In recent years, the number and variety of restaurants in Lusaka has all but exploded, with almost every ethnic cuisine catered for (frequently in the same venue), and a range of standards to match. Nobody walks in Lusaka at night, so unless you stick with your hotel's restaurant you'll probably take a taxi to eat somewhere. If you're looking for somewhere really special, then a consensus of informed opinion gives Lusaka's top spots for foodies as Marlin's (formerly Jaylin's), and Fra Gigi's. In most places, it's perfectly acceptable to take your own wine, although you may be charged corkage in the more upmarket establishments.
For competent but unimaginative food, the big hotels
– the InterCon, Taj Pamodzi and Holiday Inn – all have their own restaurants. Their location and generally good service make them popular with visitors, but there are a couple of more interesting alternatives within easy reach:Brown Frog
Kabelenga Rd. A good bar which also serves food, and has regular functions, the Brown Frog lies between the Great East Road and Church Road, near Moore Pottery. It's a 'happening' 20-to-30-somethings' place, relaxed and mixed. You'll find a variety of good beer on tap and some tasty light meals on the menu, as well as the local nshima. It's open 11.00–23.00.Engineers
Cairo Rd; tel: 01 223445, cell: 097 829604. A great discovery right in the middle of town, this foody pub is well placed in the Central Park development behind Farmers House, with secure parking. Owned by Kevin Riddiford of Lilayi Lodge, it was opened in October 2002 and is already very popular at lunchtime. The pub-like atmosphere is almost at odds with the décor, which makes imaginative use of steel girders and old sleepers, in keeping with the location close to the railway. The open-plan kitchen, presided over by chef/manager Chanda Bulaya, is the source of plenty of innovative dishes (the menu is changed daily), from light meals, including homemade pasta, to more substantial meat dishes with some good vegetarian options. Expect to pay around Kw25,000–45,000 for a main meal, including VAT and (very good) service. Open Mon–Fri 11.00–23.00, Sat 11.00–16.30.
area, beside the Great East Road is one popular place to hunt for eateries. Simple eats are found at the nearby Continental (ex Polo Grill), which is popular amongst the young-and-privileged crowd, serving a range of bites with a reasonable selection of drinks and even occasional live music. Around the corner from the Continental lies Whispers (formerly the Marco Polo), a newly refurbished bar/restaurant with Indian/Chinese/Continental cuisine. Meals here are from us$7.
Inside the Showgrounds, the Sichuan Chinese Restaurant (tel: 253842) serves good Chinese food. In fact, the Showgrounds area as a whole is worth an evening visit when its restaurants and bars come to life.
To the south of town
, Mike's Car Wash Centre, on the left about 5km out on the Kafue Road, is the venue for Mike's Restaurant & Take-away, which is also a popular spot for an evening of drinking and eating. Expect a bill of around US$8–10 for a good meal with a few beers. Also on the way out of town is Pizza Island (open 08.00–23.00) at the Castle Shopping Centre to the right of the third set of lights on Kafue Road. The sharwamas (rolled chapatis with various tasty fillings) from here come highly recommended, as do the pizzas.Amatebeto
There are two branches of this restaurant that serves Zambian food at lunchtimes: one is opposite Chiwolya School off Lumumba Rd; the second is in the rugby club at the Showgrounds. Both come well recommended.Arabian Nights
In Kalundu tel: 750102, fax: 295613. The restaurant is signposted off the Great East Rd, several kilometres east of Addis Ababa Drive, and virtually all of its diners will drive there. The restaurant is large and serves high-quality Pakistani cuisine, plus a few Cajun specialities and more universal dishes including game. Starters are around US$3–4, main courses US$6–9. There's a special vegetarian menu with four separate dishes at around US$5. Groups use a separate room upstairs.Cattleman's Grill
Los Angeles Bd; tel: 01 253036/253605. The thatched outdoor restaurant at the Chrismar Hotel, with African friezes decorating the walls, specialises in steaks and grills from around Kw30,000, and is highly recommended. Friday nights are particularly popular, with regular live bands playing.Dil Restaurant
153 Ibex Hill Road; tel: 262391; fax: 224515. East of Kabulonga, this is sometimes cited as Lusaka's best restaurant for its high-quality Indian cuisine, although recent reports suggest that it's going downhill. The chef's from Bombay and, at about US$25 for a meal, the food is good, but not cheap. Don't come if you're in a hurry.Dong Fang
Dunduza Chisidza Court; tel: 01 250328; cell: 096 756488. Set in a red-brick colonial building in the quiet Longacres area of the city, this pleasant restaurant offers large portions of traditional Chinese fare. Mains are US$5–8; noodles around US$2.40.Fra Gigi
Lubu Rd, Roma; tel: 01 252333. On the corner of Lukanga and Zambezi roads, this large restaurant with seating both inside and out has taken over from Gringos and the place has been given a colourful make-over. Classic Italian food is proving hugely popular, with pasta dishes at US$4–8, meat and fish from US$6, and pizzas around US$3, all without VAT or service (the latter is said to be very slow). Open 12.00–14.30 and 18.00–11.00.The Green Ethiopian Corner
Chainama Rd/Katima Mulilo Rd. Said to offer 'make-believe' Ethiopian cuisine, this restaurant is only worth visiting at weekends, when it's busy, although service tends to be very erratic.Green Gardens
Chingalika Rd. Another Chinese restaurant with a good reputation.
Hibiscus 40 Central Rd, Jesmondine; tel: 01 295011. For something a little more dramatic, the Hibiscus is run by a fiery French-Canadian woman, Mme Paule Cadou, who goes to great lengths to import fresh seafood from Mozambique. So expect stylish sauces, top-class European food, and a bill of around US$30–40 per head. It's about 8km out of town on the left of the Great East Rd, opposite the university. Closed Tue.Johnny's (formerly Chasers)
9 Lagos Rd, off Addis Ababa; tel: 252197. In the leafy suburbs of Kapila (Rhodes' Park), this informal, friendly pub has safe parking and a garden outside, for when the bar's too busy, and serves good, inexpensive Chinese food (bar snacks US$1-3; starters US$3, mains US$4–8, set menu for two US$13–16). The restaurant is open 11.00–01.00, but the bar closes when the last customer leaves. Upstairs are a couple of rooms for guests.Marlin (formerly Jaylin)
Lusaka Club, Longacres; tel: 252206. This old favourite, near the corner of Los Angeles Bd and Haile Selassie Av, is based in the old sports club with its colonial, almost seedy atmosphere.Walk past the doorman, though, and towards the back of the clubhouse you'll find what seems like an uninspiring café. However, it serves some of the best (and best-value) food in town. The menu isn't fancy, but the food is good quality. The sizeable pepper steaks are a renowned, and consistently good, speciality. Don't miss them. The salads are always good, as are the chow meins and stir-fried dishes – and the proprietor is invariably around to keep an eye on things. If there's a drawback, it's that tables are close together so it gets quite noisy. Expect to pay about US$15–20 per head for a meal with a few beers or glasses of wine.Oriental Garden
United Nations Av (opposite Netherlands Embassy), PO Box 51042, Lusaka; tel: 01 252163; cell: 096 457275. 'Oriental' is only half the story for this Indian-owned restaurant that serves Chinese as well as Zambian and Continental dishes – although its speciality is Indian cuisine. Starters average around US$2.40, with mains from US$4 up to US$8 for shellfish. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Secure parking.Spice Factory
Kabulonga area. A relative newcomer to the capital's Indian restaurants, the Spice Factory is rated highly by locals and is now considered to be one of the best of its type.Le Triumph Dolphin
Northmead. Creole/seafood specialities; expect to pay around US$20 per person for seafood.