This article is super old and mostly inaccurate… update coming soon!
Ah the buffet… I don’t know if it’s something traditionally Rwandan or what, but these babies are everywhere – and they’re popular! If you’re looking for a fast meal then a buffet is the answer. Depending on how fast you eat and how high you can pile your plate, you can be in, out and fed in a very short amount of time. Perfect for the Kigalian on the go. (Is Kigalian a word?)
For food piling techniques, pay close attention to Rwandan men with large bellies. It’s beautiful to see the skill with which they’re able to create huge towers of balancing food on their plate. It’s almost an art form.
I’ve got a bunch of buffets on my list to try and will add them to this article as I pay them a visit but, for now, check out the places below to see where I’ve been so far. My list is pretty heavy on spots in Town with a bit of Kimihurura thrown in for good measure but I know there are buffets lurking around every corner all over this city. Please feel free to suggest some spots in parts of the city I don’t make it to as often and I’ll trek out there to take a look some afternoon. I’m going to call this my “Great Kigali Buffet Quest” and there is a strong possibility I will wear a cape while questing.
Leave a comment to let me know where to try next!
Price: Rwf 3,000
For Rwf 3,000 you get the buffet and your choice of a drink, including fresh juice. The plates can be piled high so it’s a good deal and good food. As the name of the place would suggest, the food is decidedly African. Motoke, sweet potatoes, ugali, and rice are all plentiful. There’s a vat of a meaty dish and another of chicken. The meat is tender but the chicken seemed to be mostly bones. Peas and beans are usually on offer but I guess get there early! Drench the whole thing in peanut sauce and you’ve got a filling, tasty meal.
Price: Rwf 2,500
Maybe the best buffet in Kigali? Am I feeling brave enough to make that call? I think I am. At Rwf 2,500 it’s cheap and with salad and all kinds of meats, starches and sauces (including their delicious peanut sauce) to choose from, it’s got one of the best choice of food that I’ve seen. The pasta bolognaise is a nice touch as is the amazing beet salad. There were at least two different choices of beef dishes plus fish and chicken were also on offer. The chicken was tender and not the usual tough, chewy stuff you get at many places in Kigali. Seriously. This buffet is the business.
Price: Rwf 1,800
This is one seriously giant buffet selection for a very good price. The place is big but it still manages to fill up during lunch so you may find yourself hovering until a table frees up. The food is good but pretty heavy on the starchy things and there’s not a lot of vegetable action going on but there are so many other things on offer that you might not even notice. It’s cheap and tasty. The only downfall – and for me it’s a major one – is their lack of decent pili pili. Sure, they have akabanga but it’s just not the same as the homemade stuff.
Price: Rwf 2,500
For the best salad bar, this is the place to go! And for an extra treat, try the deep fried cauliflowers. Normally, they’ll only allow you to take three small pieces of meat, but truth be told, you’re not gonna want more anyway. Quite chewy little buggers. For more tender meat, dig deep down in the container with cassava leaves or spinach. They prepare the vegetables using pieces of meat, and no one ever thinks to eat it! But it’s good, trust me. Just don’t tell the staff, or they’ll probably be on the look-out for sneaky meat-eaters! A bonus: pineapple and mini-bananas as dessert! Woohoo!
Price: Rwf 2,500
I must say, I was pleasantly surprised by this lunch buffet. It’s fairly reasonable, and the meat was delicious! Most of the vegetable choices were hot, and there isn’t really a proper salad bar. Passion fruit juice was included though, as was a little fruit plate for dessert. It’s a buffet that’s pretty heavy on local food and you can get ugali here if you enjoy eating sticky horribleness. La Class is a good choice for a buffet in this area but if you’re a lover of salad then Karibu and Camellia Tea House are just down the road and around the corner and make a better choice for the same price.
Price: Rwf 3,000
I love Lalibela! I love having access to a whole bunch of their delicious sauces as part of a buffet. It’s great to be able to taste a few and then decide which ones I like best and then return to fill my plate. The problem with this strategy is that most of their sauces seem to be slightly different shades of red. Kind of makes it hard to figure out what my favourites are! But luckily everything is pretty damned tasty. If you like Ethiopian food, you need to eat here. Sadly, I don’t have a photo yet. Happily, this gives me a good excuse to go there again soon. Super delicious, a nice atmosphere, friendly service and something a bit different to the typical Rwandan buffet.
Price: Rwf 5,000
I had this buffet for the first time a couple of weeks ago having said to myself ‘I really want to try the La Sierra buffet one of these days’ for almost two years. Of course the buffet was delicious and now I’m kicking myself for all of those missed buffet opportunities of years gone by. But now I know better and will put this great (but small) buffet into my regular rotation. True, the price is steep, but the food on offer is a nice change from the usual Rwandan offerings and they change the selection each day. It tends to have an Indian food theme on most days but the day I went, they had steak with mushroom sauce, vegetable soup, guacamole and no Indian in sight. The buffet includes yummy bread roles and a dessert, usually something from their bakery.
Price: Rwf 2,600 (salad only) to Rwf 4,200 (meat and fish)
I’ve only been to this place twice and have been impressed both times. I went back yesterday after well over a year and was excited to see that the amazing selection of salad stuff was still front and centre including their yummy potato salad. As I moseyed on down to the other end of the buffet table I was even happier to see fish along with little hamburgers! They also have the usual pasta, potatoes and rice but also have a nice selection of different things. There was a delicious red sauce that I wished I’d taken more of and the pili-pili is really tasty. No mayo that I could see, though. I was ready to declare Mangaroca as the co-winner with Camellia Tea House for the best buffet in Kigali… and then I got the bill. At Camellia you pay Rwf 2,500 for full buffet access but, at Mangaroca, the price starts at Rwf 2,600 for only salad and creeps all the way up to Rwf 4,200 for the full buffet. While the food is great, the price is much higher than most places and that means they lose the crown to Camellia. I’m sure they will be very disappointed to hear this.
Mysterious Buffet Place
Price: Rwf 1,500
You can’t really beat the price at this place… you just need to find it first! I don’t even know what it’s called but it offers up your usual Rwandan buffet with lots of starchy things, a soup, and some meat. The place is tucked down an alley just up the road from the Bank of Kigali in town heading away from UTC. It’s on the right. I wouldn’t make too much of a monumental effort to find it as the food is good but nothing special but the price is right so if you’re in the neighbourhood and want a change for Karibu, give it a go.
Price: Rwf 16,000
Not surprisingly, the lunch buffet at Serena is the king of all Kigali buffets. Logically it’s also the most expensive. While the price is high, the food on offer is tasty and there’s a huge choice including a giant dessert section. We’re talking passion fruit mousse, caramel pudding, white chocolate cheesecake, steamed zucchini cake with hot vanilla sauce, coconut pies… I could go on forever. The chocolate choices are rather average, though, but at least they have dark chocolate sauce that you can pour over everything. If you’re not that into sweet things, the savory part is amazing as well. Baked scampi, beef, chicken, fish; pretty much any type of meat. Several kinds of salad, smoked salmon, mango chutney (yeah, they place it in the salad bar so thought I’d include it…) Also, there’s a cheese and cracker section where you can find both brie and Camembert so if you gorge a bit on the cheese plate, you might recoup some of their expensive price.
Price: Rwf 6,000
If you’re sick of the usual meat and potatoes buffets on offer around the city, try Sol e Luna for some Italian food. It’s pricey but the food here is good and the dessert selection makes it worthwhile. Tirimasu in vast quantities… oh ya! There’s a nice selection of pastas, as you’d expect but there were a couple of dishes that weren’t your expected Italian fare. There’s a decent choice of salads and cheese and the bread rolls are fresh and yummy. Sol e Luna has a beautiful view and makes a great afternoon stop for lunch.