There used to be a time in Maun where you’d be hard-pressed to find somewhere accessible to have a decent meal. Well, that time is no more, in my opinion. In fact, I would even go so far as to say that even though Maun is very much still a village, it offers a far better dining experience than the capital, Gaborone.
Where Gaborone eateries are very samey and the food very underwhelming, Maun has a deliciously varied list of restaurants. A lot of Gaborone restaurants are often closed when you need them to be open, especially on Sundays, while in Maun you can almost always find them open for duty seven days a week. Anyway, I digress because the purpose of this article is to tell you a little about yet another special eating joint in Maun, Tshilli Café.
Tshilli (pronounced “chilli”) is strategically located in Maun’s New Mall, right opposite Nhabe Museum. This makes it easily accessible, especially for those who don’t drive. You could say Tshilli café is an unassuming little café with absolutely no frills. As such, it’s very easy to overlook it. In fact, I hold my hands up, as I’m guilty as charged! I knew about Tshilli for a very long time before I ever considered going there. However, that all changed very recently when my cousin, our dedicated unofficial guide whenever we visit Maun, suggested we go there for a light bite.
Tshilli Café is more than just an eatery, as it also serves as a community stall of sorts; dedicated to conservation and community development, it supports local farmers and artists.
Visible from the road to Spar, when you visit quirky Tshilli Café, you’re greeted by blackboards bursting with colourful, artsy quotes of the day or jokes as well as the menu. The simple, wholesome food, a bookshelf crammed full of second-hand books and laid-back atmosphere lends it the feeling of being in the company of friends.
The owner, Sophie Dandridge has a farm about 45 km outside Maun where they farm chillis as well as other fresh produce such as vegetables, milk and free-range eggs. They bottle various organic food items including to-die-for sauces used to make the amazing food the café offers. Additionally, Tshilli Café bakes from scratch some of the most delightful goodies.
Tshilli Café sells arts and craft, which make up part of the decor
We went on a Sunday afternoon when the place was deserted, so there wasn’t much of ‘an atmosphere’ to speak of. We had coffee with quite possibly THE MOST DIVINE chocolate brownies I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting. The coffee was delicious but the brownies were in a league of their own, I mean out. of. this. world.
Now, I’m not usually a fan of brownies but you can now call me a convert. I was totally blown away by the decadent, fluffy, moist treat; which for me is usually way too thick and a tad too sweet for my taste. Tshilli Café brownies are just sweet enough and are so moist and melt in the mouth, you don’t need cream or ice-cream on the side. Even my husband, the “self-proclaimed brownie connoisseur’ who’s tasted some of the best brownies from the UK to Belgium to Botswana, declared it the very best of the lot! I would urge you all to go there for the brownies, if not for anything else. That’s how good I think they are.
Tshilli Café is also renowned for its smoothies and milkshakes, which I believe look as divine as they taste. The café also has corner dedicated to an ice cream stall owned by a Mexican lady called Carla Millar. Carla makes the ice creams from scratch and uses real fruit for flavour. While I’m told that all these are beyond delicious, sadly, I have yet to try them. Next time I’m in Maun, I know exactly what I’ll be doing.
While Tshilli Café is not a fancy, top of the range eating joint, it’s well worth a visit. It’s very easy to access, the food is delicious and the prices affordable. It feels just like home. Plus it’s big on conservation and community development projects, which in itself makes it a worthy cause to support.