A tropical island in the warm Indian Ocean off the coast of mainland Tanzania, Zanzibar is a place full of history and multicultural heritage that offers endless wonderful experiences for travellers, including dining out in Arabian style houses, on rooftop terraces or even on a rock in the ocean. Enjoy eating out on the Spiice Island with our hand-picked guide of the top ten restaurants not to miss in Zanzibar.
The Rock Zanzibar
The Rock is probably one of the most scenic restaurants in Africa. Literally located on a rock in the blue waters of the Indian Ocean, this restaurant is one of the most renowned in Zanzibar and definitely a high-end stop for those who wish to enjoy fresh seafood recipes in exotic decors. Formerly a fishermens’ post, the restaurant has only 12 tables that are filled fast, so consider making reservations to be sure you get the best seats of the house. The menu is consistently based on the available abundant seafood, serving delicacies as octopus salad, seafood spaghetti, squid and queen prawns alongside vegetarian dishes and special children’s menus.
A great option for tourists with an appetite for well-cooked Italian food, La Taverna is the place to go for crispy pizzas and home-made pastas, all from fresh ingredients, some even imported from Italy to keep the flavours faithful and original. The menu contains all the delicious classics of the Italian gastronomy, starting with tagliatelle bolognese, panini and pizzas prepared using family recipes on a wood-fired oven, the only one of its type in Zanzibar. La Taverna also offers a wide collection of top international wines from France, Spain, Australia, South Africa and Chile.
Zanzibar Serena Inn
Close to the beach, the historical sights of the sultan’s palaces, and Portuguese architectura’ remnants that dominate the old part of Zanzibar, Stone Town, this small luxurious hotel is a preferred attraction for visitors looking for sophisticated experiences in this eclectic African town. Its rooftop terrace restaurant offers dreamy sights over the bay and excels in serving fresh seafood dishes based on daily catches of kingfish, sea bream, red and white snapper, barracuda, cobia, tuna, sailfish, rock cod, lobster, prawns, calamari or crab.
Emerson Spice Café
Located in a former 19th century Swahili sultan’s palace, today a trendy hostel booked also by celebrities such as Matt Dillon and Juliette Binoche, Emerson Spice Café has a reputation for being one of the best restaurants in Zanzibar. Serving dinner on its rooftop Tea House is no doubt a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the warm colours of the sunset, but consider making timely reservations as this small restaurant gets booked up very fast. The menu includes lobster on green papaya salad, Tambi prawns with grilled mango or coconut chili king fish baked in banana leafs.
House of Spices
A reminder of Zanzibar’s long lasting spices industry, the House of Spices is one of the most popular restaurants in Stone Town. The restaurant occupies one of the terraces where the spices were dried before packaging, the other rooms of the 3 floor 18th century house have been used in the past for the production and selling of this valuable merchandise. A winner of TripAdvisor’s ‘Certificate of Excellence’ in 2013, the restaurant serves to its guests an international menu including Mediterranean dishes and tempting pizzas.
Emerson on Hurumzi
This must-try restaurant is located on the rooftop of the second tallest building in Stone Town after the Sultan’s Palace, the House of Wonders. Offering unique panoramic sights to the Indian Ocean and the surrounding mosques, the House of Hurumzi has its share of mister and legends some even relating its name to black slaves’ freedom. Restored to its past glory after decades of oblivion, Hurumzi House functions today as a small hotel, its rooftop restaurant being one of the best locations in town to enjoy the exotic and unforgettable view of Stone Town and a fresh seafood-based menu.
Emerson on Hurumzi 236 Hurumzi Street, Zanzibar, Tanzania, +255 24 22 32 784
A winner of TripAdvisor’s ‘Certificate of Excellence’ in 2013, Upendo ‘gives you everything you can ask for from an island experience with powder-white sands, swaying coconut trees, coral cliff-hangs and stunningly dramatic views of the tidal changes’. Part of a luxurious resort located on a beach in the Michamvi Peninsula from South-East Zanzibar, this restaurant is a true piece of tropical paradise and a definite stop for all those who wish to try crab, prawns, lobster and fish recipes while enjoying one of the most beautiful views of this African island.
Upendo, Michamvi, Pingwe, Zanzibar, Tanzania, +255 777 244 492
For those looking to mix the seafood cuisine of Zanzibar with European-style dishes while visiting this small piece of tropical paradise, Loulou is the perfect choice. A winner of TripAdvisor’s ‘Certificate of Excellence’ in 2014 and one of the best restaurants in Zanzibar, Loulou is a unique presence in this African culinary landscape. Offering a Belgian-based menu, Loulou brings to the table some of the best-known gastronomical products of this country, from classical waffles and chocolate mousse prepared with imported Belgian chocolate to Blanc Bleu Belge steaks.
Loulou, Shangani and Kenyatta Junction, Stone Town, Zanzibar, Tanzania, +255 24 224 0170
Stone Town Café
Located just steps away from the most popular attractions in Zanzibar’s historic centre,Stone Town Café is a treat for those who wish to take their time and observe the daily life ‘be it the fish seller passing with his heavily laden bicycle basket, a vendor walking door to door selling brooms and pans, or children on their way to school’. A highly popular location among tourists, who can support local families in need by participating in its charity project ‘Pack for a Purpose’, Stone Town Café won TripAdvisor’s 2013 ‘Travellers’ Choice’ Award and its ‘Certificate of Excellence’ in 2014.
Stone Town Café, Kenyatta Road, Shangan, Stone Town, Zanzibar, Tanzania, +255 778 373737
Abyssinian Maritim is a traditional Ethiopian restaurant in the heart of Stone Town and the go-to place for visitors who want to discover as much as possible about the tastes of Africa. A winner of TripAdvisor’s ‘Certificate of Excellence’ in 2014, this thematic restaurant will enchant less pretentious guests with its Ethiopian style ‘eat with your fingers’ and sharing the same plate approach, a traditional symbol of friendship and loyalty. Among its specialities, you can try the Ethiopian bread injera and Maritim’s renowned fresh-roasted coffee.