South Africa has many delights to attract the epicurean traveller: top-quality meat and game, an array of exotic influences, and some of the finest wines in the New World. Happily, there are a plethora of eateries and restaurants to suit every taste and budget. Here are 5 of our favourites…
South Africans love their meat, and each town or suburb has a neighbourhood steak restaurant serving top-quality cuts. Butcher Block, with restaurants in Durban and Johannesburg, was one of the ones we enjoyed most. This is a truly immersive experience: tell the chefs where on the joint you’d like your steak cut from and take notes while they explain the different cuts of meat and how to cook them to enjoy them at their best. Also top-quality steak costs less than £10 – a real treat!
This small, immensely stylish boutique hotel in the leafy suburb of Melrose offers a haven from the cut-and-thrust of downtown Jo’burg. Contemporary design and bright colourful furnishings sit alongside traditional African elements like carved ebony tables and kuba cloth wall hangings. The restaurant is amongst the city’s best, there’s a rotating exhibition of local art, and the hotel is imbued by the easy, welcoming attitude of its young owners.
Chefs Warehouse and Canteen on Bree Street is a must for any serious foodie. You can’t book in advance so come early to queue and it will be worth the wait. This is Liam Tomlin’s creation – imaginative global tapas in no frills surroundings for aficionados of incredibly delicious food. Menus change every day – our crème brûlée with passion fruit ice cream blew our minds and taste buds. It gave us one of the most memorable meals of our lives and was brilliant value. If you prefer something slightly more formal, its younger sister restaurant in Constantia has amazing views and takes reservations (absolutely necessary).
Originally stables, La Grenadine has been transformed with sensitivity and style by its French artist owners. While retaining the charm and history of the old architecture, the thick, cool walls, high ceilings and wooden beams are now offset with an airy colour palette, arty décor, and African touches. The peaceful, slightly wild, scented and fruit-laden garden is a rare find in the city centre; step out of this hidden oasis and you’re within walking distance of Cape Town’s hippest bars, restaurants, galleries, museums and sights.
South Africa isn’t the easiest place to eat out for vegetarians – and next on our list is another steak restaurant! Hussar Grill is one of South Africa’s premier grill rooms – perfectly aged succulent steaks, delectable house specialities and an amazing award-winning wine selection… you can even bring your own wine at no charge! There are a few Hussar Grills; we loved the one in Camps Bay, but with 50 years of experience behind this restaurant group you can’t go wrong.
The peaceful residential setting of this boutique hotel belies its proximity to the beach, restaurants and shops of trendy Camps Bay. One of South Africa’s top interior designers – Francois du Plessis – has put his stamp on Sea Five with a mix of cool blue Mediterranean colours and warm African earth tones. The feel is relaxed, sophisticated and fresh, and the rooms, all lovely and luxurious, each have a private outdoor terrace with loungers. Evening sundowners by the bar shouldn’t be missed – the sunsets over the bay are brilliant.
British-born Luke Dale-Roberts is Cape Town’s most celebrated chef. His flagship restaurant, The Test Kitchen, is considered South Africa’s No 1 dining experience and consistently features in the World’s Best 50, so you’ll need to book months in advance. Or take the glass lift up to the Pot Luck Club, his edgier rooftop restaurant, for Asian-inspired sharing plates and cocktails, and great views of Table Mountain. Both are located in Woodstock’s trendy Old Biscuit Mill complex.
These stylish apartments, in one of Cape Town’s hippest downtown areas, all have a cool white colour scheme, swish kitchenettes and indoor / outdoor dining. The setting is peaceful but you’re just yards from Kloof Street’s lively bars and restaurants, and a short taxi ride from the Waterfront. More Quarters is ideal for anyone who likes the independence of self-catering with the reassurance of relaxed and helpful staff on hand.
Many of South Africa’s best places to eat are located in the picturesque Cape Winelands and one of our favourites is Jordan Restaurant at Jordan Wine Estate near Stellenbosch. With stunning vineyard and lake views, it’s the perfect spot for a lazy lunch. Acclaimed chef George Jardine produces delicious contemporary South African dishes with flair. Don’t miss his signature desert – a honey and poppy-seed soufflé, followed by a visit to the special cheese room.
Based in the centre of the Franschhoek – Paarl – Stellenbosch triangle, this homestead is more of a home than a hotel. Built in the 17th century, its spacious and elegant drawing and dining rooms ooze history, while the bedrooms and self-catering cottages feel homely and familiar. The setting is spectacular: rolling vineyards, fruit orchards, meandering rivers and the dramatic backdrop of the Drakenstein Mountains.