Umut Cafe

Umut Cafe, Kigali

I’m a massively huge fan of Lebanese and Greek food but besides getting greasy doner kebabs way too often in London at 5am after crazy nights out and ordering the same thing every time I go to Pasha (‘beyti’… try it, it’s glorious), I really don’t know much about Turkish food. I know that I like it (it’s hard to go wrong with grilled meat and pita bread, really) but apart from that, my knowledge is limited.

Umut Cafe, Kigali

But I’m always excited to try to things, so when I heard about Umut Cafe & Restaurant, I was excited to see a Turkish place closer to my side of Kigali. Plus I’ve been quite intrigued by the gigantic CHIC shopping mall that seems to be the exclusive domain of every possible brand of bank. I was curious to see what this cool looking patio restaurant was all about.

Umut Cafe, Kigali

I went to Umut Cafe for the first time within a couple of weeks of their opening night. I have to admit to being disappointed to hear that many things on their menu weren’t yet available including ‘pide’, a Turkish pizza type thing that I was looking forward to trying. Many people will say ‘they’re new, so they have to figure things out still’… I want to say ‘don’t open until you figure things out and can offer your full menu’. But, alas, I should know by now how this works. Still no pide two weeks after my original visit, so lets see if it appears at some point in the future.

After beyond the frustration of only having part of their menu to choose from, I was still nicely surprised. I really love their patio area. The restaurant is located just down the hill from KCT and T2000 and it seems like this road has become quite a busy little walking route so it’s sort of cool to get the feeling of a sidewalk cafe where you can do some prime people watching. This sort of thing doesn’t really exist in Kigali and it’s great to be able to watch the city buzz past while being just far away enough not to feel weird.

Umut Cafe, Kigali

So far I’ve tried the kofta (Rwf 3,500) which are nicely spiced meatballs served with very tasty potato wedges, a very fresh tomato, parsley, and onion salad, a piece of flatbread, and also white rice which I opted out of. The Turkish kebab (Rwf 4,000) is something similar except the meat is formed into a long tube and served on the bread which makes it all a bit easier to eat. The chicken wrap (Rwf 3,500) is really nicely spiced and good for a light bite as it doesn’t come with any sides.

It’s been busy each night I’ve gone and it always has a nice atmosphere. It’s booze-free so not a place to start a night out (we learned that the hard way) but if sipping tea and chatting is your thing, then this is your place. Umut is pretty well stocked with tea, incliding black (Rwf 500), a pot, mint, African, green, ginger, and lemon (Rwf 2,500). They have a good selection of hot and cold coffee drinks including a pretty good iced mocha (Rwf 2,750). Plus there are lots of juices to choose from including a beautifully tart lemonade (Rwf 2,500).

We finished our meal with their cake of the day which, I’m told, was a tres leches. I thought that was a Latin American thing, but Umut Cafe does a fine version and it was a great way to end a nice meal.

All up, Umut Cafe is a relaxed, friendly place with very nice service. The people who I assume are the owners have greeted me each of the three times I’ve been which I always think is a nice touch. Good food, a nice atmosphere, affordable prices, and some interesting menu items make Umut Cafe a great new spot to try in Kigali. Have you been? Let us know what you think in the comments!

Hours: Monday to Saturday, 9am – 10pm, Sunday 10am – 10pm
Phone: 0789 966 661
Facebook: https://web.facebook.com/umutcaferestaurant

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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.