- Overall, restaurant staff is bad. It is not uncommon that twenty minutes after ordering the waiter asks “What was it that you want?” and then twenty minutes after that “We don’t have that.” Tip: after placing an order, make sure the waiter repeats your order.
- Local Bukavu food is characterized by meat (especially goat), fish, fried bananas and foufou (balls of grounded and cooked manioc root). Tip: do not order foufou.
- Beers are always available – especially Primus, Amstel and Mutzig that are brewed by Bralima – Bukavu’s Heineken-owned brewing company. And by default they are 0.7 liters.
- The list below is not exhaustive. Although I hangout a lot with non-expats, I am sure restaurants are missing. Suggestions welcome!
- The keywords below each restaurant in the list go from 1 (bad/ low/ few) to 10 (great/ high/ many).
Here you will find a large tiled, white floor with tables randomly spread out. For more privacy you can place a Japanese-style movable wall around your seating place. You won’t find expats here. I like to meet the enumerator teams here. In Bellevederre we have had both meetings, and evenings of drinking and dancing. Service is bad. Make sure you keep all your bottles on the table so that you can count them afterwards and verify the cheque – they have a tendency to add nonexistent bottles.
Staff: 3, Speed of delivery: 3, Internet: 0, Price: 7, Food: 5, Ambiance: Expat level: 0, Directions: Close to place Mulamba.
- Coco Lodge
This restaurant is very much an expat place. It has both a restaurant and several bedrooms. The owner is a Swiss expat and friendly. Do make sure to eat the pizza here because they make them themselves and taste great (my preference is the “pizza jambon”). Also, on a lucky day you have live music when the owner performs with a Swiss friend of his – although I haven’t seen them doing it in the last year. I’ve had good experiences recently with the speed of delivery but it used to be horrendously slow; making the special section on the menu called “slow food” seem like a bad joke. There is internet but the connection is spotty.All in all, this is a very nice place with good food.
Staff: 6, Speed of delivery: 6, Internet: 4, Price: 7, Food: 9, Ambiance: 9, Expat level: 9, Directions: Just ask for Coco Lodge.
- Chez Victoria
This is a restaurant, but also has three bedrooms. And since about 6 months it has a cocktail bar and dance section that makes Chez Victoria the place to be on a Friday or Saturday evening from 11pm onwards when it will be swarming with young expats. Tip: try the escalope cordon blue.
Staff: 6, Speed of delivery: 7, Internet: 2, Price: 7, Food: 7, Ambiance: 8, Expat level: 8, Directions: Just ask for Chez Victoria.
This is more a discotheque then a place to eat, but there is a restaurant. Needless to say, it’s dark and the music is loud. This is not a place that I highly recommend for dinner, but do go here after 10pm when Congo beats are pumping out of the speakers and mainly locals will be dancing.
Staff: 6, Speed of delivery: 6, Internet: 0, Price: 6, Food: 6, Ambiance: 6, Expat level: 1, Directions: Close to feu rouge.
A restaurant in Bukavu's city center with local food. The service is slow, not professional and the main things on the menu is foufou, fried bananas and goat: so the perfect Congo experience. Do check it out once. The goat brochettes are actually quite good. This was the first ever restaurant in Bukavu I went to and where I eat foufou for the first time.
Staff: 4, Speed of delivery: 4, Internet: 0, Price: 7, Food: 6, Ambiance: 6, Expat level: 1, Directions: city center.
This place doesn’t exist anymore since about a year, but it was nice. It had a pool table and it was the only place in Bukavu to eat Indian food.
Staff: 7, Speed of delivery: 7, Internet: 0, Price: 7, Food: 8, Ambiance: 8, Expat level: 8, Directions: close to the MONUSCO South Kivu headquarters.
- IRC houses
This is not a joke. The IRC has several houses spread throughout the city and each house has its own cook that prepares breakfast, lunch and dinner for the IRC staff living in that house. Befriend an IRC expat and join him/her once for lunch or dinner. Do note that most of the IRC expats still each in out in the evening.
- Hotel La Roche
Situated right next to Lake Kivu. Hotel La Roche is a hotel but it also has two restaurants. A large restaurant, and a smaller one that is situated on a wooden platform on top of Lake Kivu. Gorgeous environment! Go here if you have a boy or girlfriend. Btw, they also have conference facilities here.
Staff: 4, Speed of delivery: 7, Internet: 6 (in the hotel), Price: 7, Food: 7, Ambiance: 8, Expat level: 6, Directions: Just ask for Hotel La Roche.
- Lute Contra la Soif
As the name suggests (“battle against the thirst”) this is more a drinking place than a restaurant. I've had a fair share of beers here (read meetings with Congolese), but haven't tried the food yet.
Staff: 4, Speed of delivery: ?, Internet: 0, Price: 7, Food: ?, Ambiance: 8, Expat level: 0, Directions: on the main road, close to Nyawera market.
- Mama Kinja’s
The place where expats go if they want to do local. They have small rooms here that provide privacy. The food is Congolese and very variable in quality: from being great, to people being sick the next day.
Staff: 4, Speed of delivery: 7, Internet: 0, Price: 7, Food: 5, Ambiance: 6, Expat level: 4, Directions: Right at Place Mulamba.
A restaurant located above a grocery shop and reachable by a wooden stairs. The food is good and the place has a cozy atmopshere. Do not be surprised if you hear 70s and 80s music. If you don’t go for the food, at least visit Meridien to look at the menu. Some of the more legendary dishes: Concert de chèvre $10, Soupe Obama $5, Ordinateur de chèvre $7, et Riz financière (unfortunately no longer on the menu).
Staff: 7, Speed of delivery: 7, Internet: 0, Price: 7, Food: 8, Ambiance: 7, Expat level: 4, Directions: Next to Bellevedere.
Tucked away in Bukavu's city center, also upstairs, but this is a nice restaurant with good food. Delivery is slow but also here the atmosphere is good. Notable experience: Raul and me were here with some more folks for dinner when at a certain point the staff turned on a porn movie on the restaurant’s big screen.
Staff: 7, Speed of delivery: 7, Internet: 0, Price: 7, Food: 7, Ambiance: 7, Expat level: 7, Directions: City Center
This is the absolute expat place. L’Orchid is both a restaurant and a hotel. It’s situation next to Lake Kivu and not only overlooks the lake but also its own beautiful garden – Bukavu used to have many. This is the place where you can eat mussels, fresh salmon, go for gourmet, etc. This is the place where you will run into guys like George Clooney, top UN and government people visiting, but also NGO folks and expat employees from mining companies. The owner is a friendly Belgium that has lived his whole live in the Congo. If he is willing to make time for you, talk with him. Too many notable experiences here. Raul and me spent lots of time here because there was good internet connection and we could thus work. Also, once I thought that a sweater was lost after I couldn't find it for several days. When I asked the l'Orchid's reception for it, they asked me "is it this one, this one, or this one?" I had lost three sweaters!
Staff: 7, Speed of delivery: 7, Internet: 10, Price: 4, Food: 9, Ambiance: 9, Expat level: 10, Directions: Just ask for L’Orchid.
- There is a restaurant about 20 minutes drive out of Bukavu (towards Kalehe centre) right next to Lake Kivu. I haven't been there yet because IRC doesn't allow us to leave the city in the evening. I heard it is great though.
- There is a restaurant that I have been only once, but that had a balcony with a great view over Lake Kivu. It's on La Botte: coming from Feu Rouge take a right when you're at the Ministry of Mining.
- Most of the places above I have visisted tens of times. However, this still gives a very small sample. If you want to comment please do! Also, I am sure lots of places are still missing. Please let me know about others!