Whenever people come to Zimbabwe, the obvious destination is the Victoria Falls. These are a must-see for anyone travelling to this part of the world. However, the food options near the waterfalls are fairly limited. In such a small town, there are only so many places you can go. Harare, on the other hand, is the country’s food capital. With many new and exciting tastes and flavours, it’s a haven for the travelling foodie. Not sure where to begin? Follow this food itinerary to enjoy a complete foodie’s day in Harare!
Breakfast in Harare
A good and hearty breakfast is a must for any tourist. It will help you gather the necessary energy for a day full of adventures. If you like cooking, you could try some of these African breakfast recipes. Otherwise, you can enjoy a relaxing meal under a baobab chandelier at TETA. This restaurant and café boasts of having a cool Capetonian vibe and offering some great food.
Located in a leafy suburb, favourites like The Cockerel, (bacon, eggs, beans, sausage and toast) and The Smothered Chick (poached eggs, hollandaise sauce and salmon) will leave you satisfied before adventuring. If you prefer a sweeter start, The Frenchy (Croissant French Toast) and Belgian Waffles are sure to please. Both are served with cream and berries.
Zimbabwe is blessed with temperate weather. This is why you need to dine outdoors! There are lots of places with outdoor seating, but none can match the energy at Queen of Hearts. Located in a small complex with local clothing and décor shops, this artisan café promises a lively experience.
Their lunch menu is as extensive as it is diverse. You can enjoy a steak sarmie filled with seared beef, mustard mayo and caramelised onion on toasted bread, a beef dal gosht curry served with pilau rice and naan bread, or opt instead for a crumbed bream fillet with chips and home-made tartar sauce. Here on the weekend? Don’t miss out on the gourmet burger bar! Queen of Hearts features a hearty cheese and bacon burger as well as a mushroom & blue cheese option. If this hasn’t convinced you yet, there’s live music and a craft beer and gin bar too!
A Historic Afternoon Tea
If you’re one for a historic dining experience, then you must have High Tea at the Meikles Hotel. This is located in the CBD across from the historic Africa Unity Square and it’s the perfect spot for an afternoon break.
Past the iconic Italian sculpted lions and adjoining a lobby that has seen many memorable events, lies the famous Tanganda Tea lounge. Named after Zimbabwe’s leading tea estate situated in Chipinge and Mutare, the spot inspired the popular local phrase, “Meet you at Meikles”.
Enjoy the delicate flavours of jam and cream scones, pastries, cakes and sandwiches while marvelling at the majesty of a hotel that has been a central feature of Harare for over a century. While there is a wide selection of teas to accompany your meal, including Five Roses, Twining’s and Freshpak Rooibos, you’d be doing yourself a disservice by foregoing a cup of Tanganda at the eponymous tea lounge.
Dinner the Traditional Way
While Zimbabwe has welcomed a number of great cuisines from all over the world, including Chinese, Ethiopian and Italian, it would be a shame to have come all this way and not have something local. The best and most popular traditional eatery is Gava’s. Located at Belgravia Sports Club, this is a fantastic place for those wishing to sample typical Zimbabwean home-cooking.
A selection of starches, meats and vegetables are prepared daily and you are free to mix and match to create a spread that is as unique as it is delicious. The dishes include Mupunga une Dovi (peanut butter rice), Sadza (a thickened porridge made from grain and served with meat and vegetables), tsunga (mustard greens), stewed sugar beans, Hanga (guinea fowl), Maguru (beef tripe), roadrunner chicken and oxtail.
TAKEAWAY: While you can request a fork and knife, in traditional Shona custom, food is eaten using the right hand or “rudyi”. The left is never used and doing so, even if you are left-handed, is considered very disrespectful. Before you start eating, be sure to say “Pamusoroi”, which, loosely translated means, “excuse me while I eat”.
The servings are quite hearty so an empty stomach is essential for an unforgettable Gava’s experience.
The growth of the food and dining industry, coupled with the gradual return of locals who left to live abroad, has turned Harare into a haven for the travelling foodie. Not only is there a wide selection of traditional cuisine, but you can also sample international dishes prepared with great local flare. Follow this guide for a complete foodie’s day in Harare!