As is the case elsewhere in Africa, Malawi’s city cafes, eateries, and restaurants tend to offer an interesting mix of traditional and Western-style cuisine.
In Blantyre, Malawi’s commercial city, it’s possible to have a great time dining out on a relatively small budget. In venues that are more tourist-oriented, however, such as those found near Lake Malawi or at one of the safari parks, visitors can expect to pay more. Even so, wherever you choose to eat out in Malawi, it shouldn’t break the bank.
Hotel-based restaurants and city center dining venues tend to operate fairly standard opening hours for lunch and dinner. However, in more remote villages and towns, eating out can be a more flexible experience.
What to Eat
tend to be fairly traditional, with a choice of either chicken stew (Nkhuku),
or beef stew (Nyama ya ng’ombe) on the menu. These main dishes are usually
supplemented with side dishes that include a porridge made from cornmeal, rice
or cassava chips.
On the shores of Lake Malawi, fish dishes predominate. Sun-dried ‘usipa’ fish have a distinctive taste, which isn’t to everyone’s taste. More popular are chambo fish or a sort of catfish known as ‘kampango’.
Potatoes are one of the most versatile food items. From savory dishes to using sweet potatoes for desserts, you can find a way to use a spud.
Leftover mashed potatoes can be used to make bread. Make a dough of flour, potatoes, onion, and egg and bake it for resulting soft, fluffy homemade bread.
Where to Eat
and Blantyre there are plenty of decent restaurants and cafes. Most serve good
quality food at reasonable prices. As well as local meat dishes, restaurants
serve the usual fare of Italian pizza and pasta, Indian curries and Chinese
In particular, the upmarket British restaurant of Caverna & Cafe Mandala in Blantyre is a popular dining venue for tourists. A few fast food outlets are also available, including Mamma Mia in Lilongwe’s Old Town district and Macondo Camp found in Mzuzu, Malawi’s the Northern region.
Malawi, the lodges
scattered around Lake Malawi are the best place to sample fish-based dishes.
Most hotels make perfectly satisfactory dining venues, particularly if you are
tired after a long journey and don’t fancy braving local restaurants.
If you are exploring off the beaten track, most villages have some sort of ‘restaurant’, even if it is located in a small hut, or even outdoors, consisting of little more than an open fire and a metal tripod.
For an intriguing mix of Chinese food and karaoke in supposedly soundproofed private rooms, Green Bamboo Garden (across from the Lilongwe Hotel), is well worth a visit. For fast food with a unique difference, Café Delight (Old Town area 4, Lilongwe), serves Lebanese and Indian dishes including samosas, shawarma and curries at great prices in a basic atmosphere, while the Golden Peacock Restaurant (Lister Ave, Lilongwe) offers huge, tender beefsteaks for a ridiculously low price.
Blantyre is Malawi’s commercial hub, with all the usual upscale chain hotels. A hidden gem is Alem Ethiopian Restaurant (Victoria Avenue, Blantyre) serving authentically tasty Ethiopian cuisine and great coffee, while 21 Grill on Hanover (Protea Hotel, Blantyre) is swanky joint offering seafood and steaks to a background of piano music. The best Indian curries originate at Bombay Palace, (Hanover Ave, Blantyre), and combine fresh, lightly-spiced dishes with a stylish décor.