White powdered sands and turquoise ocean come to mind when you first visit Zanzibar but really, this tropical island just off the coast of Tanzania has so much more to offer including a fascinating culture, unusual architecture, isolated beaches and friendly locals.
Then there is the cuisine, for this jewel on the Indian Ocean is one of the best food experiences and home to many of the most sought after restaurants in East Africa.
Here are the top 5 places to eat on Zanzibar:
Best places to eat on Zanzibar
1.Tea House – Emerson on Hurumzi Hotel (Stone Town)
Firstly, you must visit the Tea House one day preceding to whenever you wish to make a reservation. It may seem like a strange process to visit one day before, but this small restaurant at the centre of Stone Town is incredibly popular, and the owners need to ensure every reservation is guaranteed to show up.
Massaman curry, crab cakes, and double layered trifle are merely a few of the unforgettable foods on offer, but an exclusive setting and ambiance are where the Tea House truly excels. Decorated with old tables and cushions high above the capital of Zanzibar, the Tea House is home to an intricate design and an open-air rooftop setting with a 360-degree view of Stone Town. And then there is the entertainment; as you sit back to enjoy the scenes, a live band takes to the stage.
Tip: If you cannot visit the restaurant before making a reservation, contact your hotel and request a member of staff to make one for you.
2. Langi Langi Restaurant, Nungwi
Nungwi is possible the busiest tourist destination on Zanzibar, but when you experience the luxury resorts or the general standard of facilities, it is easy to understand why. The active nature of the north beaches may not appeal to many visitors, but the incredible food at Langi Langi Restaurant make it worthy of a visit alone.
Grilled tuna and prawns are top of the menu here and available as part of a platter, but the octopus coconut curry is not to be missed, along with “Shuka Shuka” a seafood stew with the most unforgettable flavours. And then there is the actual location of Langi Langi, for this popular eatery sits on top of stilts over the incoming tide and with candles making up for the lighting on deck, it creates a beautifully romantic setting.
3. The Rock, Michamwi Pingwe peninsula
Sitting on a lonesome piece of coral in the midst of a peaceful ocean and turquoise skies, the Rock is arguably the most romantic restaurant on Zanzibar. When the tide is low, you can walk out to a staircase beneath the rock, but usually, a member of staff will keep you dry en-route in a small fishing boat.
Offering a wide selection of seafood dishes, the standard of food at the Rock lives up to the reputation, but then nothing can quite explain the reason you need to pay it a visit, other than the stunning setting in which this restaurant is situated.
Although prices at the rock will seem like a long way from the two dollar local restaurants in Stone Town, the Rock is one of the best places to eat on Zanzibar.
4. Night Market, Forodhani Gardens, Stone Town
Few places in the world can offer the same enchanting ambiance as you will find at the night market in Stone Town, Zanzibar.
Located at the very heart of town in Forodhani Gardens, this food only market offers a full range of delicious seafood and local delights.
However, it is not just the variety of lobster, octopus, and prawns which capture the lustful eyes of wandering tourists but also the many unique dishes such as the incredibly simple Zanzibar Pizza. Consisting of crepe-like dough filled with finely chopped vegetables, meats, and egg; this pizza is quite simply one of the best food experiences in the entirety of East Africa.
As with most of the foods, you will find at the night market; this pizza is an excellent example of a unique twist the locals put on everything they produce.
5. Essence Restaurant, Kendwa Beach
Africa House Hotel in Stone Town could easily have made this list for the rooftop balcony and sunset view but based on food alone, Essence Restaurant on Kendwa Beach is an idyllic oceanfront dining experience and one of the best places to eat on Zanzibar.
Whether you choose friend calamari, grilled tuna, or even just a rice dish with spicy vegetables and fish; this eatery goes a long way to explaining why Zanzibar is also known as the Spice Islands.
Beautifully decorated tables on the sand are accompanied by flavours in full flow, and if you are staying anywhere in the north beaches, Essence Restaurant should be on your travel itinerary for an afternoon lunch at the very least.
Tropical, relaxing and undeniably stunning, the scenery on this isolated island is a memorable experience, but as mentioned above, the very same should be said about the many excellent places to eat on Zanzibar.