25 January 2012

Kampala Eateries

Disclaimer: If you're looking for an authentic Ugandan food experience, the restaurants listed here are not it. However, if you're in Kampala for a business trip and looking for some good eats or a fun place to hang then, by all means, read on.

When I headed to Kampala a few months ago for work, I received several recommendations of restaurants to check out. Despite my hectic work schedule, I still managed to chow down at quite a few including: Khana Kazana, one time sister restaurant to the Kigali restaurant of the same name, Lotus Mexican Cantina, Boda Boda, and Mammammia. 

Lotus Mexican Cantina

Knowing my love of Mexican cuisine, friends recommended Lotus to me prior to ever setting foot in Uganda. They swore that the joint in the central hotel district actually served authentic Mexican food that would not disappoint. Yet, having lived in East Africa for a couple of years I was doubtful. However, the anticipation of potentially edible enchiladas and perhaps a margarita, was finally too much so I decided to risk my finely tuned Texas taste buds and headed over with a colleague for a late supper one evening.

Fortunately, for the sake of my well being, the restaurant was close to our hotel and we arrived with all of our limbs intact aboard a sketchy boda boda. Upon arrival I breathed a sigh of relief and found a table outside near the beach bar. It was rather late on a week night and there weren't many customers but the atmosphere seemed pleasant enough and the waiters attentive. 

As I flipped through the menu I excitedly realized that the options listed were written by someone who truly knew Tex-Mex. Barbacoa? Really? Margaritas and red AND white sangria? Have I died and gone to Texas or am I still sitting in the middle of Kampala? When I got over my amazement I ordered a bowl of tortilla soup and enchiladas. My colleague, a fellow Texan, helped me chow down the chips and salsa (spicy!) and ordered quesadillas. Dinner totaled about 70,000 USH for a ½ pitcher of sangria, a bowl of salsa, soup, and entrĂ©e; totally worth it for the best Mexican food in East Africa.

Unfortunately my eyes were bigger than my stomach and I had to roll myself out of there but at least I was full of Tejano-esque deliciousness. The tortilla soup was thick and full of chunks of chicken and the enchiladas were covered in cheesy goodness. I am seriously tempted to fly back to Kampala the next time I get a Mexican food craving.

Khana Kazana

When I visited Kigali in 2009 my friends and I discovered the source of Rwanda’s best Indian food, Khana Kazana. When I heard that there was a restaurant by the same name in Kampala I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. Indeed, according to our waiter, the Kampala Khana Kazana was at one time affiliated with the one in Kigali. Happily, even though their ownership has gone separate ways, their food has not suffered from the division of forces.

Khana Kazana is a short boda ride from Garden City and Oasis shopping centers in town and all of the boda drivers we talked to knew where it was located. The restaurant was open air and while we sat inside there was a large fountain next to us and we could look out into the garden.

The menu was extensive but my friend and I decided to share a couple of dishes, a spinach paneer and a chicken dish with gravy. The food was so memorable that upon our one night return to Kampala we opted to return here rather than trying out somewhere new. 


My colleagues and I stumbled upon this little Italian joint while wandering through downtown Kampala. It's on a busy corner next to the clock tower and down the street from many business hotels. We stopped in here a few times for happy hour drinks and some casual Italian dining. The food was nothing spectacular but the service was decent and it's location made for some fun people watching. We didn't make it out for any late night shenanigans there but there is a bar that appeared to have some potential for fun connected to the building just to the left of the restaurant entrance.

Boda Boda

As you probably gathered, Boda Boda, is not just the name of a club/restaurant geared towards the upwardly mobile of Kampala. It is also the convenient, while at times death-defying, method of transport around town. Located on the rooftop of Garden City we had a view of downtown after we finally finagled a few chairs around a small table large enough for three of us to balance bitings on. The music was bumpin' and the place was packed but there's still something left to be desired there. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but there was just something lacking. Don't get me wrong, it was a fine place to throw back a couple of drinks after a Saturday in the office but I don't think it would make my regular watering hole list if I lived in the area.


  1. Pretty Good info on where to eat. So when do you come back to Kenya or are you going all over Africa.

  2. I'm all over Africa these days and in and out of Kenya for such short periods I haven't had a chance to try somewhere new and post for places in Nairobi in awhile. I will try to post something for Nairobi again soon though!