Bars and restaurants of Nampula (or the ones I have been to)


Nampula isn’t very big – it seems to me that most places are within the same grid of 3 blocks along and 3 up. Of course, everything is centered around the one and only set of traffic lights. But still the people who have been here a while opt to drive or take taxis when going out. Myself, I would rather walk, novelty outweighing laziness.


So it is quite surprising when going out we get in the car, or as was the case last Saturday, calling and waiting for a taxi, that we go about one or two blocks and we are there! In fact, there are times when it seems walking could be quicker.


And the places – they are also within the same 3 blocks of each other. Our most immediate local (and they can all be termed locals) is the Pensao Parque opposite the flat. This place is made enticing by the coloured lights hung on a string going from tree to tree. The drinks – beer or coke – cost the same here as most places and the plastic garden furniture certainly aren’t going to set it apart from every other place in town. Also the immediate proximity and heat make this place a good temptation into alcoholism. The thought of cold beer is all-consuming on some of the more sticky hot days. But this place is pretty and has a strange romantic appeal to me – it seems the kind of place where I, under different circumstances, would find myself with notebook, writing about my travels.


Copacabana must be the most visited restaurant here. The main reason for our return time and again is that they make the best pizzas (pizza being the standard cuisine other than chicken) and also have a couple of vegetarian options. But they are slow. On arrival it is absolutely imperative to order your drink otherwise you will die of thirst as well as hunger before you get a chance to protest the service. Ordering wine is a special event – on the menu you have the option of Portuguese wine or South African wine – you then choose and they bring the selection of say South African wines in stock to the table. Then you choose again. All SA wines cost the same no matter what the label and it is all R100 – the same price as in the supermarkets. Beers are the best value for money but there is a trap – some places will charge the same price for a normal small bottle as for a 500ml bottle and will bring you the small one unless you specifically ask for the grande, which costs R10. And they are always cold.

Food takes over an hour to arrive at Copacabana but there is nothing to do but wait. If necessary there is bread and butter on request and if it is not too busy you could get the olive oil (only one bottle available sometimes) with the bread. The pizzas usually arrive one or two at a time – if it is two then one is usually cold – it seems the pizza oven only cooks one at a time. But if the pizza is hot it is good although I have started to get a bit tired of the tinned peas and muchrooms on my pizza vegetariana.


MP3 Bar is the newest bar in town and is situated, a bit bizarrely, in the Girasoll building, which is the newest office, shops center in Nampula. The bar has promise with low marble like tables and soft booth chairs. It starts to lose its appeal with the pink lights and  mushy pea green printed marble bar counter. But then the name should be a give away to the cheesiness this place is capable of. Because it is ‘new’ and ‘modern’ they can charge a lot more for their drinks. I paid double the price of a beer for a small can of tonic water – I can only imagine what it must have cost if I asked for Gin with it! They also have the weirdest security system here – as you walk in you are given an order card. The idea is when you order you do so writing it down here and then get it marked off when you pay. Where this system gets a bit shaky is that if you are in a group of people you only use one card but you MUST be able to show your blank one as you leave. I see a few loopholes here!


Café Atlantico is a small but busy coffee shop also in the Girasol. The coffee is good but I suspect the real reason for its success is the aircon – it is heaven and the only way one could actually enjoy a hot coffee at midday.


Café Carlos – this is about a block away from the flat in the only road in Nampula not to get repaired in the last few years. Most roads here have some potholes but this one is more pothole than road. Carlos has a secluded tranquility about it; it is situated within a courtyard, some tables outside, some inside. There are actually pictures on the walls inside and the tables are all neatly decked out with checked green clothes. Bamboo and other pots of a variety of green plants line the walls showing off the tropical lushness of Nampula so often covered in concrete. The beer is the usual 2M at the regular price of 30MTn (Meticais Nova Familia) which is just under R10. The menu consists of the Nampula staples of grilled chicken or pizza – which apparently aren’t that great so we don’t eat here.


There are a few more places I have yet to discover but that will happen in time. At the moment I am happy to be cooking at home using whichever vegetables are in season and available at the market!