The Most Unique Things for a Foodie to Do in South Africa

Chamomile ice cream, cardamom and brown butter sponge, and toasted sunflower seeds
Chamomile ice cream, cardamom and brown butter sponge, and toasted sunflower seeds | © The Test Kitchen
Photo of Carina Claassens
16 April 2018

South Africa is a haven for foodie travelers, and aside from delicious cuisine found around every corner, there are tons of unusual experiences all involving—you guessed it—food. We’ve selected the best of the bunch to ensure you taste all that this magical country has to offer.

Go the traditional route in Soweto

Pub, Restaurant, African, South African
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Get to know the locals at Chaf Pozi | © South African Tourism / Flickr
Situated in Soweto, this authentic restaurant/bar is one of the most popular among locals. Chaf Pozi was established in the large township to create a space where Jo’burgers can enjoy home-grown music, Shiza Nyama (a local style of barbecuing), and cold beer. This is one of the best spots to really get to grips with the vibrant culture reflected in Soweto, and thanks to the communal seating arrangement, you’ll definitely be making some new friends.

Explore the tastes of Africa

Bar, Bistro, Butcher, Cafe, Market, Restaurant, African, South African
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Unique foodie experiences SA_Yeoville-min
Carapau in a Cameroonian eatery | © Jono Wood

This is a culinary experience not to be missed, as Dlala Nje takes curious visitors on a tour of a lifetime in Yeoville, Johannesburg. The area is saturated with culture and the tour combines architecture and amazing views with some of the most interesting dishes you’ll ever taste. Visit a Congolese village, a West African inspired market (where you can pick up some mopani worms), and a Cameroonian eatery. Wear comfy shoes and bring cash in case you’d like to buy any extras.

Spend a day (or two) at The Spice Route Destination

Bakery, Bistro, Cafe, Charcuterie, Cheesemonger, Deli, Restaurant, Wine Seller, Coffee Shop, Food Stall, African, South African
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Beautiful interiors and plenty to explore can be expected | © Spice Route Destination

Paarl’s beautiful Spice Route Destination is a carefully curated collection of artisanal venues all situated on a scenic estate, perfect for a delicious day out. Here you can stock up on biltong, charcuterie, cakes, chocolates, wine, spices, and much more. You’ll also be able to see artisans in action as they make everything from preserves and sweets to alcoholic spirits. And while you’re here, don’t skip a visit to The Trading Company and Red Hot Glass to get your hands on unique décor items.

Dine on the beach at Muisbosskerm

Fishmonger, Restaurant, Seafood, South African
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Unique foodie experiences SA_Muisbosskerm-min
The seafood is the freshest you'll ever taste | © Eskil Svensson / Unsplash

Muisbosskerm in Lambert’s Bay is the place to go for the freshest, tastiest seafood in the country. Mussels, crayfish, and more are prepared on open grills and accompanied by local condiments like potato yeast bread and hanepootkorrelkonfyt (a sweet grape jam perfect served with fish). Once everything’s cooked, guests help themselves and find a comfy spot to enjoy the buffet spread.

Spoil yourself at The Test Kitchen

Restaurant, Contemporary, Fusion, South African, $$$
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A dessert of summer berries, elderflower ice cream, and strawberry and coconut meringue with berry and lime snow | © The Test Kitchen
Among many other accolades, The Test Kitchen has been named the Best Restaurant in Africa at the World’s Best Restaurant Awards in 2016 and won 2017’s Restaurant of the Year at the Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards. There’s no doubt why snagging a table at this renowned restaurant is one of South Africa’s most sought after foodie experiences. Everything from the interior to the service and the food is impeccable, so needless to say, bookings need to be made well in advance.

Visit the famous Goat Tower at Fairview Cheese & Wine

Cafe, Cheesemonger, Deli, Farm Shop, Restaurant, Wine Seller, South African
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Goat Tower, Fairview Cheese and Wine Farm, Paarl | © Peter Borcherds / Flickr
Fairview was founded in 1693 and is a working farm focusing on producing quality wine and cheese. Aside from its artisanal products, another attraction is the two-story brick tower where the local goats gather to get the best view possible. The on-site restaurant, The Goatshed, serves homemade comfort foods like gourmet sandwiches, hearty breakfasts, and decadent desserts. Leave enough space for the peppermint crisp tart—it’s a must!

Eat in a shark tank

Restaurant, Seafood, South African, $$$
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Unique foodie experiences SA_UShaka-min
A blacktip shark at UShaka Sea World | © Amada44 / WikiCommons
If you’re after a thrilling, one-of-a-kind experience, you’ll have to visit South Africa’s beautiful coastal city, Durban. Inside the Phantom Ship at Ushaka Marine World you’ll find The Cargo Hold, a fine dining restaurant surrounded by floor-to-ceiling shark tanks. Order a seafood platter to share and taste the best of KwaZulu-Natal’s local produce.

Chow down on Indian cuisine

Market, Indian, South African
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Unique foodie experiences SA_Victoria Street Market-min
The colourful Victoria Street Market | © Flowcomm / Flickr

Apart from dining with sharks, there’s much more to explore in Durban. The city is well known for its large Indian community, and its markets, restaurants, and street vendors are where you’ll find the best curries, bunny chows, and spices this side of, well, India. Head to Victoria Street Market for the best of the best and a punch of culture and tradition.

Taste ostrich meat

Restaurant, South African
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Ostrich meat is lower in kilojoules, saturated fats, and cholesterol than other red meats, plus it's delicious | © Jakub Kapusnak / FoodiesFeed
Oudtshoorn, in Klein Karoo, is known for its ostrich farms and the place to go to dine on the leanest red meat available. The Cango Caves Restaurant has a large selection of dishes prepared using quality ostrich meat, from burgers to succulent steaks, and as a visit to the caves is inevitable when in the area, this is the perfect place to try the meat.

Enjoy traditional Cape Malay meals

Restaurant, South African
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Unique foodie experiences SA_Bo Kaap-min
Spices, spices, and more spices | © The Bokaap Cooking Tour

The colorful Bo Kaap in Cape Town is all about Cape Malay culture and cuisine, and what better way to experience it than on a cooking tour? Since being brought to South Africa from the Dutch East Indies in the 17th and 18th centuries, the flavorful and spicy, yet mild, cuisine has become an integral part of the country’s foodie scene. On the Bo Kaap Cooking Tour, you’ll learn about the history and culture as well as how to fold samosas and mix the perfect Masala spice.

Try exotic game meats

Restaurant, African, South African, $$$
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A Kudu in the Kruger
Kudu is often said to be the best tasting game meat | © Carina Claassens

South Africa is a meat-loving country, and it’s one of few places where you’ll find a restaurant serving everything from beef to crocodile. Meat is skewered on Masaai swords and grilled on an open fire, and the best part is that you can eat as much as you like. Go with an open mind and taste as many of the dishes of possible, and then get seconds of your favorites.

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