Dining Out On Forodhani Gardens in Stone Town
Forodhani gardens leave mixed impressions with people – some love it other think it is a tourist trap and a rip off. Some have eaten the best meal in their lives some like me got sick for next few days. Therefore, be careful as being sick and on antibiotics probably isn’t what you planned for Zanzibar vacation.
During the day the Forodhani Gardens in Stone Town is a good place to sit on a bench and take break from wondering the streets of Stone Town, or to sit on the sea wall and stare out over the sea into the blue horizon. It’s at night that Forodhani gardens come alive with a vibrant food market that brings together locals and tourists over a huge variety of sea food and barbecued meats!
Scams in Forodhani Gardens
I think newbies to Zanzibar can be spotted by smell. I remember first time on Zanzibar, I visited with a friend and we were leisurely sitting at the edge of the plaza, enjoying our meal near Zenji bar, and been approached by local, that pretended to be a waiter from the bar. My friend ordered a beer. Then the “waiter” guy disappeared and we waited about an half an hour when he came back with disguised beer in a paper bag, wanting us to pay for the beer 10 dollars! Of course he wasn’t the waiter, just an ordinary papasi (tout) that turned into very violent and aggressive behaviour once we told him we are not paying 10 USD for beer and realised it was a scam.
Later we have found out that alcohol is forbidden in Forodhani park and not possible to buy at all, as well as we learned our lesson for sure.
Drawbacks of Forodhani Gardens
While cruising between the food stands you will probably be followed by pushy vendors, convincing you that they have the freshest food on the market and it might happen thy will want to drag you to the stand in case you will not show interest. As a newbie and still soft at that time, we always wanted to be polite with anybody so we thought polite (empty) promise to one of the vendors would give us a break, just to get rid of him. It worked for 20 minutes. Somehow he found us later on the other side of market, where we were just ordering with somebody else, and he totally lost it, started a fight with our waiter and things gone bizarre. In the middle of chaos, we had sneaked to other side of Forodhani park market and ordered elsewhere.
It was a lesson, be firm and definitely not polite as politeness will not get rid of pushy vendors. Poker face will help.
What to Eat at Forodhani Gardens
Forodhani Gardens are heaven for seafood lovers, you will find all sorts of fish including baracuda, squid, octopus, crabs, shrimps, lobsters, prawns, chicken Shawarma, chapatti bread, kebab, Zanzibar pizza even Nutella pizza. Many locals I know told me they would never eat seafood at Forodhani park, as it is not that fresh as vendors claim. Apparently, all of them over stock with food and sell same products, just the prices are different.
But if you want to eat like a local on Zanzibar, then you will have to find stands (easy, just check where in Forodhani Gardens the longest queues with locals are) selling: Urojo (soup with potato balls), chipsi mayai (Omelette with French fries), pilau (spiced rice), cow soup (popular breakfast for locals), chipsi and mishkaki (French fries with a small kebab of beef or chicken).
Also don’t miss a fresh pressed sugar cane juice with lime and sugar.
How to Have Nice Time on Forodhani Gardens and Avoid Scenes and Incidents
- Circle the stands first, check out food and prices, and choose the stand you think it sells the freshest food, also check out the staff and their preparation process hygiene wise – my friend wanted to order Zanzibar pizza, there was a long queue so we could watch the cook preparing the food. After seeing that he used the same surface first for raw chicken, then he »cleaned« the surface with really dirty cloth, he picked up from the floor we lost our appetite. Afterwards he used the same surface for finishing the pancake with Nutella. Just saying!
- Make sure the food is really well thermally treated, vendors are in a hurry and oftentimes seafood from grill is just lukewarm.
- Fix the price of meal before you order otherwise you will end up paying more than ten dollars for a snack.
- Do not bring alcohol beveriges with you, drinking alcohol in Forodhani gardens is prohibited. You might get your self into troubles.
- Order food directly from food stall vendors and not from touts.
Forodhani Park in Stone Town in the evening is definitely a must see. Atmosphere is great but for the food decide for your self. Have you been to Forodhani Gardens? How did you like it?