Express Yourself The Right Way: A visit to Expressway Lounge

By The Kenyan Bar Guy

Published on 03/10/2023

As a city, Nairobi is a paradox. From non-essential morning conversations on the radio that have forced most of us to Spotify, to intellectual conversations on current affairs on social media by phone vendors, we rarely have a place to hide from the madness.

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to adapting to the cacophony of chaos that surrounds us. However, in the midst of it all, there are equalizers that bring serenity to a rather crazy city. Places that give you peace of mind, that silence the thoughts in your head and give you a brief escape from reality offering a piece of heaven to relax and unwind. The Expressway Bar and Lounge is such one place.

Located along Mombasa Road right behind the Total Petrol Station next to Imara Lifestyle Mall, it is a pocket of serenity on a busy weekday away from the traffic and the unsynchronized symphony of horns from cars, trailers, and the unruly two-wheeled machines driven by Chelsea fanatics. The moment you enter the sprawling premises, you are welcomed by a calm aura and as you inch towards the vicinity you feel your steps becoming lighter.  

One of the first things you notice when you enter the premises is that there is spacious parking. This might seem trivial but if you have been around Nairobi enough you know parking is like finding your soulmate – it is almost impossible. But at the Expressway, there is parking, and when they run out of it, The Imara Mall nearby has some more. There is also a carwash around so you can clear your head while having your car cleaned as well. At the entrance, you will find the bouncers jovially exchanging stories. One thing I loved about them was their level of professionalism and etiquette. Unlike some other joints, you do not feel the scrutiny and in essence, it points out the kind of work environment they have.

Once inside, there is a hostess at hand who is keen to make your experience seamless. I am sad I did not catch her name; she deserves a shout-out, he! he! And a raise. The place is not your usual barstools, tables, and matatu light ambiance – it is quite large and spacious. The décor is tastefully done, and you can feel the attention to detail in curating the space. This is where the hostess comes in – she will ask you a few questions and based on your responses she will find the perfect place for you to sit. Unless you are a regular, you really need her help, or you will end up getting lost like a toddler (or an adult) at Sarit Center.

I found myself on the balcony, the weather was threatening to shed a few tears but it was quite hot so I wanted a spot where I could enjoy the breeze and also scan the environs. After all, as a solo review, the best thing to do is watch people and make up back stories for them, or if you are lucky the wind will sail whispers of their conversation your way.

The spot I sat had these quaint little beige couches that normally are the fancy of coffee houses in uptown residential areas. It offered quite the intimate feel perfect for a date – sadly I had none. Escorting me to my spot was a lovely waitress – Mercy. She was very composed, and professional, and even offered extra information as to why there might be delays just to manage expectations. These little details enhance a customer’s experience and curb frustration. Kudos to the team at Expressway for taking that initiative.

For the culture, I ordered a cold White Cap, and cold it was. There is nothing as disappointing as getting warm beers. After confirming that I was okay, Mercy excused herself and told me to ask for her if I needed anything. It is the attention to detail in their service that will bring you back. You do not feel the condescending tone or complacency that normally ails most Nairobi establishments. You know those judgmental eyes you get or the short snarky response you get when you make a request? Yeah, those are non-existent here. You actually feel at home and valued as a client – so if you are planning on going spare a few extra coins cause you might end up getting more than you planned on.  

I went there around mid-afternoon and the place was not quite busy and there were a handful of patrons dotting the place. This is usually the best time to check out a place and Expressway did not disappoint. Now, here is why I particularly have a small crush on this place. Most joints leverage heavily on having a good time which is translated for loud music, copious amounts of alcohol, and an unruly crowd. At Expressway the scenario was different, during my brief visit (one whitecap) I did not see anyone else order alcohol. Most guys were having soft drinks and what from first impression looked like really well-salted fries and sizzling roast meat. The wafts of the aroma were tempting but sadly this reviewer went there on a full stomach as I had not anticipated to find what I did. This definitely calls for a second review of the food. Justin, if you are reading this heads up he! he!

This is one place you have to visit. Especially if you loathe the Mombasa Road traffic during rush hour or just want to have a lunch meeting with business partners. Heck, this is perfect for a date too! You can get to know about their favorite colors without having to shout over obscenely loud music.

An afterthought – the waitresses are extremely beautiful in their black and white regalia and for the sake of mentioning it well endowed.

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