Another business trip to a new place. That’s how my I got my initial contact with Zambia in mid April this year (2012).
During my first 2 trips, my knowledge of the country was basically limited to the area between the airport in Lusaka, and the Taj Pamodzi Hotel. My discovery of places to eat, drink and party was confined to Rhapsody’s, News Café, Chicago’s and Club 101.
With some longer stays, including weekends, in June and July, I finally got to explore some more of the city, and of Zambia beyond Lusaka.
Taj Pamodzi is known to be the best hotel in Lusaka. Although I haven’t tried any of the others, I don’t have a problem believing that. Tastefully furnished and decorated, and with exceptionally service-minded employees, Taj Pamodzi is a place I always look forward to returning to (a frequent event these days).
There are 2 restaurants at the hotel: The Jacaranda bar/restaurant, and the adjacent steakhouse.
Jacaranda serves rather simple, but nice international food, and some Indian meals. The steakhouse, an attraction in itself, is mainly focused on beef and seafood from the grill. Their king prawns are particularly mouthwatering.
Nearby Taj Pamodzi is a Greek/Mediterranean restaurant called Aviva, popular among the high and mighty in Lusaka.
In addition to a nice variety of traditional Greek dishes, they also have sushi. However, like all places I have seen in Lusaka, the sushi menu is limited to mainly salmon nigiri and sashimi. Not a huge variety, in other words.
Aviva is definitely a must-visit for any seafood lover, though. In particular, they have very nice mussles!
They also have sheeshas – still a rare phenomenon in Lusaka. Contrary to Chicagos, they also have tall sheeshas providing better cooling, and an improved experience.
Chicago’s Bistro Lounge
Located in the Manda Hills Mall, the décor of this very distinctive place is inspired by the 1950s and 1960s in North America. The style permeats every detail, including the uniforms of the waiters, making Chicago’s a memorable experience.
The food is continental, and generally very nice. Their burgers are particularly good.
Their sushi is ok, but a bit boring, as the variety is limited to salmon and tuna.
These guys also serve sheeshas, but only small ones, and with a limited number of flavours. hence, Aviva is the better choice for sheesha lovers.
Rhapsody’s is one of the legendary places in Lusaka, and a reference point that everyone seems to know. It is located at the Arcades Mall, just across the road from the Radisson.
With an outdoor section on a huge terrace under a roof, this is a lovely place to savour an evening in Lusaka, whether you are out just for drinks, or for a proper dinner. The food is continental, and generally excellent, whether you are looking for steaks, chicken or seafood.
Just like the other places in Lusaka, their sushi is a bit boring, however, Zambia being a landlocked country, it might be overly optimistic to raise hopes too high in the first place.
The espetadas are one of the specialties at Rhapsody’s that noone should visit the place without trying: These Portuguese delicacies consist of skewered chunks of marinated chicken or beef, grilled over an open fire, then served hanging from a hook.
Also located at the Arcades Mall, News Café is a huge, stylish bistro that gets really crowded during weekends. They mainly serve continental food, which is generally good. Most of the clientele, however, seem to be there for drinks.
Misty Jazz, Levy Mall
The Levy Mall is one of the more recent additions to the shopping scene in Lusaka. It is small, but very stylish and modern-looking.
The Misty Jazz is a bar and restaurant on the top floor. I am yet to try out the restaurant, but the bar has cool, ultra-modern style. They have some nice cocktails, and a bit of variety of wines sold by the glass. A coll place to catch a glass or 2 after work.
Located just next to Rhapsody’s, Club 101 has an 80ish disco style. The place is not all that big, but ok for catching a few drinks and rocking the dance floor a bit. A significant percentage of the female attendants are there for professional purposes, though, so don’t get flattered by the attention that they will give you! Club 101 has a decent variety of pretty good cocktails, so if you are keen on some drinks after a dinner at Rhapsody’s, this may be an ok option.