Makumba

I was late in discovering Makumba. The bar has been here since I moved to Kigali over three years ago but I’ve only really started coming here in the past few months. I guess anytime I headed into Nyamirambo, I was passing by on my way to eat fish at Panorama Ten to Two or Green Corner. I was always intrigued by the red glow of Makumba’s lights and rumours that they serve rabbit, but I only ventured into this little gem more recently.

Yes, I’m kicking myself because it’s a fantastic little local bar and I’m regretting all of those evenings spent in the usual places when I could have been all adventurous. It’s an unusual location for a bar owned by a Belgian woman. Nyamirambo tends to be the realm of uber local spots with terrifying toilets, warm beer and dubious service but Makumba manages to keep it’s local-style charm with brochettes and good prices but kicks the rest of the experience up a notch with a full bar (with ice AND limes!), cold beer and toilets that don’t require a Hazmat suit to use.

One area where they do live up to the local bar standard is the food. That’s good and bad. Good in that their brochettes are great (although they only serve fish for Rwf 1,500 and beef for Rwf 1,000 – no goat) and their ibirayi (grilled potatoes) raise the bar with a really tasty salsa. They also have full fish for Rwf 6,000 and a whole grilled chicken for Rwf 9,000 and rabbit can be had if ordered in advance.

Their pili pili is fantastic and they have mayo on offer for us folks who can’t handle the hot stuff on its own. The bad is that the food will take a minimum of an hour. It’s always worth the wait though and the relaxed setting and relatively cheap drinks (Rwf 500 for a small Primus, Rwf 2,500 for a glass of wine, Rwf 1,500 for a shot of whiskey) mean that you won’t mind the wait. I’d say this is more of a drinking place anyway so order food on arrival and get a few drinks in and once the food comes, everyone will be happy.

While they have a full bar, I asked for Virunga Mist (Kigali’s new favourite beer, it seems) and the waitress didn’t seem to know what I was talking about so I instead got a cold Mutzig and sat down… right underneath a Virunga Mist poster. So I’m not sure if she misunderstood me, if they’d run out of it, if it’s coming soon, or if they take some sort of pleasure in showing their patrons what they don’t have for them. But between the Rwandan brews, Tusker, Heineken, Carlsberg, Bell, Guinness and Amstel, beer drinkers will find something they like.

I really love the setting here. It’s kitted out with wooden furniture and a nice bar with high seats. It’s just a relaxed, friendly sort of atmosphere. But I’m one of those really annoying people who will fidget and readjust and complain and move around until I feel comfortable at the table. This means moving seats so that my back isn’t to the door, switching chairs around until I find the one that just feels ‘right’, bugging the wait staff until they find something to stick under the leg of a wobbly table… it truly is amazing that any friends ever want to eat out with me, actually.

Well, Makumba gave me an opportunity to put all of my little quirky issues on display for my friends with their wonky furniture. I was all agitated and uncomfortable and found myself trying a few different chairs which seems to alter between super-amazing-posture-upright backs to super-chilling-practically-reclining backs. Not happy with either choice, I opted for the upright chair. Because I’m sure you were wondering. The tables caused me stress as well with extreme wobbliness totally immune to the piece of folded paper or bottle cap solution. But after my nagging, a friendly waitress came to the rescue with a wobble-solving piece of thick cardboard. She brought out the big guns. However if you’re a normal human without freaky furniture-related issues, I have no doubt that you’ll really like it here, wonky tables and all!

I tend to come to Makumba mid week for reasons unknown and it’s always surprisingly full with a good mix of locals and foreigners. I always feel all adventurous and exciting when I head into Nyamirambo and it seems that more and more muzungus are discovering this wonderful little corner of Kigali.

Hours: Monday to Saturday: 10am – Late, Sunday: 12pm – Late
Phone: 0788 545 560
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/makumba.nyamirambo
More Info: Makumba on Eating in Kigali

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About Kirsty

A Canadian who left in 2001 to wander around the world in search of sun, beautiful views and goat brochettes. Found Kigali in July 2010 and it seems like the perfect fit. I expect to be here until I get kicked out for defiantly walking on the grass while wearing flip flops.