With so many to choose from, picking a restaurant can be tough. To make your life easier, we tried them all out for you – you can thank us later – and give you here our pick of the best.
1. PEPONI HOTEL, SHELA VILLAGE, LAMU ISLAND
Established in 1967 by the Korschen family, this landmark hotel is still in the hands of the family today. The hotel's whitewashed walls, historic photos and veranda shaded with bright bougainvillea make this a place that's both classy and inviting. Add to this a seafront restaurant with delectable dishes and unbeatable cocktails, and you have a venue that's destined for success. Settle into your seat, gaze at the dhows cruising up the channel, then turn your eyes to the marvellous menu.
Our favourites: Old Pal, Peponi's signature cocktail; Spicy Thai Fish Soup; Prawns ﬂambéed in Brandy; Beef Carpaccio; and Chocolate Trufﬂes. And all the sushi (we just can't make our minds up)!
2. MOONRISE RESTAURANT, LAMU HOUSE HOTEL, LAMU TOWN
On the seafront of historic Lamu town, this restaurant – at the front of lovely Lamu House Hotel – is a haven of peace. Raised from the bustle on an attractive veranda, diners can watch dhows coming and going, traders loading and unloading, donkeys lugging sacks and boxes. With all this action to feast the eyes on, it's easy to forget to order – but this would be an error. The food here is fresh, innovative and delicious. Don't miss the Thursday night live Swahili music, and the barbecue served on Thursdays, Fridays and
Our favourites: Catch of the Day with Jacket Potato; Fish Tacos with Mango Salsa; Broccoli Pesto Spaghetti; and Eggplant Tower Milanese.
3. HEMMINGWAYS, WATAMU
Already a world class hotel, Hemmingways got even better after their recent refurbishment and now offers spacious residences, apartments and penthouses. Its restaurant looks out over Watamu's striking shores, and offers a selection of seafood, as well as vegetarian dishes and some good solid steaks. Although the restaurant is coastal al fresco, the standards are
that of a city restaurant – down to the white linen tablecloths and napkins.
Our favourites: Prime Aged Beef Steak; Classic Beer Battered Fish and Chips; and Linguine with Arugula Walnut Pesto Sauce.
4. NAUTILUS, KILIFI
Standing on stilts over the water and shaded by a thatched roof, Nautilus gives diners the impression of being on a boat. Surrounded on three sides by water, visitors can listen to the waves lapping bene Standing on stilts over the water and shaded by a thatched ath them as they enjoy the sea breeze. The chef is health conscious and uses fresh and locally-bought ingredients; her menu fuses continental cuisine with some exotic specials. Expect groovy music and romantic atmosphere. Closed on Mondays.
Our favourites: Oysters Fresh from the Rocks; Noodles with Lemon Crab and Cherry Tomatoes; Prawn Madras; Chateaubriand; and Tortellini al Forno.
5. MONSOONS, MTWAPA
Tucked away in a cove near bustling Mtwapa, this is a hidden jewel. Monsoons has the appearance of a relaxed beach restaurant, yet the food is exquisite. Looking across the beach and sea, diners here almost have the sense of being marooned on a desert island.
Fishermen bring their catches straight from their boats; the chef works his magic then brings it fresh to the table. As well as seafood, the menu has a selection of pastas, meats and curries, all served with rice and vegetables. Closed on Mondays.
Our favourites: Monsoons' Seafood Platter for Two. Comprising the freshest lobsters, red snapper, octopus, squid and crab claws, all char-grilled to perfection, you can't go wrong with this.
6. LA MARINA, MTWAPA
In tropical gardens overlooking Mtwapa Creek, this restaurant epitomises the joy of being at the coast. Diners, surrounded by palms and bougainvillea, look down on the cluster of boats that moor here and the yachts plying the creek. The speciality is seafood, fresh from the ﬁshermen, but there's a good selection of meat and vegetarian dishes, and their salads are light and tasty – just what the balmy coastal weather requires.
Our favourites: Seafood Meze – a selection of tasty treats served as a sequence of courses; Grilled Lobster; Mama Salad; and Seafood a la Luu.
7. TAMARIND, MOMBASA
The ﬂagship property of the Tamarind Group, this restaurant was founded in 1972. It was an instant hit for its menu ﬁlled with exquisite and creative seafood dishes – although there are plenty of meat and vegetarian options too. The restaurant – whitewashed Arabic arches open onto Nyali Creek giving diners a view of historic Fort Jesus – is a joy in itself. Cocktails at sunset watching the water blaze red are not to be missed.
Our favourites: Ginger Crab (be ready to get down and dirty); Prawns Piri piri; Seafood Laksa; and Double Cooked Pork Belly.
8. THE TAMARIND DHOW, MOMBASA
Why sit in a restaurant to eat when you can dine sailing along the coast? Setting sail from Tamarind, the Tamarind Dhow allows diners to relish the restaurant's signature dishes whilst gazing out over ever-changing vistas. With two traditional wooden dhows to choose from, and both a lunch and dinner option – what's not to like? The lunch cruise moors in a bay, while on the dinner cruise the chef prepares his seafood on deck under the hungry gaze of waiting diners. Expect music and dancing as the night moves on.
Our favourites: The Seafood Platter, of course!
9. THE SANDS AT NOMAD, DIANI
This boutique resort on beautiful Diani Beach not only has individually designed cottages and a lush jungle garden, but an awesome beachfront restaurant. With an extensive and inventive menu of sushi, soups, salads and heartier platters, this is the place to lean back on your cushion and gaze out over the white sand and sparkling seas of Diani. The sizeable wine list hits the spot too.
Our favourites: Rainbow Uramaki; Yellow Finned Tuna Tartar; and Chicken Citrus Salad. And the whole selection of pizzas, baked to crispy perfection in the Italian pizza oven.
10. ALI BARBOUR'S CAVE, DIANI
Named for the exotic hero of one of the Arabian Nights' tales, this restaurant evokes myth and mystery ﬂickering candles set into rocky alcoves and you'll ﬁnd yourself in a lamplit cave. The menu is rich in treats, including seafood caught fresh from nearby Diani Beach, as well as a good vegetarian selection and enough meat to keep the most ardent carnivore happy. Several dishes give a wink to the Arabian food evoked by the restaurant's name, and the desserts are pretty spectacular too.
Our favourites: Ali's Drunken Prawns; Vegetable Tagine with Almond and Chickpea Couscous; Deep Fried Camembert with Cranberry Jus; and Beef Fillet Stroganoff.