Standard price for a meal in a good restaurant in Kampala is between 15,000/= and 30,000/= ($8-15); over 30,000/= will get you an extravagant feast. However there are many places where you can eat for less than 10,000/-, some of them are below.
Fase 2 on Nakasero Road has good Indian food plus some of the best steaks I have ever tasted anywhere, is very reasonably priced, and is probably my favourite place to eat out in Kampala. It is also one of the only two places in Kampala you can get game meat although this is not always available (the other place is Half London) plus oddities like ostrich and crocodile (which even come in tikka masala). Set in beautiful gardens with a large waterfall as a backdrop Fase2 is an excellent place for parties up to 20 or more. There are four or five excellent vegetarian dishes.
Fang Fang on Kampala Road is a large Chinese restaurant in the centre of town on the first floor of a giant shiny office block called Communications House. The food is very nice, well worth the price and the service is excellent. A good place for large parties but it fills up, so you should book ahead.
A cheaper Chinese is Great Wall of China, on Kampala Road. The food is fair, and this is a good place to pop into before going out in the middle of town. Loads of vegetarian food. The proprietor entertains you with a selection of lift-music greats played on a Chinese violin, which is, er, nice.
Mamamia’s pizzeria, an adjunct to the Speke hotel, serves a large range of Italian food including some great pizzas, and the large circular tables are good for big parties. Lots of the food is vegetarian.
Domino’s Pizza on Kampala Road has absolutely nothing to do with the American company, it’s just that copyright legislation hasn’t penetrated this far into Africa. Their pizzas and their service try very hard to be identical to their American namesake—they’ll deliver anywhere in Kampala. An appropriately huge pizza is about 15,000/= ($8), or 20,000/= with delivery.
Garden City Shopping Centre, a large westernized shopping mall which boda-bodas and taxis all know, contains a couple of good restaurants. In particular Ranchers’ Bar and Grill is a conception of genius: a good butcher and a steakhouse wrapped into one. You choose the steak, and in butcher mode they wrap it up for you, but in chef mode they cook it in front of you. This is also one of the only places (if not the only place) to get good cheese in Uganda, which they will make into lovely sandwiches. The manager of the place is a very nice guy and will come and chat to you. However, the place shuts early, and the eating area is miniscule, so don’t take large parties.
On top of Garden City is an Indian restaurant called Nawab, very flashy, and the food is great.
Haandi on Kampala Road is rather difficult to find, even once you’re standing outside the place: you have to enter what looks like the rear entrance of the adjacent furniture shop, smile at the security guard as you walk through the machine that goes “ping”, then weave your way through part of a shopping mall. Once you’re there, the selection of Indian food is bewildering, and it is all very good indeed if rather pricey. Large parties are fine, and the giant selection has good vegetarian options.
The Clay Pot inside the Hotel Equatoria is another very nice Indian, with giant tables designed for parties of up to 20. Not the cheapest option but I remember the food being very good, and it is sometimes done as a buffet, meaning you can sample lots of different dishes.
Tandoori Chaat Masala on DeWinton Street in the centre of town is one of the cheapest in town and serves less sumptuous but more authentically Indian food. You can eat an enormous meal for 10,000/= ($5). For the seasoned British curry connoisseur there may be a few surprises here, the dishes may not be the same as we are used to!
Khana Khazana on Acacia Avenue in Kololo is the priciest Indian in Kampala, but is worth it as they bend over backwards to give you the full experience—just look at the waitresses’ costumes, the gorgeous lobby where you are ushered before you’re even shown to a table even if the place is empty, the water feature that babbles you into a pleasant ambience as you eat… The food is very nice indeed, but it is the whole experience that you really remember. They can accommodate large parties.
Café de Paris just up the road from Garden City is a large and expensive French restaurant. We looked at the menu, and my French friend assures me that although it looks good, don’t expect wonders – Le Chateau is almost certainly a better option.
Crocodile Restaurant also in Kisementi serves a range of exotic food (last time I was there I had smoked tilapia stuffed with sautéed crayfish) and steaks that are nice, but not nearly as nice as those at Sam’s Restaurant. It has a European feel to it and is a good place to eat before heading to Just Kicking.
Krua Thai slightly in Acacia Avenue serves absolutely authentic Thai food which is gorgeous. One often has to book in advance here, especially for a large table since the eating area is quite small.
Nearest pubs: Capital Pub, Al’s bar, Hunters, Half London Pub, plus the multitude of small bars in Kabalagala.
Ethiopian Village is a place to get authentic Ethiopian food: the party sit in their own private hut, around a huge pancake (injera) upon which the entire buffet-style meal is dolloped, and guests rip bits off the pancake and dip them in the various types of sauce. This style of eating is very take-it-or-leave-it, but I like it and the experience is very exotic.
Half London Pub contains a restaurant called Kampala Carnivore, which is the only other place in Kampala to get game meat (e.g. springbok, impala, eland, kudu, etc.), which is a very interesting experience. Although game meat is cheaper and more often available here than at Sam’s Restaurant, I strongly recommend trying Sam’s first, since the cooking is in a different league, and the meat is of better quality.
Le Petit Bistro is a small but very nice restaurant. The fish is delicious and the side dishes are very nice and not overcooked as is often a problem. The prices are very reasonable even for the wine.
Le Chateau just past the American Embassy is a Belgian restaurant that serves gourmet food to the highest standard (adjusting for Africa), and it is one of the best in Kampala. They also do Belgian beer, a little slice of heaven, although fairly expensive. The steak in Roquefort sauce is fantastic. It’s also next to Kampala’s oldest and best butcher, Quality Cuts, so in the daytime you can also pick up some fabulous quality meat and cheese.
The Pizzeria in Bugolobi is probably the best place to get pizza in Kampala. The location is very peaceful with swaying palm trees and an interesting flowerbed in the shape of a boat, and the tables are enormous. This is a good place to bring large parties. The pizzas are delicious.+
Best places to eat local food
Ugandan cuisine is not the most adventurous or varied in the world. However, some of it is delicious, and compared to the restaurants listed above, might as well be free. The best places I have found so far include:
Wandegeya, 2 minutes up Bombo Road, is the intersection near Makerere University and notably one of Uganda’s only working (and obeyed) set of traffic lights. It buzzes with activity after dark and is the best place in town to get a rollex, a chapatti with an omelette, tomatoes and cabbage rolled up in it. Absolutely delicious and only 1,000/= . Rollex sellers generally start their stoves at about 7pm.
After dark, Nakulabye, a few minutes past the university from Wandegeya, is the place to get pork muchomo, skewers of fried pork served with salt, cassava and avocado if you ask for it, for 2000/= a skewer (one person will eat two or three). For a while I lived on this—it’s fantastic. Even better, in my opinion, is beef muchomo which you can get from a restaurant called Angel Spot—from the pork restaurants in Nakulabye, go up the hill to the roundabout and turn left towards town, and it is on the left. The meat is stunning quality, at 3,000/= a skewer. I’ve also had great goat muchomo from the man at the Rock Garden (see below) although since this is a muzungu establishment is it more expensive (5,000/= per skewer). You can get pork muchomo in Wandegeya too, but the restaurants are hidden behind buildings, so ask first.
For everyday food that locals subsist on, there are too many restaurants to list, but the nicest I have had so far comes from the restaurants near the King Fahd Plaza opposite the lower end of William Street. They do matooke (mashed plantain), posho (boiled maize meal), rice, cassava, sweet potatoes etc. with an assortment of boiled meat, and also basic pilau rice. There are food markets in the local centres of all Kampala’s districts, which serve local food very cheaply.