Accra is an increasingly cosmopolitan city, but the people in the Ghanaian capital haven’t forgotten their roots. Whether it’s by mixing drinks named for the nation’s heroes, decorating spaces with work from A-list artists, or using traditionally crafted tableware to serve akpeteshie (distilled palm wine), here’s how three restaurants in the burgeoning neighborhoods of Airport City and Osu are paying tribute to Ghana’s history and culture.
The Pallet Kitchen
What would Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first prime minister and president, order at The Pallet Kitchen? The Nkrumah cocktail, of course, which contains coconut, pineapple, ginger, and akpeteshie. Yaa Asantewaa, a 19th-century Ashanti queen mother and unlikely war leader, might prefer the more mango-forward version named for her. “The idea was to produce juices in the name of local African heroes,” says the restaurant’s owner, Mr. Zohzoh, who doles out the drinks from an outdoor cart built from repurposed “waste wood” and mountain bike tires. Inside, similarly, diners sit on chairs fashioned from reclaimed shipping pallets and enjoy classic dishes such as spicy chicken salad and goat pepper soup.
Kona Grill & Lounge
A civil engineer by trade, Kona Grill & Lounge owner Kobby Nimo recently renovated his family’s restaurant, installing “street-market-inspired” stands whittled from Ghanaian wawa timber. The counters serve globally influenced bites (chicken wings, kebabs, samosas), but front and center is a regional fixture, a palm wine stall that serves akpeteshie in cups carved from the wood-like gourd fruit calabash, “which no one else does these days,” Nimo says. “It’s the most common cup in Ghana—but not in Accra.”
Nimo treks to his Eastern Region hometown, Akim Oda, to procure the pieces from Akan tribeswomen. “Basically, I’m a village boy who’s decided to bring village design back into Accra,” he says.
“I like lively faces,” Yvette Ansah says of the walls at her café’s two locations, which rotate works by local artists— most recently a trio of warm acrylic portraits of women by Larry Otoo. “He’s quite popular—one of Ghana’s older, more famous painters,” Ansah notes. “A customer literally cornered me into selling him one.” The menu, meanwhile, boasts everything from sugar bread French toast to spaghetti Bolognese to an offbeat take on an old favorite: milkshakes made with fula, a millet drink from Northern Ghana. “I grew up drinking traditional fula mixed with milk rather than with vanilla ice cream,” Ansah says, “but I have a really sweet tooth now!”
Starting May 14, United will fly nonstop from Washington Dulles to Accra on its 787-8 Dreamliner, with all-aisle access Polaris business and United Premium Plus seats. United will be the only airline serving Accra nonstop from D.C., and the only one with premium economy seats between the U.S. and Ghana. Book at united.com/ghana.