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What they're eating in Accra

Whether you fancy Italian-inspired cuisine or West African classics, you’ll find it in the Ghanaian capital.

Published 13 Jul 2021, 09:28 BST
Lobster fettuccine at Bella Afrik, where chef Claudio Sarfati creates what he calls ‘Italian tropical’ cuisine.

Lobster fettuccine at Bella Afrik, where chef Claudio Sarfati creates what he calls ‘Italian tropical’ cuisine.

Photograph by Bella Afrik

1. Kontonmire stew at Buka

In the lively Osu district, Buka serves up smartly presented Ghanaian and Nigerian classics in an open-sided dining room. The standout dish is kontonmire stew, a fragrant blend of cocoyam leaves (often replaced with spinach outside of Africa), tomato, onion, pepper, palm oil, egusi (dried and ground gourd seeds) and dried fish. Order it with meat or fish, plus a side of yam or plantain. 

2. Lobster fettuccine at Bella Afrik

At Bella Afrik, chef Claudio Sarfati creates what he calls ‘Italian tropical’ cuisine. Local produce, especially seafood, is the star in his Mediterranean-style feasts. For the lobster fettuccine, fresh lobster is cooked in a white wine and tomato sauce before being stirred into homemade pasta. Pizzas are a draw, too, with the signature topping, of course, being lobster. On Sundays, there’s live Afrobeat music at lunch time. 

3. Red red at Asanka Local

A sustaining stew served with plantain, red red is a classic that, once tasted, you’ll want to make for yourself at home. A paste of onions, tomatoes, chilli, ginger and garlic is fried in the bright-red palm oil that gives the dish its name, before black-eyed beans are added. The plantain is also fried in the vibrant oil, until it’s sweet and giving. Asanka Local is a traditional ‘chop bar’ serving a superlative red red, best paired with fried fish. It’s usually eaten with your hands, but cutlery is available. 

4. Jollof rice at Country Kitchen

This spicy tomato-based rice dish is ubiquitous across West Africa, and the version found at Country Kitchen, a neighbourhood restaurant in Osu, is among the best. It’s made with a blend of onions, peppers, tomato paste, garlic and chillies, with the rice then cooked in the mix. Jollof rice is usually served with shito (a hot sauce made with ginger, dried fish and a lot of chillies), as well as grilled chicken. 

5. Yeye goat and yamrock at The Republic Bar & Grill

As beer snacks go, yam chips with garlic dipping sauce is hard to beat, especially when served with yeye goat — a mild goat curry with green peppers and spices. It’s the most popular dish at The Republic Bar & Grill, which from Sunday to Tuesday looks like little more than a few tables spilling onto the street. For the rest of the week, though, it comes to life, with live performances from DJs and musicians. 

6. Grilled lobster at Santoku

This world-class Japanese restaurant may be located by the airport, but it’s definitely a special occasion kind of place, with high-end décor and prices to match. If you do choose to splurge, order a signature dish that incorporates the best Ghanaian produce: grilled lobster with cherry tomatoes, lemon butter and chilli lime sauce. The grilled beef with aubergine and truffle teriyaki sauce, meanwhile, makes for a wonderful starter. On a budget? The lunchtime menu offers very good value. 

7. Egg fried rice with beef and chicken at Coco Lounge

Coco Lounge has been an Accra favourite for several years now, thanks to its great food, reasonable prices and stylish decor. It’s always busy, and the wide-ranging menu is unabashedly crowd-pleasing: crispy wood-fired pizzas, sandwiches and burgers and pastas all make an appearance. But, this being Ghana, rice remain a popular choice for lunch. Yes, there’s jollof rice, but don’t miss the egg fried rice with beef, chicken, sweetcorn and other veg, all livened up with shito. The cakes here are some of the best in the city too. 

Published in Issue 12 (summer 2021) of National Geographic Traveller Food

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