Eating out in Kampala Restaurants -Tips and Advice for Visitors

Posted by on July 8, 2017

Restaurants in Kampala – the Reality of Eating Out for Visitors

Eating out in Kampala Restaurants -Tips and Advice for Visitors to Uganda

Tips take out Frustrations – Keeping you Healthy – and enjoy Eating out in Kampala and other Ugandan Towns

Eating out in Kampala Restaurants -Tips and Advice for Visitors – A  Meal in a Restaurant in  Uganda can be one of the top experiences you have ever had or it can be a nightmare from hell. 

You can get the best service you have ever had anywhere or receive a shrug of indifference by a wait-staff person.  Experiences vary for visitors to Uganda from the best ever to one of bordering on “I can’t believe this.

In Kampala, Entebbe, Jinja and other larger towns in Uganda you have countless of choices of various Ugandan Style, Chinese, Turkish, Greek, Indian, Thai, Korean, Japanese, Asian Fusion, French, Belgian, American including Hamburgers,  Italian including great pizza, South African, East African, Ethiopian Cuisine and more.

For those staying in a Hotel, there is the choice of eating at the Hotel where you are staying and often that will be a great Choice.

Eating out in Kampala Restaurants -Tips and Advice for Visitors to Keep you from getting frustrated and Stay Well and Healthy

 Frustration with Menus in Restaurants:

Some Restaurants in Uganda including in Kampala pride themselves in a large menu. Visitors to Uganda should know that often that is a menu filled with suggestions.  The waiter or waitress may disappear for 10 minutes and return with a down face and announce to you “it is over.”

Meaning – it is not available, you may even go through the same ritual several times and receive the same answer.

Do not get frustrated, this happens most often in smaller restaurants, budget hotel restaurants but not often in moderate or upmarket and international restaurants, however, it does happen.  Ugandans may be used to it, a visitor may get frustrated, don’t – simply ask the waitperson to suggest some things.

 Frustration with Customer Service:

Customer Service is something often talked about in Uganda both negative and positive, however in everyday life it may be lacking. In defense of restaurants, service, it has improved by leaps and bounds in the last 20 years, some of the problems that a visitor to Uganda may encounter are cultural.

In the USA, you sit down and a bouncy person approaches with “Hi-I am Frank and I am your waiter today – What can I get you to start with?”  A Ugandan, unless trained would not take that approach – they wait until approached and you will see that often takes place in Uganda with the hand turned down making a scratching gesture toward a staff-person.

Learn a few words in Luganda if you are visiting Kampala and you will endear yourself to the staff-person in the restaurant. While you are at it – learn a bit about Uglish – the Ugandan version of English – it will also help you.

 Frustration with the length of wait-time before Meal is served:

A Visitor to Uganda often becomes frustrated with the time that it takes from ordering to actually serving the meal.  Suggestion, don’t eat alone, but have a friend along, have another drink and enjoy the conversation while your meal is prepared.

Often the meal-preparation may be done in smaller kitchen facilities, less cooking staffs (there is a reported shortage of trained chefs in Uganda and one can add to that “trained staff” except at better restaurants.”)

Long wait times for food to arrive are common in Uganda. It is part of life here, even having to do with the concept of time here.

 Frustrations with the inconsistency of quality of Food and Service:

The word inconsistency is a word that you find often in reviews on TripAdvisor for restaurants in Kampala and other parts of Uganda.  You can have a meal in the same restaurant on two occasions and think you are in a different place than the last time you were here.

The food will be different, the staff will be treating you differently.  One should add the word complacency to inconsistency.  You come to Uganda and stay in a hotel, have meals in a great restaurant, you come back a few months later and it seems like a different place except for the decor and even that can start looking gilded.

A restaurant get’s a few nice write-up and complacency sets in which leads to inconsistencies in quality and service.  The good news is that there are many new restaurants to choose from.

 Frustrations for Vegans and Vegetarians eating out in Kampala:

Yes, Ugandans eating out like their Nya Choma – roasted meat, their whole Tilapia, their fish and chips, the also enjoy pork, chicken and lamb, even goat.  Don’t despair, you can go on a holiday in Uganda, especially with a Tour Company as ourselves and eat Vegan or Vegetarian Meals that will delight you.  Besides most of the vegetables will be organic.

In regards to restaurants – Uganda has great Indian and Chinese Food that will satisfy your tastes and keep your stomach full.

Yes, a Vegan or Vegetarian can survive visiting Uganda, even if the Bradt Guide states that is on the difficult side.

 Why you should Tip when eating out in a restaurant in Kampala – in Uganda:

You have read the above list and comments on frustrations about eating out in Kampala in a restaurant.  There is a simple way that you can change all of that. Tipping in a non-tipping culture, even if you come from a country where the gratuity is in the price of the meal, in Uganda, it is not. Here in Uganda, tipping will change attitudes, will reduce the wait times for food, the welcome when you enter a restaurant again.  This is a great way to get what you need in Uganda, especially if you will frequent the same hotel restaurant, or return to one, you will be remembered and receive much quicker service.

Along with a tip, ask the person how they enjoy their job, become interested in them as a person, again you will see great changes.  Just a practical way or as we say, your visit to Uganda impacts lives, including that of a waiter or waitress.

Things to Avoid Eating out in Kampala Restaurants -Tips and Advice for Visitors

  • Avoid Street Food:  If you are visiting Uganda for the first time your system probably does not have the resistance and your body may react adversely to taking in food that was not prepared under the most hygienic conditions. Kampala has some great street food available (Rolex) but how it is prepared would not always meet the standards of your home-country.  In 2015 there was a typhoid outbreak in some areas of Uganda, some of it attributed to street-foods.
  • Avoid Buffets where food is not properly heated:  It can make you ill, sauces, even curries at lukewarm temperatures become dangerous to eat.
  • Avoid Ice Cubes – Drinks made with Tap Water:  The Bradt guide may say that Tap Water is safe, ask most Ugandans.
  • Avoid Salads – uncooked Vegetables:  At upmarket restaurants, you are normally fine.

 The Top Restaurants in Kampala:

Here are the Top Restaurants in Kampala based on TripAdvisor reviews. This is not a list of ours but reflects the reviews of those that have visited the restaurants.

Do keep in mind, that TripAdvisor Reviews can and are manipulated by owners of various establishments including restaurants.

The reality is that Kampala has some great place where you can eat out and enjoy a nice evening on the town.

Often you can get a great meal at the hotel where you are staying, at other times it pays to go out.  You can use a for-hire taxi, the best ones have metered service in the downtown area.

Eating out in Restaurants in Kampala is a lot of fun, most visitors do not get ill. However, some visitors do and it can keep them from enjoying the Pearl of Africa and its people.  Take a few precautions and enjoy.