Until recently, all the good restaurants in Livingstone were located in the high-class hotels and lodges. Now, more restaurants have opened up, which serve speciality cuisines such as Indian, Chinese and seafood, and, of course, the local Zambian cuisine, with a wide range of dishes at comparatively cheaper prices. Even so, do not expect gourmet cuisine; the food served in Zambia tends to be very basic, and is somewhat like the common dishes served at pubs.
Zambia's local dish is the 'nshima', which is porridge made from cooked and ground maize. It is a tasty dish, always served at the small restaurants in town and, if asked for, at the safari camps.
In the Livingstone restaurant guide below, you will find information about the best places for eating out in Livingstone. So sit back and experience the exotic food and cuisines in Zambia.
Hotels, lodges and camps that cater to foreign tourists serve an international spread. In fact, the excellent quality of food, especially in the remotest bush camps, surprises many tourists. If you are on a safari in Zambia, then the biggest problem with the food served to you will be the temptation to overeat! But after a high intensity Victoria Falls tour on bicycle, foot, raft, or bungee, it is well-deserved.
This porridge is known as sadza in Zimbabwe and mealiepap in South Africa. Made of a thinner consistency for breakfast, Nshima is usually cooked with sugar. For lunch and dinner, it is made thicker, with the consistency of mashed potatoes. With this type of nshima, a delicious side dish of meat and tomatoes or dried fish is also usually eaten.
You must try nshima at least once during your visit to Zambia. It is always served in the small restaurants in town and, if requested, at the safari camps. Usually, small restaurants list only three dishes on the menu - nshima with chicken, nshima with meat and nshima with fish. All three are very tasty.
Zambia, like other countries in the region, produces two distinct kinds of beer - clear and opaque. Almost all tourists and affluent Zambians prefer to drink the clear beer, which is like the European lager and is always served chilled. The subsidiary of the South African Breweries in Zambia brews the Mosi,Castle and Rhinobrands of lager, which are very good in taste and available extensively. There is one brewery in Zambia that skillfully makes beer from the fruit of the baobab tree. It is called Baobab White. This brewery also produces other popular brands such as Dr. Livingstone's Lager, Zikomo Copper Aleand Safari Stout.
Please note that all beer bottles produced in Zambia have a deposit on them, just like the soft drink bottles. While a bottle of beer bought at a shop in Livingstone costs around 80 cents (4,000ZMK), at a Livingston hotel bar, it costs around US$1.30 (8,000ZMK). Imported lagers such as Windhoek, Holstein and Amstel cost almost double.
Middle class Zambians usually prefer the opaque beer known as Chibuku. This is a more marketable version of the normal beer, which is commonly brewed from maize and/or sorghum. It is a porridge-like brew, which tastes very sour - one has to acquire a taste for it. It is much cheaper than the usual lagers and costs around 40 cents (2,000 ZMK) for a one litre carton. It is unusual for tourists to drink this beer, so do taste it and surprise your Zambian friends.
Please note that the typical opaque beer differs in taste the more it ferments. Hence, you can ask for either 'fresh beer' or 'strong beer'. If you are unsure about the cleanliness of the bar, safely try the packaged brands such as Chibuku, Chinika, Chipolopolo, Golden and Mukango.
Soft drinks are widely available, which is a boon, especially when the temperature is soaring. Choices are often limited, though you will find the omnipresent Coca-Cola everywhere. The cost of a soft drink in Livingstone is around 30 cents (1,500ZMK). A café sells is more expensive that a supermarket. Diet colas are hard to come by in the rural areas - not surprising considering Zambia is a country where malnutrition is a major problem.
In the main cities,water is usually purified, unless there is a shortage of chlorine or a breakdown or other mishaps. The locals drink this water and are relatively immune to the diseases that it may harbour. If you are going to be in Zambia for a longer time, then you might want to get used to it, though you will need to be prepared to spend a few days close to a toilet. But if you are here for only a couple of weeks, drink only bottled or boiled and treated water.
Almost all the camps and lodges out in the open use water from bore wells. Water is sourced from under the ground and varies in its quality but is usually free from germs and, therefore, safe for drinking. This water can sometimes taste sweet and, at other times, a bit alkaline or salty. The best way to decide is to ask the locals whether the water is safe for a tourist who is not acclimatised and then follow their advice.