Food & Drinks
Cuban Code Lounge: Nairobi’s vibeless bar where the rich meet
Friday May 12 2023
A fairly remarkable building – Africa House – came up on Muthangari Road and it seemed like a real estate exclamation mark.
Something loud. Like another commercial bench press, a show of capitalistic muscle. I always drove past it and sniffed at its presence until a friend one day asked me to meet him there.
“There is a bar there?” I screeched. “It’s not a bar,” the snooty fellow said, “it’s a lounge.”
How you know it’s a lounge is that when you walk in you will, momentarily, wonder if you walked into some uppity fashion event.
This is because people seem to do more staring at each other than drink or eat. These are folk who are well dressed and who are drinking all manner of overpriced drinks.
The music also gives it all away; House music by a live deejay, Hypnotic, who is a great deejay.
I couldn’t get a seat at the bar where my friend was with his wife. The bar is short and sharp, potted flowers hang overhead and on pots around the room.
The lighting is moody and mellow, creating the right scene for either romance or heartbreak. At the bar is a big ballsy mural of what seems like a badass African grandmother with a cigar thrust in her mouth.
She glares disapprovingly at those seated at the counter, as if ready to send them to bed.
You could say a lot of bad things about this lounge, but what you can’t say is that it has a vibe.
I secured a seat on the balcony area with a lovely view of Nairobi’s skyline but then it started drizzling and we all ran inside and found spaces to squeeze ourselves in.
My pal’s friend confirmed that the food was great. I didn’t know what sort of lounge this was, whether it had anything to do with Cuba.
I liked that whatever it was, it wasn’t trying too hard. And that it suddenly gave some building you might never have bothered to access some level of prominence.