WHERE TO EAT
There is not a lot in the way of street food in Timbuktu. You may discover people selling brochettes (kabobs) or fried fish or beignets (fried dough balls). There are numerous butchers that sell roast meat; they are usually in little corner booths made of woven mats and have some sort of oven consisting of a portion of an oil drum. If you can find them there are some local "restaurants" mostly out of peoples’ homes where you can get a cheap dish of spagetii, beans, rice, fries etc. often as take-out (they will put it in a plastic bag for you to go eat elsewhere.) as with all street food you must make the choice about your standards of hygeine.
The local bread, takola, are flat rounds reminiscent of Moroccan bread or pita. It is baked in mud ovens that look like beehives. These too are scattered across the city. A high concentration of them are in the Sankore neighbourhood either just north of the Monument des Martyres or south of the mosque on the main road that heads towards the hospital. They only bake the bread at certain times a day, early morning, some do it again late morning or in the evening around dusk. If you don’t find any at the baker look for women with big bowls or basins covered in cloth in the market place. Takola is 50 f cfa a piece or occasionally 75 for extra big ones. There is also one bakery in town now that makes baguette style bread. You will see some wooden boxes painted with a picture and the word pain. A full sized baguette is 250 f but you can often purchase it in portions or 50 and 100 f.
Beyond that, if you have cooking gear, shops sell staples, and the market sells spices, vegetables and raw meat (see the health section for recommendations on choosing and preparing these items). If you won’t be cooking for yourself there is a quantity of goods that can be eaten on the spot: tinned pineapple and fruit cocktail, potted meat, laughing cow cheese spread, biscits (cookies), peanuts and dates.
Restaurants these are listed in alphabetical order. Again contact me with comments about these locations or vist the blog.
Al Hayat located across the street from the Maison des Artisans dinning is now on the second floor terrace with a good view. The meals are simple: rice, couscous, or spaghetti with sauce, Quarter chicken or diced and stewed heart or liver with bread may also be available. They sell soft drinks and fruit juices. Prices are low: 750 -1500 a plate This location has been closed for renovations.
Amanar located facing the Flamme de la Paix. It has good food that is appealing to the western palate. Prices are a little higher than at some others, around 2500 a plate. They have a variety of soft drinks and alcohol. The tables are outside in an enclosed yard; the ambience is pleasant. There is a second entrance at a side street that serves the night club, where there is occasionally live music. This location was closed for the better part of a year. The owner was travelling and chose not to keep his business open in his absence. It has reopened and will presumably remain so for the foreseeable future.
Amnes El Fud () meaning the thirsty camel in tamacheq, this bar restaurant is owned by the same French people who have the caravanserail. They serve alcohol and have live music every night. Half a block east down the first street south of the post office. Meals are suposed to be of good quality but quite expensive plates at 5000 to 7500 f cfa. This location, being owned by the same people as the caravanserail and who have left the region, is also closed until further notice.
Hotel Colombe serves dinner on the terrace, plat du jour or à la carte. They have alcohol and soft drinks. The prices are higher, the feel is definitely more western, some say colonial. You will not be getting the local flavour, if that is your wish. Meals are around 5000.
Handrina Khan Hotel has a restaurant open to the puclic as well as guests. It is similar to meals served at the Colombe, not bad but expensive and out of the way unless you are staying there. They also have alcohol and soft drinks.
La Maison is a hotel near the Monument des Martyrs which offers dinner on the roof to walk in diners as well as clients. The cook is a French woman and meals are French with a Malian twist. Dinner is an entré, main dish, and desert. Price for the meal is 7500. Guests may also get breakfast 2500 f or lunch 6000 f on request.
Le Souvenir run by the former cook of the Azali hotel. He offers slightly higher quality at slightly higher prices than places like Al Hayat. Salads are available when the gardening season permits. Meals are 1500-2000.
Mahraj located one block of the pavement facing the Governor’s residence and two blocks east of Handrina Khan.
Poulet d’Or, one block east of the Paillot night club and bar serves local style cuisine. Its prices are a little higher than Al Hyat and the food is a little better. They offer the famous toukaso, a steamed bread in a delicious tomato based sauce. Also the place to go if you wish to order mishoui a complete roast sheep stuffed with couscous.
Pattiserie Asko between the telecentre and the Post Office (on the west side of the street) serves simple local plates like rice or couscous with sauce, beer and soft drinks. They also have a variety of pastries. This place is good for a cheap meal or a croissant, but some of the local drunks tend to hang out here so the atmosphere can be uncomfortable for tee-totalers or women alone. The shop on the corner is a good place to stock up on beverages, except fruit juice.
Restaurant Marhaba (7887-4946) On the pavement north from Al Hayat past the round point before you get to the Monument des Martyrs. Owned by Lalla Mariam they opened in September 2008. The main dinning room has fans and a small tv, there is satalite dish on the roof. Tables are also avaiable on in the open air or on the roof-top. They plan to serve are the dishes avaible in Timbuktu standard rice, couscous or pasta with choice of sauces to roat chicken and kababs. Standard local dishes of rice and sauce etc. are under 1000cfa.
Restaurant du Nord on the roof of the Grand Marché serves food similar to Al Hayat and Pattiserie Asko.
Restaurant La Paix on the paved road Rue de la Paix, painted white with pictures of food on the wall it it is only about three blocks east of the Flamme de la Paix monument. Dishes are traditional and mostly inexpensive. 500 -1000 f a dish though some meals might be more based on availability/cost of ingrediants.
Salam In the Maison des Artisans this was an anex of the Poulet d’Or and is now a separate establishment run by the apprentice to the Poulet d’Or’s cook.