THE DISH: I am definitely going back to Tapas

I had to try and be polite and not finish my companion's food.

The fish and chips dish with fantastic tartar sauce at Tapas restaurant, Nairobi. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA 

IN SUMMARY

  • I love the way Tapas looks on the inside with its Spanish-oriented decor.
  • I love the Aztec-type wall hangings as well, and the line of decorated skulls on the counter right at the entrance when you walk in.
  • Their chicken and rice dish was impressive.
  • However, I wish they had more than four or five coffee choices on their menu.

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According to Google Translate, yes, I looked it up (because Google is life) – comida sabrosa means tasty food.

I'm always on the lookout for tasty food. Of all cuisines, of course, but particularly tasty Latin food – meaning, Mexican cuisine, Spanish cuisine, Peruvian, (maybe not Cuban, no surprise there) but you get the general drift.

This is what took me to Tapas at Westgate this week. I walked past my beloved Artcaffe at Westgate because, you know, you have to try new things every so often.

But my first surprise, of course, was the fact that Artcaffe and Tapas are actually the same guys. As in, they are run by the same people. How did I not know this?

I thought I was aware of all of the undercover partnerships on the Nairobian music scene, and those that are not so undercover – Java House and 360 degrees, CJs and Cafe Javas in Kampala, etc. Apparently not. Which is why when I was served a cappuccino in an Artcaffe mug, I was thrown off just a tad, until our lovely waitress explained what was going on to me.

The chicken and butter beans dish at Tapas restaurant, Nairobi. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA 

That being said, I love the way Tapas looks on the inside (the outside feels a lot like its sister restaurant, which is not the experience I came for, plus, it was freezing, so we just sat inside).

I think they seemed a bit lost as to what to do with all of that space in the middle, but the seating area on the inside feels very intimate to me.

It could be more cosy, but the dark panelled wood, red lighting and authentically Spanish-oriented décor do a lot for what would ordinarily be just the joint next to OhCha.

I love the Aztec-type wall hangings as well, and the line of decorated skulls on the counter right at the entrance when you walk in. For me, skulls immediately take me to the cartoon Coco (among other representations of the Day of the Dead in popular culture) and they're a way, through the interior design, to quickly set the tone – for tequila! More on drinks later.

Sangria poured from an earthenware jug at Tapas restaurant, Nairobi. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA 

FOOD AND DRINKS

We were starving, and so we skipped everything before the main course and headed straight to business. I decided to have the basic fish and chips with paprika'd fries, and my companion had a rice and chicken dish that I didn't look at -- until I got to taste it.

I had a cappuccino, as previously mentioned before, but I wanted a mocha and wished they had more than four or five coffee choices on their menu. The fish was ok, but their tartar sauce was spectacular. I don't know what they put in there, but that alone would make me go back.

The beer tap at Tapas restaurant, Nairobi. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA 

In stark contrast, the paprika fries were tired and tasted refried. So much so, that I didn't finish them, and instead ordered a house salad to accompany my meal on top of what I already had. The salad had beetroot in it, which I hate, but have heard too much about to honestly ignore its benefits. Regardless of the red devil, the salad was very tasty.

The dish that impressed me the most was my companion's rice dish, which had chicken in it and generously flavoured butter beans. I had to try and be polite and not finish his food by myself, because no one likes a sore food picker (when someone orders food and then you feel like theirs is better than yours, so you pick a lot of food from their plate, and in some extreme cases, even exchange the plates).

The inner counter at Tapas restaurant, Nairobi. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA 

By the time we wolfed down our meals, it was happy hour – yay – and so we had a pitcher of sangria. I was disappointed by the sangria – it was more juice than alcohol, and we had two pitchers, and everyone could still walk straight and think coherently.

Guess I'm going to have to do Artcaffe for their sangria if a happy hour is necessary, because this one didn't make the cut.

I'm going back for that rice and chicken dish, though, and I hope it lives up to a second run...

***

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.

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