The Western Cape Restaurants

The dining scene ranges from fine South African cuisine complete with silver service to local, laid-back, country-style cooking. Franschhoek restaurants attract some of the country's most innovative chefs, who aren't afraid to experiment with unusual ingredients or food-and-wine combinations, and offer up a very sophisticated dining experience in a gorgeous setting. West Coast fare is not as urban as what you find in the Cape Winelands, and coastal towns usually concentrate on seafood, often served in open-air restaurants. Farther inland the cuisine tends to be less trendy and the portions more generous. Be sure to try some Cape Malay cuisine, characterized by mild, slightly sweet curries and aromatic spices. The only places you're likely to be disappointed in the food are in smaller agricultural towns in the Overberg or up the West Coast, where overcooked veggies and an uninspiring and indistinguishable roast are still the norm. But this is changing from month to month as weary city slickers head out of town to open lovely restaurants serving high-quality food.

Country restaurants tend to serve lunch from noon and dinner from 6, and do not cater to late diners except on weekends. Because these areas rely heavily on tourists and local day-trippers, most restaurants in the Cape Winelands and seaside towns are open on weekends, especially for leisurely Sunday lunches, but may catch their breath on Sunday evenings or quieter Mondays. Dress codes vary as much as the dining experiences. Casual wear is acceptable during the day and at most restaurants in the evening. On the coast people pull shorts and T-shirts over their swimsuits before tucking into a plate of calamari and chips (fries), but some Winelands restaurants like their patrons to look as good as the cuisine they deliver. Even so, a nice pair of jeans or pants and a good shirt are usually enough; jackets and ties are rarely expected. If there's someplace you really want to eat, reserve ahead. In December and January, popular restaurants book up quickly, and reservations are advised at least a day or two in advance.

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  • 1. Burgundy

    $$ | Seafood

    In one of the village's original stone-and-clay fisherfolk cottages, the cozy Burgundy is one of Hermanus's oldest and best-loved restaurants...Read More

  • 2. Heaven

    $$ | Eclectic

    If you're keen to escape the crush in Hermanus, head to Heaven, situated on Newton Johnson Family Vineyards. It's up the picturesque Hemel-en...Read More

  • 3. La Pentola

    $$ | Eclectic

    With a panoramic view of Walker Bay, La Pentola specializes in international cuisine with South African flavors. Drawing on French, Italian...Read More

  • 4. Mariana's

    $$ | Eclectic

    Mariana and Peter Esterhuizen started out selling organic vegetables at the Hermanus farmers' market before converting a house in the little...Read More

  • 5. Mogg's Country Cookhouse

    $$ | Eclectic

    Don't be put off by the bumpy dirt road heading up the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley. This restaurant on a fruit farm at the top of the valley is worth...Read More

  • 6. Mediterrea Seafood Restaurant

    $ | Mediterranean

    You can't go wrong with excellent food and sweeping bay views, and Mediterrea regulars know to ask for a window seat. In whale season you can...Read More

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