It has to be said that Botswana’s restaurants are not the greatest in the world, although dining by candlelight in the luxury game lodges is an unforgettable experience. Meat-lovers will be more than happy with the country’s excellent locally-raised beef and chicken and lamb dishes balance out the goat and mutton on most menus. River fish are also popular, and many vegetables are grown nearby. Watering holes for humans include a good choice of bars and clubs in the cities, many with live music.
Bars and Pubbing in Botswana
Gaborone is the main hub for bar and pub entertainment in Botswana, with the Keg and Zebra (Riverwalk Mall Village) being one of the better-known bars for its Sunday night jam sessions, sing-alongs and its friendly crowd of expats and tourists. The Bull and Bush (Seboni Road, Gaborone) is a British-style pub with pool tables, a big-screen TV and a reputation for great pub food, and monthly trivia night. O’Hagen’s Irish Pub (Game City Mall, Gaborone) is another good hangout with a mix of Batswana and expats.
For a top-of-the-line night out complete with cocktail and terrace bars, the Grand Palm Hotel Casino Resort (Molepolole Road, Gaborone) is as good as it gets. A stylish sundowners await visitors at the Gaborone Yacht Club (off Old Labaste Road) and, although its opening hours are limited, it’s a ‘British Empire’. Gaborone’s answer to hot nightlife is the refurbished Fusion Entertainment (Phakalane, near the golf resort) offering a dance floor, resident DJs and house, soul and hip-hop until the early hours. Bontleng Mall is a good place to seek out lively bars and Phase 1 in Gabarone West is officially the red light district and hub for several bars and a night club. Don’t be frightened though, the police presence here is reassuring.
If you’re looking for evening fun in the smaller town of Maun, the local version of Gaborone’s Bull and Bush Pub goes by the same name and has the same owners. Set in Mathiba 1 St, in Maun’s town centre, Bull and Bush is the best expat pub in town, famous for its hot steaks, cold beers and raucous quiz nights. The Okavango River Lodge (on the riverfront, Maun) is the hot place for music, and the Buck and Hunter Pub (close to the airport, Maun) is one of Botswana’s oldest hubs, popular with pilots and flight crews.
Dining and Cuisine in Botswana
Gaborone’s The Mall central market district and the tourist town of Maun have the best selection of restaurants, although international cuisine isn’t as widely represented as you may expect. An exception to this is Rodizio (Riverwalk Shopping Centre, Gaborone), an upscale eatery and meat-eater’s delight with great service and live music on weekends. The Beijing Red Lantern Chinese Restaurant (5659 Legolo Road, Broadhurst, Gaborone) serves the best Asian cuisine in town although it’s atmosphere leaves little to be desired. The Beef Baron Grill and Rib Room (Grand Palm Hotel and Casino, Gaborone) serves traditional Botswana cuisine, as well as steak and ribs and has a reputation for fine dining in a luxury setting.
Eating out in Maun by good standards is possible as the small city is a hub for day-safari trips to the Okavango Delta and other northeastern hotspots and is used to catering to visitors’ culinary needs. The well-known Sports Bar and Restaurant (Shorobe Road, Sedie, Maun) is a classy watering hole with chef-inspired dishes from an extensive Western menu, including pizza and pastas. Homey Hilary’s (Mathiba 1 St, Maun) is a vegetarian haven with home-made bread, soups, salads and bean specialties. Unpretentious and inexpensive, but known for its delicious, authentic Indian curries, the Curry House Restaurant (The Mall, Maun) is well worth a visit.
Some of the best places to eat in Botswana are set in the game lodges close by the major towns or in the national parks and wildlife reserves. Serving mostly local cuisine with a nod towards meat-heavy Western dishes, settings range from simple to glamorous dependent on the accommodations themselves. Whether you’re on a day-safari or a longer stay, you won’t be disappointed. Chobe Game Lodge (Chobe National Park) has a good reputation with food, and famous names who’ve loved the place include Liz Taylor and Richard Burton. The Tuli Safari Lodge (Northern Tuli National Park) is also small, beautiful and serves great food.