Our pick of the best places to wine and dine when visiting South Africa
South Africa is a melting pot of cultures. Restaurants are influenced by all manner of cuisine including African, European and Asian.
The Cape Town region is the gastronomic capital of South Africa and attracts gourmands from all over the world. They come for the Mediterranean climate and tradition of fresh produce, as well as the historical legacy of French Huguenots from the 17th century.
Johannesburg and Durban are also known for award-winning restaurants.
South Africa restaurants
The Test Kitchen
The Test Kitchen is in the Cape Town district of Woodstock and lies within the walls of the former Old Biscuit Mill. It encompasses exposed brick, high ceilings, cement floors and a large open kitchen, and has a modern and adventurous menu to match.
In the words of its award-winning British chef, Luke Dale-Roberts: “Our food is free to roam in whichever direction... I want guests to be surprised and delighted, to wonder what ingredients we have used and how we made it.” Should make you curious enough to give it a try.
The Old Biscuit Mill, 375 Albert Rd, Woodstock, Cape Town
Smith & Wollensky Steak House
As well as its upmarket location, Smith & Wollensky offers steaks cooked to perfection and packed with flavours.
Along with a rich selection of game meat and traditional steak, the menu includes succulent seafood.
Relax and enjoy with a glass of South African wine.
Eastgate Shopping Centre, Roof Level Piazza, 43 Bradford Rd, Bedfordview, Germiston
Set in a renovated two-storey building in Green Point, Il Leone is surrounded by pine trees and is the perfect setting for a classic Italian cuisine experience.
There is an in-house wine cellar and a buzzing bar, which is popular with locals as well as tourists.
Il Leone is closed Mondays so plan your trip to this food mecca well.
22 Cobern St, Green Point, Cape Town
Keerom 95 is located within a 1680s structure, originally used as a slave quarter. During restoration, some original elements were kept intact, including the brick walls and facade, giving a historical touch to the restaurant’s modern interior.
The restaurant serves authentic Milanese cuisine, with fresh ingredients prepared to perfection. The menu includes seasonal salads, seafood and Italian meat dishes, as well as all-important desserts such as dark chocolate fondant.
95 Keerom St, Cape Town City Centre, Cape Town
Situated in Langa Township's Harlem precinct, Mzansi offers a truly authentic South African family dining experience.
Owners Nomonde and Ace prepare a simple but filling Afro-Western buffet every day of the year, including Christmas and New Year.
Fill yourself with traditional inqina (chicken feet), umbakho (home baked bread), fat cake and other delicious dishes, while enjoying the local jazz band.
45 Harlem Ave, Langa, Cape Town
Café del Sol Classico
If you want the best of the best in Johannesburg, Cafe del Sol Classico should do the trick. This family-run establishment pays homage to classic Italian food traditions, and has gained a loyal following with locals and tourists since its inception in 2007.
Start with an antipasto of pastella prawns, followed by a pasta or risotto dish enjoyed with a bottle of local wine from the extensive selection. Then in true Italian fashion, choose a second main of chicken or fish, and finish with a gelato or panna cotta.
There are three restaurants throughout South Africa in Olivedale (Classico), Bryanston (Landmark) and Parkhurst (TRE).
Olivedale Corner Shopping Centre, President Fouché Dr & Olive Road, Olivedale, Johannesburg
Black Sheep Restaurant
Laid back, casual and vegetarian-friendly, Black Sheep Restaurant is terribly popular but never pretentious with friendly staff that you are sure to rave to home about.
The menu is short and sweet and blackboard specials are updated regularly.
They are riddled with a variety of cuisines from Egyptian to Indian, and Chinese to Western.
104 Kloof street, Cape Town
Afro-Portuguese fare is the name of the game at this family-friendly restaurant. Many TripAdvisor users have praised it for encapsulating the heart of Mozambique, as well as for its relaxing atmosphere, open dining space and refreshing drinks.
The menu screams seafood, with fish, calamari and prawns taking centre stage. For a sense of Portugal, try the chourico sausage, or for a people pleaser look to the chicken which is marinated in the restaurant’s Afro-Porto sauce.
110 Linksfield Road, Linksfield, Johannesburg
Mali’s Indian Restaurant
Mali’s takes the trophy for the best restaurant in Durban, at least according to TripAdvisor. Its curries are heavenly, packed full of flavour and not too spicy. The cuisine includes both north and south Indian dishes, and features dosai, gulab jamun and rogan josh.
If you’re searching for the best Indian in Durban or the best restaurant in Durban, we think it’s fair to say Mali’s deserve a trip.
77 Smiso Nkwanya Road, Morning Side, Durban
Three words: fresh new menu. That’s what you get every day of the year at Chef’s Warehouse. Every night the chefs convene to chat about what will be on the menu the following day. Whatever they decide, it’s never the same as the day before.
Cuisine styles range from Asian to Middle Eastern and from Indian to African, driven by seasonal produce and the imagination of the maestros behind the dishes. Dishes are served tapas style, so expect to experience a variety of tastes with each meal.
92 Bree Street, Cape Town
Food tours and cooking classes
A foodie’s visit to South Africa is never complete without indulging in one of the many food tours and cooking classes.
Cape Town food tasting tour
Half-day Cape Town food markets experience
Private cooking class and meal in Wynberg Cape Town
Private food tour in Franschhoek
Food and drink deals in South Africa
Feature image: Illovo Mastrantonio