Brachetto

Run by an Italian chef, this up-market venue wouldn’t be out of place in Milano and gets top marks for its flawlessly prepared Italian specialties, including toothsome pasta dishes, risotto, grills, gourmet sandwiches and divine desserts (hmm, the dark chocolate mousse). It’s also known for its great lunch buffet, which features a tempting selection of salads and desserts.

Heaven Restaurant

A highlight of the Kigali restaurant scene, Heaven has a relaxed, open-air deck bistro with a wide-ranging menu drawing from a variety of international influences. It’s hugely popular with expats and travelers, so look elsewhere for local atmosphere, but do come here for an excellent and innovative menu that combines local flavors with international dishes. The weekend brunch (RFr12600) is very popular.

New Cactus

This attractive hacienda is set on a ridge where you can soak up the sparkling lights of Kigali by night or get a bird’s-eye appreciation of the city during the day. It boasts a broad menu of French favorites as well as bounteous wood-fired pizzas and succulent pastas. For something different, try one of the delicious, spice-rich Congolese dishes.

Pili-Pili

Sassy Pili-Pili ticks all the right boxes: a vast open-air terrace with superb views, a nifty pool, an enticing ethnic chic two-storey interior and a congenial atmosphere. It’s a popular bar and restaurant, known for its knockout burgers, grills, pizzas, salads and vast choice of drinks; it heats up to club temperature on weekend nights when DJs spin electronica and other beats.

Calafia

Four words: not to be missed. On the lakefront road near the DRC border, this wonderful conversion of an impressive mansion now hosts a superb cafe that is passionately run by a group of expat friends. Delicious sandwiches, yummy pastries (hmm, the banana cake) and frondy salads are supplemented by fish tacos, frittatas and excellent, ethically produced local coffee.

Sol et Luna

Many locals and expats rave about this Italian kitchen, and we share their unbridled enthusiasm. The food here (and the trattoria – inspired decor, with a lovely open-air terrace) is clearly above average for Rwanda, with an assortment of flavorsome Italian dishes, including over 100 different pizzas!

Nehemiah’s Best Coffee

On the main drag running from the upper town to the university, this wonderful surprise serves up pastries, omelettes, burgers, freshly made smoothies and – most importantly of all – great coffee, making it by far the best spot in town for a light meal in cool surrounds. And yes, there’s (fast) Wi-Fi. It’s right next to Eco-bank.

Zen

With tinkling fountains and covered courtyard dining, this sublime restaurant offers Kigali’s best Asian meals as well as Rwanda’s first sushi dishes. This is where the well to do of Kigali comes when they want to impress. It’s a long way out of the city centre in a swanky neighborhood.

Chinese Restaurant

Growing weary of goat meat or pasta? Take a seat amid the typical ho-hum Chinese interior, overhung with the mandatory reddish Chinese lanterns, and choose from all the usual Chinese menu suspects, including spring rolls and beef in oyster sauce. There are also a few local dishes for good measure. The outdoor dining area is ideal for an alfresco meal.

Camellia

This sassy cafe in a modern shopping mall is worth visiting for its wholesome dishes and tempting selection of coffees, teas and smoothies. Stop in briefly for a gourmet sandwich and latte, or stay longer and nosh on tasty burgers, beef dishes or salads served in enticing surrounds. Decor is African chic without being overdone and the terrace offers good city views.

Khana Khazana

Statues of a rotund Ganesh and a blissed-out Shiva dot what locals generally agree is one of the best Indian restaurants in Kigali. The menu has a long list of Indian classics, including richly flavoured tandoori dishes, curries and veggie options (which are prepared with panache), and the waitstaff is dressed in imitation traditional Indian dress. Chinese specialties are also available.

Poivre Noir

Dining at this upscale gourmet bistro is a treat. The elegant dining room is decorated with earthy tones and classy furniture and the imaginatively prepared, French-inspired cuisine (with a bow to local ingredients) makes Le Poivre Noir justly revered. Highlights include filet mignon de porc flambé au whisky (pork fillet flambéed with whisky), risotto and Belgian chocolate cake.

Bistro Restaurant & Wine Garage

This sassy eatery not far from the beach has an outdoor patio and becomes atmospheric at night. There’s a small selection of well-executed dishes, including beef or tilapia (Nile perch) fillet, burgers with chips, brochettes and pizzas. Since wine also features strongly here, take the opportunity to get stuck into the list of well-chosen French tipples, available by the glass.

Sun downer

This super popular restaurant, which lives in a large, converted house with a leafy patio, offers the most diverse dining experience in the city. Lots of business types roll in at lunch time for the lavish buffet (RFr3000) featuring Rwandan dishes. In the evening, it’s renowned for its chargrilled meat and wood-fired pizzas.

La Paillotte

This popular local haunt is streets ahead of the hotel restaurants in town, at least in terms of atmosphere. There’s a funky interior and seating on a breezy roadside terrace. Wood-fired pizzas are the most popular item on the menu, but there’s also a selection of other dishes, including top-notch brochettes and homemade fries, as well as an in-house bakery.

Hotel Ibis Restaurant

This hotel restaurant, with its open-air terrace and pleasantly faded dining room (there’s a brighter room upstairs), is the most popular place in town for locals and tourists alike. It is justly revered for its tasty French-inspired cuisine with a bow to local ingredients. It also dishes up pizzas, pastas and a wholesome range of salads.