The phrase ‘fast food’ has different meanings in Ghana – the local and international sense. Typically, if you asked a Ghanaian for directions for the closest fast food joint, they would point you to the following type of stand:
- Ghanaian Fast Food: By far, this is the most common type in Ghana. Several can be found on each city block. Each has their own specialty dish. Examples include waakye (rice cooked with black-eyed peas), fried yams with pepper sauce, and kenkey (a fermented corn dough) with fried fish. Most stands have the owner’s religious affiliation displayed prominently as the name of their stand (EX: Jesus Works Miracles Yams). As far as health is concerned, if travelers choose a stand popular with locals with a large turnout of food, Ghanaian fast food can be eaten without fear of stomach issues. Just beware of the salad.
- American Fast Food: There is no escape. While Ghana remains resoundingly free of Burger King and most other American chains, KFC has two popular locations – while Burger King and McDonalds are looking to extend its influence.KFC in Ghana is viewed as a very upscale establishment. Their Osu location is three stories tall; on the bottom floor an armed security guard opens the door for customers. Prices are extremely expensive by Ghanaian standards; 12 pieces of chicken costs 22 American dollars. One interesting note is that most customers I’ve seen in KFC are Ghanaians.
On the second and third story, waiters stand by to collect orders. While I’ve never actually eaten anything here, I usually stop by whenever I go to Osu just because of their ice-cold air conditioning.
- Ghanaian American Fast Food: This is the worst. While it’s a travesty in itself that American fast food has extended its iron fist in Ghana, this is far worse than KFC or even McDonalds.
The primary contenders in this field are Chicken Republic, and the trio of ‘Inns from Hell’ – Chicken Inn, Pizza Inn, and Creamy Inn. Drew and I went to Chicken Republic one day because he was in the mood for greasy chicken. Here’s how his conversation with lady at the cash register went:Drew: I’ll take 6 nuggets and a medium chips.
Lady: We’re out of nuggets.
Drew: Okay then… one small order of spicy wings.
Lady: No spicy wings.
Drew: Regular wings?
Lady: No wings.
Drew: Do you have chicken pieces?
Lady: No pieces.
Drew: Chicken strips?
Lady: No strips.
Drew: What do you have?
Lady: Everything but chicken.
Chicken Inn is an even darker force of evil, for I’ve actually tasted their food. Several months ago I went to the Max Mart supermarket 15 minutes from the house, and it started raining. Catching a trotro in the rain would’ve been terrible, and I was starved. The only nearby sit-down restaurant was the Chicken Inn. I was a spendthrift and purchased the cheapest thing on the menu – a mini chicken sandwich for the equivalent of $3. After an hour of waiting, my plate arrived.It turns out that when they say ‘mini’, they mean it. The plate was the size of my palm, and the sandwich could’ve been eaten in one bite. It was cute nonetheless – served on a mini one-inch bun with a tiny leaf of lettuce sticking out. I took a small bite, and spit it out. The chicken was frozen.
Fast food joints in Ghana are thriving, due to a combination of expats, volunteers, and upper-class Ghanaians customers. I expect many more to make entrances to Ghana in the coming years, and to do very well in this new marketplace. With that being said, if any of my readers would like to make a jump start by opening Africa’s first Chipotle Mexican Grill while I am here in Accra, it would be much appreciated!