Kenya may not jump out at you as a culinary hotspot but you shouldn’t be quick to dismiss it as a foodie haven. Whether you’re chilling on Kenya’s sun-soaked coast or in the capital of Nairobi, there’s plenty of tasty homegrown food that you can enjoy, especially the fresh seafood caught straight from Kenya’s wild coast. You certainly won’t be going hungry next time you pay a visit…
With its beautiful beachfront setting, Hemingways Watamu is right on Kenya’s glittering coastline. It was originally known as Seafarers, a name owed to its beginnings as a local fisherman’s establishment, before becoming a Hemingways property, themselves named after the famous author and explorer who was also an avid fisherman. It’s no wonder, then, that fresh seafood is a speciality at Watamu’s main restaurant, with signature dishes including crispy Lamu crab claws, Bahari calamari and Hemingways’ famous prawn masala. The seafood theme extends to the poolside Rock Bar, where sushi and ceviche are the order of the day, but if you want to venture further afield, the Crab Shack at nearby Mida Creek is perfect for a sundowner among the mangroves.
Oozing indulgence and relaxation, Alfajiri Villas is one of Kenya’s finest beach retreats. Dining is a hallmark here and a unique one at that. There’s no set menu, and instead your tastes and preferences are all catered for, with the chefs talking you through their ideas for your personal meals every day, with many drawn from treasured family recipes. Fresh seafood straight from the beach is a highlight, including some of the best crab, prawns, lobster and tuna found anywhere on the coast (try the Swahili calamari in a coconut milk sauce). The salad and vegetables come from local farms, while the fruit is handpicked from trees and bushes in and around Diani. This truly is local cuisine at its finest.
Hemingways Nairobi is situated in the sleepy neighbourhood of Karen, a Nairobi suburb named after Out of Africa author Karen Blixen, whose historic farm (now a museum worth visiting) is only a stone’s throw from Hemingways. The hotel’s Brasserie restaurant serves an eclectic menu with produce sourced locally from farms across the country, with seafood coming from the coast and grilled meats from the north. Afternoon tea is a tradition here, too, and a luxury selection of handcrafted mini cakes, pastries and classic finger sandwiches, along with a range of Kenyan and worldwide teas, can be enjoyed on the terrace with fine views of the leafy Ngong Hills.