good. There are better choices in the area.

Seles Bungalows in Matemwe – both food and atmosphere were good. They set just steps from the beach and the whole area of the restaurant is blended with some nature/trees. They also have some board games in there. Prices are reasonable. Recommended.

What is your experience with food in Zanzibar? What restaurants can you recommend? Please feel free to contribute in comments.

Check out the Full Guide to Zanzibar

Leave a Reply