Nairobi’s cafe culture has taken off in a big way, with enthusiasts now being able to pick from a plethora of trendy cafes, each home to bold decor and menus to match. If they have nailed it with the decor, tons of natural light and their food tastes as good as the Instagram-worthy pics then they are sold. Whether you’re craving a cappuccino or simply want to sit back and watch the world go by, here are Nairobi’s 10 best independent cafes.
By far one of the busiest Nairobi cafes at the weekend, River Cafe offers unparalleled views of Karura Forest. Gazing at bird life or monkeys jumping from branch to branch while you sip on an iced latte, it’s easy to forget you’re in a busy city. The clientele is often in active wear, having just come from a forest run or bike ride (or ready to walk off their meal). There’s a mouth-watering selection of omelettes and steaks on the menu, or you can opt for a light lunch. The Cobb salad is worth a try, and there are plenty of vegetarian options. The cafe is popular with groups and families so be sure to book a table for the weekend.
TIN ROOF CAFÈ
They have two branches; one at the Souk opposite The Hub and another at Lang’ata Link shops (our favorite). Their menu has an array of brunch/quick meal options. From croissants to some eggs benedict, savory crepes, salad bar, fish pie etc. As for the beverages they offer wine, coffee juices, teas, and smoothies. Tin Roof Cafe is one of Karen’s best-loved cafes. The generous (and fresh) Ottolenghi salad bar is a favourite with customers, as is their poached eggs on rye with avocado. There are plenty of gluten-free and vegan options here. The smoothies and fresh juices are not to be missed and can be enjoyed in the outdoor seating area under a canopy of trees.
Located on Mbaazi Avenue off Kingara road in Lavington, Geko doubles up as a car wash and a cafe. Not the ordinary cafe selling coffee and dry pastries. The owner, Mateus Finato has dedicated this space to provide its customers with a wide variety of menu items, books to read and wine to drink! Without a doubt worth your visit! Check them out on Facebook
THE ARBOR PLACE
If you find yourself in the leafy Lavington suburb, be sure to visit The Arbor. Located in the heart of Lavington at 904 James Gichuru road, it’s a top pick for sunny weekend brunches. This charming cafe really does live up to all the hype. The theme of The Arbor is ‘food should taste as good as it looks”. You’ll find customers tucking into eggs Florentine (with a generous serving of hollandaise sauce) and sipping mimosas under the shade of a jacaranda tree. The Asian dishes, such as creamy laksa noodles, are also popular. There’s also the option of simply relaxing and reading your book in the swing chair.
The industrial-style decor of Marula Mercantile sets it apart from the rest of Nairobi’s cafes. The baked crespelle (filled pancake) loaded with spinach and ricotta is a brunch favorite. The Big Merc Burger is also in demand (its secret sauce is the creation of a new chef who has successfully revamped the menu). Afterward stop by Marula Studios, which combines a vibrant boutique with a flip-flop recycling project.
“Mainly vegan” may sound like an odd description, but it works here: Boho Eatery’s owners have swapped what would be a mostly meat menu with a mostly vegan one, leaving a couple of options for those carnivores unwilling to branch out. Label the cuisine what you will, it is definitely delicious. Try, especially, the mushroom ceviche, the coconut cream pannacotta, and the scrambled tofu breakfast bowl. The elegant restaurant, located in a converted house, has an outdoor bar and patio seating area as well as a large garden.
Located on the 8th floor of Pramukh Towers in Westlands, Bao Box is a Premium Board Game Café that gives you the luxury to enjoy playing board games as you wine and dine, whether with friends, family, your special someone, or with your kids! With over a 100 board games to choose from (Yes over 100), Bao Box is a great place for a few hours of bonding during the day, or just a pre-gaming to get in the mood before a night out! However, we find the Kshs 1000 fee to play the board games excessive.
CRAVE KITCHEN & BAKERY
Crave Breakfast is the kind of breakfast you crave to wake up and enjoy every morning, despite being 34kms from the CBD. Indulge yourself with things like ‘soup of the day’ or quesadillas, juicy beef burgers, fried pork with onions and creamy mashed potatoes, or simple meals like traditional githeri with chicken gizzards and avocado. But remember, the menu changes every day, although they always bring back the favorites, you can always snack your way through lunch with Crave snacks which you can have packed or in the relaxing environment that is Crave Kitchen Cafe.
WASP AND SPROUT
This cute cafe is tucked inside Loresho Shopping Centre. Excellent spot for people who want to read and enjoy healthy food. They have a variety of lunch and breakfast options (as well as fantastically strong coffee) They have a section in the back of the cafe where they sell small goods such as jewelry, bags, notebooks, etc.
Also Read: WASP AND SPROUT