When I arrived back in 2010, the dessert in Kigali pickings were slim, my friends. You could get decent zucchini and banana bread and good ice cream at Bourbon Coffee. Plus restaurants like Heaven often had a nice dessert on offer, but that was about it. This was good news for the waistline, but bad news for the soul.
Well! Times, they have changed and Kigali has grown into a place where those of us with a sweet tooth can rejoice! You can find some awesome treats in Kigali these days. Few of these desserts are cheap, but many of them are at least a two-person operation, so grab a friend and indulge!
This will be an ongoing attempt to make a full list of all of the glorious desserts in Kigali, so please tell me what I’ve missed and I will go feed my face and add it to the list. Or perhaps I should instead consult Leah’s list of Kigali’s best salads and hit the gym. Hmm… nah!
Baso Patissier is probably the best choice in town for a selection of desserts to make anyone happy. They have a whole bunch of giant, mousse-y cakes in a bunch of awesome flavours, plus their pastries (the pain au chocolate is one of my favourite things) are excellent. But the superstar for many people is the vanilla eclair (Rwf 3,000). It’s a bit different from a usual eclair in that the tubey pastry part is a bit crispy rather than soft, but it’s amazing. I guess the most telling thing is that my usual policy is ‘if it’s not chocolate, it doesn’t count as dessert’ (which is probably reflected by most items on this list) but this eclair is something I would order, even with all of the awesome chocolate-y choices around it. That, my friends, is saying something.
I was a bit bummed when I went to Brachetto recently because what I really wanted to try was the warm chocolate cake with cinnamon ice cream which was vouched for by a friend. Sadly, they were out of cinnamon ice cream. Happily, they still have their macadamia nut and thyme chocolate mousse (Rwf 8,500) which is really quite amazing. For the price, it better be! But really, this beauty doesn’t disappoint. The thyme really does something magical.
The original Brioche chef has moved on to open his own place (the glorious Baso Patissier mentioned above) but they’ve still managed to continue to crank out some of the original favourites. Their ‘chocolate bomb’ (Rwf 2,900) is still one of my favourite decadent treats in Kigali. The problem with Brioche is that their cakes cabinet is often empty, so it’s hit or miss whether they’ll actually have this amazing little cake for sale.
The new Italian restaurant at Marriott Hotel hasn’t been open for long, but news of their amazing tiramisu (Rwf 6,000) travelled to me before I had a chance to step foot into the restaurant. On hearing this, I of course made it my mission to go eat there and I was not disappointed. You’d better like tiramisu because you’re pretty much served an entire vat of the stuff. It’s a huge serving and on the side you even get a biscuit and a little pot of espresso. I was confused about the espresso, I have to admit. It has a spout – do I drink it? If so, what is the purpose of the spout? What is the meaning of this?!? In the end my friend and I voted to pour some into the dessert and it was responsible for adding extra coffee goodness. I never would have imagined I’d need an instruction manual to eat tiramisu, but I’ve never claimed to be intelligent. But really… it’s creamy and yummy and, with the espresso, coffee-y.
Delizia Italiana burst onto the scene not too long ago and a lot of people were very excited. Ice cream shops have come and gone, but none ever promised proper gelato until Delizia opened its doors. Apparently the equipment is top quality and everyone was trained by an Italian dude who really knows his stuff. For us, it means there’s a great place in Kigali to get some amazing ice cream. I’m partial to chocolate and mint together (with chocolate and coffee a close second and chocolate and chocolate a close third) but all of the flavours are great. Give the ricotta and pear a try for something different!
Inzora’s baked goodies are a little more subtle than many of the desserts on this list. I’m not one to get too excited by ‘loaf’ as dessert. Banana bread, zucchini loaf, and so on – you are not desserts! You are some other category that I have yet to determine. So if you’re like me, when you peer into the nice display of cakes, cookies, brownies, and loafs at Inzora, the zucchini, chocolate, orange loaf (Rwf 1,500) might be poo poo-ed. But poo poo it not! It’s one of my favourite treats in Kigali. This little loaf packs a huge amount of flavour and I have a slice or take one home practically every time I’m at Inzora.
Iriba Bar at Marriott Hotel are one of the only places in Kigali I’ve ever seen a crème brûlée (Rwf 5,500). It wouldn’t normally be my first choice, but Iriba Bar doesn’t have a lot of dessert options so I opted to give it a go. It’s a bit different from a regular crème brûlée in that it has some orange zest added to give it a bit of an extra zing and the sugar top isn’t super thick so you don’t get the usual ‘crack’. But it’s still a good dessert and I’d recommend giving it a try. Plus it’s huge and a good one for sharing.
Java House serves up massive portions for most of their dishes, so it’s no surprise that they have an absolutely gigantic chocolate brownie sundae that obviously makes the list of best desserts in Kigali. This monster of a sundae is not really advised for one person to eat alone. Unless you’re truly dedicated. I managed to struggle my way through this glorious tower of chocolatey goodness my myself, but I broke into a cold sweat towards the end and I probably put myself on the path towards diabetes (no regrets). It’s huge. Find a friend or two and go out for a chocolate sundae date! If this isn’t your cup of tea then Java House makes the best milkshakes in town and the salted caramel shake is pretty amazing.
J. Lynn’s is one of Kigali’s best places for a wide variety of delicious baked goods. They always have a few cupcakes and cookies on display at each of their two locations (in Kagugu and Kacyiru) and they’ll make just about anything if you place an order. One of my favourite things at J. Lynn’s is her cupcakes (Rwf 1,200 each). They’re the moistest (totally not a word, but oh well) and the icing is full of sugary, flavourful goodness. The pumpkin spiced cupcakes with maple icing that come out around Halloween are totally worth a trip out to one of the J. Lynn’s locations.
Just Chill is a restaurant and frozen yoghurt/soft serve ice cream place that makes the list because of the amazing buffet of toppings available. It’s kind of hard to get a decent photo of all of the toppings because of the glare on the glass, but trust me on this – you have a pretty great selection to choose from. Everything from nuts (even the expensive ones like walnuts) to chocolate chips (which don’t seem to exist in Kigali anywhere else) to freaking gummy worms! Gummy worms, people!! It’s not cheap, but it’s great if you want to treat yourself with a decadent sort of homemade dessert. It’s located in the basement part of that giant building across from Grande Pension Plaza. Near that weird Spiderman kid’s play area.
Before Delizia Italian and Java House burst on the scene with their great ice cream, Kigali was a bit of a lost cause for ice cream lovers. Then I discovered that Kimy Gourmand, a crepe place, has some amazingly flavourful ice cream. Who would have guessed? You can get a few scoops on their own (the coconut and Speculoos are two of the best) or add some sauce and get one of their ice cream cups. Normally I would be chocolate all the way, no questions asked. But I love their Speculoos ice cream so much that I opt for the ‘Coupe Caramel’ (Rwf 4,500) with two scoops of ice cream, crumbled cookies, and caramel sauce. It’s delicious.
New Cactus has long been a favourite of mine for their delicious steak and nice atmosphere. I pretty much always get either the steak dish or the meatballs, both of which are gigantic so I almost never have room for dessert here. But they actually have a pretty good selection so take a look next time you’re there. They make a nice chocolate mousse, but that’s already on this list twice, so lets instead talk about their Dame Noir. It’s a typical chocolate sundae with chocolate sauce and ice cream and whipped cream on top. This classic dessert really isn’t a thing at any other place in Kigali so if you’re hankering for a good ol’ chocolate sundae, New Cactus is your place!
Park Inn have become my favourite place to chill for a Kigali pool day, plus they have a good breakfast buffet, and a pretty cool bar area with a good wifi connection that makes it a nice place to hang out and work for awhile. And what goes better with work and/or pools than cheesecake? Nothing!!! Well… probably lots of things. Like sunscreen. But the next best thing is this cheesecake. It’s creamy and lemon-y and I’m a fan.
Poivre Noir is somewhere at or near the top of most people’s lists for best restaurants in Kigali, with amazing burgers and a rotating menu of other awesome goodies. Since their menu changes every couple of months, you have a chance to sample a lot of great things but, for the moment, their coffee chocolate mousse is pretty awesome. It’s another large, rich, dessert so bring a friend!
I really don’t know anything about Turkish food except that I usually like it. Memories of doner kebabs at 5am in London are currently coming to mind. Curious to know more, I tried the brand new Umut Cafe & Restaurant and was pleasantly surprised by their prices and nice atmosphere. My friends and I were offered ‘tres leches’ cake (Rwf 1,500) for dessert by a man with a strong Turkish accent, and we decided to give it a try. I totally thought ‘tres leches’ was a Latin American thing, but we went for it and were pretty impressed. The cake was moist and the sauce on top was pretty amazing. Plus, the price is hard to beat! Umut is down the hill a bit from T2000 in that giant new CHIC mall.