If you visited Kigali in 1994, you would find yourself in the midst of a horrific genocide that ripped the country to shreds. Visit now, and you will find yourself in an incredible urban metropolis that is surrounded by skyscrapers, internationally known hotels and of course restaurants and bars. The world economic forum recognised Rwanda as the 9th safest country in the world, so when you’re walking between coffee shops, you have nothing to worry about. Chances are that if you’re in Rwanda, you’re there to see the gorillas, but I would highly recommend a weekend (at least) in Kigali. You’ll want to shop and sit by the pool, but in-between that, go and explore the culinary delights that are on offer based on the guide below. You will find the locations in Italics, a few of these spots have 2/3 locations, but these are the ones I visited and can recommend.
Saturday Morning Coffee- Question Coffee Gishushu
Rwanda is famous for its coffee. The blends are often dark with a fruity undertone and steadily gaining popularity all over the world. Of course, you could try it at a coffee shop in London but I would go to Question Coffee instead. They are responsible for every part of the production chain and the whole model is based on sustainability and promoting female coffee farmers. Order a cappuccino and take a seat outside and soak in the beauty of the place. Once you’re finished, go inside and talk to the baristas about the whole process and just listen as they passionately tell you all about the journey from bean to cup.
Saturday Morning Breakfast- Brioche Kacriyu
This place isn’t the best spot for savoury food in Kigali, but boy do they know how to make a croissant. I think the picture below should be proof enough, just look at all of those layers. Each day, Brioche bakes over 5,000 pastries to distribute to its 4 branches and so I advise you go for breakfast rather than a mid-afternoon coffee because once they are gone, they are gone. Get a pain au chocolat, ask for it to be warmed up a little, pair it with an ice coffee and enjoy. Chances are, you will want to take something away with you so that you can try everything on offer.
Saturday Lunch- Brachetto Kacriyu
Nestled in a residential back street and right next to the British High Commission, you’ll find Brachetto. This little Italian restaurant has a small food menu, a large drinks menu and has walls lined with candles in wine bottles. Normally I would say this is tacky, but here it somehow works, it adds to the homely ambience of the place. Ask nicely and the kitchen will be flexible in what they serve you. I would go for a capresse salad to begin with and then follow it up with the gorgonzola pasta if you like your pungent cheeses or then the rigatoni with tomato sauce topped with some homemade ricotta. Pair all of this with one of their fruit lemonades or then a gin and tonic if that’s your thing. Wrap things up with the broken fruit tart that Massimo himself would be proud of.
Saturday Dinner- Khana Khazana Kiyovu
Kigali is home to a relatively large and constantly growing Indian population, this means the city is home to some great Indian food. My pick of the bunch would be Khana Khazana for the variety, which isn’t always a good thing, but here it is. To sample all of the vegetarian starters would require an incredibly large appetite, thankfully you can go for the platter that offers a selection of the greatest hits. Try the roomali roti with any of the paneer dishes for the mains, it’s simple but just perfect after that heavy Italian lunch. If you’re staying at the Serena (and you should be), ditch the taxi and walk back. Your body will thank you for it.
Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures, bad lighting combined with rumbling stomachs means I have never got time to get the camera out.
Sunday Brunch- Heaven Kigali Kiyovu
An American couple came to Kigali to work for one year in the healthcare sector, almost 20 years later they are still there and now operate, what is undoubtedly the best brunch spot in Kigali. Opt for the buffet option that gives you access to a fresh egg station as well as waffles and pancakes made to order. Along with this, you have a wide selection of fruits, cheeses and various hot and cold dishes. The vegan burger and the Rwandan take on guac and chips from the a la carte menu are also noteworthy. No brunch is complete without a cocktail and thankfully Heaven is home to one of the most creative cocktail menus in all of Kigali. Opt for the ‘Lost in Uganda’ and sip on it as you walk around and admire the art on display.
Sunday Afternoon Coffee- Inzora Rooftop Café Kimihurura
You will be suitably stuffed from brunch, and if you are not, you didn’t do it properly. This said, come 4pm you will need a coffee and perhaps a little bite to go with it. Head up to Inzora rooftop café and order a coffee of your choice along with a speculoos and tree tomato cookie. The ice coffee here is probably the best in the city and the perfect thing in the warm Kigali weather. If you have had your daily dose of coffee at brunch, try out the homemade fruit syrups served with soda water, the passionfruit is really very good. The café also sells souvenirs although items like the stuffed toy animals can be found cheaper at the Kaplaki market.
Sunday Dinner- Asian Kitchen Remera Nyabisindu
I would image that by this point you need a break from eating, but you would really be missing out if you didn’t eat at Asian Kitchen. The menu has elements of both Chinese and Thai food, along with a separate vegetarian menu which isn’t very common in Kigali! The kitchen will send out a little sample of something for you to nibble on as you decide what to eat. The pad thai, sweet chilli tofu and fried rice are all great dishes that aren’t oily and really flavoursome. They have recently added a vegan menu to their offering!
Sunday Dessert- Delizia Italiana Kamukina
It just so happens that the best is also last. There is no way that you can come to Kigali and not try the ice cream from this little deli at the Kigali Heights mall. The flavours are always rotating but the coconut and strawberry seem to be a permanent fixture and I am so happy they are because both are incredible. If you somehow have room for anything more than a single scoop, try the Nutella crepe with a scoop of ice cream, you will not regret it.
The number of options is almost endless, you could eat like this for over a week and not even scratch the surface. These are just my personal favourites and based on my experiences. For any further suggestions or recommendations, feel free to shoot me and email or a message on Instagram and I will be more than happy to help you out.