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, Barbeque, $$$
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.