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A Tour of Accra’s Most Inventive Cuisine

Some of the world’s most dynamic chefs are electrifying the international culinary scene with innovative interpretations of Ghanaian cuisine, but Ghana’s capital remains the motherlode of taste.

A Tour of Accra’s Most Inventive Cuisine

Street food in the Osu neighborhood of Accra

Seyiram Kweku/Unsplash

Though COVID-19 has stalled many travel plans, we hope our stories can offer inspiration for your current—and future—adventures.

The cuisine of Ghana has perfected the art of transforming everyday ingredients into sublime dishes that are eternal staples of the Ghanaian diet. It’s little wonder that chefs around the world are tipping their hats to their ingenious Ghanaian brothers and sisters, who are upping their culinary game, serving up dishes that are as highly photogenic as they are downright mouthwatering. London-based Zoe Adjonyoh, author of Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen, got her start drawing on her half-Ghanaian heritage by making and selling “peanut butter stew”—an irresistibly African-inflected spicy lamb-tomato broth—that captivated many fans. Follow in the self-taught chef and Today show contributor’s footsteps when you embark on a palate-pleasing journey to taste the wonders of Ghanaian food for yourself on a trip to Accra.

The airy lobby of the Accra Marriott Hotel

The airy lobby of the Accra Marriott Hotel

“Nicolas Dumont”

Savor sumptuous sides and other local delicacies

Think of your hotel as a delightful accompaniment to the moveable feast that is Ghana’s capital. The Accra Marriott Hotel, conveniently located opposite Kotoka International Airport in the heart of Airport City, is a gourmet gateway to all the edible splendors that await. As you’ll soon discover, Ghana’s meat and fish entrees are never served with regular old rice or potatoes—instead, they’re paired with spectacular sides that steal the show. That tradition is upheld at the Accra Marriott Hotel.

Complementing the rooms’ sleek, contemporary design are the property’s three elegant eateries. Red Red, the hotel’s restaurant known for its friendly service and delicious Ghanaian and international menu, is also the apt name of a Ghanaian signature dish, cowpeas cooked in red palm oil with tomatoes. Choose from a lunch buffet and à la carte options for breakfast (including an impressive English-style breakfast), lunch, or dinner. Dishes include many delicious stews and pasta salads, all beautifully presented, that put an international spin on Ghana’s traditional fare. The Sanbra eatery lets guests pair a cocktail, or Orange-Carrot Detox drink if preferred, with a selection of light bites, while Fammy’s is for casual poolside dining with a side of bright, outdoor sunshine at lunch or dinner.

Plantains and peanuts combine with peppers, ginger, and garlic to create the sweet-sour, musical-sounding kelewele, so delicious it’s sold as a snack everywhere in Accra, from food stalls to fine dining establishments (Buka Restaurant’s version is among the best). Meanwhile, simple grains are elevated to artistry when infused with the warming flavors and colors of tomatoes, onions, and chili peppers, yielding Jollof rice, another West African signature dish that’s delicious and ubiquitous.

Waakye with spaghetti, garri (cassava root meal), egg, and plantains // Photo by Uprising Man

Waakye with spaghetti, garri (cassava root meal), egg, and plantains // Photo by Uprising Man

Beans plus rice equals the perfect protein—and in the hands of Ghanaian cooks, they are even more than the sum of their parts. Ghana’s chefs artfully combine legumes and grains into the dish known as waakye, which is served with accompaniments such as spaghetti, avocado, plantains, and meat. The street food stall with the most reliable street cred is Auntie Muni Waakye, which helped to popularize Waakye as a staple food of Accra, and also makes it available all day, for breakfast, lunch, or supper. Care for a side of live jazz with your waakye? Head to Chez Afrique on Friday and Saturday. If you crave waakye and would like some delivered to your hotel, dedicated delivery services, such as Waakye Queen and Waakye ALL DAY, are happy to oblige.

Boiled cassava and plantains are combined and pounded into a soft, sticky paste called fufu, a delightfully dumpling-like accompaniment to spicy tomato or palm nut soup. Fufu is heartily enjoyed at Buka, and indeed all over Ghana, in a range of broths, with regional variations to delight the traveler’s palate.

For seafood lovers, Accra’s favorite fish is tilapia, a freshwater variety that is first spiced, then grilled. Tilapia is accompanied by banku, a coastal Ghanaian staple food that’s like a cross between a dumpling and a scone, a mix of fermented corn and cassava dough, plus hot pepper, tomatoes, and onions. It’s said that banku is food for champions. Ghanaian boxer Bukom Banku allegedly eats it three times daily for each meal. Favorite spots for tilapia and banku are Chop Shop Ghana and Philipo’s Tilapia Joint, a street stall where the fish is grilled before your eyes.

Seek out midnight snacks and Accra’s fusion restaurants

For a nocturnal adventure, visit the Osu Night Market on Basel Street. There, you can sample local ingredients and see Ghana’s famed street-food staples prepared beneath the market’s brightly colored lights. Just try to resist Ghana’s decadent twist on fish and chips, fried seafood served with hot pepper sauce and a side of kenkey (yet another staple delicacy, made by forming fermented corn dough into balls, wrapping them around dry corn leaves, then boiling them). You can also chat with the vendors to learn more about their ingredients and techniques. It’s a great way to pick up new culinary tricks to bring back to your home kitchen. Easy Track Ghana offers tours of this legendary market that’s been delighting foodies for more than 125 years.

Street eats are always exciting, at night or during the day—but sometimes a sit-down experience is in order. Take a break from Accra’s culinary street adventure by heading back to your hotel’s restaurant Red Red, or visiting the city’s many fusion restaurants, such as The Neem Grill, a vibrant African-Italian outdoor space in East Airport serving grilled vegetables, meats, fish, seafood, and brick-oven pizza.

For a Gallic gourmet vibe, an intriguing mix of Franco-African culinary influences can be found at Au Grand Ecuyer. Try the steak au poivre, with an authentic mousse au chocolat for dessert. There’s even a Jollof jazzed up with green peas, carrots, and cabbage, for a petits-pois-a-la-Française vibe.

Cap off the trip with world-class chocolate

A selection of chocolates in the Adinkar Favor Box from ’57 Chocolate / Photo by ’57 Chocolate

A selection of chocolates in the Adinkar Favor Box from ’57 Chocolate / Photo by ’57 Chocolate

In Ghana, cacao is molded into confectionery so exquisite, it is now—quite rightly—the platinum standard for chocoholics the world over. The traditional method of fermenting cocoa beans in plantain and banana leaves instills a distinctive flavor. While Africa is the source of much of the world’s cacao beans, historically the continent produced less than one percent of the world’s chocolate.

Those stats are changing rapidly thanks to the hard work of African women chocolatiers such as the two Ghanaian sisters who run ‘57 Chocolate, which creates bean-to-bar confections to satisfy the most discerning international chocolate consumer. In-person tastings of this all-natural treat (with no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives) are held outside ’57’s main office. If you don’t make it to a chocolate tasting—or if you already devoured all your ’57 Chocolate stash before starting your journey home—pick up boxes of ‘57 Chocolate on your way out of town at Wild Gecko Handicrafts, located at Kotoka International Airport.

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