Tanzanian cuisine -- headlined by a carbo-rich porridge-like concoction called ugali -- is unlikely to feature on any lists of national favorites. Basically a mix of maize, flour, and water, ugali is a cheap, multifunctional dish usually eaten in its more solid state, when it's typically dipped into some sort of stew. Eggs, which are always seen being punted around the markets and bus stations in their boiled form as a quick protein snack, are also popular, and the country's other favorite dish is a kind of omelet called Chips Mayai -- or chips and egg -- which may get topped off with a splodge of minced beef, accompanied by a greasy bottle of ketchup. You'll see the mayai stalls being pushed around like trolleys and served up at simple streetside makeshift diners or wrapped in newspaper as a takeaway.
Fortunately, you won't have to put up with such unimaginative dishes, and because coastal Tanzania takes its cue from the ocean, there's always good, fresh seafood on offer in the city's diverse restaurants. A great deal of this is put to excellent use in the city's two best Japanese eateries, Oriental and Osaka. Exquisite seafood pastas add to the experience at Mediterraneo, my top pick for Swahili-nuanced Mediterranean and Italian cuisine -- and, in fact, simply the most delightful place to eat anywhere in or around Dar es Salaam. For pure Italian, and the place most recommended by expatriates who can't survive without at least one plate of pasta per meal, try Zûane, Oyster Bay (tel. 022/260-0118), a trattoria that also does authentic pizza. Another lovely choice for seafood (and much more) is the Karambezi Café, at the Sea Cliff Hotel (tel. 022/260-0380; daily 6am-1 or 2am; main courses Tsh14,000-Tsh63,000). With an open kitchen and counters made from recycled dhows, its setting overlooking the water at the northern tip of the Msasani Peninsula is a definite highlight, but the seafood platter is memorable, too.
Many of the top restaurants are located in the large, high-end hotels. One of the best (and most beautiful) eateries in the city is Sawasdee (tel. 022/211-7050; daily 7-11pm), widely considered the only authentic Thai restaurant in Dar. Catching the elevator up to this elegant, refined space comes as quite a surprise after the ugly exterior of the New Africa Hotel in which it's located. Here, on the ninth floor, there's a lovely view of the harbor.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.