48 Hours in Mombasa – A Food Diary

A couple of weeks ago Sarova Whitesands invited me for the launch of their newly refurbished restaurant Lido. Other than sampling the food at the hotel, I made a point to also experience coastal dishes from local restaurants in town because the best food in Kenya is found in Mombasa. Here is a recap of my eats throughout the weekend that ranged from street food to more refined dishes at Lido.

Day 1 – Hotel Eats

Breakfast – Ill boldly state that the breakfast buffet from Sarova Whitesands is one of the best I’ve come across. My criteria for a good breakfast buffet is based on the availability of bacon which Whitesands delivers in plenty!

Lunch / Dinner – We got to sample a couple of dishes from Lido that included their poolside menu. Lido is a contemporary seafood restaurant that overlooks the Indian ocean. The restaurant recently got an upgrade with a swanky bar and a menu that includes wide selection of drinks and an array of seafood. I recommend the spot if you’re looking for a casual evening with friends over great drinks and food.

Crab - Srova Whitesands

Food Breakdown

Crispy Calamari – I loved everything about this calamari. As the name suggests the calamari is really crispy and when dipped in aioli it’s truly delicious.

Crispy Calamari - Sarova Whitesands

Garlic Prawns – These prawns fell short on taste! They were underseasoned and the garlic flavour didn’t come out as much. On a positive note, the prawns are huge!

Garlic Prawns - Sarova Whitesands

Chicken Deluxe Sandwich – The sandwiches from Lido are fantastic! The chicken sandwich was juicy which is hard to come by especially with chicken breast. Don’t sleep on the vegetarian sandwich which is just as good with roast peppers and cheese.

Chicken Deluxe Sandwich - Sarova Whitesands

Cocktails – The cocktails at Lido are AMAZING! I honestly can’t recall what we had but they ranged from gin and tequila-based cocktails, and based off the night’s activities they were thoroughly enjoyed. The restaurant’s ambiance accompanied by the drinks on offer is a mad vibe!

Cocktails - Sarova Whitesands

Day 2 – Mombasa Town Eats

Breakfast – A bus conductor recommended Harif Cafe for breakfast and I’m so glad he did! Mahamri and mbaazi are the quite essential breakfast at the coast and the offering here is amazing! The creamy mbaazi with perfectly cooked golden mahamri are a blissful combo. I also had goat soup which was so pure in flavour with the most tender meat. My breakfast totaled Kshs 200 bob which is a bargain! This place is a must visit.

Mbaazi and Mahamri - Harif Cafe

Location – Kenyatta Avenue next to Coast Bus Stage

Lunch – I decided to have biryani for lunch which was hectic because the choices at the coast are endless! I got tonnes of recommendations from strangers to the point I got paralyzed and resulted to vistit a tried and tested place. I visited Tawakal Cafe last year and the biryani was very tasty with a sweet tangy rojo and perfectly cooked rice. This time the biryani was just as good as I remembered and at Kshs 200 it’s a steal. Many people also recommended Tarboush so I bowed to pressure and tried it out for comparison sake. The biryani here is decent but not as good as Tawakal Cafe which has more depth.

Tawakal Cafe Location: Kongowea Kwa Karama near Methodist Church

Biryani - Tawakal Cafe
Biryani – Tawakal Cafe

 Biryani - Tarboush Mombasa
Biryani – Tarboush Cafe

Dinner – On my quest to have mshikaki and shawarma for dinner, I had more misses than hits. My first stop was Abbasi Darbar Cafe and the mshikaki here was tender, smoky and oh so flavourful. The restaurant solely specialize in barbecue meat which they have mastered to a tee! I also went to Sinia Barbecue which is very popular online. I’m convinced I caught them on a bad day because the mshikaki was far from good – (the meat was fatty, flavourless and cut into very tiny pieces). The saving grace of this meal was the house tomato sauce which has a nice tang to it and goes well with a salad.

Mshikaki - Abbasi Darbar Cafe Mombasa
Mshikaki from Abbasi Darbar Cafe
Mshikaki - Sinai Barbecue Mombasa
Sinia Barbecue Mshikaki

I capped my food adventures with shawarma from Damascus which was bland and flimsy! There are better places to go for shawarma in Mombasa – give this place a miss.

My weekend at the coast was amazing! A big Thank You to Sarova Whitesands for the great hospitality!

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