South Africa is well-known for its meat-heavy braais and its signature Pinotage wines, but there's so much more on offer for foodies to enjoy. From world-famous oysters in Knysna to spectacular Cape Malay cuisine in Bo Kaap, there's something to tickle everyone's taste buds. Here's an introduction to some of South Africa's unique gourmet destinations that we recommend you sample...
Winelands, Western Cape
If you fancy yourself as a wine connoisseur, then the Cape Winelands is a must, as the largest wine-producing region in South Africa. Each region within the Cape Winelands offers its own unique wine route. Not only can you enjoy world-class wine tasting, but the Winelands is home to outstanding culinary delights with well-appointed restaurants serving dishes of your dreams. Combine the delicious wines with some of the most beautiful landscapes on earth, century-old architecture and awe-inspiring food. It's no surprise that it's one of South Africa's most beloved gourmet destinations for visitors and locals alike.
"As a total foodie, I can confidently recommend some of the best restaurants and wineries in the Cape Region. Try Lourensford Wine Estate in Somerset West for a great wine and nougat pairing and Fairview Wine Estate in Paarl offers a great wine and cheese pairing. Vergelegen Wine Estates gardens are out of this world and the estate is very relaxed. They have a great kiddies play area and a very good wine list!” - Mahlatini Travel Expert, Bjorn Van Huyssteen.
Home to one of the largest Indian communities outside of Asia, Durban's cuisine is mostly influenced by Indian culture and curry is by far its speciality. One unique dish that you must try while in Durban is 'bunny chow', a fast food dish consisting of a hollowed-out loaf of white bread filled with delicious curry. If you are interested in some fine dining, visit the Berea area of the city for a more sophisticated culinary experience.
Cape Town, Western Cape
All tastes and budgets are catered for in Cape Town, from street food to fine dining. Locals and visitors are spoilt for choice here. Cape Town has possibly the most diverse and cosmopolitan dining options of anywhere in Africa - a true foodie's heaven! For those who enjoy fine dining, Mahlatini co-founder, Greg Fox, recommends The Test Kitchen, although with a several months waiting list you must book well in advance. Greg also recommends having cocktails at the rooftop bar of The Silo Hotel, which provides exquisite panoramic views of the city and its dramatic Table Mountain backdrop.
Bo Kaap, Cape Town
Bo Kaap is the best place to experience Cape Malay cuisine. Cape Malay cuisine is unique to the Western Cape and is renowned for its fruity, mild and full-bodied flavours. It is a fusion of traditional South Africa with Middle Eastern and Dutch cultures. If you take a walk up and down the cobblestone streets that climb Signal Hill, you will most definitely smell the unique flavours of the area's famous cuisine. A must-do in Bo Kaap is a traditional Cape Malay meal, a Cape Malay cooking course or a tour with one of the local experts.
Knysna, Garden Route
Found in the heart of the Garden Route, the beautiful Knysna is famous for its stunning lagoon setting, friendly small town vibe, and not to forget its excellent oysters. Foodies from all over the world visit Knysna for its fresh oysters, especially during the Knysna Oyster Festival. This unique festival runs for 10 days during the last week of June or the first week in July - the peak of the oyster season. A visit to the oyster capital of South Africa is a must for all seafood lovers.
For more off-the-radar experiences in South Africa, visit our Rediscover SA page.