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. Olive Terrace Bistro

    $ | South African

    At the Tulbagh Hotel, the Olive Terrace Bistro serves local wines and tasty food on a pretty terrace, shaded by a white karee tree for warm...Read More

  • 2. The Milkwood

    $ | Seafood

    Overlooking the lagoon in Onrus, the Milkwood is a great place for a languid lunch. You can sit on the deck after a quick dip and eat some fresh...Read More

  • 3. The Shellfish Bar

    $ | Seafood

    This is one of the places where you can try abalone quite legally. At the big abalone factory the mollusks are cultivated, harvested, and packaged...Read More

  • 4. Froggy's

    $ | Eclectic

    The food at this attractive and unpretentious establishment would be impressive even in a smart city restaurant, but in a town where most people...Read More

  • 5. 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

  • 6. Paddagang

    $ | South African

    Though built as a private residence in 1809, by 1821 Paddagang (Frog's Way) was already serving as one of South Africa's first tap houses (like...Read More

  • 7. Pontac Manor

    $ | Eclectic

    Having established a popular small hotel in a striking Cape Victorian former farmstead, the owners added a restaurant that has become a Winelands...Read More

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