Where to eat in Accra?

On May 24, 2009, in Ghana, by Karen Grepin


(Photo credit from Flickr/mtl2tky)

Normally I try to keep my posts here related to health related topics rather than boring you with other aspects of my life, which are rarely interesting to anyone other than myself. However, it is that time of the year where dozens of people that I know are heading off for field research and people are always asking me for tips on where to eat in Accra (I am a failed food blogger). So I have decided to put this all here. Feel free to send this along to anyone who would be interested. Also, do send along any tips or comments and I would be happy to update this with your ideas. Happy eating!

Best Local Food:

1. Asanka Local: One of the challenges in getting good Ghanaian food is that when you go to a restaurant you are presented with a long menu, but rarely do they actually have anything other than “chicken” or “fish”. This place never has that problem. Perhaps the largest of the chop bars in town, it has a build-your-own approach that really works. Choose your protein (ranges from chicken to fish to snails to grass cutter), choose your sauce, and then choose your starch (fufu vs. plaintain vs. kenke). It is all here and it even has live music and dancing sometimes. Sundays they do the Omo Tuo or rice balls. It is located in Osu on a side street off Oxford Street. Ask around.

2. Tilapia: I think grilled fish is my all time favorite African dish. I originally fell in love with in when I lived in Burkina Faso and there were these great restaurants up by the reservoir where one could order grilled “Capitaine” with fresh tomatoes and onions. It is even better here in Accra where the fish has some reasonable chance of being fresh. Old timers swear by a place called Blue Gate – where I have never been – but I have heard that the woman who used to cook there is now at my favorite place – Duncan’s. For either 6 or 8 cedis you get an amazing grilled tilapia with fresh tomotoes and onion. Delish. To get there, take a taxi to Frankie’s in Osu and then Duncan’s is off the side street immediately on the ocean side of Frankie’s.

Best High End Eats:

1. Osteria: This place is truly amazing. As soon as I get to Ghana I start dreaming of this place and then wait until I am really, really craving good food and treat myself. Run by an Italian man who is very passionate about food, this place is an oasis in Accra. The owner grows his own arugula and spices to ensure supply and flies in clams and other ingredients from Italy. Amazing pasta and salads are available here, as well as a full italian wine list. Not cheap, but it is worth it. It is located in Airport Residential Area close to the Galaxy International Area. Tell a taxi to take you towards this area and then look for the signs to CDD-Ghana. This place is right across the street.

2. Chaumiere: Remarkably good french food can be had at this restaurant located across the street from the Shangri-La hotel. The soup au poisson is great, as is the steak au whatever. Over air conditioned, though, so be ready for a blast.

3. Monsoon: Located above the Osu food court is a swanky place called Monsoon. Here you can get sushi or eat off of their Southern African menu, which includes things like warthog. It all sounds very exotic, but the food tends to be a bit more straightforward than it sounds (the warthog looks and tastes exactly like pork chop). But it is decent, and it is fun to try this place for no other excuse than to be seen.

Best Destination Eats:

1. Waterfront dining: Despite the fact that Accra is a coastal city, it is harder than you think to eat out on the ocean. There are at least a few good options in the immediate downtown area (excluding going out to La Palm or further). The first is called Tribes, which is located at the Afia Beach Hotel, the second is called the Osekan Bar, and the third I forget what it is called but it down the road from the La Polyclinic. The Osekan bar actually has terrible food, but the view is perhaps the best in town, so go for drinks or fried chicken and enjoy the sights, especially as the sun goes down.

2. Osu night market: The night market in the old part of Osu is a lively experience. You can wander around and try local foods. Sometimes hard to see what you are eating, but lots of fun just the same.

3. The mall: The biggest change to the Accra food scene has to be the opening of the food court at the Accra Mall. You could be anywhere in this place. Grab a movie in the new 6 theatre movie complex, shop for books, CDs, and new fashions, and then grab dinner at the open air food court. Great chicken, high end restaurants, cafes, and pizza all under one roof.

Best Ethnic Food:

1. Haveli: I ate at this restaurant the first time in 2004, and have probably eaten here about half a dozen times since then. I love this little Indian restaurant tucked in a lovely setting just off of Oxford Street in Osu. The food is really tasty, not too pricey, and is always satisfying. I love the salted lassis.

2. Lebanese: There is good Lebanese food around town, which can be a nice break from more standard fast food. I enjoy the food at Venus, which is located behind the gas station near the round about at the top of Oxford Street. However, I do find that the smoking policy inside the restaurant detracts from the food. So eat outside if you go.

Other:

1. Cafes with real coffee: After a few weeks of Ivoirian nescafe I begin to really crave a good cup of coffee. Cuppa Cappuccino in airport residential area (across from the WHO or the lavender lodge) is my little heaven in Accra. I am usually found here every Saturday when I am in town. They serve coffee, lattes, cappuccinos and some might tasty shakes (I really like chocolate banana). They also have lovely sandwiches with ham, avocado, tomato, and other good stuff. Melting Moments in Labone is also a really good cafe.

2. Local honey: Last June I stayed in a Guest House in North Dworzulu (pronounced something like Jolu). There is a man who lives up that way who runs a meditation center and selves bio-organic locally produced honey, which honestly, is very tasty and is a great gift for people to bring home that supports the local economy. Look for his stand at the light (usually not working) in front of the Fiesta Royal hotel on the motorway.

3. Fried chicken: Fried chicken has become immensely popular in Ghana with fast food shops popping up everywhere. I also love it as it is cheap, safe to eat, and almost always available wherever I am. I really like one of the original joints: Papaye’s on Oxford Street in Osu. I love the garlic sauce, which is kind of like tzatziki sauce. So, so good. The portions may be partly responsible for the rise in obesity ongoing in the country. My friend Mary and I once celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving at this place.
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4. Shakes: I always find it weird that is sometimes really hard to get good fresh fruit in Africa, despite the fact that being hit in the head by a mango is a real threat. A new place recently opened up on Oxford Street called NourishLabs where you can get fresh fruit smoothies and free internet.

5. Dried apricots: I have only seen these a few times around town, but always buy them whenever I do see them. There is a local producer in town that is now selling locally produced dried apricots for retail sales. For about 4 cedis you get a whole tray. They are delish and great snacks to keep on hand.

Here is my best attempt to put it all on one map.

Here is a link to another great blog posting on eating in Ghana.

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14 Responses to “Where to eat in Accra?”

  1. The pale observer says:

    ren – great post! Are you based in Accra?

    I am an old timer (12 years in Ghana) and must say that Blue Gate is the ONLY place to have tilapia in GHana. The place is dark and smoky and very local and the menu is simply tilapia, mixed veggies and hot pepper with banku. That's it. Excellent.

    As far as ethnic places go, there's an Indian restaurant just off Oxford Street Osu, called Kohinoor. Cheaper, more authentic and just better than Haveli.

    I agree that Osteria Michelangelo and La Chaumiere are both excellent. Definitely my favourite high end places in Accra.

    Your list is quite good – thanks again!

  2. Karen Grepin says:

    No, not based in Accra but visited there about 4 times in the last year. I'll have to eventually go to Blue Gate and will have to try Kohinoor next time. Thanks for the tip!

  3. Mustapha says:

    As someone who lives in Ghana (and who feasted at every single one of your recommendations), I'd like to commend the good job you have done..

    I hope you allow me some observations/additions:

    I have been to blue gate before with my expat friends. It is at the end of the small road you take right before papaye. But I believe It is no longer operational (last time i went was about 3 years ago). But you're right, the captain (dunkan's) makes great Telapia. You aren't missing much.

    The place whose name you forgot by the LA polyclinic is called "Next Door"; it even has a website 🙂 http://www.next-door.com/

    In your ethnic section I would replace Haveli with Heritage, an expensive (it could easily make it in your "high end" section) yet exquisite indian restaurant. It is where ghana's wealthy indian expats eat.

    Also allow me to add Dynasty for chinese food. A place (also pricey) where I am proud to invite my business partners. Many foreigners told me that this is the best chinese they've ever had, and they've all been places..

    I'm also surprised you skipped Mamma Mia, THE best Italian pizza in town. Peter (half italian half lebanese) takes his pizzas very seriously. He even has the belly and the accent to prove it..

    One last place: Franco's restaurant off Big Milly's yard can be a great "destination eat".

    That said, a very impressive and helpful summary that can come in handy to all visitors who grace our neck of the woods.

    Who knows, perhaps President Obama will read this tomorrow when he visits 🙂

  4. Miss Footloose says:

    Hi Karen,

    I've lived in Ghana two times for a total of 7.5 years. Your post on where to eat in Accra brought back great memories, especially about a fun evening out at the Blue Gate, the place the Pale Observer mentioned. The link to the story is below on my blog in case you are interested. The photos alone are fun!

    http://lifeintheexpatlane.blogspot.com/2009/04/expat-foodie-having-something-to-eat.html

    You must like Ghana if you've been back four times in the last year!

    Miss Footloose
    http://www.lifeintheexpatlane.blogspot.com

  5. Karen Grepin says:

    Wow! Thanks for all of the comments and additional suggestions. I will have to try them next time (hopefully soon) that I will be in town.

    Mustapha thanks for tracking down the "Next Door" – that is exactly it. Great spot to hang out. I love that their website claims that "Their tasty meals are hygenically prepared by our experienced kitchen staff."

  6. hash says:

    Very good resource Karen, thanks for pointing it out to me.

  7. INKA says:

    One of the best blogs on just what I need and love.

    When it comes to local, Country Kitchen in Osu is equally good. Mazera has good grilled tilapia and I think Marquis Tante Marie not too bad as well.

    Le Must in Labone, has lovely food you would love. Excellent french cuisine. Captain Hooks with great ambience and great sea food in Cantonments.

    The Irish Pub for the good old happy hour on thursdays in Osu and great food.

    My coffee has to be the best and I will top up your list with my hang outs. La Gallete on spintex road, excellent black forest cake and coffee, Melting moments in labone, still looking out for more great coffee.

  8. Mr. Blue says:

    Thanks for all the information on your Blog! I really appreciate the time and effort you have put into it.

    Am in Accra at the moment, staying out in East Legon. Second time here and there will be more trips (work for an NGO in South Africa and have partners here).

    It seems I am in the wrong part of town for the goods eats!

    Don't know if this belongs here, but the only thing I have really done in Accra is go to Chez Afrique. This place has live music and is quite fantastic on Fridays and Saturdays. It's also in East Legon but wouldn't be able to tell you where exactly even if my life depended on it!

    Anyway, it's wednesday… any suggestions? Want/need music!

  9. Mr. Blue says:

    Thanks for all the information on your Blog! I really appreciate the time and effort you have put into it.

    Am in Accra at the moment, staying out in East Legon. Second time here and there will be more trips (work for an NGO in South Africa and have partners here).

    It seems I am in the wrong part of town for the goods eats!

    Don't know if this belongs here, but the only thing I have really done in Accra is go to Chez Afrique. This place has live music and is quite fantastic on Fridays and Saturdays. It's also in East Legon but wouldn't be able to tell you where exactly even if my life depended on it!

    Anyway, it's wednesday… any suggestions? Want/need music!

    Stefan

  10. The pale observer says:

    Karen – there is a jazz festival all week at Alliance Francais – should be a perfect venue for music 🙂

  11. Gado-Gado Gal says:

    Karen, thanks for this Accra food post! Highlights were Blue Gate (I know you didn't recommend it, but I learned about it through your blog.) and NourishLabs Smoothy's. On the latter, it's easier to find if you look for a sign saying Smoothy's because NourishLabs is in very small type. Both were fantastic! I also had a hankering for a baked goodie one day, and the bakery at Frankie's had a great array of European pastries. Thanks again!

  12. Karen Grepin says:

    Thanks for the report back, always helpful!

  13. Anonymous says:

    Karen, thanks for the suggestion of Osteria Michaelangelo's. I searched the web everywhere but was unable to locate either it or a phone number. But, the CDD-Ghana hint you gave put me on to it. For the benefit of any others who happen this way, reservations can be made by calling 0244233533 or 0244630389.

    Cheers, and thanks again!

  14. Karen Grepin says:

    Discovered a new and amazing Thai restaurant here in Accra, will have to be added to my list of top eats in Accra: http://bit.ly/ldAaLB

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