The duo behind clothing line Zuri shares their guide to the best things to do in Nairobi, Kenya.
“Mzuri,” the Swahili word for “good,” provides a simple, five-letter summary of all Sandra Zhao and Ashleigh Gersh Miller aim to do. Originally from NYC, the entrepreneurs met in 2016 at wedding in Nairobi wedding, where Miller noticed Zhao’s unique dress, struck by its fit, breathable fabric, and fun print.
Zhao, who was living in Kenya at the time, had designed it herself in preparation for a trip to South Sudan earlier that year. Parallel aesthetic sensibilities bonded the two women, and what began as one dress quickly turned into clothing line Zuri.
Since its launch, the brand has expanded to include shirts, baskets, and bags, but ethical production and a healthy work environment remain priorities. Now, after a combined eight years in Nairobi, Zhao and Miller continue to promote comfortable and sustainable fashion—as well as the wonders of their beloved Kenya.
The Zuri Team’s Perfect Day in Nairobi
10 a.m.—An Early Bike Ride to Clear the Mind
AGM: When I need to feel inspired, I usually head to Tigoni. I grab my bike, ride through the tea fields, and then stop at one of the farms for a vegetable basket to take home. It’s an easy way to clear my head, which gives way to more creative thoughts.
12.p.m.—THE Lunch Spot for Kenyan Staples
My go-to is always Ranalo’s. They serve the most amazing fried tilapia, ugali (a Kenyan staple), yummy chapatis, and a variety of greens.
2 p.m.—A Quick Stop for Crafts
AGM: Wasp and Sprout. The cafe began as a showroom for furniture made by the owner, which you can order there. They’ve also got a really lovely shop that carries one of the best-curated collections of crafts available in the region, mostly made by independent, women-run businesses.
4 p.m.—A Few Hours for Local Art
6 p.m.—Dig Into Next-Level Ethiopian Food
AGM: My favorite Ethiopian restaurant, Abyssinia. This place is next-level. They always have fantastic Ethiopian jazz playing, which sounds exactly like 1960s spy music and makes me feel much cooler than I am. I order the mixed platter and eat like it’s my last meal. After dinner, we do the Ethiopian coffee ceremony, and all of a sudden, and I feel like I’m sitting in Addis Ababa.
9 p.m.—Beers, Burgers, and Bars
AGM: The Alchemist is always a great place to start (and end) the night. It’s an open-air bar, and it’s become a hub for the art, fashion, music, and food scene in Nairobi. Grabbing a beer and a burger at Mama Rocks—a food truck parked inside The Alchemist’s campus—and hanging out with whoever I meet there that evening is the most fun and interesting way to spend a night out in Nairobi.
Where to Stay in Nairobi
AGM: The Giraffe Manor is a hotel in the Karen neighborhood where giraffes walking around will literally stick their heads through your bedroom window. As a visitor to Nairobi, one of the coolest possible experiences is having your breakfast stolen out of your hand by a cheeky giraffe. The whole scene is just delightfully whimsical.
The Best Place in Nairobi for Local Food
SZ: I personally love going to Kenyatta Market for nyama choma (roast goat meat). Most people eat it with ugali or chips, but I like it with mukimo, which is mashed potatoes with maize kernels and spinach. Get kachumbari with it, and you’ve basically got a perfect meal.
The Best Way to See Kenya’s Wildlife
SZ: The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust has an elephant orphanage where you can see baby elephants who’ve been orphaned because of poaching. It is an incredible organization with a massive impact on elephant conservation across Kenya, and by visiting, you are supporting their work.
Nairobi’s Hidden Treasure
SZ: The food truck culture in the city is really exciting, especially at the Alchemist, where you can get insanely delicious burgers from Mama Rocks and ramen from Cheka. There are also some amazing Chinese restaurants in Kilimani—hit up Silk Noodles for the noodles of your dreams.