Mombasa’s street food scene has evolved beyond traditional offerings like flour-coated fried potatoes and vegetable samosas. Initially limited, the street food culture now embraces a diverse range of dishes, once exclusive to restaurants or cultural events. Tourists and residents alike can now indulge in a variety of snacks and meals, from mahamri, mitai, and halwa to fast food like chips, bhajia, and shawarma.

Coastal communities have played a pivotal role in bringing their rich culinary heritage to the streets, making Mombasa’s food scene a melting pot of cultures. Street vendors, once confined to a few staples, now offer whole meals such as biryani, alongside refreshing drinks like sugarcane and tamarind juice.

Residents express their delight in the evolving food culture, noting the significant shift from the 1990s when street food choices were limited. Young men have actively embraced this changing culture, contributing to the vibrant street food landscape.

The streets of Mombasa are now filled with the enticing aroma of local delicacies, as vendors busy themselves with frying, roasting, and grilling using street-side jikos or grills connected to gas tanks. The practice of eating outdoors has become ingrained in the local lifestyle, with residents enjoying the variety of food available outside.

However, the surge in street food businesses raises concerns about safety and health. The Food, Drugs, and Chemical Substances Act prohibits the sale of food on the streets. Despite this, street vending is deeply rooted in Mombasa’s culture. The county government is working on a new food safety policy to regulate these businesses and ensure compliance with health standards.

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