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Tanzania Restaurants

Al Johari
Stone Town , Zanzibar
Tanzania
Tel: 255 77 728 2408
www.al-johari.com

Al Johari might call its culinary concoctions "Zanzibar fusion," but what that really amounts to at this rooftop restaurant is a lengthy, globe-trotting menu that draws on far-flung flavors with origins as diverse as Morocco (lamb tagine), Brazil (moqueca de peixe), and the Mediterranean (spinach-and-feta ravioli in a creamy saffron sauce). It might seem like a muddled mess at first glance, but the kitchen's saving grace is its flawless execution, typified by signature dishes like the Tanzanian fish curry. Equally impressive are the panoramic views over Stone Town, and an elegant dining room—crisp linens, white-clad waiters, whitewashed walls—that just oozes romance. If only they'd turn down the AC and crack open those windows to let in the sea breeze! On weekends, local musicians pluck out traditional taarab tunes beside the burbling fountain, providing an intimate score.

Open daily 12:30 to 3 pm and 7:30 to 10 pm.

Archipelago
Stone Town , Zanzibar
Tanzania
Tel: 255 77 746 2311

Archipelago dishes out delicious Zanzibari seafood in Stone Town's cheeriest setting. Bold, primary-colored walls, minimalist decor, and chill-out tunes keep the vibe fresh and funky: It's the perfect place to sip fruit juice on a sultry afternoon, catching the sea breeze over palm-framed views of the waterfront. The menu relies on a mix of fresh catches and Zanzibari specialties like Swahili prawns in a coconut masala sauce. Start with the grilled baby squid salad in a spicy sweet-chili sauce, then move on to grilled kingfish with mango salsa or snapper in an orange and ginger sauce. Save room for the rich chocolate cake and delicious coffees from the nearby Stone Town Café.

Open daily 11 am to 10 pm.

Forodhani Gardens
Stone Town , Zanzibar
Tanzania

This nightly market is Zanzibar's top tourist trap, but you can't argue with a winning formula. It's hard to resist piles of prawns, lobsters, crabs, and fresh fish grilled in an aromatic swirl of smoke and served up in sight of the Indian Ocean's lapping waves. It's colorful, chaotic, and anything but a quiet bite by the beach, though the persistent, pushy touts seem bent on spoiling the fun. Try not to get too put off by all the attention—or by the stray cats pawing through the scraps on the ground. Hygiene doesn't seem to be the top priority at Forodhani, and more than a few tourists have reported upset stomachs. Ask around before digging in, as some sellers have better reputations than others.

Open daily, dusk to midnight.

Kidude
236 Hurumzi Hotel
236 Hurumzi Street
Stone Town , Zanzibar
Tanzania
Tel: 255 747 423 266
zanzibar.org/236hurumzi_hotel/mainframe.htm

One of two restaurants in the gorgeous 236 Hurumzi Hotel, this one is dedicated to Bi Kidude, Zanzibar's oldest living performer of taarab (a type of Swahili music). By day, the casual menu includes hefty pita sandwiches and light snacks; at night, the chef draws inspiration from the cuisines of the African diaspora, from Arabia and Africa to the Caribbean and America's Cajun country. The menu might include calamari with passion-fruit dressing, pumpkin coconut soup, and calypso chicken with coconut rice and beans. As you enter the hotel, Kidude's door is on the left. Ask at the front desk for more info; the hours at Kidude are notoriously erratic.

La Fenice
Stone Town , Zanzibar
Tanzania
Tel: 255 77 747 2792

La Fenice claims to have the best gelato in Zanzibar, but you'll have a hard time saving room for it amid the menu's litany of rich Italian dishes. Creamy risottos, pastas smothered in seafood sauces, and a broad range of reliable grills—of both the surf and turf variety—are among the more traditional offerings. But La Fenice really shines in its more creative dishes, such as the marinated dorado with avocado or crab claws in a ginger and almond sauce. The service is friendly, if not altogether brisk, and the breezy waterfront setting is atmospheric. Though the main dining room is tastefully furnished with African masks and Swahili bric-a-brac, the veranda is a better spot to watch the waves by day or stargaze at night.

Open daily 11 am to 10 pm.

Livingstone Beach Restaurant
Stone Town , Zanzibar
Tanzania
Tel: 255 77 316 4939

Stone Town's hottest hangout is the perfect marriage of style and substance. Livingstone combines creative spins on Zanzibari cuisine with breezy beachside real estate and an attractive dining room decked out with hand-carved Swahili furniture and works by local artists. Light bites like spring rolls with a coriander, mango, and yogurt salsa are good for an afternoon nibble; in the evening, there's a feast of fresh catches simmered in coconut milk, dry-rubbed with Zanzibari spices, or stuffed with a mango and cilantro sauce. With candlelit tables planted in the sand and starlit waves crashing on the shore, open-air dining hits a pitch-perfect note for romance. On the weekend, live music draws a mix of tourists and locals to the dance floor and you might struggle to find a cozy corner, but the tropical beats (and a lengthy cocktail list) offer a taste of Stone Town at its flirty finest.

Open daily noon to 4:30 pm and 6:30 to 10:30 pm.

Mercury's
Stone Town , Zanzibar
Tanzania
Tel: 255 77 741 3081

With a lively beachfront setting and some of the best sunset views around, Mercury's is as much a Stone Town icon as the Old Fort. Named for Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, who was born just down the road, this busy hangout serves up an eclectic menu with everything from fajitas and fish tacos to pastas and curries. Red snapper in green curry and grilled tuna with pesto mayo stand out among a host of good, if not unforgettable, fish dishes; more reliable are the delicious thin-crust pizzas. In the evening, with the sun dipping toward the ocean and local fishermen playing soccer in the sand, there's no better place to drink a cold Kilimanjaro beer. Live weekend music—from Congolese drummers to traditional taarab groups—packs in the tourist crowds.

Open daily noon to midnight.

The Silk Route
Stone Town , Zanzibar
Tanzania
Tel: 255 78 687 9696

With its bright tapestries, faux-crystal chandelier, and animal-print banquettes, the Silk Route is more gaudy than Goa, but the delicious tandoori dishes and spicy curries certainly make up for it. You might need some help to navigate the massive menu; let the staff steer you toward dishes like lamb in a creamy cashew sauce or jumbo shrimp in a rich butter sauce accented by ginger, garlic, coconut, and raisins. The Silk Route is also among the best Stone Town options for vegetarians, with dishes such as vegetable korma dressed in saffron, raisins, and nuts. The popular, prix-fixe lunch is served buffet-style. Be sure to wash it down with a refreshing mango lassi—perfect for those sticky Stone Town afternoons.

Open daily noon to 3 pm and 6:30 to 11 pm.

Tower Top
Stone Town , Zanzibar
Tanzania
Tel: 255 24 223 2784
www.236hurumzi.com

The rooftop restaurant of the 236 Hurumzi Hotel is a popular setting for marriage proposals, and it's easy to see why. It boasts a sultan's-eye view of the Indian Ocean and the town's minarets and spires. Guests shed their shoes at the entrance and loll on bright pillows at low tables set on Persian carpets. The menu changes daily, with dishes featuring local vegetables, seafood, and spice-scented rice (expect to see dishes like kingfish in spice and onion sauce, served with raisin-studded rice and spinach with coconut milk). Dinner reservations are essential, and vegetarians should call ahead to be sure that the chef can accommodate them. Kidude, a more casual restaurant on 236 Hurumzi's ground floor, offers lighter fare in a cozy indoor setting cluttered with local paintings and objets d'art.

Open daily noon to 3:30 pm and 7 to 10 pm.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.