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My Favourite Restaurants in South Africa
There are many guides to the top restaurants in South Africa, but the ones mentioned below have been tried and tested by my very fussy family and they withstood the test of time over and over again.
Favourites in Johannesburg
Oliver Tambo Airport is constantly being upgraded and,rather resembles a big mall than an airport. Restaurants and fast food outlets are ample. Ocean Basket, one of South Africa’s favourite fish restaurants, is forever packed. From the tastiest calamari starters to the tempting combos, in a massive frying pan, ensure that everyone is well fed before leaving the airport. Fournos bakery, right next to Ocean Basket, will provide something sweet. The pastries are fresh and the choice overwhelming.
Moyo, at Zoo Lake, is perfect for a true African taste experience. Africans love meat and at Moyo, meat is what you get. Steaks, fillets, lamb or chicken feature in most of the dishes but the great vegetarian platter will make the choice difficult. The beautiful ambience of Zoo Lake awards diners with a true African experience, right there, in the middle of the busiest city in South Africa.
Cape Town Restaurants
At Cantina Tequila, in the heart of the V&A Waterfront, mixed Mexican and African flavours, blend well with the harbour lights. The electrifying atmosphere of the Waterfront adds to this culinary delight's popularity.
Blues in Camps Bay has the perfect location to view a dramatic sunset over the Atlantic, while you are sipping one of their bespoke cocktails. The menu offers anything from exotic salads to proper fish platters, steaks and classic Italian pastas.
Olympia Café is Kalk Bay’s best kept secret. From the outside it looks like nothing but the large well-dressed, mobile phone - hugging crowd, inside, tells a different story. A variety of delectable, freshly baked croissants have to be the ideal early morning temptation. This eccentric Café prefers to display their many awards behind the toilet door.
The Wharfside Grill and Wharfette Bistro in Hout Bay are famous for their excellent fresh fish meals. The Bistro specialises in take-away meals which can be enjoyed on the lovely verandah overlooking the Hout Bay harbour.
Stellenbosch and Franschhoek
The wine farms of Stellenbosch lure many tourists and locals for that magical taste experience, only South African wines can provide. Many wine farms have their own restaurants to enhance the wine tasting trip. Delheim tops the list with a rustic cellar and a stylish restaurant. Have more wine, accompanied by Ostrich Bobotie, Biltong salad, Cape Malay curry or smoked Eland, in the restaurant overlooking the purple-blue mountains of the Western Cape.
Hillcrest Berry Orchard, on the way to Franschhoek, is popular for the amazing views over the mountains of the area and a variety of deli products. The restaurant menu overflows with berry choices, from blueberry pancakes to gooseberry cheesecakes.
Hartbeespoort Dam might not be that well known to travellers, but the city dwellers of Johannesburg and Pretoria enjoy this bit of country, within an hour's drive from both sides, as the perfect weekend hide-away.
Many well-known South African artists have their galleries here and together with the typical African markets, cultural villages and small speciality shops it makes for a shopping haven for tourists and locals.
Restaurants are ample and line the sides of the narrow main street. Squires claim to have the best steak in town, but their other dishes are equally delectable. The meat platter will introduce the popular South African sausage, boerewors to travellers and for those not so interested in meat there is an excellent vegetarian platter with interesting dishes such as mushroom, spanakopita, fried haloumi and creamed spinach.
Catalino's, just down the road from Squires is the pizza king, but they also cater for the fish and meat lovers. Their prices are very reasonable and even the small cocktail menu has very interesting drink options at great prices.
On the other side of the dam, at the big market is the Pancake Inn. It is usually very busy and for this great experience you might have to wait a bit for a table to come available. Weekends around lunch time is usually very busy, so it may be good to go earlier in the morning. Savoury and sweet pancakes are available. The pancakes are quite large and if you want to give both the savoury and the sweet a try, it might be a good idea to share, unless you are a really big eater. The cream and caramel pancakes are some of the best on the menu.
Caramel and Cream Pancake
Durban's all-year warm weather and lovely beaches, lure tourists and locals. Many South Africans have their annual holiday at one of the many resorts along the east coast of South Africa. Durban is bustling hub of activity with restaurants to tempt any taste and preference.
The revolving restaurant, Roma, which has been around since 1973, offers an experience of excellent cuisine and breathtaking views across the Durban Harbour. The dining experience here should be savoured and enjoyed. Dishes vary from pastas to seafood, with options of caviar, parma ham and oysters as starters. The dessert trolley has a variety of sweet dishes to choose from and is difficult to ignore. The service is excellent and the owner make regular appearances to attend to each and every whim of his customers.
John Dory's at Wilson's Wharf has a great location, with views from its deck across the vast harbour and many luxury yachts, and the fish dishes are to die for. The staff is very accommodating and are more than willing to whip up a plate of creamed spinach even though it is not on their menu. If you have a sudden urge for something and can't find it on the menu, just ask and if it is at all possible they will make it for you.
Mahal Al-Nur at Ushaka Marine World caters for the curry lovers and has an equally good location with a view across the Indian Ocean.
For a quick drink try The Shark Bar at Ushaka. It is situated on an old ship which is also the entrance to the aquarium.
Graskop and Sabie
These two small villages in Mpumalanga province are definite favourites with tourist travelling to the Kruger National Park. The vicinity hosts various waterfalls, the popular God's Window and the Blyde River Canyon.
Harrie's in Graskop and Petena's in Sabie are renowned for their pancakes. At Harries there are pancakes with Dutch Bacon and cheese, curry, chocolate mouse and even a cherry and liqueur pancake. Petena's makes excellent cheese and asparagus, curry, chicken and caramel pancackes. Harrie's is smaller with a more intimate atmosphere, whereas Petena's has a large outside verandah with lovely views across the mountains.
For more pancakes you can go to Smokey Pancake World, just down the road from Petena's. They, however, don't only have pancakes and their pizzas, seafood and traditional potjiekos ( stew like dish made in a cast iron pot over an open fire) are all worth a try.
You just cannot leave the area without having at least one pancake.