Ghana's Luxe Life
Best places for eating out and luxe living in Ghana...
Sandbox, Labadi Beach
On one of my first nights out in Accra, I was sitting on a rooftop in Osu ordering ‘bu bra’ with my boyfriend and his friends. The waitress came to our table with a large tube full of beer and five glasses. It was Club beer, the Ghanaian classic, in a tube-like keg known as ‘bu bra’ which literally translates from Twi to ‘fetch the drink and come.’ Many of those drinks did come to our table that night, but fast forward 6 years and a lot has changed since Epos was the scene in Accra.
What follows is a guide through my experiences in some of Accra’s greatest restaurants, clubs, upscale hang-outs, and quirky roadside café’s. If you’re interested in attempted Luxe living in Ghana, this is an ultimate resource for any food lover, party goer, and collector of creative experiences.
Sun City, Labadi Beach
The work week begins, the bus stations are alive at dawn with traffic, and I am eager to eat. A short walk out the door to the fruit and bread seller for fresh mango, papaya, and tea bread to go with hot coffee is all I need to get going for a busy day ahead. However, first on my mind after work, is what to do and where to go that night. Going out in Accra starts after work and can easily blur into the next morning, if you’re around the right people and know the right hangouts. I have frequented these favorite restaurants and bars often, and I love the easy-going, creative vibe they exude.
Chez Clarise's Côte d'Ivorian cuisine is on the menu at least once a week. To get there, you take a right at the Vodafone store on Oxford street and drive straight down a dirt road to find Clarise’s on your right. It is so casual that you could easily mistake this spot for a roadside ‘chop bar’. Yet, it is one of the most popular restaurants in Accra. The off-the-cuff exterior pathway leads you to colorful tables underneath an awning roof where you’ll choose between chicken or fish as your main. Clarise’s is known for its whole grilled fish, called Tilapia and Achieke, a West African couscous made out of maize. This dish is my favorite accompanied by a lot of spicey green pepper and tomato sauces. Don’t be intimidated by Clarise’s ‘rustic’ exterior, just jump over the gutters (don’t drive in; like I accomplished once) and dive into a dish of plantains and Tilapia.
Another favorite for African cuisine is Auntie Muni’s Waakye, a Ghanaian roadside café in the Labone neighborhood. It functions as a pop-up restaurant that opens weekend mornings to sell the famous Ghanaian breakfast dish called Waakye (waa-ché). Cars crowd the street as hungry patrons converge to order their favorite purple rice cooked in black beans, spices, choice of meat, and sauce. Waakye looks like a combination of an African and Asian dish with rice, noodles, meat, and garé sprinkled on top. First time I saw it, I thought ‘what is that??’, first time I tasted it, I only wanted more. Grab your seat on a bench under the shade of a tree or under the awning close to the cooking and eat up.
Auntie Muni’s, Labone
Buka Café – My West African lunch favorite on Saturdays or Sundays for Fufu and groundnut soup after a weekend out. I can appreciate sitting upstairs for a view and live music or in the downstairs garden area for a quieter scene. The best way to recover from a long night out on a Friday is to eat hot groundnut soup (made from peanuts, palm oil, spices) with crab, beef, or goat meat. The spicy soup makes you sweat out last night's Kokoroko or Club beers as you grab the pounded fufu balls with your fingers and slurp down the soup. My favorite memory from here was when my Mother visited and wanted to try almost everything on the menu - if you know African food, this is not possible without leaving in a serious food coma or pepper overdose. However, the surprised waitress indulged her bringing hot bowls of groundnut soup, okra stew and banku, PLUS Jollof rice. She left still standing. Another less touristy option is Asanko Local; also in Osu and also has really good Fufu.
Buka Cafè, Osu
Like I always practice when traveling, you must mix and match experiences. Make sure you feel just as comfortable eating in a roadside café as you do ordering drinks at a chic roof bar. However, if you’ve had your fill of Fufu and want some more variety, Accra has a lot to offer.
I am drawn to a space that uses homegrown materials and boasts Ghana’s unique feel. The places I love have organic interiors with great food, drinks, and an indoor/outdoor space. Tea Baa is exactly one of those establishments. This is the eclectic gathering place in town known for coconut rice, slow cooked lamb, and Tea Baa’s namesake and famous twisted teas. Sweet lime, ginger, mango, coconut iced teas with a shot or (double shot) of rum served in a mason jar on ice will get your Friday (or any night in Accra) in full swing.
Another trendy spot nearby Tea Baa is Little Havana; one of Accra’s newest and most popular restaurants in Nyaniba estates that boasts the mix of African and Cuban cuisine! When Havana first opened in November 2017, you could walk in and greet at least 5 people you knew before sitting down. The fun-loving community in Accra flock to this venue for its excellent tropical cocktails – Havana Mule or Pina Colada – as well as the tacos, the atmosphere, and to be seen on this bustling corner of Nyaniba estates.
Tea Baa and Little Havana
A classic beer garden in the Labone area of Accra is Smoke n' Barrel. Tuesday nights at SnB (as I affectionately call it) are trivia nights. Groups of friends gather to compete with their knowledge of current events, geography, or weird categories like 90’s hip-hop. Tuesdays had turned into the new Friday’s by the time this event was popping off. However, this outdoor beer garden/pub is usually packed most days of the week.
Down the street and to the left of Smoke n' Barrel you’ll find Bistro 22. This is my favorite spot for good wine and desert in Labone. The backyard garden patio is a go-to for quieter weekday evenings. Last time I was there with friends, the Apple Crumble Cake won an impromptu taste-test over the Carrot Cake. Bistro is also fun for birthday dinners; the seafood is descent for lobster pasta and the beef mango salad does the trick if you were missing European food.
Lots of life in Ghana is lived outside. Most spots have outdoor seating areas and the tropical temperatures don’t keep people away from having a drink or bite to eat on the patio. Afrikiko in the Ridge neighborhood just past the official Presidential residence, Flagstaff House, is one of these open air places. You’ll see the sign post for Afrikiko at the entrance as you drive into the car park. the space is an outdoor bar and dance floor plaza with various restaurants encircling the compound. Choices range from simple grilled kebobs to Toros Tapas Spanish restaurant that has delicious fried aubergine with honey. When I first went to Afrikiko with a friend to try out the ‘Kizumba’ dance night on Thursday, we showed up in t-shirts and yoga pants as any American girl would to go work out. We were very surprised at how different kizomba was from the Washington sports club Zumba we knew from back in the states. Women were in heels and hot dresses, while men danced sexually on the stage. Kizumba is as sexy as it gets when it comes to dancing and you’ve got to have the moves, and correct ‘work out gear’ to participate. We decided to learn by watching that night and sat on the patio enjoying red wine, because, well at least it is good for your heart.
If you are looking for a breezy and chic escape within the city, Skybar 25 is the upscale rooftop bar with amazing views overlooking all of Accra. The restaurant and bar on top of the unmistakable Villaggio towers has delicious, quite expensive drinks, yet the overall atmosphere is so worth it! The playlist is best when DJ Fui beats are on and patrons can dance while looking over the entire city.
Sky Bar and Bistro 22
With speakeasy’s gaining popularity in the world’s hottest city destinations, Frontback is no exception. The outside is a facade of a nondescript container store that you would not recognize from the street. Inside Frontback opens up to a top-class bar and multiple seating rooms all showcasing creative interior décor and modern African art. Make sure you're on the guest list or have a membership, however, before showing up.
Not too far from the speakeasy is a modern spot for Accra nightlife on the beach. Sandbox has a fun patio space with bars facing the ocean, couches and tables that overlook the beach, and steps down to the sea where small seating areas are tucked under trellises made of raffia, bamboo, and beach wood.
Sandbox and Tawala Beach
Do not forget once you eat and drink well, there are plenty of options for dancing. Twist, Carbon, Firefly, and Chicha lounge on Fridays. Best nights to go out are on Fridays and make sure you get a couple hours of sleep before the beach or pool on Saturday, then do it all again!
Although the traffic patterns and street hustle can feel daunting at times, it's easy to get where you need to go in Accra. Choices of taxi drivers, Uber, tro-tro's (shared minibuses), or car rental and driver options are 'plenty'. Be prepared to negotiate the first price, but be kind! People will go out of their way to make sure you get to the right place and if you find a great taxi driver, take his number and call him later for door to door service! So if you're visiting for fun, for work, moving your life to Ghana, or coming back home, once you've touched down in your hotel room or your host's home, get ready to Eat and Party, Ghanaian style.
Is this similar to your experience when in Accra? Have some equally good stories to tell? Share in the comments below…