Update: Cine Club is no longer operational.
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Off Old Bagamoyo Road
Mikocheni (Warioba), Dar es Salaam
In November 2007, when I first visited Dar es Salaam with an eye towards moving here, I remember often hearing mention of a place called Cine Club. At times, this would be while people were giving directions (where they would use Cine Club as a marker); at other times, it would be in relation to concerts that had taken place in the past and had been held there. My curiosity was piqued after hearing Cine Club mentioned so many times. What was this place where so many concerts were held? Also, why did everyone pronounce Cine Club as though it were spelled Sign Club instead of si-NAY Club, which is how it looked like it should be pronounced to me?
A couple of weeks later, I got the answer to my first question during a lunch date with my mother and younger brothers that took place at Cine Club (I still don’t have an answer to my second question to date.) When I got to Cine Club, I realized that I had actually been there before, once five years prior, but had not internalized the name of the place at the time.
Cine Club, I found out (or was reminded), is simply an outdoor restaurant located in Mikocheni with access to the beach (that’s what had taken me there five years earlier). Its decor is simple, with plastic tables and chairs strewn on sand in one part of the establishment and more built up grass-thatched dining/bar areas a bit further away from the shore (closer to the entrance). Looking around that day, I couldn’t understand what all the hype was about Cine Club. The place looked basic to me and even the food we ate that day was usual standard choma fare.
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A couple of years later, with more Cine Club experiences under my belt, I’ve come to appreciate the establishment a little more.
When thinking of reasons that would take me to Cine Club, the first thing that comes to mind is the Sunday entertainment. Every Sunday, from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., Banana Zorro’s B Band plays live music at Cine Club. For someone like me who enjoys Banana Zorro’s music (though I find his name a little comical), sitting by the beach listening to lots of live Banana Zorro (& co.) is a real pleasure!
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Other than the Sunday entertainment, I’ve also come to appreciate the food served at Cine Club. I am not sure why, but the first few times I ate at Cine Club, I normally ordered some sort of choma (something from the grill). Sometimes it was goat, other times, it was beef, chicken, or fish. Maybe it’s because the decor of the restaurant suggested that this is what they would prepare well. Maybe it was because the people I’d visit Cine Club with often opted for choma so I simply followed suite. Whatever the case, the food was always good (the fish mishkaki, skewers, at Cine Club are pretty mean!), but nothing to write home about.
Then, recently on another lunch date – this time with a friend – I decided to get a little more adventurous and order something different. I decided, this time, to order the Prawns and Fish Cubes with Pink Sauce (TSh, 12,000). I thought it might be a bit of a gamble but still decided to give it a try. I am glad I did because it was delicious!
On a more recent dinner date, again this time with a friend, I tried something else that I normally wouldn’t order at Cine Club. I ordered the Spaghetti Seafood (TSh. 12,000) and was also not disappointed!! What I got was a huge serving of pasta deliciousness full of prawns, calamari, and fish. After these two experiences, I’ve come to the conclusion that Cine Club serves good food even beyond the standard choma fare.
Other than the food and the Sunday entertainment, I appreciate Cine Club’s relaxed, laid-back atmosphere. On most days other than Sundays, when families flock to Cine Club for a family outing, Cine Club is generally serene, uncrowded, and as peaceful as can be. On Sundays, it can get busy possibly because of the live band, though I suspect that the playground equipment (e.g. swings) in one corner of the establishment might also have something to do with it. Oh yeah, and of course, let’s not forget Cine Club’s access to the beach, a favorite Sunday pastime for many Dar es Salaam residents.
All in all, Cine Club is a cool relaxing place to visit when in Dar (especially if you are in the Mikocheni area). There, you’ll find proximity to the ocean, good food, moderate prices, and good entertainment on Sundays.
If you were as curious as I was about what exactly Cine Club was, then I hope I’ve satisfied your curiosity a little bit. If you visit Cine Club soon, please drop me a comment and let me know what you thought. Otherwise, that’s it from me today.
Wishing you great holiday cheer this festive season,
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Photo Credit: adunbarindar.wordpress.com