The most important tip I can give you on Rwanda local food, and the only one that will make you elevate from being a tourist to becoming a real traveler immersed in the local culture, is “Stay away from McDonalds“. When visiting Rwanda, there is awesome local food to try. Head to the local eateries too, and go where the locals go. For me, the food, wine and and even the water is part of the travel experience.
What to Eat in Rwanda
The local “Brochettes” (goat kebabs) are delicious and are available in most bars and restaurants. Many restaurants also serve grilled fish and chicken, and frites and frites-banane (fried plantain) are ubiquitous. In urban areas a local buffet known as “Melange” is sold at lunchtime. This consists of a buffet of mostly carbohydrates such as potatoes, bananas, beans, rice, cassava accompanied by some vegetables and a small amount of meat or fish with sauce.
Note that Rwandan buffets are not all you can eat! You may fill your plate only once, and with practice you’ll be able to stack your plate high like some do to make it as close to ‘all you can eat’ as possible observing the unusual one plate rule. Then of course, the others may shake their heads at you, and give you annoyed stares. Prices run up to USD$10. Most of the buffets offer a salad buffet too. Note that many of the cheaper Melange places don’t advertise price, you have to ask. Many choose to purchase an entree at a restaurant based on the limitations mentioned above, as entrees are hearty (more than one plateful) and exactly what you want.
The reasoning is, why call it a buffet as it is not there in abundance for you? Ask, as there are a few places who observe the worldwide norm for buffets. Kigali has a much better range of restaurants than the rest of the country. Here you can find several Indian and Chinese restaurants, as well as Italian, Greek, French and multi-cuisine establishments charging around $10 for dinner.
What to Drink in Rwanda
In most shops you will find milk, water, juices and soft drinks. In most bars the choice is limited to their offering of about 5 different sodas and 5 different beers, Turbo King, Primus, Mützig, Amstel and Skol. Primus, Skol and Mützig are available in small and large sizes, whereas Amstel is available only in 330ml bottles. Note that Rwandans are known for their fondness for large beers and when you order Amstel, small Skol, Primus or Mutzig, it is common for a server to bring out 2 bottles at a time. Bralirwa in the north of the Rwanda produces most of the beer and soft drinks available in Rwanda while Brasserie de Mille Collines (BMC) produces Skol. Inyange produces juices and soft drinks.
There are also local banana beer preparations called Urgwagwa, normally brewed at home and available at some shops and bars. Ubuki is made from fermented honey and has an alcohol content of about 12%.
Other local foods, or drinks that you recommend? Please add and comment.