Where to eat
Windhoek has lots of cafés and restaurants, though you'll often have more success searching for European cuisine than African specialities. Note that many places are closed on Sundays. Not surprisingly, as a spin-off from the burgeoning restaurant scene, there are plenty of fast-food places, particularly in the new shopping malls. Pies, burgers and the like are freely available at points right across the city, including Nando's on Independence Avenue near the station, while in the shopping malls, pizza parlours proliferate.
Cafés and light meals
For coffee or snacks in town, the two cafés in the Levinson Arcade (off Independence Avenue, and parallel to the Post Street Mall), the Schneider
and the Central, are ideal, and great places to watch the world go by. Buy a local paper from the street sellers to find out what's going on. A little further down, Le Bistro
on the corner of Independence Avenue and the Post Street Mall is a very trendy, popular place for the local crowd to grab a coffee and a bite, or have an early-evening drink.
On the other side of Independence Avenue in Zoo Park (where, perversely, there is no zoo) are two cafés. Zoo Café
(tel: 061 215169), overlooking Independence Avenue, is an elegant establishment that specialises in cakes and light meals. The embroidered fabrics here have been worked by women involved in the TB project at Katutura (see pages 158–9). Up the hill, at the top of the park, is a small café with a shaded seating area, which sells drinks and snacks.
, under the Kalahari Sands Hotel, is convenient for light lunches of burgers or omelettes (expect to pay less than N$20 for a drink and a toasted sandwich), and serves a memorable banana split. It's closed Saturday afternoon and Sunday. At the western end of Post Street Mall, on the ground floor of the Wernhil Park Shopping Centre, is the decidedly eastern Tim Sum
(tel: 061 232312), which offers a cheap and excellent range of Taiwanese vegetarian foods – set lunches N$25–30. It serves until 18.30, though it's closed Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Close by is a traditional German coffee-shop, Ins Wiener
, which also serves light lunches; expect to pay about N$30 for Greek, tuna or chicken salad. Just round the corner is the Craft Centre Café
, usually busy with locals and visitors alike for its homemade quiches, cakes and puddings, and serving a range of coffees.
Out at Klein Windhoek, close to Luigi & the Fish, is the popular Jenny's Place
, a licensed coffee and gift shop that serves everything from excellent cakes to sandwiches and light meals in a surprisingly spacious, tree-shaded courtyard. Freshly squeezed fruit juice and a range of coffees and milkshakes are also on offer throughout the day. Jenny's has a good gift and craft shop on site, too.
There are plenty of cafés at Maerua Park Mall, near the swimming pool, including the Brazilian
, which serves coffee and light snacks daily until 20.00 (closed Saturday afternoon and Sunday).
Like any capital, Windhoek has dozens of restaurants to choose from – you should have no problem finding something good to eat. Until the late 1990s, most served fairly similar fare, often with a German bias, but now there is a lot more variety. There are Italian, Greek, Portuguese and Chinese and even Ethiopian specialities, to name just a few. Many reach a very high standard, and none is expensive in European or American terms.
Eating at the very best, and without restricting your choices, you would have to try very hard to make a meal cost more than N$200 per person. Here's a selection of favourites:Abyssinia
Feld St; tel: 061 254891/2
Opposite the well-established Homestead, this very smart restaurant was opened in 2001. It specialises in Ethiopian cuisine, complete with the traditional coffee ceremony, with meals served either in Ethiopian style or at Western tables. It's an excellent option for vegetarians, with plenty of choice on offer.
Costs: selection for 1 person N$65, 2 people N$120. Salads N$15–20, mains N$45–70, vegetarian meals N$30–35 (or a selection at N$50 per person).Restaurant Africa Alte Feste
Robert Mugabe Av; tel: 061 247178
The setting, in one of Windhoek's historical buildings and with a balcony overlooking the city, is part of the attraction here. With traditional dishes from Namibia and the rest of Africa – including Ghana, Kenya, Zambia and Zimbabwe and little concession to Western ideas of tender meat, the service and food can be somewhat hit-and-miss, so it's an authentic experience! Delicacies include – for the truly adventurous – omanugu, or mopane worms.
Costs: around N$80 for a full meal with a few beers. O Badejo Seafood Restaurant
Sam Nujoma Drive; tel: 061 255503
Although the food here is not dissimilar to that served at the neighbouring Luigi & the Fish, with an emphasis on seafood but serving meat dishes as well, prices are considerably higher, reflecting an atmosphere that is altogether more elegant and formal.
Costs: Starter N$25–45, main N$40–180. Closed Sunday evening. Bilboa Bar, Grill and Shellfish Restaurant
145 Nelson Mandela Av; tel: 061 237922, cell: 081 128 9365
This restaurant is relatively new and specialises in seafood. In addition to seating inside there is a large, pleasant courtyard. The restaurant opened in 2001 and has stiff competition from the popular O Portuga's and Joe's Beerhouse close by. It remains to be seen whether the cuisine can match the standards of its near neighbours.
Costs: starters N$25–45, main N$40–80. Cattle Baron
Maerua Park, tel: 61 254154; fax: 61 254156
Situated within this new shopping complex, the Cattle Baron has two restaurants next to each other, namely the Lounge and Grill House. The former has a more formal setting with round tables encircled by black-leather seating, while the Grill House has a more relaxed family atmosphere. The menu is primarily grills, with steaks between N$40–70. There is a children's menu.La Cave
Carl List Bldg, Fidel Castro (Peter Müller) St; tel: 061 224173
The unprepossessing entrance opposite the Sanlam Centre is more akin to a storeroom than a smart restaurant. But continue downstairs and you'll find a tiled, modern restaurant with separate sports bar and a couple of slot machines. The smallish eating area is cool and modern, but the adjoining bar maintains the original décor so appears somewhat old fashioned. The menu is along German lines with fish and game prominent.
A lunchtime special is available most days at about N$30; otherwise you can expect to pay N$15–30 starters, N$40–75 main, N$15–20 desserts. Closed on Sundays.Chez Wou
see page 122 (Windhoek Country Club).La Dolce Vita
Kaiserkrone, off Post Street Mall; tel: 061 170147. In the small Kaiserkrone Centre, on the left of Post Street Mall as you walk from Independence Av, La Dolce Vita is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with an impressive range of pizza and pasta dishes and salads served either indoors or in the pleasant, shady courtyard. Closed Saturday evening and Sunday. No credit cards.
Costs: N$10–25 for a starter, N$30–45 for main, and N$10–20 for sweet.Dros
Post Office Mall; tel: 061 242740
Open from 08.00 to midnight every day, this chain restaurant offers burgers, pizzas and grills. There is a terrace outside, the staff are friendly and the food is just what you would expect from this type of establishment.
Costs: burgers N$20–30, pizzas N$17–46, grills N$30–50. Hotel Fürstenhof
Romberg St, PO Box 316, Windhoek; tel: 061 237380; fax: 061 228751
West of the centre, one of Windhoek's grandest restaurants has quite a formal atmosphere. For men, a jacket and tie isn't out of place. The food is classic French/German style, varying from seafood through to game and a daily vegetarian dish. The wine list is grouped by grape variety, and most bottles are around N$80. The choice is competent, but neither inspired nor outstanding value. The Fürstenhof seems to be resting on its laurels.
Costs: N$30–40 for a starter, N$65–90 for main, and N$30 for sweet. Gathemann
175 Independence Av; tel: 061 223853
This must have the best position of the capital's restaurants, on a first-floor balcony, opposite the park, with commanding views over Independence Avenue. Sadly, though, this grand old establishment has lost its edge. The traditional German cuisine (with a bias towards game) remains good, but standards of service have slipped heavily (though prices have not), with dirty, scruffy tablecloths, warm wine and a lack of professionalism. The wine list is extensive, and therefore good in parts.
Costs: starters N$25–50, main courses N$58–110.Gourmet's Inn
195 Jan Jonker Rd; tel: 061 232360/232882
At the corner of Jan Jonker and Centaurus, Gourmet's Inn looks from the outside like a transport café, but don't be put off, for beyond the doors all is warm terracotta and yellow décor, with a pleasant terrace, and air conditioning. Although it has a reputation for top-class, expensive, rich European fare, prices are not excessive. Its wine list is good, though not cheap, and the atmosphere is quite intimate. Book ahead.
Costs: starters N$20–40, mains N$40–70, vegetarian dishes N$30–45.Grand Canyon Spur
251 Independence Av; tel: 061 231003
Situated above street level on Independence Avenue, opposite the Bank of Windhoek, the Spurs offers American burgers, steaks, and a host of side orders together with Windhoek's best serve-yourself salad bar. The atmosphere is lively, similar to a Hard Rock Café, and it's open 7 days a week from early until late.
Costs: starters N$10–20, light meals during day N$15–30, main courses N$40–60.Homestead Restaurant
53 Feld St; tel: 061 221958/90; fax: 061 221846.
Very near Ausspannplatz (now called the August Neto Gardens) off Lossen St, this is a spacious, airy restaurant whose tables are spread over its veranda (during the summer) and several rooms. Inside are large pot-plants, a superb feature aquarium and a good selection of 'choose-yourself, from the rack' estate wines from South Africa – ranging from N$60 to N$200 a bottle. Many are good value.
The Homestead's excellent food is continental cooking in large portions, with inventive vegetarian options. This is still one of Windhoek's best restaurants.
Costs: starters N$20–30, vegetarian mains around N$50, steaks N$55–70.Hunter's Moon
Hidas Centre, junction Nelson Mandela & Sam Nujoma, Klein Windhoek; tel: 061 252400
This large sports bar upstairs in the Hidas Centre offers a fairly standard steak-and-grills menu, with no frills. Daily specials are around N$25. Live music can occasionally be heard. Open Mon–Sat, 11.00–23.30. Joe's Beerhouse
160 Nelson Mandela Av; tel: 061 232457; email: email@example.com; web: www.joesbeerhouse.com
The cavernous thatched premises that house the new Joe's Beerhouse seat over 200 people in a rustic environment set around a large bar area. Joe's cuisine is good value and strictly for serious carnivores, with lots of game and huge portions, though its service can be slow and lackadaisical. Beers and spirits are excellent, but wines are mediocre. There's also a small craft shop with postcards. Joe's reputation goes before it, and the place is almost always full; booking is usually essential.
Costs: starters N$22–30, mains N$32–88.Leo's at the Castle
22 Heinitzburg St; tel: 061 249597
The Heinitzburg's new restaurant, Leo's, is one for the elite. Small, modern and sophisticated, it is open for dinner only, masterminded by the hotel's French chef. In addition to the carefully selected à la carte menu, which is dominated by fish and game (but vegetarians are well catered for on request), there is a four-course gourmet menu at N$220. The Heinitzburg boasts the largest wine cellar in Namibia, so be prepared to linger over the winelist.
Costs: starters N$38–68, mains N$86–136 (for a shellfish platter).Luigi & the Fish
90 Sam Nujoma Drive; tel: 061 228820; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
About 2.5km from the centre, Luigi's is on the left of Sam Nujoma Drive, about 100m after the junction with Nelson Mandela Av, at Klein Windhoek. Its atmosphere is relaxed, with plenty of seating both inside and out under the trees. Food here is a feast for fish lovers (though there's plenty of meat and some good veggie options as well), while starters have a Mexican slant. Service is friendly, but can be slow when it's busy.
There is sometimes live music in the courtyard, and upstairs is a popular bar that's open till late.
Costs: starters N$20–30, mains N$30–60 (seafood platter N$80).La Marmite
383 Independence Av; tel: 061 248022, cell: 081 244 5353
This small, friendly restaurant opposite Trés Supermarket specialises in West and central African food. Owned and run by its Camerounian chef, Martial, it's well worth a visit, though it's normally closed on Sunday.
Prices are very reasonable, even by Namibian standards.Plaza Pizzeria & Bistro Maerua Park
Modern, trendy and popular, this new bistro is open daily from 17.00 till late, with the standard fare of pizzas at standard prices balanced by a cocktail menu. O Portuga
151 Nelson Mandela Av; tel: 061 272900
This friendly and relaxed Portuguese/Angolan restaurant at Eros has a Mediterranean flavour. The wide-ranging menu is particularly strong on seafood, and you can expect huge portions, South African wines are fairly standard; Portuguese are very expensive. It's a popular place with a mixed clientele, but service can be very slow when the place is busy.
Costs: N$20–40 starter, N$45–60 main.Saddle Steak Ranch
An informal restaurant with a children's play area, it offers steaks, burgers, pizzas, pasta dishes and some seafood, all at reasonable prices.Sardinia Pizzeria
39 Independence Av; tel: 061 225600
This is a relaxed café/restaurant serving genuine Italian cuisine that's both popular and good value. Owned and run by the Solazzi family, it's worth a second glance, for behind the café-style front is a simple restaurant area – though you'll have to book to get a table here in the evenings. The wine list is reasonable, although Italian favourites come at a price. Closed Tuesdays.
Costs: pizzas and pasta dishes N$30–40.Windhoek Brauhaus
Mandume Ndemufayo (corner of Fidel Castro St/Peter Müller); tel: 061 226981
A large, reasonably central brauhaus with hearty German cuisine – and plenty of beer!
Costs: starters N$15–30, mains N$ 40–60.Yang Tse
Sam Nujoma Drive; tel: 061 234779.
A large, efficient restaurant, situated above Spar near the junction with Nelson Mandela Av, this prepares probably the best Chinese food in town. Equally well suited to a business lunch or a relaxing dinner, it also has a takeaway service. Open daily till 23.00.
Costs: expect around N$100–130 for a complete meal with a few drinks.