It’s now common knowledge that the food and wine in South Africa is some of the best in the world. Michelin star eateries are popping up all over the place, there’s a hipster, fresh-from-the-farm market everywhere you look, and the wines are simply spectacular. But what else is out there? We taste-tested our way across the country to bring you the best food experiences in South Africa, from the traditional to the most definitely not!
1. Signature Wine Tastings
Think food and wine in South Africa, think Boschendal. The idyllic estate has always been known for its delectable farm-to-table cuisine, charming cottages, and of course, the award-winning wines. Now, they’ve added another string to their fabulous bow with the new Signature Tasting Experiences. All five pairings include a (generous) splash of four or five wines, and chef Christiaan Campbell has worked his magic with the accompanying tasting plates. We couldn’t think of a better way to spend a leisurely afternoon.
Where to stay: Boschendal Farm
Kruger National Park
Sometimes it’s not just about the food, but about the location of the munching, and Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge offers some pretty spectacular options. Choose a table at the main dining area and watch the comings and goings at the waterhole, or cosy up in the magnificent library with a good red. Tables can also be set up in the fragrant Meditation Garden, but best of all is dinner in the wine cellar, surrounded by a collection of over 6,000 rare wines.
Where to stay: Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge
Food and wine in South Africa normally focuses on just that – wine. But step off the beaten track and straight into the Birkenhead Brewery and you won’t be disappointed. As part of the Walker Bay Wine Estate, the microbrewery produces six craft beers and all can be sampled in an arranged tasting. And trust us, a beer and a bratwurst overlooking the Klein River will be enough to turn the most ardent of grape-lovers.
Where to stay: Mosaic Lagoon Lodge
Made from the finest raw Ecuadorian cacao and sweetened using only agave syrup, there’s not a preservative or sprinkle of refined sugar to be found in an Honest Chocolate. Learn how the master chocolatiers make their guilt-free treats, and try your hand at rolling, prepping, swirling and scooping your very own truffles at the monthly Chocolate Bon Bon workshops at the Honest Café on Wale Street, or in their vibrant Woodstock Kitchen.
Where to stay: Cape Cadogan
5. Curry buffet at the Oyster Box
When in the Cape Winelands, it would be rude not to have a glass of Chenin (or three), and when in Durban, it’s just as blasphemous not to have a curry. Home to South Africa’s largest Indian population, you’ll find definite Indian influences in a Durban curry, but what sets them apart is the rich, tomato-y sweetness and hotter-than-the-sun chilli. For a real dining extravaganza, don’t miss the Oyster Box’s daily curry buffet with no less than 11 dishes to try.
Where to stay: Oyster Box Hotel
Madikwe Game Reserve
It’s not just Cape Town and the Winelands that give food and wine in South Africa a good name. Chef Nico Verster at Jamala Royal Safari Lodge in Madikwe might be in the heart of the bush, but he still manages to whip up grilled scallops, slow-cooked beef shin and pepper-crusted springbok with ease, alongside some seriously decadent Afternoon Tea spreads.
Where to stay: Jamala Madikwe Royal Safari Lodge
Food and wine in South Africa is normally accompanied by a hefty dose of fun and frolicking, and none more so than at the Knysna Oyster Festival. The oyster farms might be long gone, but that doesn’t stop the town celebrating their slippery shellfish, and over the 10-day festival the restaurants offer a plethora of special offers. And even if you don’t like oysters, there are plenty of treats to get your teeth into.
Where to stay: Kanonkop House
If there’s one thing we love more than good food and wine in South Africa, it’s sustainable food and wine. Enter Bean There, SA’s first roaster of Certified Fairtrade beans from the continent’s many coffee producers. Sample the fascinating flavours for yourself at a Cupping Morning in the Johannesburg Roastery, and learn about the process from crop to cup. You’ll be awake all day!
Where to stay: The Peech Hotel
There’s food all around you in South Africa – you just have to know where to look. Discover the edible landscape with the clever chaps at Veld and Sea on one of their morning foraging sessions. They’ll show you what’s poisonous and what’s not (always good to know), pick apart the best parts of the plants, and have you munching on wild mushrooms and seaweed before you know it.
Where to stay: Moonglow Guest House
10. Hope on Hopkins gin tasting
Our favourite juniper-based spirit is having a major moment in Cape Town, and gin distilleries are popping up all over town. Head to Hope on Hopkins, located in uber-cool Salt River, on a Wednesday evening for a curated tasting, or pop in on a Saturday afternoon for a DIY sampling of their three famous tipples – the classic London Dry; the Salt River, blended with a unique mix of African botanicals; and the olive, rosemary and cardamom infused Mediterranean.
Where to stay: Welgelegen Boutique Hotel