This is a guide on South African food and cuisine for those on South Africa safaris. Embark on a culinary adventure and dine in South Africa’s most popular destinations while discovering the culture, history and sights of our beautiful country.
Whether you’re a local who’s lived here all your life or a first-time tourist, our South African cuisine guide is unlike any restaurant list you’ve seen before.
These restaurants consist of under-the-radar neighborhood gems with five-star reviews, and their tables are usually packed with locals.
So whether you’re looking for fine dining or a pocket-friendly meal, dining out in South Africa has never been more exciting! Explore Johannesburg’s culinary scene.
There is no place like the vibrant Golden City. Too often this vibrant metropolis doesn’t get the respect it deserves, but there’s no denying it, Joburg locals are movers and shakers with a taste for the finer things in life.
Johannesburg has a wide and varied culinary scene, so if you knew where to go, you could never have a bad meal in Joz.
Using iconic landmarks as your guide, head straight from Lanseria Airport to visit the Cradle of Humankind and the NIROX Sculpture Park.
After enjoying human history and art installations, stop at the park’s And Then There Was Fire restaurant.
There are few things South Africans love as much as a braai and this place celebrates the spirit of open fire cooking.
Outside sitting at then there was a fire Cooking with an open flame at And then there was fire Next, explore South Africa’s largest township, Soweto, and its famous Vilakazi Street.
Located between the Mandela House Museum and the former home of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Sakhumzi Restaurant is known for offering a truly authentic local culinary experience.
You can also drive across town to Houghton and eat at Insights at Sanctuary Mandela.
Located in the late president’s main residence, this gourmet restaurant honors Madiba’s favorite dishes based on the recipes of his longtime personal chef, Xoliswa Ndoyiya.
Morning or afternoon tea at the Saxon Hotel Restaurant Insights in Sanctuary Mandela There are many roads from there. How about a nice afternoon tea at the Saxon Hotel, one of Johannesburg’s most iconic venues?
You can also find your way to the discreetly hidden Marabi Club, named after the urban culture that emerged in the 1920s and 30s, which pays homage to a bygone era with a strong locally inspired menu and live jazz nights.
Or, two blocks from the Johannesburg Zoo, head to Bespokery, a local favorite where the reviews make anything ordinary. Their menu is designed to satisfy all diners, whether ketogenic, gluten-free, vegan or vegetarian, without compromising the social element of eating out.
Marabi club with live jazz performances Coalition Pizza offers Neapolitan style pizza. If you’re looking for something in the suburbs, you’ll find some of the best Korean food in the country.
A local favorite, Banchan’s authentic menu includes Korean barbecue, fried chicken and traditional kimchi jjigae (stew) and is the perfect place for a night out with friends.
If you fancy a slice of authentic Neapolitan pizza, look no further than Coalition. There are two locations in town, Coalition Pizza Blairgowrie and Park Corner, and many say it offers the best slices in Joburg!
To round out the evening, stop by Jozi’s hottest new opening, Acid Food and Wine Bar. With a wine-first message and ever-changing small plates, Acido is the definition of a place where you go for the wine but stay for the food!
South African Food and Restaurants
The “Durbanite” guide to Kwa Zulu Natal (KN) restaurants.
It is a different way of life in KZN. Although it may be a bit more relaxed, the culinary experiences are no less impressive.
From the golden beaches of Ballito and Umhlanga to the hustle and bustle of the city center and rolling Midlands – and beyond – these are the must-see restaurants loved by Durban locals.
Skyfall Casual and Fine Dining restaurants in the Midlands Meander
If your trip to KZN starts with a road trip through the Midlands, Skyfall Casual and Fine Dining should be on your list.
There’s no shortage of things to do while doing the Midlands Meander, but for all the foodies out there, both Skyfall restaurants are a must.
As their names suggest, casual dining is for those looking for something more casual and fine dining for special occasions.
If you’re coming to Durban via Hillcrest, do yourself a favor and stop at The Black Rabbit.
Run by experienced chef and restaurateur Chris Black, The Black Rabbit has made quite a name for itself in a very short time.
Following a simple brasserie style, diners can expect a classic bistro experience. It is the perfect place for a friendly meeting or a very special date. 9th Avenue Waterside light at night and view of Pursiseur
Ocean Terrace at the Oyster Box Hotel and the iconic lighthouse
If you’re in the center of Durban, near the harbor is one of the city’s favorite restaurants, 9th Avenue Waterside – and it’s easy to see why it’s a favorite.
In addition to its prime location overlooking the boats, 9th Avenue is known for its interesting menu of classics and reinvented bistro fare.
There are several places to choose from up the coast. The Oyster Box at Ocean Terrace Hotel needs no introduction and should be on every foodie’s bucket list.
Enjoy your meal on the sweet striped terrace overlooking the Indian Ocean and the iconic Umhlanga Lighthouse. If you’re looking for a memorable and flawless fine dining experience, The Chefs’ Table has you covered.
Their hundreds of five-star reviews don’t lie – the ever-changing menu showcases the best that local produce has to offer, while the open kitchen allows diners to watch the meticulous chefs at work.
Sunsets and Sirens is a new beach-style bar making waves in Umhlanga and with its amazing cocktail list it’s the perfect place to enjoy a summer sunset.
Meanwhile, FirelakeGrill, located on one of the top floors of the famous Radisson Blu, offers panoramic views of Durban’s coastline and specializes in open flame cooking.
Tip: Don’t sleep on the cocktails prepared by the special mixologists. Chef’s table has an open kitchen to view lobsters twisting in sunsets and sirens
A little further in Umdlot is Bel Punto. When it comes to seafood, it doesn’t get fresher than this. This family-friendly favorite is known for its authentic Italian offerings and incredible oceanfront location with unobstructed views.
Further south, Trattoria La Terrazza, or “Tratt” as the locals have affectionately called it for the past 30 years, is the perfect place for sophisticated yet casual dining on the South Coast.
Sit on the deck facing the river and enjoy an Italian-inspired feast. In the off-season, you might even be lucky enough to bite into their pizza as you enjoy uninterrupted ocean views from Fire Lake Grill
Eat South African Food where the locals eat in Cape Town
Cape Town is known for its world-class food culture, equally beautiful beaches and incredible mountains.
The Mother City and its surrounding areas are home to some of the best restaurants and dining options in the country. But it’s not always great food. Some places are packed with locals and offer great tasting menus for the money.
Kick things off at Clarke’s in the heart of Cape Town. Perhaps the worst kept insider secret, Clarke’s is the definition of a true Cape Town venue.
Their dining style makes it the perfect stay at any time of the day or night. Word on the street is that they make the best burger in town.
If you find yourself near the V and A Waterfront during the day, be sure to visit Makers Landing’s Emazulwini Restaurant.
If you’re looking for a memorable and contemporary South African dining experience, few do it like chef and owner Mmabatho Molefe. His reimagining of Zulu heritage cooking is in a class of its own.
Bao Down is nearby. Run by husband and wife team Graham and Philippa Oldfield, the old favorite serves small plates with big Asian-influenced flavors.
Insider: Don’t miss the cauliflower or the shrimp toast.
Clarke’s much-loved grass-fed beef burger
As the sun begins to set, head to Gigi’s rooftop restaurant and bar. Located above the aptly named Gorgeous George Hotel, Gigi’s Bar has a cocktail list as long as their menu. Be sure to make a reservation because everyone in Cape Town has the same idea.
Around the corner is Tjing Tjing House, a three-story, one-stop shop for in-town wine and dining. Known for its modern Japanese experience, Tjing Tjing Momiji on the second floor offers a seasonal and thoughtful menu in a quiet and minimalist dining room.
Course after course, diners are treated to an elaborate treat – especially when their specialty mochi is on the dessert menu. For something more outrageous, head up to the rooftop bar for world-class cocktails and snacks.
Gigi’s Rooftop Bar and Pool Terrace
You can find Tomson on nearby Bree Street if you know where to look. Capetonians pour onto the pavement just to try Chef Andrew Kai’s authentic Cantonese wontons, hoisin duck pancakes, pickled vegetable sides and his sparkling wine list.
We recommend putting the salt and pepper shrimp on the plate – and don’t share them after the first bite.
Bouchon is a cozy urban winery located near the lively Bree Street. Enter another world and dine among the barrels of the working cellar, choosing from their amazing menu of small plates, spicy tapas.
If you fancy a bowl of fresh homemade pasta, The Cousins Trattoria is just the ticket. From the outside, it’s one of Cape Town’s favorite spots, with regulars coming back again and again.
If you miss the theater shows, Cousin’s Pasta is not only delicious, but also table ready for a round of Grana Padano. Locals spill out onto Bree Street near Tomson
South African Food and Dining among wine barrels at Bouchon Bistro
If you venture out of town – and not quite into wine country – Melkbos Kitchen is arguably one of the Western Cape’s favorite neighborhood gems.
You will have the best views of the sunset over Cape Town while enjoying a shared plate or delicious fresh sushi.
On the opposite side of the peninsula is the Aegir Project Brewery and Taproom, which produces their incredible craft beer and serves the best burgers and pizzas.
This crowd is the best pit stop after a leisurely detour around Chapman’s Peak. Fresh pasta is made in the Grana Padano wheel at The Cousins Trattoria. Melkbos Kitchen is one of the best places to watch the sunset in Cape Town
Cape Town’s Wine Country Dining Guide
If your favorite thing to do in Cape Town is getting out of Cape Town, then you know that a day spent exploring one of the Cape Town Wine Trails is always a good idea.
And there is certainly no shortage of wonderful restaurants starting right in the center of Stellenbosch in Eike. Bertus Basson has a South African culinary heritage, which he presents beautifully at Eike.
Located in a historic building on famous Dorp Street, Eike’s locally inspired menu is a delight for tourists and locals alike.
Neighborhood chef Jess van Dyk has worked in some of the best kitchens in the country and now owns the intimate Post and Pepper, which promises to offer everything you love about fine dining – without the stuffiness.
Drawing on his heritage, experience and travels, the menu is a refreshing collection of local and Asian flavors.
Glenelly Vine Bistro offers panoramic views of the Stellenbosch Hills. Head out of town to Glenelly Vine Bistro. You already know (and love) their wine, but their restaurant deserves just as much attention.
A menu inspired by the French style matches perfectly with the great wines. Stroll through the glass museum below to make room for dessert.
If you find yourself in Franschhoek, Arkeste is a must for all foodies. Richard Carstens is one of the forefathers of fine dining in South Africa.
While his latest venture, Arkeste in the Chamonix estate, is a departure from his previous restaurants, this culinary delight is guaranteed.
If you enjoy wine tasting, Chardonnay fans will love Glenwood Vineyards. Given the excellent sushi paired with their wines, locals recommend this picturesque spot. Chef Richard Carsten’s artichoke pairing at Arkeste.
Fresh sushi, fine wine and vineyards in Glenwood
There are more than enough reasons to visit Tulbagh, but Krone’s 300-year-old Twee Jonge Gezellen tasting room should top the list.
The estate produces a range of fine vintage Cap Classiques and what better way to experience them than in this designer tasting room? On the way there or back, stop at Doolhof in Kloof Pass in Milas Bain.
A recent addition to the Wellington scene, Mila at Doolhof offers a simple menu of seasonal ingredients.
As a bonus for people with children, there is enough space for children to play in the beautiful surroundings and a sunny patio at Doolhof in Mila
If your destination is the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, stop at The Melting Pot for lunch on your way through Grabouw. The Melting Pot was a humble pop-up in Cape Town and moved into the iconic Oak Valley Pool Room.
Specializing in small plates for sharing, the melting pot is inspired by Asian street food and offers tangy and rich flavors. Farro continues towards Bot Rivier.
After moving from Johannesburg to a Bree Street pop-up and then moving to their forever home at Gabriëlskloof Winery, Farro developed a cult following.
The menu changes regularly, but if you spot the chicken liver parfait, order two plates of it. Make your last stop on your drive at Frame House Bosman in Hermanus.
Not only is Bosman home to some of the best wines in the valley, but the on-site restaurant offers delicious meals to share, surrounded by stunning views.
Western Mantle and Garden Route: Coast to Coast Eating
Experienced road trippers know that both the West Coast and the Garden Route are worth the trek for the scenic views alone, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth visiting for their lively but casual dining experience.
Some of the country’s best cooking takes place in these unlikely destinations. If you’re driving coast to coast this summer, here are just a few must-see eateries to check out along the way.
Start at Fryer’s Cove Jetty Restaurant in Doringbaai on the west coast. The Jetty restaurant, a joint project of the local community, is a feast of Weskus flavors.
Pair a cold glass of crisp Fryer’s Cove Sauvignon Blanc with the famous fish and chips and your lunch will be worth the drive – we promise.
Oep ve Koep Bistro in nearby Paternoster is Wolfgat’s award-winning sister restaurant, offering the best of the Strandveld on a small menu. The bakery here is also worth a visit.
Driving the Garden Route you will find The Fat Fish in George and Plettenberg Bay. Find impeccably fresh seafood and sushi here.
Plett’s area has great views of Beacon Isle, George’s area is set in lush gardens. If you’re in the desert, be sure to make a reservation at Serendipity Guest House Restaurant.
In addition to the peaceful environment, the restaurant prepares incredible refined dishes.
There are endless places to choose from on the way to Plett. First up is Luka Vineyards. If you are planning a day trip to the Knysna Elephant Park or Wolf Sanctuary, this should be where you stop next.
Have a picnic on the wide lawn and relax with a glass of their excellent wine. If you need a place where the whole family is happy and well fed, Barrington’s is the place to be.
This small hotel has a craft brewery, an all-day restaurant and bar, an organic vegetable garden, a bakery, a shop and a shop garden.
Dining among the treetops in the Forest Restaurant Tsala
If you’re away from the kids for a while, Tsala Treetop Lodge offers romance. As the name suggests, you will have a magical dinner among the treetops of the forest with a view.
If you stay for a few days, be sure to visit Zinz; their sister restaurant just down the road. Emily Moon is another boutique hotel in the destination, with a lovely restaurant overlooking the Bietourivier.
Most of the produce on the menu comes from the hotel’s own garden, meaning you’re celebrating the best of the Garden Route.
On your way out of Plett, stop at Newstead Lund Family Vineyards. With their award-winning bubbly and the fact that they were voted one of South Africa’s 100 favorite restaurants by Dineplan users, this should already be on your hit list.
Try their freshly baked pizzas or book a picnic for a winning lunch break. If St Francis Bay is your port of call this summer (and it should be!), be sure to check out Off the Menu Food Emporium.
Don’t let the grocery store style fool you. In addition to being a treasure trove of niche ingredients and other culinary delights, Off the Menu also has spacious seating that appeals to the whole family.
If you go as far up the coast as Port Elizabeth, they have P.E. branch too.
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