While I was in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, I was able to eat at quite a few local restaurants, some of them good, while others weren’t the best. On one of my last days in the city, I got tipped by a friend to eat at a small local restaurants known simply as Grace Shop. It wasn’t even much of a restaurant, but more of a small kiosk located in the spread out neighborhood of Oysterbay, just barely onto the Peninsula. I normally would never come to this area looking for good Tanzanian food as it’s sort of an expat area, but I sure was surprised this time.
So Grace Shop is a located in a Pepsi painted little kiosk, and at first when I walked up, I didn’t even known if I had come to the right place – one reason was because I saw a bunch of wedding gowns in the store window. But I peeked my head inside, and sure enough, there were tables set up and the food was about to be ready to be served. Who would have known that a wedding gown rental store could serve such good Tanzanian food? The restaurant is pretty small, housing only a few tables on the inside and a couple of tables outside. For the lighting, I chose to sit outside and enjoy the cool outdoor breeze, with what would soon by one of the best Tanzanian food meals I’ve ever enjoyed in my life.
When we arrived, the food wasn’t quite ready for lunch, I my anticipation grew as we waited. It didn’t take more than a few minutes before I noticed a wheelbarrow pulling up to the back of the restaurant. This was something new for me… being served out of a wheelbarrow – and Tanzanian street food! The food is actually cooked in the house behind Grace Shop, and then it’s transported to the little restaurants front to be sold. When the food was ready, it was all unloaded into the back little kitchen room and ready to be served. Everyday for lunch, there are numerous Tanzanian food dishes all laid out and you can pick and choose whatever looks the best. I wanted to eat everything, but of course I had to make up my mind and pick a few things.
I began this Tanzanian food meal with a big scoop of beef pilau, which was rice cooked with huge chunks of beef and oil. Then I chose a deep fried salted fish. From there, the servers piled on all the side dishes like vegetables and beans and sauces, and all sorts of other delicious items. My plate of Tanzanian food was colorful and smelled so amazing I could hardly wait. It was definitely one of the best, if not the best Tanzanian food, home-cooked, meal I’ve ever had in my life. Everything was spiced and salted to perfection. The rice was oily and had a hint of cinnamon, the fish was salty and crispy, the beans were hearty, and the fresh veggies were fresh and full of flavor. Even the chili was banging hot! Sometimes Tanzanian food can be good, and other times not so good, but this was one of the best Tanzanian food lunches I’ve ever eaten!
How to get to Grace Shop, Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania:
Grace Shop is located in the Oyster Bay part of Dar Es Salaam, just behind the Kenya High Commission. From Ali Hassan Mwinyi, turn onto Kaunda Drive, make your first left (it’s Bongoyo Road), and Grace Shop is about 200 meters up the road on your right hand side.
Open hours — Eat there for lunch, food should be ready around noon
Price — 5,000 TZS ($3) for my monster plate of food that included both beef and fish, other plates can cost just 3,000 TZS ($1.82)
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