I'm always looking for a good meal, and I'm always looking for a good drink. There are a couple of places where these, luckily for me, happen in tandem. These are two of my favourites.
So I know that Mercado, at this point, has kind of been overdone, if we're being honest.
In the last year alone, I've been to Mercado maybe, thrice? – all for a birthday. And each and every time I've gone, it's been a full house. Packed to the brim.
I think that this has to do with various factors.
One, they don't have ludicrous terms for deposits before the party sits down. Ok, that one, I'm not too sure about – last week, they let us book without paying for 30 people, and then the night before the event, they told us to pay half – which was ridiculous, because it was the night before.
I don't know if they had booked badly, or they were training someone who told us the wrong thing? I don't know. I've heard worse terms and conditions, though – while trying to book the same birthday party at Bao Box, they told us we have to pay Sh4,000 per head to reserve. We laughed and switched venues immediately.
I guess it might have to do with the fact that once somewhere in Nairobi becomes popular, the ego rises. Hehe.
Two, there are not a lot of good Mexican places out here. Java does a pseudo-Mex menu, which doesn't veer too far from the truth of the matter, but is definitely not my number one choice for Mexican cuisine.
I quite like Fonda, but Fonda is far. And they shut down Zapata, remember? Which had like 30 different types of cocktails and a very pleasant chef.
So Mercado isn't just popular because it's hip and gorgeous to look at – it's also popular because it's good. I enjoy the food, even though I consistently complain about the portions and pricing. In that regard, it really does depend on what you order.
If you're splitting a meal with someone, you could easily do a drink and two tapas and be fine – that is, if you're not starving before you get there. The salads are huge, and filling, as are the nachos and quesadillas.
Plus, they often have special offers, like their corporate brunch menu, which I think is very good value for money.
And did I mention that I haven't yet had a better margarita? I mean, every Mexican restaurant should be judged on the quality of their margarita, am I right?
GOOD FOOD AND AMBIENCE
One of my other favourite finds is the rooftop restaurant at Ole Sereni on Mombasa Road. After you get past the mildly complicated bypass to get to the entrance hidden past Eka Hotel, you are thrown into a world of lush, carpeted luxury.
But even if they had bare floors, they would still win when it comes to the scenery.
Kenya is known for nothing if not its exotic wildlife parks, and from the rooftop, you get a lovely view of Nairobi National Park. If you're a Nairobi native and you are jaded by being a part of the only city in the world with a park in it, Eagle's Steakhouse will cure you of that apathy.
You win the view, and you win with the special offer. The last time I was there in November, and they had a lovely two-course meal offer for Sh2,000 and a three-course offer for Sh2,500.
My cousin, who I dragged there, was primarily sceptical, because, unlike me, she hates eating in hotels and thinks it’s a con. But she soon changed her tone when our food came. It was all tasty. We drank the water at the table, though, which added an unexpected Sh600 to our bill, but no matter...
It pays to check out the different offers that establishments have when it isn't Nairobi Restaurant Week, simply because they are actually trying to impress you instead of just taking your money. And who doesn't like to save a little but eat a lot?
Wondering where to get the 411 on what's happening in Nairobi's foodie scene? There's a lot of places you could go, but here's where we want you to be – getting the dish on the dish. Get it? We knew you would.