Prior to arriving in Lamu I had envisioned streets filled with vendors cooking different Swahili delicacies from viazi karai, mahamri, vitumbua to bhajia while overlooking the ocean. Sadly that wasn’t the case. I recall our first night there we were shocked that there wasn’t much street food, other than a stand that had mishkaki, mkate wa nyama and other delicacies.
Anyway the lack of street food didn’t stop from enjoying our stay. Thankfully there are lots of restaurants and thus we got to enjoy some of Lamu’s best.
In this post, I’ll highlight a few of those places.
On our final day, Wangeci and I decided to hit Lamu town in search of a proper Swahili breakfast. To ensure we didn’t waste time searching we asked our boat captain to recommend some places. He recommended a few, the first place we went to was practically empty, which isn’t a good sign. Rightfully so, on inquiry they didn’t have viazi karai or even mahamri so we decided to hit up the next place. Thankfully the next place, The Mangrove,was pretty busy and they had most of the things we wanted,bhajia,viazi karai, vitumbua to mkate wa sinia.
This was part of the spread. Unfortunately they didn’t have mbaazi and mahamri however the vitumbua were delicious.
Vitumbua are a Swahili delicacy made with rice flour and coconut, it’s like a thick pancake. Ideally they are made in a special pan to yield their signature shape. We loved them so much we even ordered for more.
Mid morning drink
Whispers Coffee Shop
This restaurant along the narrow streets of Lamu town is perfect for a stop over drink as you tour the town. Wangeci and I stopped over for a cooling drink and we very lucky to even meet the owner, Kate Baraka. Kate has been in Lamu for over 26 years, she came over from Australia and fell in love with the town and the people. She was very welcoming.
The cafe offers drinks from juices to smoothies and some home baked goodies like cakes and cookies.We decided on some smoothies. The coolness from the trees on the patio is quite refreshing.
The smoothies were ok,nothing special however we enjoyed the ambiance and getting to interact with Kate the owner. She also owns the Gallery Baraka which is next to the coffee shop, it has some beautiful art pieces albeit pricey.
This restaurant is located along the seafront of Lamu town. You can choose to dine in or eat at the terrace overlooking the ocean
We stopped over for a quick lunch since we had to meet our guide later on for a tour of Old Town. Thankfully once we relayed that we were in a hurry, the staff tried their level best to ensure we got our meals quickly.
Majority of the team had some form of fish dish while others decided on pizza. Yeah pizza, don’t look at us funny ordering pizza by the sea, would it help if I told you that one of the pizzas was seafood?
The pizzas weren’t anything to write home about. Granted they had adequate toppings and plenty of cheese but they were a bit bland. Why some places skimp on flavour while making pizzas beats me. Where’s the oregano, basil? Oh well, across the board the seafood pizza was preferred to the chicken one. The pizza bread was lovely though,nicely charred crust.
For those who ordered the fish meals, not only did their food look good but also tasted great.
Yeah I know what you are thinking, where’s the parsley? I also don’t know.
Either way,we enjoyed our meal and the beauty of eating with food bloggers, we don’t mind if you taste our food,as long as we get to taste yours.
When in Lamu town, do check out this place and be sure to order some fish.
This is also located at the seafront. It’s where we had our first dinner after our search for street food proved futile.
The restaurant was empty on arrival however we were too hungry to care. We started with some appetisers, some calamari cocktail and fish cocktail. In the meantime we also ordered for some lemon juice, this simple drink took forever to get to some of us, since they had fewer mugs than the number of guests. All in all when life gives you lemons The juice was refreshing so we didn’t mind the wait.
The food took quite a while to be served but we were patient. Thankfully outside the restaurant there were some musicians so we weren’t entirely bored.
The calamari cocktail was particularly delicious.
For the meals, our orders ranged from calamari to biryani (beef and others fish) to grilled chicken (yes chicken by the sea).
This was Wangeci’s sadly the calamari was a bit over cooked so it was tough she ended up not finishing her meal.
I had the beef biryani which was ok. Overall we weren’t impressed but we left there full. On the bright side the food was prepared while we waited so we were guaranteed of freshness.
This privately owned beach hotel is along the shores of the Indian Ocean on Manda Island. We had heard great things about the place and luckily Wangeci and I got to visit the hotel.
We even got to visit some of their suites. The Swahili inspired decor is both muted and exquisite.
Now to the food, we dined at the terrace which offers views of the ocean,the Shela dunes and even the mainland. There’s even a telescope for those who fancy seeing the sights in detail.
Their menu is varied from International, Italian and Swahili cuisine. The staff was very welcoming and we immediately felt at home. Our host Lemmy was quite friendly and was ready to answer all our questions.
Seeing it was our final day in Lamu and we would be leaving for the airport in a few hours we hurriedly made our orders.
The experience was worthwhile. The food was good, 3.5/5 . If you are ever in Lamu, do take a boat ride over to Manda and experience this oasis.
Finally some bit of food that you can get along the streets of Lamu.
Refreshing coconut water as one tours the streets of Old Town.
I also got to try, mkate wa nyama also known as Swahili pizza. It’s made from a pastry and stuffed with minced meat. Ideally it’s prepared as one watches. It was ok,it reminded me of mutura.
In a not so short post, there goes how I ate my way through Lamu. In deed Lamu Tamu.
You can also check out posts from my fellow bloggers and see our different views of Lamu. Jayson of Jay Take a Pic , Kaluhi of Kaluhi’s Kitchen , Lyra of Cynosure , Moha of Foods and Foodies and Wangeci of African Kaya
Which place stood out for you?