The 7 best places to eat in Mombasa to fit your budget

Eating out in Mombasa

The 7 best places to eat in Mombasa to fit your budget

One of the great things about this city is its eclectic food scene that caters for all budgets. Here, variety truly is the spice of life, its history almost tangible in the food. Trusted Kenyan recipes are suffused with aromatic herbs and spices, and a continental cooking style for a modern twist. As the foreign expat community grows, international cuisine throughout the city has never been better. With a surfeit of fresh seafood from the Indian ocean, delivered straight to your plate, there is no shortage of seafood restaurants. No wonder foreign visitors keep flocking to its shores. The portions are often huge. So make sure you have a healthy appetite as you prepare to indulge in Mombassa finest eateries you won’t mind spending your money on.

The Fort Seafood Restaurant and Pizzeria – Old Town

Photos: The Fort Restaurant (tags: seafood, platter, mombasa, restaurant, chef, pie, dessert)
If you could only eat at one place in the whole of the city it should probably be this one. As the name suggests the Mediterranean-esque Fort restaurant sits across from the Fort Jesus monument site. The quaint eatery is a relatively new and welcome arrival to the Mombassa food scene. Guests look out to a spectacular view of the harbour. Loved for its warm hospitality and expertly prepared food, this is surely an ideal way to end your historical tour of the OldTown and Fort. Top favourites here are the deliciously prepared lobster, seafood platter, grilled snapper with Swahili source and Melindi seafood soup. To “put the cherry on top”, leave some room for dessert.

Maison De Qualite’ Cafesserie – Melindi

Photo: The Cafesserie (tags: restaurant, mombasa, cafe’, coffee house)

The continental-style Cafesserie in Melindi lives up to its ambition of serving world-class Italian espresso, French patisserie (pastries and cakes) and continental cuisine. Not least of all, of recreating the ‘Italian espresso house’, the ubiquitous ‘meeting place’ right here in Mombassa. Upbeat jazz tunes great you as you enter, as does the smell of freshly brewed coffee. Apparently, they make it just right, arguably the best in town. Little surprise, as the cafe’ has it’s own in-house coffee roaster to deliver the freshest coffee possible. Cafesserie makes good on its promise and delivers a consistently high standard of food and attentive service. The restaurant cafe’ is a favourite spot for breakfast or lunch. The half roasted chicken a must-have, as is the delectable ice-cream. Just be sure to have a crusty loaf of the olive, wholegrain or sourdough bread under your arm on the way out.

Ali Barbour’s Cave Restaurant – Diani Beach

Photos: Ali Barbour’s Cave (tags: restaurant, mombasa, cave, dining)

Descend the stairs of an underground 33-foot deep cave on Diani beach. There an unrivalled à la carte dining experience awaits you at the Ali Barbour’s Cave Restaurant. The cave opens up to a starry sky above the cosy, intimate dining hall. The vernacular interiors blend in well with the setting. It couldn’t get more romantic than this. Do book ahead though. The chilli crab, seafood platter, barracuda, filet champignon, and surf and turf are all winning choices. Last but not least, try the sumptuous seafood salad platter of crab, king prawns, octopus, calamari, lobster salad, and coconut salad with the mysterious ‘green goddess’ sauce. It’s on the high end but worth your dime and the trek out of town. The restaurant also provides a trusted shuttle service to and from your hotel.

Tamarind & Tamarind Dhow

The somewhat high-end Tamarind and Tamarind Dhow Restaurant has made its mark on the Mombasa food scene as a forerunner of its kind. That the men’s urinal is connected to a goldfish tank shouldn’t put you off. On the contrary, the Tamarind is world renowned for its fine grilled lobster, prawns Piri Piri, and chilli crab. Must-tries are the soy and ginger oysters, baby calamari, and catch of the day. If you trust your ‘sea legs’ then take your meal on the Jahazi dhow. The dhow is a traditional cargo trading boat, now refurbished for lunch and dinner cruises of the harbour. A bit of patience goes a long way though. The service can be slow at times, but what’s the hurry when you know the food is going to be great? Soak up the fresh air and relaxed ambience while sipping on a moonlit Dawa, or cocktail. The city lights from across the creek and of the view of Nyali bridge make this one of Mombassa’s more picturesque dining experiences.

Photo: The Tamarind Restaurant (restaurant, mombasa, seafood, platter, waiters)

Misono Japanese Restaurant – Nyali

A cool draft permeates the air, the interiors simple yet inviting. The serene Mosono Restaurant is not always brimming with people though little does it say of its reputation. One of Mombassa’s culinary assets, Mosono is reportedly where you will find sushi that is world-class, one of the best in town. Here the teriyaki and teppanyaki chefs take pride in what they do. If you are sharing, order the sushi boat, chicken teriyaki with steamed rice and prawns tempura. The staff are efficient yet unobtrusive. Expect high energy and showmanship from the moment you step foot in the door until you leave. Generous portions of the sumptuous food make this an ideal choice for a low-key business lunch.

Photos: (japanese restaurant, mombasa, sushi, chef)

Imani Dhow Restaurant – Severin Sea Lodge, Bamburi Beach

On the Imani Dhow, you don’t want to rush your meal. Perhaps the lesser known of the dhow restaurants, the Imani of Severin hotel is highly praised for its picturesque setting, refined seafood and impeccable service. Traditional wood and brass interiors lend a certain authenticity and charm. Dine by candlelight and eat to your heart’s content at what might be the pinnacle of your holiday. The food here is described as ‘heavenly’ and ‘prepared with effort and love’. Order the avocado prawn cocktail, red snapper and voluminous seafood platter. For vegans, the tomato soup, vegetable curry, and eggplant and zucchini are recommended. An excellent selection of desserts and wines are available. Although on the upper end, the Imani offers amazing value. You won’t be disappointed.

Photo: Imani Dhow Restaurant (seafood, restaurant, mombasa, chefs)

Nomad Restaurant – The Sands Resort, Diani Beach

Photos: Nomad Restaurant (beach, restaurant, chef, fish, surf and turf)
The beachside Nomad restaurant has an ‘off the beaten track’, laid-back feel to it. It is the perfect place to idle over a relaxing lunch or dinner, or to unwind while on a work vacation. You can choose your table right on the beach. So kick off your shoes while you dine or take a stroll in between courses. If you need to build up an appetite first, the hotel offers scuba diving tours and other marine sports. The Italian-trained executive Chef Andrea prepares seasonal meals with the freshest produce. Everything is good from seafood to meat dishes, as well as the pizza’s, cocktails, desserts and home-made ice-cream. Try the prawns on skewers and any of the fresh fish menu options. The surf and turf is also a succulent choice. The hotel takes its sustainability practices seriously using only paper straws and cardboard boxes for takeouts. They also host a monthly local organic farmers market and regular live entertainment, music and yoga events. Much more than a restaurant, surely the Nomad feels more like a destination.