The most popular pastime in Tanzania involves seating on a plastic chair at your favorite local bar with a drink, some meat, and good East and West African music. You see, the nights to remember aren’t at posh and international clubs and restaurants; instead, they are spent at local joints. That’s why Dar es Salaam has literally hundreds of local bars scattered on all roadsides and neighborhoods in the city – and they all seem to attract customers!
So, it’s safe to say that it would be nearly impossible to visit all the bars in Dar es Salaam. However, there are some especially popular and well-known ones that you should definitely experience at some point.
Here’s what they have to offer.
· Didi’s, Masaki:
Located in Masaki & famed for its variations in pork cuisine, this bar is equal parts vibrant and chilled, depending on when you pay a visit. Lunchtime is always packed any day of the week and anytime from 3pm on a weekend is also full of customers.
The food is local. The prices are favorable. The customers are mostly local. It’s a great spot for an afternoon hangout that can easily turn into an evening of chilling.
· Jackie’s, Masaki:
Across the road from Didi’s is Jackie’s. It’s been a central figure on the local bar scene for decades. Current parents, parent’s parents & in some cases grandparents have all been there at one point in time. Their stand-out food includes Rump Steak, Makange (spicy chicken, fried with chili in a tomato & onion sauce) & Vuruga (chicken mixed with chips/bananas, in a flavored tomato & onion sauce). Drinks are locally priced; sports (football) & the local news are always playing on the TV and the atmosphere is relaxed.
The Mon – Fri buffet also draws a crowd.
· Lukas Bar and Restaurant, Masaki:
A step up from Jackie’s & Didi’s and about 400 meters from them on Chole Road lays Lukas. Lukas has a more outdoor restaurant type of vibe. Roughly the size of Jackie’s & Didi’s combined and more decorative – it’s a local with a difference. Lukas has a wider drinks selection, two bars, pool tables, more seating, seafood and a live band on Fridays. It treads the fine line of local and upmarket very well. It’s more expensive, understandably so, but it’s a bit of a sweet spot (& hidden daytime gem) to chill at.
· Kruzin, Mikocheni B:
With an impressive range of local food (they have everything from Makange, BBQ mbuzi (goat) to Ugali and bbq pork ribs), this is the perfect spot to grab dinner and catch up with friends. The crowd tends to be laid back during the week, and more lively in the weekend. But the wide spacious seating area will guarantee you some privacy on any night.
· Rainbow Social Club, Mbezi Beach:
Rainbow is another bar that’s been in the business for years. Located more north of Dar in Mbezi, it’s a neighborhood watering hole. With the combo of a garden-style & more conventional set-up, historically, it’s been a hangout spot for families and older (35+) crowds. Weekend visits to it have been popular over the years. Recently, it’s been taking steps to appeal to a younger crowd by having DJs play popular music on the weekends. Open Monday to Monday, drinks are cold & the food is good (we recommend the pork special or honey-glazed pork). Karaoke on Wednesdays and a live band on Saturdays are the latest additions.
· Waungwana, Sinza:
It’s not out of the ordinary to witness a fight at one of the liveliest local bars in the city! People go to Waungwana to get drunk and dance the night away. They play mostly East African and throwback music and the clientele is local working class Tanzanians. Simply put, if you are looking for a fun-filled night that you’ll never forget, this is the place to go.
· Kona Bar, Sinza:
It’s one of the few places (if not only) in Dar es Salaam that is literally open 24 hours a day. This is great as it has some of the best local chicken in Dar. This is the place to go after you leave the club and want to grab some food before going home. They don’t play any music, but it’s close to a club. Most people don’t stay for too long, they eat and leave.
It’s so old school it doesn’t have an online presence.
· Nguruko Bar, Tangi Bovu
This bar has been around for decades and is especially popular for its meat (chicken, goat and pork ribs). There are many regulars that come here on the weekends to catch-up with family and friends, and eat – giving the place a strong sense of community.
· Hongera Bar, Bamaga-Sinza
This bar attracts and older and more established crowd – people in their 30s -50s. They come here to eat Ugali and Mbuzi, and watch the news. There is an excellent live band on the weekends that plays old school Tanzanian music.
· East 24, Mikocheni
During the weekdays, this is a chill hang out spot where people watch football on the big TV screens. Whereas on the weekends, it transforms into a lively dance spot as they play throwback (late 90s and early 2000s) music on Saturdays. So depending on what you are in the mood for, East 24 can either be a sports bar or a club.
· Break Point, Kinondoni:
A ‘classier’ version of Hongera bar.
· Hunters, Kinondoni:
Sports bar during the weekend and big games. And lively dance spot during the weekends.
· Rudy’s Farm, Bahari Beach:
More of a food joint than a bar, but a great outdoor place to grab amazing meat (bbq pork ribs, beef sausages, and chicken) and an affordable drink. It’s popular with families, so the environment is always chill and relaxed.
The options are endless