The Smart Village Eritrean Restaurant in Nairobi, Kenya

By Mark Wiens 51 Comments
The Smart Village Nairobi
Platter of Ethiopian Food

Whatever you do in Africa, don’t EVER get between a hippo and water, an elephant and her offspring, or Migration Mark and Ethiopian food!

I am a raging fanatic of eating Ethiopian food. Ever since I had my first bite of Doro Wot at an Ethiopian friend’s house in Nairobi back in the late 90’s, I’ve had a chronic addiction.

The medley of colors, the mouthwatering combination of spices, the pungent aromas, and let’s not forget that ever so creamy Ethiopian butter…the list could be everlasting.

It had been many months since my previous Ethiopian encounter (tragically the only Ethiopian restaurant in Bangkok shut down…) and I had developed a near sickness for the craving of this world-class cuisine.

We arrived at The Smart Village in Nairobi, I could smell the scent of berebere spices penetrating the parking lot as I exited the vehicle.  At this moment, I knew I was willing to throw down my entire bank account or even sacrifice something important in order get my hands onto a platter (it wasn’t necessary this time, but I was willing).

There are a number of seating options and we quickly chose an open air table near the bakery.

Note: The Smart Village is actually an Eritrean restaurant, but it is essentially the same as Ethiopian food.

injera-smart-village
Injera, Ethiopian Bread
Eating Ethiopian Food
Glorious Bite of Ethiopian Food

Ethiopian food is served family style, a large communal platter in the center for everyone to share.   Utensils are unnecessary as pieces of injera (white pancake looking bread) are used to transfer food from the platter to your mouth.

Most dishes at the Smart Village range in price from 400 – 600 KSH ($4.97 – $7.45 USD).  We ordered a mixed dish, which included the normal repertoire of vegetables and stews, along with a few extra supplementing dishes like Shiro Wot (spicy chickpea curry), fish, and Tibs (roasted meat).

shiro-wot-smart-village
Shiro Wot
ethiopian-fish-dish
Ethiopian Fish Dish
tibs-smart-village-nairobi
Fish and Tibs
smart-village-nairobi
Mix Plate at the Smart Village
ethiopian-honey-wine
Ethiopian Honey Wine

I was so intoxicated with fullness, that the only logical thing to do next was to relax and order Ethiopian coffee.

Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony
Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony

It arrived at our table in the normal fashion, brewed in a clay pot and accompanying a basket of freshly popped corn and burning sap incense to set the mood.

Ethiopian Coffee
Amazing Coffee after the Meal!
Coffee is Served with Popcorn
Coffee is Served with Popcorn

At the end of the meal we paid a little less than 600 KSH ($7.45 USD) each.  I can safely say we ate as much as we possibly could.

The Smart Village left that so familiar fill that only injera and Ethiopian butter can provide.  The food was exceptionally delicious, I simply couldn’t have asked for more.  If you are searching for Ethiopian food in Nairobi, The Smart Village can accommodate to all your wants and needs.

The Smart Village Restaurant Address and Directions in Nairobi, Kenya


View Smart Village Ethiopian Restaurant in a larger map



51 comments. I'd love to hear from you!

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  • Humble Eritrean Dangola

    6 months ago

    I don’t always give these kinds of posting much thought…but this guy went way out of his way to discredit the very people who have fully satisfied his addiction. The strangest article I have my time on ….enough said.wasted.soon he will declare that he is the first to d discover injera…get this dude in a boxing ring and ….” say the Name…E.R.I.T.R.E.A

  • Kiflai G.

    6 months ago

    What is your intation an Eritrean Restuarant to call it “Ethiopian food ” ? Not fair ! Shame on you

  • Henok Solomon

    7 months ago

    Interesting article. I appreciate your love of the food but your knowledge of the cultures that eat this food seems a bit skewed. The food is not just Ethiopian and it is rather Habesha food and the fact that you ate it at an Eritrean restaurant should tell you something! Would it hurt you to write and say something about Eritrea? Please note that I don’t have any problem about your writing of Ethiopian culture that would be unique and different from Eritrean culture.

  • hewan

    7 months ago

    I have a big question to you Mark. The restaurant was Eritrean. And the food was Eritrean too. Yes our food is similar with Ethiopia. But still you ate at Eritrean restaurant an Eritrean food. Why didn’t you write that? Why did you jump and chose to write about Ethiopia???????

  • Fish

    2 years ago

    pleased to read such a nice comments about our food. In Ethiopia/Eritrea we have got very unique food and the only place you can get is either in Ethiopia or in Eritrea or in their restaurants.
    Btw I lived in Nairobi and there are 2 nice restaurants, Smart Village belongs to an Eritrean family and Habesha restaurant belongs to an Ethiopian family.

    It is my dream to open one, someday somewhere.

    • Mark Wiens

      2 years ago

      Hi Fish, thank you very much for your kind words. Making me want to come back to eat some Ethiopian / Eritrean food now. Keep you dream alive, you can open a restaurant in the future!

  • Sean

    3 years ago

    Mark,

    We used many of your suggestions for Nairobi, but this might have been the best. The food and atmosphere was exactly as you described. We got the same meal too, the mixed platter. It was sooooo good, the stewed beef was amazing and the Wot was so soft but also a little sharp taste which gave it that authentic taste. It was my wife’s first time eating Ethiopian and she loved it. Good recommendation!

    • Mark Wiens

      3 years ago

      Hey Sean, great to hear that, and glad The Smart Village is still maintaining its delicious food (it’s been a couple years since I’ve been that). My mouth is watering just thinking about what their food!

  • michael kranzler

    3 years ago

    Ethiopian food is back in Bangkok! It’s on Nana Soi 3, (just as the last one that closed was, but across the street and nearer to Sukhumvit) just near the ‘Africa’ street culdesac. They have a vegetarian option, with about 6 curries on imported Enjira for 300 baht. Great Ethiopian music too!

    • Mark Wiens

      3 years ago

      Cool, thank you for sharing Michael. Will try to get there when I have a chance, sounds good.

  • Mark Wiens

    7 years ago

    @Ciki: It’s possible! Yah, it could be described as slightly similar to a dosai type of pancake with a unique twist. No Ethiopian restaurants in Malaysia??…none in Bangkok either…I think our closest options might be Hong Kong! You have got to try Ethiopian food, you will surely love it!

    • Jade

      6 years ago

      Sigh…it sucks that there is no Ethiopian restaurant in BKK. I have giant jars full of Ethiopian spices at home and every year I make Ethiopian food for Christmas. Do you where I can find Injera in BKK? I’m desperate. (p.s: I’m Thai and I grew up in Ethiopian and Kenya 🙂 ).

      • Mark Wiens

        6 years ago

        Hey Jade! It’s so cool to hear that you are in Bangkok but grew up in Kenya too… and I agree, Ethiopian food is the only thing that Bangkok is lacking. I wish I knew where to get injera, but I haven’t found a place yet. I’ll let you know if I can find any, and vice versa!

  • ciki

    7 years ago

    oh really.. so u will sit on my if i get between u and ur food eh:) LOL. Great shots.. I’d love to try Ethiopean food.. we don’t have this in Malaysia but looks a lot like the thosai/dosai;) Great shots as always.

  • Eating Thai Food

    7 years ago

    Dude, correction on my first pangs of hunger…. when i saw the article containing photos of the malay buffet at Hameeds, i got really hungry.

    After reading this smart village article… now i feel faint. we need to meet some ethipions that have moved to thailand and convince them to open a new place. being the only one they have gotta get some huts, or else just rely on us to fund them. very possible.

    man great article 🙂 GREAT pictures

  • Amy

    7 years ago

    Great post! I’ve had Ethiopian food a few times and while I love the stews, I’m not a huge lover of the fermented pancake. I wish I could get into it more – and it’s great for vegetarians.

  • Kristina

    7 years ago

    wow!!!

    i wanna experience the taste of it!

  • Rebecca

    7 years ago

    I love that bread – so fluffy and airy, perfect for mopping up food. And there’s nothing like eating food with your hands, right?!

  • Jozef Maxted

    7 years ago

    Haha I love food posts like these, they always make me so hungry! I have to admit though I had never even considered what Ethiopian food would be like before reading this post, but it sure does look good!

  • Siddhartha Joshi

    7 years ago

    I would have to say that this is one of the most exciting and visually appealing food post I’ve seen for a while 🙂 This is too good!

    The food looks similar to the South Indian food with the Sambhar, Chutney etc. Trust me just by looking at the images and the description, I am tempted to pack my bags and go off to Ethiopia 🙂

    • Mark Wiens

      7 years ago

      @Sid: Hey, appreciate this comment! Man, I’d like some of that South Indian food too! I will tell you that Ethiopian food is worth jumping on a plane for!

  • Mark Wiens

    7 years ago

    @Robin: Nice to hear that! Do you know the name of the restaurant? My favorite in Nairobi used to be Habesha…but I think my vote now lies with The Smart Village!

    @PNR: Yes, I’m sure you can find a great Ethiopian restaurant in SF!

    @Julia: Haha, yes you do! It will change your life!

    @Laurel: And you can lick your hands clean too! Hope you can find a great Ethiopian restaurant!

    • selamawit

      6 years ago

      Smart Village doesn’t only have the best Tradtional food,but you should also try the pasta and the Pastry there is wonderful I recommend the Vanilla Cake makes you come back for more.

      • Mark Wiens

        6 years ago

        Thanks so much for sharing Selamawit! Next time I will be sure to order the Vanilla Cake!

  • Laurel

    7 years ago

    I’ve never eaten Ethopian food, but this looks delicious and I love any food that you can eat with your hands!

  • Julia

    7 years ago

    I’ve never had Ethiopian food, but am now drooling! I have to get some of this magical bread in my life 🙂

  • Adam

    7 years ago

    Man, what is up with all the food posts I’ve come across this morning? And they seem to keep getting better and better. For some strange reason, I have yet to eat Ethiopian food, but it looks right up my alley. I need to do some research to see if there’s anything around my neck of the woods. Great post and fantastic pictures. Shooting food isn’t the easiest thing in the world, and you did a fantastic job.

  • PNR Status

    7 years ago

    Nice post.I just never had the opportunity, I guess. Now I’ll try to make the opportunity happen. Must be a good place here in the San Francisco Bay Area.

  • robin

    7 years ago

    LOVED this! I’ve only had a proper Ethiopian meal once in my life and it was one of the best meals I evr had. And guess where I had it? Nairobi!!

  • Mark Wiens

    7 years ago

    @Michael: Yes Michael, there are some great Ethiopian restaurants in LA! Hope you get a chance to eat there soon, let me know how you like it!

    @EatLaughLoveAnon: Awesome, hope you can find some injera soon!

    @Inka: Hehe, Thanks Inka!

    @Cathy: Yah, I’m sure there are some good Ethiopian restaurants in SF…if you can’t find any, I know there are good restaurants in LA and Seattle. Let me know how you like it!

  • Cathy Sweeney

    7 years ago

    Ohhh! Your photos and descriptions are absolutely mouthwatering. My confession – I’ve never had Ethiopian food. I just never had the opportunity, I guess. Now I’ll try to make the opportunity happen. Must be a good place here in the San Francisco Bay Area. Of course, it would be more exciting to be in Nairobi!

  • inka

    7 years ago

    I had to laugh at the first sentence of this post.Read the interview with you on bug juice. Small wonder you love this food which, indeed looks very tempting.

  • eat-laugh-love-anon

    7 years ago

    Yum yum YUM! I love African food.
    When I lived in Melbourne I discovered an African cafe in the suburb of Footscray and I became absolutely besotted with the injera and curry combination.
    Your post made me homesick. Give me more!

  • Michael Figueiredo

    7 years ago

    Those are really beautiful, vibrant photos…I can almost smell the food. I have actually never had Ethiopian food before. There is a “Little Ethiopia” district pretty close to where I live in Los Angeles that I should try out.

  • Mark Wiens

    7 years ago

    @Paulo: Yes! If you love Ethiopian food, we can be great friends!

    @Jeremy: Though it is Ethiopian food, there are lots and lots of Ethiopians in Kenya, making Nairobi an extreme Ethiopian food destination!

    @Priyank: Awesome Priyank, I’m sure then that you are eating some quality Ethiopian food too! Yes, it is very similar to South Indian food, both extremely delicious. Thanks for checking this out!

    @Ayngelina: Thanks! I think we have quite a few similar eating habits!!!

  • ayngelina

    7 years ago

    I LOVE Ethopian food, used to eat it all the time in Toronto. Love the shot of the injera plate.

  • Priyank

    7 years ago

    Hi Mark,
    Very tempting food porn! I get lots of Ethiopean food since I live next to the neighbourhood in Toronto. The mixture of spices and berber chilli peppers is amazing. Incidentally the food is similar to a large extent to South Indian fare since these places traded a lot in the past. Thanks for the post and hope the coffee and popcorn was good!
    Priyank

  • Glen

    7 years ago

    Great photos, made me hungry!

  • Jeremy B

    7 years ago

    Great food! Didn’t realize food in Kenya could look so appetizing (I write this as I’m eating lunch!) 🙂

  • paulo

    7 years ago

    Oh man do I love Ethiopian food. I love that bread they serve it on.