Lord Popat, Prime Minister’s Trade, Envoy to Uganda and Rwanda Uganda should take advantage of…
There are many choices in places to eat at in Kampala, Uganda. You can pick up food from vendors on the street to enjoying dinner at a 5 star restaurant. You can spend 60 cents USD to the sky is the limit, all depending on your taste and budget and of course the occasion. Below are some restaurants that I have personally been to and my likes and dislikes with them. (Be careful about eating food from street vendors, your system may not cooperate.)
Most restaurants are reasonably priced for the foreign traveler. There are a variety of restaurants to pick from Ugandan, to the next most available being Indian, Chinese, Italian, Goan, Japanese, Turkish Mediterranean, Belgian and French. There are also many places where you can pick up a snack or two when you are hungry late at night, and some delicious ice-cream.
Sodas such as Pepsi, Coca Cola and a variety of other soft drinks such as Red Bull are available and now a fruit drink line. Wines are expensive by European and North American standards and the house variety leaves lacking. Beers, including the most popular varieties contain sugar, except Club which has cornstarch added, most have CO-2 added. The exception is Moonberg Lager which is a relative new entry into the Ugandan market and is made in accordance with the German Reinheitsgebot (purity law) and contains no sugar added and no added CO-2, it recently won a silver medal in Germany. Mineral water is readily available.
Nando’s Restaurant: Located on Kampala Road. A combination of fast food products are found there and also a bakery. The service is quick and you can get a variety of dishes at reasonable prices. It can be a busy place especially at lunch time. There are some great looking baked goods on sale there.
1000 Cups of Coffee: A great place to taste some of the varieties of coffee that are grown in Uganda. Amazingly, most Ugandans prefer tea, not coffee, and in restaurants your coffee will often be the instant kind. So this place is a real refuge for real coffee for people such as myself. Located on Buganda Road across from Daisy Arcade. If you need a break in the day, this is the place as I have found. President Museveni has been to 1000 Cups of Coffee, I do not know if he is a coffee connoisseur but I saw a film where came with his entourage.
Cafe Pap: Great coffee, well-prepared dishes, a wonderful selection of desserts. You can sit inside or outside on Parliament avenue. This is refuge for those seeking internet access with their laptops. The presentation of the food is quite nice, service wait time is reasonable. You get free internet access by spending a small amount of money. Great place to have lunch, I have enjoyed lunch on several occasion and once breakfast. The hamburgers for someone who has lived in the USA for many years, they are great here. Read an article I wrote about Cafe Pap.
Domino’s Pizza: A sort of copy cat of Domino’s Pizza in USA. Don’t worry Domino’s USA, there is no comparison. I like your pizza the best, its the cheese and who can forget the Domino price in the USA 5.99 for a large pepperoni pizza. Lets be fair, it is good pizza, value for your money and one of the best pizzas in town. Living in New York city spoiled me since pizza there is fantastic. Also the Chic
Ekitoobero Restaurant: Desiring to taste Ugandan dishes such matoke, posho, g-nut sauce. This informal restaurant is the place to visit. You will enjoy it and taste Uganda for yourself. Nice place and good reputation.
Haandi Restaurant: My favorite Indian Restaurant in Kampala. The Chicken Palak is to die for, or to live for. Service has always been very efficient. The restaurant has an open Kitchen, a rarity in Uganda behind glass and it is spotless. The quality of food is consistent and simply delicious. Located on Commercial Plaza off of Kampala Road. They even take credit cards here.
Fang Fang Chinese Restaurant: Huge Chinese Restaurant. I like eating on the terrace. The food is good and consistent in quality. The owner “Madam” is a fascinating story of resiliency and strength in a far-a- country from China and yet she thrived to where she was planted. The restaurant at Hotel Fang Fang is also as delightful but a somewhat smaller, but there is the garden. Main Restaurant is in Communication House on Colville Street and the Hotel is located on Sseziba Road.
Garden City Mall Food court: A great variety of restaurants are available here. The prices are a bit higher since I guess you are paying a higher rent due to location. You can always watch a movie at the cinema before or after. Have had several nice meals here that were nice and the French fries are done nice and golden and crisp.
Kampala Casino: I have eaten lunch there and it was mediocre, a buffet that was so so, warm and not hot. I faintly remember some hotdogs mixed with beans. Ugandan dishes, that my housekeepers could surpass in her sleep and even I could do better. The presentation was not good, but friendly staff and efficient. Located on Kimathi Avenue.
Mamma Mia: Located in Speke Hotel. Italian food – hmm – made the mistake of having a pizza here recently on New Year’s eve – Wood fired Brick oven is used here, however the pizza is simply tasteless, salt was absent, the pizza sauce lacked flavor, the so called salami was an insult- it was the Kenyan Farmer’s brand Garlic salami, not the kind used for pizza, the cheese was reasonable but not mozzarella cheese, think it was gouda, I ate two slices and informed the waiter to try outsourcing the pizza to a place such as Caffe Roma in Muyenga or Palm Cafe – Speke Hotel offers many other foods much more pleasant than this imitation pizza.
Mamba Point: Upscale restaurant in a fantastic quiet setting with superb food, very classy Italian menu with price being in accordance. This is a restaurant to celebrate something special. I ate their once and was impressed by service, food and setting. Located on Akii Bua Road. The Italian Food is Italian and the place is simply, if you are celebrating something this is one of the places on the recommend list.
Sam’s Restaurant: I have had breakfast there on several occasions and it was the best in Kampala, “wow” is the word. They serve a variety of Indian dishes, but also cater heavily to the Western palate with steaks and burgers. I have never heard anyone complaining about this place. They also have some exotic items on the menu. A touch of the carnivore restaurant in Nairobi. Located down from Kampala road past Kampala Pentecostal Church on left.
Shanghai Chinese Restaurant: Great food, live fish are stored in a pond until eating time. Authentic Chinese dishes of all kinds and reasonably priced. I have eaten many a meal here and usually enjoyed it. Ternan Avenue location inside of Kampala Club.
Centenary Park Restaurants: This is a fairly new development and has quite a few different restaurants to choose from. It truly has an International flavor. Located next to Jinja Road round-about.
The Chinese Restaurant: Ate here on New Year’s Eve with some friends. The duck was pleasant, the waitress never brought the spring rolls, but it was a busy night. The sizzling beef platter had a nice flavor. Hot towels before dinner. It is a place to go back too, a bit noisy since every restaurant had music going, but it was New Year’s Eve.
Effendy’s Restaurant: Lovely food to satisfy most palates, a huge selection of 50 some dishes. They have a nice garden called “secret garden.” A nice addition to the restaurant list in Kampala.
Kyoto Restaurant: Is there and I ate dinner one evening at old location. It was very good beef, prepared before my eyes and the taste was authentic. Uganda now has two Japanese restaurant to choose from, one is Wasabi located in Muyenga across from Hotel International while the other is Kyoto. I have not eaten at the Wasabi Restaurant.
Centenary Barbeque Lounge: German Food with a fusion of African flavor and dishes – BBQ at its best. German Chef bringing you delightful dishes like Wiener Schnitzel and those other German dishes that stick to your ribs.
There are other restaurants at the Park such as an Italian one that I have not eaten but am told it has a nice menu and the food is authentic Italian. I simply hate the Ugandan version of Spaghetti done in a so called Bolognese style served in Ugandan restaurants…it is usually horrendous and lacks any kind of sauce or as Ugandan say, soup.
Away from downtown
Le Chateau: Part of the Quality Cuts compound near the US Embassy on Gabba Road. The food is simply great fantastic. Wait time not too bad and the food is Belgian and Continental. The patisserie next door has great baked goods, the baguette could be improved at bit. The patisserie has the best pastries, though the coffee can be great or simply lousy. I have had the best and couple something something that was a poor excuse for coffee at a premium price. In fairness the coffee preparer most likely does not drink coffee but tea, and there is an art to making coffee.
Cafe Roma: Great food, a bit on pricey side, closed on Mondays. Pork Roast on Sundays, great food, good tasting and the pizza is excellent…no pepperoni, though it is on the menu, I like pepperoni…but the Salami I get instead is lovely and once I bite into the pizza, the thoughts of pepperoni vanish. Nice setting, a gathering point for many Italian ex-pats in the Muyenga area. I have had fish here with risotto, a pork dish that was nice and a reasonable minestrone soup. Go up Tank Hill past Hotel International on left hand side at bottom of hill.Q22222WWWWWWW2
Hotel International: The name is a sort of misnomer when it comes to the food. Indian menu items are ok, the rice is always nicely done. There are two separate kitchens, one Indian the other is Ugandan. Consistent Ugandan food. The steak can be good or great, order it without Royco so you can taste the flavor of the great Ugandan beef, pepper steak is ok, chips (French Fries) tell the waiter brown and crispy, otherwise soggy. Great samosas and spring rolls for snacks. Do not even think of ordering the hamburger (yuk), brown bread without crust, not a bun, sad attempt…no thanks. The prices on the menu do not include the extra 18% vat tax. Located on top of Tank Hill. The garden is the best place to eat your meal, even at night, enjoy the view, it is fantastic, and makes up for the negatives.
Indian Summer: The food is medium in quality if you know Indian food. I have hit and miss experiences where the same dish tasted and appeared differently. The staff is great and you do not have to wait too long, except on weekends. If you do not want to drive to downtown and are in Muyenga…this is ok. Just down from Reste Corner.
Palm Cafe Pizzeria & Bar: Wood fire oven pizza, crispy crust, great toppings, best price around. Reminds me of a New York style pizza and there is lots of cheese. Just a little place before Reste Corner on the left. Up from Kabalagala. I have had two of their pizzas, nice size and great price.
Coconut Shack: Nice cold drinks. A friendly owner, sometimes untrained wait staff who do know the menu too well and food can be just great, but have had many disappointments. Ordered boneless chicken on two occasion and received free bones, nice bonus. Several other disappointments and I took it off of my list. Not a recommend. Located near International Hospital.
Beijing Restaurant: Went there about four times. The fried rice was great. Vegetable dishes are nice. Meat on every occasion the 50 chew kind. Wait staff ill trained in Chinese items. Located at Reste Corner in Muyenga. Gave them another chance in June to see is things had changed. Waited for 30 minutes for a wait-staff person to arrive, guess what? No one came, even though I had been greeted.
Miami Club: A mixture of many things. A quiet Chinese restaurant if you go into the garden section, if you are near the house it can be noisy. Spicy Goat is good. Many items on menu are not available most of the time such as Broccoli. The vegetable fried rice lacks is hit and miss, sometimes great other times so so. Some of the best wait staff in town. A great place to get a haircut for westerners, the Barber is Congolese and knows his stuff. Management lacks customer service skills, you are never greeted by them, or asked how the food was.
Fasika Ethiopian Food: Next to Payless Supermarket on Gabba Road. Great Ethiopian Food. Must be, since many of the guest are Ethiopian themselves. Enjoyable is the word if you like a bit of spice, which I do. They used to be a in different location but moved a few hundred yards away. Thank goodness their food quality has not moved.
Al’s Bar: Not on most restaurant lists. This infamous nightspot, one of the longest running in Kampala is a gathering place for mosquito girls on the prowl. Yet I get the best French Fries in town there, when I have the cravings, and a good old fashioned hot dog or cheeseburger. Sit outside and you will not be bothered by those mosquito girls on the hunt. Every one knows where Al’s Bar is, located on Gabba Road in Kansanga it is even on google maps as a landmark.
Le Petit Bistro: Gabba Road past Kansanga trading center on left. Best Steaks in town…a meat eaters delight and a favorite of ex-pats. In the evening the place is packed with folks from all over the world enjoying their carnivore treats.
Chicken Tonight: Several locations, one in Kabalagala and one in Kansanga. Good bbq’d chicken and pilau rice with beef, very inexpensive.
Things to watch out for: East African chefs, cooks, love to use some things that may not agree with your body, or your vegetarian lifestyle. If you are ordering food ask if they are using Aromat or Royco in their cooking. Both of these have a high concentration of MSG. If you are allergic to MSG, request that no Aromat or Royco is used on your food. Another thing about Royco. I had a BBC radio producer here in 1995, he ordered a cheese pizza at Half-London, now closed and complained to me that it had beef on it. The cook had sprinkled Royco on it. Most East Africans have no clue about MSG, its negative impact, they simply use it and Unilever is happy to supply MSG products. On the label you will not find it, but in fine print there it is Flavor Enhancers….another fancy word for MSG.
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