Cheap Eats in Zanzibar Town
For very cheap eats, and a wonderful taste of the local atmosphere, by far the best place to eat in the evening is at forodhani gardens, on the seafront opposite the house of wonders. This is a gathering place for local people and tourists, and as the sun goes down, a long line of stalls fire up their braziers and hurricane lamps, and serve food such as fish and meat kebabs (mishkaki), grilled squid and octopus, chips, fishcakes, samosas, chapattis and 'Zanzibar pizzas' – more like a filled savoury pancake. Or try chipsi mai yai: an omelette filled with chips, sometimes served with shredded cabbage. Most of the food is grilled on hot coals in front of you, and served on a paper plate. Prices are very reasonable, and a filling plate will cost between us$1 and us$2. You can simply stroll along the line of stalls, seeing what takes your fancy, asking the price and buying a few items at each, or get a whole plate put together at one stall. Other stalls sell water, sugar-cane juice, ice cream and cold drinks – look for the refreshing local pineapple drink named zed. The sweet-toothed could seek out haluwa, made from tamarind, oil and sugar: it's so sweet and sticky that a little goes a long way. Also there are lots of souvenir sellers, all touting their wares. All in all, an evening at Forodhani Gardens is one of the highlights of a trip to Zanzibar. Another place for snacks is the street outside the Ciné Afrique cinema in the Malindi area, or outside the Majestic cinema on Vuga Road. As crowds gather for the evening films, stalls do a brisk trade in peanuts, crisps, chips, cakes, chapattis and samosas.
If you are self-catering, or just going on a picnic for the day, Zanzibar Town has a large market selling many types of fruit and vegetables, plus fresh fish and meat. You can also buy fresh bread in the market from the salesmen who ride in from the bakeries in the suburbs with large baskets on the backs of their bicycles. Dotted around the town are many small shops with a supply of basics, such as bread, biscuits, some fruit and vegetables, and maybe a few tinned items. As these foods are mainly for local people, prices are low. For more choice go to the 'container stores' (they're built in converted shipping containers) along Creek Road or to the shops in the street near the Ciné Afrique, where you'll find a good range of food in tins and packets, imported mainly from Kenya, but also from other parts of the Indian Ocean. Most items are reasonably priced, only slightly more than if bought in Dar or Mombasa. The best supermarket with the widest stock in Stone Town is the Shamshuddin Cash & Carry Supermarket
, off Creek Road, near the market.
Young coconuts, known locally as dafu, are a delicious Zanzibari snack. When in season, piles of these rough, light brown 'footballs' can be found adorning street stalls and markets all over the island. Simply choose a coconut, watch the salesman chop off its top with a knife, and sit back to drink the refreshing milk inside, while the purveyor carves a makeshift spoon from the coconut shell, allowing you to scoop out the tender 'meat'.