Boerewors, biltong, melktert, chakalaka, bobotie, potjiekos, bunny chow, vetkoek, sosaties, umngqusho, rusks, waterblommetjies, frikkadel, morogo and mielies are a few of the South African dishes or foods that you need to taste when you arrive in the country on holiday. When in Rome… applies to eating what authentic South Africans eat. We dedicate these 10 wonderful world class restaurants in South Africa you need to visit – and maybe you will be served at least one of these traditional dishes…
- The Greenhouse – Constantia, Cape Town
The Greenhouse in Constantia certainly lives up to its name – the whole estate is so well kept and up-market that it is a pleasure to be there. A waiter will lead you to a table in the Conservatory, a stunning glass room surrounded by lush plants and a huge old tree stands between the two sections of the restaurant. The restaurant is split in two to preserve this tall old tree which is the focal point of the glassed-in eating area. Crisp snowy tablecloths and napkins compliment spacious natural chairs and you can ask for a cushion to make your dining even more pleasurable.
Your waiter brings to you an assortment of delicious home-made breads with a small dish of artichokes and goat’s cheese sprinkled with a twist of spring onion. Try the “Beetroot & Smoked Chevre” starter – Peartizer jelly and a pecan Waldorf salad in a grain mustard dressing. Then for mains try the “Roast Rack of Karoo Lamb” for your main course – with Pommes ecrase, red pepper & tomatoes, saffron aioli and lamb jus. Coffees and teas are served with a plate of homemade sweets including bitter dark chocolate.
Chef Peter Tempelhoff is a master at his art of cuisine creating for your palate. Three divine menus are changed seasonally. The restaurant is top in the country and winner of many awards including the Boschendal Style Award of 2015.
- Restaurant Mosaic at The Orient – Elandsfontein, Pretoria
The best dining experience you will ever at is at this Pretoria beauty – book well in advance for your meal at the Mosaic and you will enter a room brimming with exquisite furniture. The attention to detail in every aspect of dining is a highlight and the explanations of each dish fantastic. It is great to know what inspired each dish to enhance your eating experience even more. Every spoonful you put into my mouth is delicious. Spoil yourself at the Mosaic, with people you love.
Be ready for a decadent indulgence where the food is sublime. Everything on your plate is edible including the flowers which enhance the flavours. Service and atmosphere are excellent with all staff smiling and polite. You can choose to do a wine pairing meal and the restaurant has delightfully included a non-alcoholic pairing as well. There is a vegetarian, fish and omnivore menu available for those who like to choose special dishes and chef Chantal Dartnell makes every plate a unique work of art.
- Overture – Stellenbosch
It is difficult to get a booking at Overture in Stellenbosch so book your special lunch or dinner well in advance. Even if you arrive full of anticipation, nothing can prepare you for this dining experience. The attention to detail, perfect service and mind-blowing food is a culinary adventure second to none. We cannot recommend this restaurant enough – you will not regret winding your way into the “Hidden Valley” to find the gem that awaits you there….and after, how will you ever face normal omelettes and chips for supper ever again?
Chef Bertus Basson is an award-winning creator of smart cuisine and in the Cape he remains a legend. Homemade breads, homemade mustard, olive butter, exquisite chocolate mousse and crunchy vegetables soft on the palate – there is so much to relate about Basson’s food but you really have to be there to sample each course, one by one, then leave with promises of immediate returns.
- DW Eleven-13
At dw eleven-13 you taste new flavours within dishes you thought you knew. The fresh ingredients enhance every mouthful you take and you will discover more about food and cooking here than you ever thought possible. Take the plunge and try something completely different and exotic. You will be so pleasantly surprised you may order more.
Some sensational surprises off the menu include home cured duck breast for snacks – served with pickled apple, persimmon, crumble, liver parfait, crackling and duck dressing; Impala loin as your main – served with pear atchar, parsnip puree, dukkha, charred leeks and cinnamon jus; Coconut bavarois for dessert – served with coriander ice cream, compressed pineapple, coconut glass, lime and Malibu gel. Clean your palate with a cheese that has aged for 24 months, the van gaalen gouda to be sure.
- The Restaurant at Hartford House, KZN
Hartford House is indeed almost a national treasure. And the establishment holds years of history and dignity in a setting that begs for romance and many returns. It is not only the award-winning food that wins hearts but also the five-star service and ambience that wins minds. But that is not all. Welcome to a restaurant and hotel which radiate golden oldey charm and elegance, that illustrate just what the chef and staff are capable of. The food fits the venue and the venue fits the destination – the rolling hills of the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands.
Find the genial Hartford House just outside Mooi River, part of the Summerhill Stud farm quite frankly, the most beautiful hotel in KwaZulu-Natal, if not South Africa. If you love attention to detail in the rooms, fabulous service, a breath-taking setting and incredible edible food, then you must book your weekend break as soon as possible. Heavenly dishes await you in the form of a 6-course dinner with wine pairing, decadent desserts and such special ingredients you won’t want to return to your humdrum weekly menu at home. The food is absolutely sublime – I found myself very, very happily eating food I can only describe as heavenly.
Hartford House certainly makes the most of the freshest ingredients straight from the earth and presents them as such – fresh and wholesome and healthy. Local is lekker is how it is done here and everything that passes your lips is in season and been carefully thought out as part of a larger plan. Sit in summer on the huge colonial verander of this gracious manor and delight in a meal surrounded by the sounds of nature. A 5-course world renowned menu that comes from one of the top 10 restaurants in South Africa. Open all your senses and just be, as you devour every morsel from your plate…
- The Test Kitchen – Cape Town
Eating food in a world-class restaurant can be daunting to say the least but when the morsels touch your lips, you are smitten. Nowhere else in South Africa will you taste food like this – chef Luke Dale-Roberts has learned his own kitchen style from years in Asia running restaurants in Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and the Philippines. He gets so much joy out of cooking, running a kitchen and working with like-minded people that his job is more of recreational past time.
Imagine eating dishes like Bo-Kaap Slangetjies and Wagyu Biltong, Pork scratchings and cheddar ploughman then finishing it all off with a Shisho Granita?
Luke serves his Lamb Sweetbreads, Liquorice Liver Jus, Lime Gel, Preserved Lemon and Pinenut Gremolata with a wine called Bouchard Finlayson Galpin Peak Pinot Noir 2008. And his Pan-Seared Quail Breast, Crab and Corn Risotto, Herb Salad delight must be served with the Vintners Muscat d’Alexandrie 2016. It just goes to show that he knows his stuff and his wines and the awards are the proof of the pudding. The Test Kitchen sits on the World’s Top 50 Restaurants list and just keeps climbing. Luke likes the name of his restaurant as it allows him to experiment with flavours and be free to innovate and create – food.
- Quo Restaurant – Durban
The food at Quo Restaurant in Durban is considered first-rate, cooked beautifully and presented perfectly according to many patrons. Waiters are professional, keeping the process moving but not in any way hurrying diners to gobble up – they are efficient and professional. Enjoy an evening at an attractive restaurant that caters for couples, families, business groups, special occasions and single diners – great conversations go well with delicious food and service. The International-European theme suits most diners who have plenty of choice ranging from pasta and salads to steaks and cheeses.\
Sit at tables decked in crisp linen tablecloths with serviettes too and try the chicken in a honey and soy sauce with noodles. Or the pork belly served very generously with wonderful side dishes. End off with desserts to die for such as bread and butter pudding – the ambience and décor add to your experience, bringing you back soon again
- The Hacklewood Restaurant – PE
If you are looking for a quality candlelit meal, shared with a loved one and classy wine, then visit the Hacklewood Restaurant. Tuck into fresh line fish, exceptionally succulent, and Amarula ice cream for dessert. Pop down to the underground wine cellar to select your evening’s bollie or two and revel in the professional staff who serve you. Why not start out with the tasting menu where you taste a dish and a wine and decide how wondrous it all is? Risotto and lamb win hands down and the beef is always cooked perfectly.
The restaurant is intimate, with only room for about six tables for two so you do need to make a reservation. You will love eating in this old colonial house with real candle chandeliers as you tempt your palate with African, British and vegetarian meals. Enter an aura of charming colonial hospitality, great conversation and fine dining at this 5-star restaurant and hotel in PE.
The menu consists of 3 starters and 3 or 4 main dishes (one being vegetarian). Try the tempura prawn salad as a starter and the lamb on crushed potato with vegetables as a main. End off with a subtle cheese plate if the puddings are too rich. Beautifully presented and delicious food in a beautiful setting.
- The Terrace @ Oliewenhuis Restaurant – Bloemfontein
If you are looking to unwind amongst greenery and fine art, this is the place and you find it in the beautiful gardens of the Oliewenhuis Art Gallery in Bloemfontein. Many diners have made this hidden little gem their favourite restaurant for lunch and breakfast as they love the simple menu and food. Try the chicken and mushroom pot pie as an appetiser and enjoy the lush garden and carousel – bring the family, bring your friends, even bring your hiking shoes and come unwind in the tranquil gardens of Oliewenhuis.
Bring your business meeting to this convenient venue where you can sit outside and order your favourite burger and fries – good service, good prices, plenty of peace and quiet. The Terrace is a piece of magic and it feels like you are somewhere in the Cape Winelands. Everything is worth eating on the menu – from the quiche and cake to the pasta. And the service is great and very professional. For the art lovers, the restaurant is behind a very historic art gallery which often showcases contemporary artworks from across the country and sometimes artworks that are from beyond our shores…a lovely place to stopover en route to another place that is not Bloemfontein.
- The Pot Luck Club Cape Town
When you hear so much about a South African restaurant and you really want to go and then you have to book way in advance of your special occasion – this is the story of the Pot Luck Club in Cape Town. Go for the Thai Green Curry cocktail to whet your appetite and you will never be able to copy it at home. A sensual experience you simply must try. A good idea at the Pot Luck Club is to order many small dishes to taste all of them and pass them around so that you and your fellow diners all experience as much of the flavours as possible.
What will always stand out is the Glazed Sweet Breads (the actual pancreas of the calf or lamb) – a delicacy you can say is well worth venturing down the offal road. Seasoning is perfect and presentation first prize. Overall, the food and the cooking of that food is at an extraordinarily high level at this Cape Town eating house – and just gets better and better. When you order specialities like cured trout, springbok carpaccio, ceviche, beef tartare, fish tacos, calamari, robata lamb, beef fillet “cafe au lait”, peri-peri chicken, berries with sabayon and churros, they are all outstanding. Some diners like the pork belly and fish sliders which stun your palate time and again.
Another great idea is to visit The Pot Luck Club for Sunday brunch. For first-timers, the location and setting is unbelievable with a 360-degree view of the Mother City. The brunch menu consists of various tapas-sized portions, all of which are flavour-full and very hard to choose from. It just means you have to return to try their dinners again.
The 10 best restaurants in South Africa that we have featured are based on guest reviews and our research and we agree – but you may want to try other renowned restaurants in the country which provide more of a taste of each culture – Zulu, Xhosa, Sotho, Afrikaans, Cape Malay. Whatever your pleasures, we can provide it.
Contact Voyage2Africa today for your restaurant tour of the top 10 in South Africa.