Thursday, April 11, 2013

Food in Malawi

I love food.  I love a variety of food.  Malawi delivers.  In Blantyre here are my "go to" restaurants:

Veg Delight - fast food Indian - short on ambiance but HUGE on taste.  Some of the best, most creative vegetarian Indian food I've ever eaten.  Anywhere - including in India.  On Glynn Jones Road.

Gelato Carnival - in the first place, how can you not be intrigued by the name?  The place has a bakery with excellent sweet and savory options, as well as a menu with amazing options.  Thai?  Check.  Chinese?  Check.  Italian?  Check.  Sri Lankan?  Check.  Japanese?  Check.  Mexican?  Check.  I'm sure there are some that I'm missing, but you get the idea.  The menu covers the globe, including corn dogs and onion rings. I haven't tried them all but the pizza is the best I've had in Malawi and the Chinese and Thai were pretty good.  A bonus - they have a great kids' playground, which includes a bounce house on Sundays.  No extra charge for the fun for the kids.

Bombay Palace - More Indian cuisine but this time in an upscale environment.  Don't let the outside of the place put you off. It's lovely inside and the food is very good.  Not huge portions for the price, but delicious.

Hong Kong - A Chinese restaurant that's been around for years.  I like chatting with the manager, who's an American from California.  Ants on a Tree and Orange Chicken are outstanding.  The batter on the orange chicken is very light and crispy - really well done.

Ali Baba - A fast food place in the CBD.  I really like the chicken schwarma (small) which is a sandwich roll.   Fresh and tasty - and at about $2.00 USD, you can't beat it.  Their samoosa (the Malawian spelling) is also tasty and the burgers are good.

Street food behind the Total Station - if you're in the Mandala district, close to the car dealership, there's a Total gas station.  Behind the station is a set up where they serve local food for 600 Kwatcha - about $1.30 USD.  It's tasty and filling.

Mandala House Cafe - The Portuguese kebabs are outstanding!  Lovely setting and good place to meet up with expats.  Too expensive for locals but you can still get a good meal for about $ 7.50 USD.

Blue Elephant - My experience here was somewhat tainted because they were doing construction on the building while we were dining.  They have a pub menu.  I had the t-bone steak and although very thin, it was tasty. And the baked potato was great.

Grill 21 - The restaurant attached to Ryalls hotel is lovely.  White linen table cloths, white glove service and an interesting menu.  Expensive by Malawi standards, but dirt cheap by US standards.  I had a HUGE and perfectly cooked t-bone steak which was served with a baked potato, steamed veg and a bleu cheese sauce - for about $10 USD.

Ryalls casual restaurant - There's another restaurant at Ryalls and the food is equally good although the menu is more limited than Grill 21.  A friend and I shared the spicy pasta and the bleu cheese pasta and both were excellent.  There were enough leftovers for a good meal the next day.

Village Green - A lovely garden setting and a varied menu.  I've eaten there several times and the food and service were consistently good, although if you are in a hurry that might be an issue.  Of course, that is true of most Malawian restaurants, in my experience.  They have a good burger and a nice pizza.  The spicy pasta is also excellent but when they say it is topped with cheese, don't believe it.

Cafe at Villa 33 - This is the restaurant on the compound where I live,so I may be biased.  They serve a good burger but my favorite is the lasagna.

Nyambo - Head to Shoprite - turn right at the roundabout.  Turn right at the next roundabout and look for the restaurant.  It is excellent local food with lots of friendly locals to share it with.  You pay $750 Kwatcha (about $2.00 USD) for rice, pasta or nzima; one meat (I had delicious liver but there was also goat, beef and chicken); and two vegetables, plus beans.  The guy at the next table shared his homemade (by the restaurant)  beer with me.  Lovely place and great experience.

On the M-1 to Lilongwe, I have two favorite places but can't tell you the names.  They are in the large town that is mid-way between Lilongwe and Blantyre.  The first place looks like a welcome center and they specialize in beef liver and goat.  For very little money you can buy a baggie of liver or goat - spicy, salty and delicious.  Great for snacking as you continue your drive.

The other place is just up the road in the same town.  It is on the right as you come from Blantyre.  They serve grilled chicken with nsima and stewed pumpkin leaves.  $2.00 for a full lunch.  Open air and delicious.

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