A Slice of Accra

ACCRA, Ghana – When visiting Accra, tourists and locals are attracted to African-themed restaurants that include traditional African dishes like tilapia, which is easily accessible in Ghana, and an atmosphere that is majestic and tranquil.

Buka, a restaurant in Osu, and Maquis Tante Marie, in Labone, are extremely similar and appeal to tourists and Accra’s upper class. Besides providing traditional Ghanaian dishes, they also offer special dishes from different countries in Africa.

While more Ghanaian-based restaurants are beginning to shut down and more fast food joints are opening in the fast-paced lifestyle of Accra, Buka and Tante Marie have continued to stay open for more than a decade with their high demand of local dishes.

“The key to successfully keeping your restaurant open is to have good food and good service,” said Isaac Minneaux, the manager of Buka. The 35- year-old from East Legon, Accra said the most popular dish at Buka is their freshly grilled tilapia and banku, which are classic Ghanaian foods.

Banku is made from made from a mixture of maize and grated cassava tuber. Peppers, tomatoes and onions are commonly added to banku. Tilapia is grilled with seasonings like black and white pepper and other spices.

Using fresh ingredients that are straight from the market is what makes Buka so healthy and why numerous locals and tourists love dining there. “Our goal looking forward is to open new branches in other parts of the country,” Minneaux said.

Tante Marie, which has two other chains located in Accra, strives on their way of making
African food, like their popular dish tilapia, nutritious by eliminating oil or using vegetable oil.

Along with their nutritious food, the staff of Tante Marie finds their atmosphere to be an important aspect of the restaurant. “We have a successful way of doing things here with our African style of set up,” said Kennedy Kwami, the manager of Tante Marie. The 32- year-old from Labone, Accra said, “The customers come in here for something different.”

Tante Marie and Buka appeal to the same type of people, which are tourists and the upper class in Accra like businessmen. This is what makes them competing restaurants. The prices of their meals are expensive, which is why the lower class in Accra is not usually found there.

For example, Buka sells its tilapia for GH₵ 23, $11.41 in the United States, and Tante Marie sells theirs for GH₵ 20, $9.92. Both of these prices are much higher than tilapia sold on the street.

After both being open for over a decade, these restaurants have been able to successfully coexist without hurting the others business.

Tante Marie is known for its variety of African dishes whereas Buka specializes in certain Ghanaian dishes. Kwabona Oloo, 38, a businessman at Trade Union Congress from Tema, Accra, prefers Buka to Tante Marie.

“I like Buka better than Tante Marie because I think the food is carefully prepared at Buka,” said Oloo.

Although Buka and Tante Marie have unique characteristics that attract to people to dine at their locations, both restaurants are known for their African atmosphere. Customers are able to eat outside in the warm weather. “The main attraction for people coming to Buka is the ambiance of the place and the staff,” said Minneaux.