The great thing about dining in Nairobi -- and most places in Kenya, for that matter -- is the quality and freshness of the raw ingredients. Many people visiting Africa find the dining here remarkable simply because the foodstuffs have "more taste." Don't be surprised to find that the freshness and general tendency toward organic, "natural" produce imbues much of what you put in your mouth with an altogether different taste; you're unlikely to be disappointed. The other big surprise in Nairobi is the abundance of good restaurants, many of them catering to an elite, expat, or even passing tourist/business market, and doing a good trade. Finding a distinctively "African" eatery may prove less successful, although there are countless pub-style nyama choma places (where you feast on charcoal-grilled meat, usually cuts that you've chosen in their raw state, so it's like a cross between a butchery and a steakhouse) worth visiting if only for the cultural experience (although they're unlikely to interest vegetarians at all). If you're in the city center, one worthwhile nyama choma joint is Sagret, on Milimani Road (tel. 020/274-0933). Order a couple of bottles of cold Tusker (remember that Kenyans generally prefer their beer warm, so it's important to ask for it cold, or baridi) and choose the cuts you want thrown on the barbecue-style grill. The upmarket version of the nyama choma dive is Carnivore, widely considered a quintessential dining experience (and does, in fact, cater to vegetarians), although I think it's a tourist trap. Besides Blanco's, another fine place for African cuisine is Amaica (tel. 020/476-5288), located in the China Centre on Ngong Road. Try to visit on weekends, when live African music -- much of it very good -- accompanies the tastes of Western Kenya.
Expensive -- If you don't mind traipsing through a hotel lobby, one of the city center's finest dining experiences is at the Sarova Stanley's authentic Thai restaurant, Thai Chi (tel. 020/31-6377 or 020/275-7000; Sun-Fri noon-2pm, daily 7-10pm), which is where the Thai ambassador likes to indulge in hor mok ta lee, a seafood curry served in a banana-leaf basket with vegetable rice. You can safely start with the wok-fried fish sponge cakes, and then consult with Chef Ta or Chef Poo about how to proceed -- they'll prepare your main course to fit your palate.
Moderate -- Besides the sexy-looking Onami, Westlands -- which probably has the greatest concentration of good restaurants and fashionable drinking establishments -- has another respected Japanese restaurant, this time a branch of the Mombasa stalwart Misono, Lenana Road, Hurlingham (tel. 020/386-8959 or 072/253-0205; Mon-Sat 12:30-2:30pm and 7-10:30pm).