As the capital of Zambia, Lusaka is one of the fastest developing cities in southern Africa, both economically and culturally. Because of its complex history and central location, it has emerged as a melting pot of traditional and modern African culture. In response, the culinary scene is rapidly expanding – from small creative cafes to large fine-dining restaurants, here are our top 10 restaurants in Lusaka.
Cafe, Restaurant, American, $$$
Situated on the stunning grounds of Sugarbush Farm, the Sugarbush Café might be a little outside of the city of Lusaka, but it is definitely worth the trip. The cafe is housed in a thatched Cape Dutch barn that also includes a shop, where handcrafted leather handbags, candles and textiles are sold. An oasis away from the hustle and bustle of Lusaka city center, visitors can relax while they enjoy handmade bread, pastries, salads and sandwiches at the picnic tables outside. Culinary highlights include their pancakes drizzled in maple syrup, bacon and scrambled eggs; BBQ pulled pork sandwich with apple and fennel slaw; and mature cheddar burger with tomato chilli chutney, chips and confit garlic aioli. With excellent food and a picturesque location, the Sugarbush Café should be included on every visitor’s itinerary.
Restaurant, Mexican, Seafood, American, $$$
Located in the Arcades Shopping Center, Mint Lounge brings international cuisine to Lusaka. Diners can enjoy tantalizing dishes in the cozy and stylish dining room or in the outdoor courtyard. Highlights from the menu include Mexican-style tortilla wraps, freshly made sandwiches, Malawi shandy, and prawn risotto. Those with a sweet tooth will enjoy the sweet pancakes and red velvet cupcakes. The coffee here is also loved by both locals and visitors, and those who want something a little healthier can try a made-to-order smoothie. A sister venue to Mint Café, which is also found in the Arcades Shopping Center, Mint Lounge prides itself on using local organic ingredients. Keep an eye out for local celebrities.
Restaurant, American, African, $$$
Located at the Lilayi Lodge, Lilayi’s Restaurant mixes traditional African food with contemporary cuisine. Taking advantage of fresh and high quality ingredients, like tender meat from the kitchen game farm, and organic vegetables and herbs from the garden, the menu is a feast of culinary delights. Starters include the west coast mussel pot, and poached pear and seed brittle salad. Diners can choose from a variety of main courses, including the pan fried tilapia, pork belly confit and cured ham, and impala tenderloin. Desserts include dark chocolate parfait, and malva pudding sauced with brandy butter. The on-site wine cellar has 120 wines that are handpicked by a sommelier. With elegant food and a refined atmosphere, an evening at Lilayi’s Restaurant is an unforgettable experience.
Four Seasons Bistro
Bistro, European, $$$
At the Four Seasons Bistro, head chef and owner Jamey Townsend, a Zambian Masterchef finalist, strives to create a menu made from only locally-sourced ingredients. The Four Seasons Bistro guarantees that none of their ingredients are genetically modified – nothing is canned or tinned, and everything that comes from the kitchen can be traced back to its roots. When ingredients cannot be produced in Zambia, such as spices, they are obtained from local farmers at markets. The menu is small but full of flavor, with an overall European theme. There are weekly specials and new dishes with every season. Dishes include tilapia fish cakes with a tartar dip, grilled skin-on pork chop with grilled tomato and baked onion, and grilled slices of smoked pork with pineapple salsa.
The Retreat at Roma
Restaurant, American, $$$
As the name suggests, The Retreat provides diners with an escape from Lusaka’s busy streets and the commotion of daily life. Tucked away on the city’s outskirts, The Retreat provides a calm and relaxing environment for its visitors, serving delicious food and great wine. Visitors can enjoy their meal either al fresco in the patio area, or indoors in the intimate dining space. The atmosphere is laidback, amplified by soft seating and lounge areas, which encircle a central pool area. The menu is simple and fresh, with dishes created using locally sourced ingredients. From seafood dishes to T-bone steak, to an exciting range of specials, there is plenty to suit every palate.
Cafe, Sandwich Shop, Wine Seller, American, $$$
Joining the Zambian culinary scene in 2012, The Deli has made Romi Issacs’ and Melanie Bedford-Shaw’s dream a reality. Trained as a chef in London, Romi brings his culinary flair to Lusaka
with artisanal breads, gourmet sandwiches, wood-fired pizzas, homemade pasta and more. The emphasis is on fresh, healthy and hearty food, made from organic and locally-sourced produce. Plates are accompanied by an amazing array of wines and beers to suit every taste. With their inviting garden setting and sophisticated atmosphere, The Deli promises a great dining experience. There is also a second location at the Centro Mall in Kabulonga.
The Misty Restaurant and Jazz Café
Bar, Restaurant, American
For those who want a livelier atmosphere with a bit more buzz, the Misty Restaurant and Jazz Café is just the ticket. With live music in a cozy setting, plus freshly prepared continental cuisine, it’s no wonder that the Misty is a popular spot among locals. Visitors can nibble on tapas, while enjoying some smooth jazz, or tuck into freshly grilled chicken thighs or beef rump with a variety of sauces. Specialty dishes include braised oxtail and polenta, chicken ballotine, and line fish. The trendy bar also boasts a list of international wines, as well as an exhaustive selection of beers, ciders, spirits and cocktails. The Misty is truly the hidden gem of Lusaka.
Restaurant, Steakhouse, $$$
If you love steak, head directly to the Marlin Restaurant. The menu features an array of prime cuts of beef, which are carefully aged and grilled to perfection. The menu is inspired by the classical Creole style of cooking, but with a touch of Marlin creativity. Marlin’s also serves seafood and vegetarian dishes, so there is something to suit every palette.
The Hussar Grill Zambia
Restaurant, Wine Bar, American, $$$
The Hussar Grill located at East Park Mall has an award-winning wine selection which can be paired with their perfectly aged steaks and bought by the glass or the bottle. Diners are also allowed to bring in their own wine without being charged corkage. It has an upscale vibe and a private section perfect for groups.
Dil Indian Restaurant
Restaurant, Indian, $$$
An elegant venue for every occasion, The Royal Dil Indian Restaurant is one of Lusaka’s newest gastronomic attractions. Bringing the flavors of India to Lusaka, the Royal Dil Indian Restaurant has created a menu that is full of exotic tastes. The spacious dining area is decorated in a modern style that exudes a welcoming atmosphere. The impressive wine and whisky list has been created to complement the flavors of the dishes for a full dining experience. There is also a takeaway menu on offer, so the taste of India can be brought home too. Royal Dil Indian Restaurant is a must visit when in Lusaka.