Where to eat in Stone Town, Zanzibar.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from the food in Zanzibar, apart from a lot of good seafood, and spices, which turned out to be pretty much what we got! Whilst we avoided the street-food at the touristy Fordodhani gardens on the seafront, we found plenty of tasty and cheap street food in the small streets surrounding Darajani market which is well worth trying.

Everywhere we ate (including the street food) looked clean and safe, although it is quite common for more local restaurants to be serving pre-prepared food that was left sitting in heaters so you might want to skip those if you have a very sensitive stomach. A couple of people in our group were knocked out by dodgy stomachs on our trip but were unable to pinpoint the culprit, so maybe it was stomach flu, after so many years travelling, I have a rock solid constitution and could probably eat raw chicken off the street and not get sick (don’t worry Mum, I won’t!)


Hugely popular with locals and tourists alike, you want to ensure getting to Lukmann before 12 if you want to have the full menu to choose from. Ignore the waiter proffering a picture menu (they told us many dishes were finished when a quick look inside showed this was untrue) and brave the crowds inside where you can see all the dishes behind the counter and point at what you want to eat.

Skip the grilled fish and octopus unless they are cooking it from scratch for you, the fragrant coconut curries, think chicken, prawns, octopus or calamari, are the way to go, my calamari curry was one of the best things I ate all trip! Other highlights included the homemade breads, a perfectly ripe avocado salad, and chicken tikka.

Dishes are priced at a few $ each and you could feast like a king for $5-$8

Passing Show Hotel

The passing show is another Stone Town institution, and is filled with local office workers from breakfast through til late afternoon.

Like Lukmaan, all their dishes are out on display on the counter, from fried mandazi (a local doughnut) samosa and breads, to Zanzibar stews, curries, soups and grills. I had no idea where to start, so simply pointed to the guy sitting at a table nearest the door who was eating an intriguing looking octopus soup, to order the same, adding in a mandazi for good measure.

Expect to pay $2-$4

Tea House Restaurant 

At the totally opposite end of the spectrum is the beautiful rooftop restaurant at the Emerson Spice Hotel, where we enjoyed sunset cocktails, and a delicious 5 course tasting menu.

Bookings are highly recommended and whilst 6pm sounds early, you really don’t want to miss sunset drinks first.

I really enjoyed the creative spin on traditional Zanzibari dishes, my favourite dish was probably the Pweza Passion Salad, Pineapple Chutney & Garlic Bamia (essentially tender, slow cooked Octopus with passionfruit and pineapple) but all of the dishes were wonderfully unique

Tasting menu $40

Cocktails from $8

The Zanzibar Coffee House

This bustling coffee shop is a perfect refuge from the afternoon sun, with an extensive menu of cakes, snacks, sandwiches & crepes.

They apparently have a different menu available on their pretty rooftop terrace (be sure to ask if there is space up there when you arrive as orders need to be placed at the counter downstairs and then the order ticket given into the kitchen on the top floor)

We found out the hard way after one of our group arrived late, and was forced to wait for her food downstairs, which put a damper on the experience, but after speaking with the management it seemed to be an honest mistake, and I really did enjoy my spinach and feta samosa and the chilled atmosphere, so it would be a shame not to recommend them all the same.

Expect to spend to spend around $4-$6

Jaws Corner 

Jaws corner is just a collection of ramshackle stools and a few wooden tables and chairs at the intersection of Cathedral St., Baghani St., and Soko Muhogo St, where locals (generally men) gather for coffee & nut brittle to catch up on the news of the day.

A TV seemed to appear from nowhere one day so that patrons could watch the football, a fun & very local experience to take part in if there is a big sporting event whilst you are there. Whilst men outnumber women dramatically, everyone was very friendly and keen to chat briefly, without overstepping any boundaries a solo female traveller might be wary of.

A little Arabic style cup of coffee is less than 10 Cents so be sure to take small coins and notes with you.



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