The Unvegan

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‘Arusha’

Eating with the Maasai at Discovery Restaurant

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I think I discovered something.

No trip to Tanzania is complete without an encounter with the Maasai people. These are people who not only resisted colonization, but have also resisted the emergence of the modern Tanzanian and Kenya to maintain their nomadic ways. While their nomadic lifestyle is remarkable, they are still susceptible to the allure of city life, with many making visits to Arusha. Outside of a restaurant called Discovery, I found a bunch of them and figured it was as good of a place as any to eat my last meal in Tanzania.

Chinafrican at The Flame Tree

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A flaming sign for a flaming tree.

While no one has yet scoffed at the idea of my eating Indian, Italian and American food in Tanzania, I have received quite a different reaction about eating Chinese. Yet, Chinese I ate. Once again it was night time and The Flame Tree restaurant was close enough to my hotel to be considered a safe distance. The place is run by a Chinese woman and deals in continental (European) food as well as the aforementioned Chinese. But I was truly interested in seeing what Chinese food in Tanzania would be like.

Burgers with Mzungus at Empire Sports Bar

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Tanzania or rural Midwest?

While mzungus (foreigners) in Arusha can usually be found in or around their hotels, a walk across the city revealed to me where they also tend to hang out: the strip mall. Of course, Arusha’s strip mall is quite different from what I’m used to, there is no doubt that finding a place to eat there was a lot easier for us mzungus. I opted for a place called Empire Sports Bar.

Pizza Party for One at The Blue Heron

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How classy you are.

While I never felt unsafe in Arusha, I was told it wasn’t the kind of city to walk around in at night. This proved to be difficult when it came to dinner, because I was staying in a hotel on the outskirts of the city. This meant my eating options were limited if I wanted to avoid getting mugged (which I’m still not sure was an actual possibility). Yet, there were a couple restaurants near my hotel that catered to foreigners like myself. The prices were steeper than the local places in the city, but you can’t put a price on safety. Or something like that. On my first night in Arusha, I opted for The Blue Heron.

At One with the Universal Classic Restaurant

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This is how restaurants look in Arusha.

Eventually, I lost my travel companions and came to the realization that I had pretty much exhausted Moshi of all possible interesting foods. I could be wrong, but I definitely knew it was time to move on to Arusha, a bigger city sitting at the edge of the Serengeti that also functions as a jumping off point for Kilimanjaro. Upon arrival, I felt a rumbling in my belly that could only be helped by food. Through wandering the streets of Arusha, I found myself at Universal Classic Restaurant, which had the subtitle: “Feel home away from home.”