Dining out in Dar Es Salaam is a unique experience. There are so many different tastes and flavours around that you are going to be spoilt for choice, and it is well worth not hiding out in your hotel and sticking only to on-site dining. The cuisine has very distinct Indian and Arabic influences because of Tanzania’s location on the spice trade routes, so you can expect to find tasty curries, spiced seafood (the spices are rather flavorsome as opposed to being hot) and hints of cardamom, ginger, clove, cinnamon and cumin, just to name a few.
Local dishes to try: Kachumbari (fresh tomato, onion and lemon spice salad), Nyama, Busi or Kuku Choma (goat, beef ,chicken grilled in spices), avocado smoothies, a Zanzibar mix (curried soup with varied toppings), Ndizi Kaanga (fried plantains), sweet mandazi (fried doughnut styled snack), or Mishkaki (meat skewers) of any kind, which makes for a great street snack.
Start your day off with a great cup of Chai tea filled with local spices or hibiscus if you want something different. Nothing beats a good local beer: Serengeti, Tusker and Kilimanjaro (‘Kili’), Tusker Malt and Safari are all favorites, as well as Ndovu if you prefer lighter beers. Be sure to ask for it “baridi” (cold) as many locals drink their beer warm.
Addis in Dar: A longstanding food institution in the city, at one point in your stay you will probably end up here. Fantastic ambiance, with traditional Ethiopian fare like injere (Ethiopian flatbread), split yellow chickpeas sautéed with onions, and fabulous chicken marinated with fresh lime juice. Great for a group outing.
Rohobot Ethiopian Restaurant: The only other decent Ethiopian Restaurant in Dar Es Salaam, Rohobot is smaller and filled with more locals than its larger cousin, Addis. The food is plentiful, cheap and tasty in an unpretentious atmosphere.
Karambezi (Sea Cliff Hotel): Views over the breaking waves right at the edge of the rocks is where you will find this trendy spot. The food may be pricey but if you are needing some light, modern seafood and chicken dishes it is worth hanging out with the Dar’s jet set — and the pastry chef has got some real treats if you have a bit of a sweet tooth.
George and the Dragon: The best burgers in town, a spot for those looking for some flavors from home in an English-style pub atmosphere. Especially great if you want to catch sports on TV while on your holiday.
Jahazi (Serena Hotel): Slow service but some of the best seafood served in large portions can be found here and in the sister restaurant Serengeti. The chili and ginger crab are wonderful.
The Waterfront: Located inside Slipway and overlooking the ocean and the mainland, this spot has good pizzas, burgers and a wide variety grilled meats. If you are feeling adventurous try the Nyama Choma – as long as they have not made it too dry it is some of the best around.
Mamboz: It once was the spot to go to for street food, but sadly the government has made some of the stalls head indoors. Nevertheless the food is good, well priced and packed full of local and Indian flavors.
Triniti Bar: one of the best dance spots in the city (Friday nights the crowds are huge) if you are looking for hearty local food at decent prices this is a great lunch spot.
305 Karafuu Restaurant: Found in an quiet local neighborhood , it won’t be easy to locate the first time round, but once you have found it you will keep going back. Great intimate, local ambiance with delicious curries and chicken.
Thai Khani: Some of the best Thai food and sushi in town. Portion sizes are very big so be wary if you order starters and mains. When they say spicy, they mean very, very spicy.
Sala Thai: Another staple on the Thai food scene in Dar. Great all rounder if you are looking for some good, tasty Thai dishes and curries.
Angithi: a hidden treat of an Indian restaurant in a sparse downtown area. Food and drinks are plentiful and well priced, and you cannot go wrong if you are looking for some great traditional Indian food. The tandoors are particularly good.
Chapan Bhog: If you are craving some decent South East Indian food that is easy on the wallet as well as being delicious then Chapan is a great bet. The atmosphere might be very spartan and it can get pretty crowded because of its central location, but they have a really good snack menu that is a firm favorite with those seeking something tasty and quick –or needing to stock up a car for an impending road trip. Try some of the sweets, you won’t be sorry.
Because traffic will be your major concern when heading out for the night, wait until the traffic has petered out from the city center before you venture out — or you will be sitting in the car for a while. Or perhaps beat the traffic and head out for a sundowner first, then dinner. If you get stuck in traffic during the day, keep an eye out for street vendors with Azam bicycles — they have by far the coldest and best ice creams.