Best Restaurants in Zanzibar

25 November 2019 | Jo Jenkins | Safari and Beach News

Zanzibar has upped its game on the eating out front and there are some fantastic destination restaurants to stimulate your tastebuds whilst on the island.

Fresh seafood, inventive salads and tasty pulses now top menus on the suitably named spice island previously known for its fish, rice and beans.

Add quirky locations from rooftops to tiny islands or private beach dinners to luxury hotel restaurants and you will see why eating out on Zanzibar has become some a fun and varied experience.

Whilst the island still awaits its first Michelin starred restaurant, there are plenty of top end establishments, albeit mainly hotel based, through to modern eclectic, tasty Italian, pizza/burger joints and local delights.

Here’s Safari&Beach’s tried and tasted favourites:

  1. The Rock, Pingwe-Michamvi, South East Coast : Italian-Zanzibari : $$-$$$
Sitting on a Rock – the Rock Restaurant, Zanzibar

The Rock has gained legendary status not only from its totally iconic location but the excellent food it serves. Flavours are a combination of Zanzibar-Italian cuisine. Popular dishes include the prawn-squid-zucchini tempura, octopus salad, home-made pasta, rock lobster and green vegetarian curry. As a sweet treat, we particularly love the rock-tirimisu. Cocktails are varied and refreshing with a mainly South African wine list and proper champagne for those looking for some extra sparkle. Guests are transferred by a complimentary boat service although a quick wade through the crystal turqoise waters is an option for the more adventurous. The Rock is open for lunch and dinner daily, with pre-set seating times – Lunch 12:00 or 14:00, Dinner 16:00 or 18:00. Booking essential.

Tel: 255 776 591 360 / +255 763 070 658 E: [email protected]

2. Emerson on Hurumzi, 236 240, Hurumzi Street, Stone Town : Persian-Omani : $$-$$$

Cosy cushions and panaromic views at Emerson on Hurumzi

The Tea House on the rooftop of the fabulous Emerson on Hurumzi is a great experience and lots of fun.  Head here for a superb authentic meal, sitting on cushions staring at the panoramic view for sunset and fabulous views before your dinner.

The seating is low and very friendly with shared tables but the food is delicious, varied and authentic Persian/Omani. If you get there early don’t be fooled by the amount of space, it gets more and more cosy as the evening progresses! Book early (before you travel) to ensure availability but you need to pay a deposit upfront and get there for 6pm. Closed Mondays. 

Tel: +255 779 854 225 E [email protected]

3. Emerson Spice, Tharia Street, Stone Town : Zanzibari : $$-$$$

Roof top views as sun goes down at Emerson Spice

The Tea House on the rooftop of this old merchants house offers a quality authentic Stone Town experience. (Sister restaurant to Emerson on Hurumzi). Dinner tends to be a seafood based degustation menu – Zanzibari style – think lobster, giant prawns, king fish with chilli and coconut flavours. The price per person is USD$40 per person excluding drinks. Dinner is by reservation only and, as there are only twelve tables, a deposit is required for the booking’s confirmation.  Closed Thursdays. We would also recommend lunch in their secret garden courtyard which is more tapas style.

Tel: +255 774 483 483  E: [email protected]

4. Upendo, Pingwe-Michamvi, South East Coast : Seafood-Modern Swahili : $$


Upendo is a lovely eco chic hotel right on the beach at Pingwe with a very cool restaurant open to non residents. Food is good and well presented with flavours of Africa served in a modern style. Favourites include grilled seafood, steaks and Swahili curries or at lunch time tasty wraps and excellent burgers. Upendo adds a little fun to the occasion with Sushi Fridays and their popular Sunday Brunch with accompanying music scene. Booking advisable.

Tel: +255 777 770 667 / +255 777 244 492 E: [email protected]

5. The Island Pongwe, Pongwe, East Zanzibar : Seafood / Italian : $$-$$$

Service by the water at The Island Pongwe restaurant

The Island at Pongwe claims itself as a gourmet restaurant but truthfully it is more good honest Italian fayre with a local twist and featuring delicious fresh seafood. The location is idyllic and the restaurant attaches itself to a small island hotel with just 6 private eco villas. Booking is essential with a maximum of 60 covers. Access by foot or boat. Open 10am to 10pm.
Tel: +255 628 344 889 / +255 622 887 258 E: [email protected]

Seles Beach Bar and Restaurant, Matemwe, North East Coast : Swahili : $

Full of local charm in Matemwe, Seles Bar & Restaurant

Seles is a long established popular bar in Matemwe that has now expanded to include a great restaurant with a great fun local atmosphere right by the beach. The food is mainly seafood and local curries. Honest cuisine with no frills. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Tel: +255 776 931 690  / +255 777 413 449 E: [email protected]

Written by Jo Jenkins

Jo’s enthusiasm for safari as a child when her parents worked in Zambia, then Kenya. Jo quickly fancied herself as a safari expert and has been a keen game tracker ever since. Although, more recently, she is very keen to trial many of the (more luxurious) beach lodges we now offer.

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