Like a local: the best hangouts in the Ghanaian capital of Accra

Young, fun and full of creative spirit, the district of Osu is the coolest corner of the Ghanaian capital. Here are some of the neighbourhood’s best hangouts.

By Emma Thomson
Published 13 Nov 2019, 14:50 GMT
Coco Lounge
Coco Lounge
Photograph by Lola Akinmade Akerstorm

Feasts & flavours
Many travellers to the Ghanaian capital seek out the historic forts in and around Jamestown, but head a little further east and a more youthful side to the city reveals itself. Spilling out either side of Oxford Street, the neighbourhood of Osu has become a magnet for up-and-coming fashion designers, trendy eateries and boutiques.

Communal workspace-cafe KUKUN is a prime example of Osu’s metamorphosis into the city’s coolest quarter. The British owner has added nods to her roots with bottles of HP sauce set on the tables and a menu that offers full English breakfasts, porridge and bacon baps. Accra’s hipsters come here for the coffee and freshly made smoothies — and the after-work cocktails prove a popular choice, too. The space is also a living gallery, with artworks by locals for sale.

For a taste of the region’s cuisine, be sure to book a table at BUKA. This soul food restaurant, renowned for its peppered snails and Nana’s special goat soup, has been a cornerstone of Accra’s food scene for more than 15 years. It was founded by Audrey Selormey in 2003 and serves up a menu of dishes from Ghana, the Ivory Coast, Togo and Nigeria. Don’t fancy the snails? Go for another of the West African-inspired eats, such as grilled tilapia, grilled guinea fowl or fufu, a starchy, dough-like dish traditionally made with cassava.

Come evening, head down to the OSU NIGHT MARKET spread along Basel Street. The district was once home to the traditional Ga fishing communities, and fishermen from adjoining neighbourhoods still dish up their daily catch of crab, oyster, octopus and tilapia from wooden shacks.

Raise a glass  
Ask anyone in Osu what their favourite bar is and you’re likely to get one response: BLOOM BAR. The venue opened last year and has already proved a hit with the Accrans, who flock here for classic cocktails taken on the fairy light-strung terrace. It’s the place to sip and be seen.

A favourite spot among the city slickers is the more intimate FIREFLY lounge. It’s a low-lit, date-night kind of hangout, but the tempo is upped on Fridays and Saturday nights when the tunes get everyone on their feet. Swing by after 10pm to really get your groove on.

Bring yourself back to life at the glamorous COCO LOUNGE, a bright and airy loft-style space dominated by Nana Anoff sculptures and fetching feathery chandeliers. As well as excellent juices, the menu also includes European-style all-day breakfast, juicy burgers, wood-fired pizzas and tempting cocktails. Thursday is tequila night and live DJs perform on Friday nights.

Stefania Manfreda’s: top five hangouts

1. Sunshine Salad Bar
I love my salads and this cafe has the largest selection in the city — plus, the portions are huge. It also serves wraps, sandwiches and curries, but I usually go for the Kung Fu Panda tofu salad and a freshly made smoothie

2. Asabea’s Kitchen
We Ghanaians are all brought up on fufu, so to get my fix I always go here. It’s a clean, no-frills hangout, the service is quick (ideal for when I’m busy at the shop) and the food is simple and filling. If you want to eat local, head here. Just off Troas Street, near Bloom Bar

3. Duncan’s
With its rough yellow paint job and tables and chairs scattered outside, Duncan’s might not look much, but we locals always visit this chop bar because the fresh grilled tilapia and banku are spot on — and cheap. Asafoatse Tempong Street

4. Django bar
This ‘plub’ — a pub that morphs into a club — was set up by Ghanaian rapper Reggie Rockstone. Located behind the Japanese embassy, it’s a blue-lit Miami-style schmoozing spot, but I particularly like their live music and comedy evenings. Osu Avenue Extension

5. Twist
Open until 6am on weekends, this club is where everyone ends their evenings. The combination of Afrobeat and hip-hop music gets everyone on their feet. Ndabaningi Sithole Road

Stefania Manfreda is the founder of Lokko House, an establishment that promotes and cultivates Accra’s creative scene.

Published in the December 2019 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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