One of Mali’s signature dishes, la capitaine sangha, is Nile perch served with rice, hot chili sauce and fried bananas. Couscous or another side made from corn or millet, often called to, accompanies many homemade meals. Bamako contains the country’s largest amount of international restaurants, many of which are located in hotels. Street food is generally cheap and more diverse than the standard beef, chicken, salad, and French fries served at many Malian restaurants. Although most of the locals in this predominantly Muslim country drink far more fruit juice than liquor, alcohol is served at most bars, which tend to stay open very late.
Bars and Pubbing in Mali
The bulk of Mali’s nightlife is found in Bamako. One of the capital’s most popular hangouts, Appaloosa (Rue 311, Quartier du Fleuve, Bamako), offers a unique mix of Wild West décor, Tex-Mex food and a large cocktail selection served by Russian barmaids. This American-style bar’s Wednesday karaoke nights are particularly popular. The best place to mingle with Bamako’s upper class is at Bla Bla (Hippodrome Street, Bamako), where local art exhibits and meals are served alongside cold draft beer and a wide drink menu.
One of Mali’s liveliest watering holes outside of Bamako is Bar Le Bozo (Mopti Harbour, Mopti), an open-air bar and restaurant where locals and visitors brave the waterfront mosquitoes to watch beautiful daily sunsets. Bobo Bar (Old Town, Mopti) is surrounded by food stalls and situated at the corner of two of Mopti’s busiest streets where patrons sip millet beer to the sound of bellaphone music.
Amanar (across from the Flame of Peace Monument, Timbuktu) may be one of Timbuktu’s hottest hangouts, especially for foreign tourists and expats. This is among the few places where visitors can enjoy a beer and makeshift dance floor. Another watering hole, Bar-Restaurant Le Souvenir (Badjinde, Timbuktu), serves up cold drinks and cheap meals on the Grand Marché’s roof.
Dining and Cuisine in Mali
Restaurant Le Loft (687 Achkabad Street, Bamako, BP E 1520) is among the highest-ranked restaurants in all of Mali because of its tasty three-course French prix fixe meals and impeccable service. The Comme Chez Soi (Door 37 Road 281, Bamako) bistro offers Bamako’s closest equivalent to an American-style brunch, while Soukhothai (Rue 311, Quartier du Fleuve, Bamako) boasts the best Thai cuisine and Belgian desserts in the capital.
Patisserie Asco (Route de Korioumé Sarekeina, Timbuktu) offers local specialties like riz alabadja (rice, cow butter, meat, and lemon) alongside freshly baked croissants and French pastries. Roast goat is among the most exotic dishes on the menu at Restaurant Poulet d’Or (Timbuktu), whose typical chicken-and-rice plates are among the best preparations in Timbuktu.
The capitaine a la Bamakoise is one of the recommended meals at Restaurant Sigui (Boulevard de l’Indépendance, New Town, Mopti), whose menu combines traditional Malian dishes with Asian influences and European favorites. Djenne’s Kita Kourou Restaurant (near Post Office, Djenne) is best known for its local honey and milky coffee served with a continental-style breakfast.