When you go to a restaurant called Carnivore, you expect to eat a lot of meat.
And at Carnivore in Nairobi, you will.
We went to Carnivore when my friend Meg was visiting because it’s one of the most famous restaurants in Nairobi. (We had to show off our new city!) Meg had read about it in her guide book, and I had never been, so it seemed like the perfect mid-week treat during her visit.
At Carnivore, the meal is prix fixe and includes all the meat you can eat.
I prepared by only eating a salad for lunch so that I would be extra hungry for dinner. I have never in my life eaten only a salad for lunch before, so you can see how dedicated I was to the cause. In fact, I’ve been known to eat multiple lunches, so it was real sacrifice to eat just a salad.
But I’m glad I did because my plate overfloweth at Carnivore. The restaurant was once famous for serving wild game meat, but Kenya outlawed the sale of game meat, so they had to stop. This wasn’t a problem though, as we were still able to eat various cuts and organs of beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, crocodile and ostrich.
To my husband’s delight, we also had a tray full of sauces to accompany the meats. The carvers would say, “this is leg of lamb, try it with the mint sauce” or “this is an ostrich meatball, try it with the berry sauce”. My husband has been known to bring multiple sauces in tiny tupperware containers to work with his lunch, so he was excited to see the array of sauces at our disposal.
One highlight (or lowlight, depending on your tastes) was the ox balls. The man serving them was very good at his job, which means he was very good at convincing squeamish tourists to eat ox balls. He was so pushy, in fact, that I wondered if he was getting a commission. We tried the balls, which were very squishy and not so delicious. But I’d say it’s a highlight because when else would we get the chance to eat animal genitalia.
Luckily, we each had a dawa to wash the balls down with. Dawa, which means “medicine” in kiswahili, is the signature cocktail of Kenya. It’s a mixture of vodka, lime juice and honey (and very tasty). There are servers at Carnivore whose sole job is to make tableside dawas. Needless to say, it wasn’t hard to get a drink here.
At one point during the meal, we all agreed that it was acceptable to unbutton the top button of one’s pants, if necessary. I don’t think any of us did, but it was nice to know that we weren’t going to judge each other for going completely overboard with the meat smorgash board.
And of course, on our way out the door, we had to stop at the accompanying souvenir shop. Luckily, my husband was in a food coma by that point and incapable of buying any souvenirs. But, if you wanted your very own Carnivore branded apron or t-shirt, you can get that here.
If you go to Carnivore, here are my tips:
- This place is NOT for vegetarians, but if you happen to be vegetarian and must go with a group, know that they do have some salads, soups, and appetizers for you to eat.
- Dessert is included, so save room.
- This is one of the most popular restaurants in Kenya, so make a reservation. We were there on a Wednesday night and every table was full.