Anthony Bourdain in Ghana: 3+ Spots Where Tony Ate

Africa is known as the dark continent, and Anthony Bourdain admits that upon his first visit that he is indeed in unknown parts. “By now there are few areas of the world truly unknown to me”, he comments as he arrives in the country of Ghana, to begin a love affair with this part of the world that lasts nearly a decade.

Anthony Bourdain visited Ghana to film season 3 (episode 2) of No Reservations; it was his only visit to Ghana but one of many he made to Africa over the course of his television career. Rather than being part of a “dark continent,” Tony discovers that Ghana is instead a place of vibrant color, great people, and, of course, amazing food.

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If you’re planning a visit to Ghana, you might want to eat at some of the same places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Ghana. Below you’ll find a list of the formal places (restaurants) where he ate – as well as a list of the local dining experiences he had and all the foods he ate during the whole trip.

Let this inspire you to try new foods, explore “parts unknown” to you, and see all the color and culture Ghana has to offer.

Want to watch the episode where Anthony Bourdain visits Ghana?
The No Reservations episode is available on Amazon, Hulu, and Apple TV.

Makola Market (Accra)

Anthony Bourdain in Ghana - Akpeteshie
Photo credit: Pambelle12 via Flickr

Arriving in the capital city of Accra, Anthony’s first stop is a familiar one – the central market. Amidst the organized chaos of Makola Market in the heart of the city, he gives himself over to sensation and impulse as he moves amongst the bustling stalls and enticing food stands.

Sampling first a snack best described as deep fried something (made, we are told, with flour and sugar), he also tries a local variety of toffee, made from condensed milk that is cooked until caramelized, then rolled into small cylinders for a delicious sugary treat that will break your teeth wide open.

He is also introduced to the local drink of choice – akpeteshie. Considered the national spirit of Ghana, akpeteshie is produced by distilling palm wine or sugarcane into a milky clear liquid, which is then taken as an eye-watering shot.

Aksana Local Special Chop Bar (Accra)

Anthony Bourdain in Libya - Omotuo

From the market, Bourdain moves next to a local eatery known as a chop bar, a unique type of restaurant found in Ghana that specializes in various meat dishes.

Introduced to this unique establishment, Tony is served a mixed stew of beef, crab, lambs’ meat, and eggs, together with cows’ tongue, a palm nut and groundnut soup, and a ball of starch known as omotuo, which is made of pounded ground rice and used to both pick up the meat and sop up the liquid.

This gut-busting combination is all served together in a large bowl and is often the only meal of the day for locals with a heavy work schedule, and is washed down with a large ice-cold beer.

Osu Night Market (Accra)

Anthony Bourdain in Libya - Spinach Stew

Returning to the city center, Anthony next visits the famed Osu Night Market, where partygoers and night workers alike congregate to satisfy their late-night food cravings. Meeting with market queen Auntie Grace, Bourdain is treated to freshly roasted pork belly, ear, and rib, complete with crunchy crackling, together with a spinach stew made with rice, beans, and more peppers, all slow-cooked together.

Local Dining Experiences Tony Had in Ghana

In addition to the formal/restaurant meals that Anthony Bourdain ate in Ghana, he also had a number of what I call “local dining experiences.” Below you’ll find details about each one – you might not be able to replicate them but can still seek out the same foods and flavors to try during your time in Ghana.

  • At an unknown beachside restaurant at Labadi Beach in Accra, Bourdain meets with Minister of Tourism Jacob Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey, aka “Minister Jake”. After assisting the local fisherman to bring in the day’s catch, they enjoy a fresh lunch of lobster, shrimp, red snapper, squid, cassava fish, and barracuda, served together with a different starch ball variation known as kenkey, which is a more fermented stiffer version than omotuo, with a texture similar to lightly fermented cornmeal. Tony is also first introduced to what rapidly becomes a firm favorite accompaniment on this trip, Ghanaian peppers. Served in a variety of ways, the pepper is ubiquitous in Ghanaian cuisine for adding spice. Here at Labadi beach, they are served as fresh red pepper ground with tomatoes and onions, pickled peppers, and finally fried peppers with a little bit of ground fish for additional umami.
  • Next visiting an unnamed village in Mole National Park, Tony’s next stop is a local village where he sees the fruit of the shea nut tree being pounded flat and sifted to be used as flour, as well as trying tuo-zafi or “very hot”, another starch ball variation.
  • Keeping with the local vibe, Bourdain then visits Nzulezo village, known as the village on stilts. Here he enjoys a meal with the villagers, which begins with a shot of akpeteshie, including a drop offered to the Gods, then grilled cassava fish and a spicy hot fish and pepper soup.
  • Finally, Anthony travels to Kumasi, Ghana’s second-largest city. Here he meets with Ghanaian musical legend Koo Nimo, a godfather of the musical genre known as palm wine music. After hearing a session of guitar rhythm-based music, the two enjoy a meal of red plantains, served together with a unique meat stew. ‘Grass-cutter’ is the local name given to the giant cane rat, a rodent the size of a small cat which rather than being a pest is considered a delicacy. The appropriately named grass-cutter stew in this meal is made by slow-cooking chunks of the meat together with tomato and spicy pepper. Finally, there are yet more shots of akpeteshie to toast Bourdain’s presence as guest of honor for this meal.

Have any questions about the places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Ghana or the local meals and experiences he had there? Let me know in the comments below!

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Matt Young is a street food fanatic and world traveler, currently splitting his time between Europe and South East Asia.

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