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The nomad's guide to Kilimani, Nairobi

Updated: Feb 14, 2023

Kilimani is a sort of Goldilocks neighborhood in Nairobi. Not too pricy, not too cheap. Not extremely busy, but still has things to do. Not too built-up, not too suburban. It was recently named the trendiest neighborhood in Africa by Time Out - here's where we'd check out here.


Where to eat in Kilimani: our restaurant picks

Kilimani hosts an eclectic mix of restaurants. You'll find everything from a mix of local joints to a surprisingly deep roster of Chinese food to a number of eclectic cafes.


Budget (Under 500 KES)

Big Knife - A Turkish-style shawarma spot that's cheap and reliable.

Roadhouse Grill - Widely reputed to have Nairobi's best nyama choma - grilled meat, Kenya's specialty.

Yaya Centre kibandas - A hotspot for basic, hearty food for roughly a dollar.



Roadhouse Grill's classic Kenyan interior - yes, there are plenty of Arsenal fans here.


Mid-range (500-1500 KES)

Caffe Concerto - A hole-in-the-wall, but a charming one, run by a nonna who serves handmade pastas and other classic Italian fare.

Dragon Eye Kitchen - A cozy place for delicious dim sum and a selection of board games.

Habesha - Delectable Ethiopian food, set in a lovely outdoor garden.

Mama Oliech - An institution for traditional Kenyan fare - especially tilapia - in the Obama-was-here kind of way

Silk Noodles - Situated in Nairobi's "Chinatown", this place has beef noodle soup and stir fries in a Northern Chinese style.



The go-to order at Habesha: mixed platter plus shekla tibs.


Luxe (1500+ KES)

Ankole Grill - It's a bit business-y, but this African-themed steakhouse is no less quality.

Lao Zao Hot Pot - An authentic Sichuan hotpot restaurant is an unlikely find in Nairobi - but this one gets rave reviews because of, not in spite of, the fiery red-chili broth.


Ankole Grill's chic dining room.


Where to hang out in Kilimani:

Kilimani isn't Nairobi's nightlife hub - but it's got a few spots worth checking out. More importantly though, it's got a variety of shopping and art galleries worth a visit.


Creative Scene

Creatives' Garage: A space for techy artists and artsy techies, hosting exhibitions and classes.

Kuona Artists' Collective: A place to view and buy a variety of local art, from postcards to scrap metal sculptures.

Toi Market: This open-air market boasts a massive amount of secondhand clothes; we've grouped it here as they're often cleverly repurposed by the local fashion scene.


Toi Market is worth it even if you don't shop - if you do, bargain hard.


Bars

Geco Cafe: A popular Friday evening spot for its craft beers and vibe-y live music.

Pinotage: A Kilimani local, perfect for a chill afterwork wind-down.

Unseen: This popular rooftop bar is also known for its indie movie screenings.



The kitschy, musical vibe of Geco in the daytime.


Cafes

Alexandre: A French bakery and cafe offering an expansive pastry case.

Kesh Kesh: This Eritrean spot offers coffee brewed and served in that country's traditional way.

Lava Latte: A low-key, arthouse-style cafe with a cozy environment.




A view over Kesh Kesh's greenhouse vibes.


Where to get your errands done: services and shopping in Kilimani

Groceries

Carrefour: Massive international chain with a variety of imported items.

Quickmart: Popular local supermarket with deals on bulk items and a big prepared food section and multiple Kilimani locations.

Dennis Pritt Soko: A large local produce market with tons of fresh produce.


Gyms and Fitness

Smart Gyms: Clean, reasonably priced gym with usual cardio and weights.

Colosseum: A cheap gym known for its boxing and martial arts classes

Nairobi Arboretum: A pleasant and good-sized park fit for a run; you can also join the weekly yoga at 10AM on Sundays.


Weekend parkgoers in Nairobi Arboretum.


Other essentials

Get a SIM card: Safaricom shop, Yaya Centre

Go the hospital/doctor: Nairobi Hospital, or Aga Khan

Go the mall: Yaya Centre is Kilimani's largest mall and a central landmark in Kilimani

Order food delivery: Use Bolt Food or Uber Eats

Safety tips: Be careful with valuables like your phone or wallet. Avoid walking around after dark.

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