(2013-04-02) Visiting Ilha de Moçambique, one of the most striking things, apart from the friendliness of the locals and the faded beauty of the surroundings, is the high density of good eateries in such a small space. The variety of different cuisines and ambience is surprising. The island has always proudly embodied a fusion of African, Arab and European cultures which is also reflected in its food and the use of spices. Since 2007 Ilha’s association for small tourism businesses APETUR has been working on developing gastronomy as a way to attract tourists, particularly with their Ztoziva Food Fairs. In 2009 the organisation established a link with the internationally acclaimed Slow Food Movement. And it seems to be working – the food fairs keep on growing. But it’s easy to have year-round good food on Ilha... here are some of The Mozambican Traveler’s favourites:
Bar Flor is a ‘watch the world go by’ roof top Italian restaurant with unrivalled ambience and tasty, down to earth, value for money favourites like Gnocci and Lasagne. While the evening away with friends by candle light, caipirinha in hand, to the sounds of the 80s and jazz. Located next to the old hospital in the centre of Ilha, it is a great place to soak up the atmosphere of the island. Opens from 17h00 to midnight, closed on Sundays.
Café Âncora d’Ouro, Ilha’s friendly neighbourhood cafe is situated opposite the Museum of Sacred Art in the Museu part of the island. It is the ideal place to meet friends or relax and shelter from the heat. Âncora’s diverse menu offers something for every taste – we liked the crispy pizza and fresh fruit juices. Âncora opens from 8h00 till late with a wide range of breakfast options, including Swedish pancakes.
Dona Sara’s is a good place to go for an authentic flavour of Ilha, so stop over at her small restaurant opposite the hospital for a taste of Matapa Siri Siri, the island’s version of one of Mozambique’s signature dishes, and other Ilha specialities. Dona Sara is reputed to be the island’s best cook, which was confirmed by her winning a Slow Food Movement cooking competition in 2009 and subsequently represented Ilha at the Slow Food convention in Torino, Italy, in 2012. Dona Sara’s is situated between two other eateries opposite the hospital (next to the primary school) and opens from lunchtime until late.
Escondidinho, the beautifully decorated guesthouse in the Museu area has been providing good value for money Mozambican and Portuguese cuisine at its restaurant for over ten years. Apart from the wholesome food we also like the innovative sculptures of the artist Pekiwa which incorporate wooden pieces from Ilha and are on display at the restaurant. The restaurant is open throughout the day and evening.
Detailed maps of the island are available at Ruby Backpackers.