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. Babel

    $$$ | Eclectic

    Set on the grounds of one of the Cape's oldest Dutch farms, Babel and the Babylonstoren boutique hotel are a vision in white surrounded by lush...Read More

  • 2. Bosman's

    $$$$ | Eclectic

    Set amid the heady opulence of the Grande Roche hotel, this elegant restaurant ranks as one of the country's finest. The level of service is...Read More

  • 3. Haute Cabrière

    $$$$ | Eclectic

    Try to reserve a window table for views across the vine-clad valley at this restaurant atop a working winery built into the mountainside. The...Read More

  • 4. Rust en Vrede

    $$$$ | Eclectic

    When you arrive at this gorgeous old Dutch farmhouse, a staff member greets you outside the door, suggesting a pre-dinner drink on the rose...Read More

  • 5. Terroir

    $$$ | Eclectic

    The setting on a golf estate and wine farm is pretty, but it's the excellent food and service that really stand out here. Chef Michael Broughton...Read More

  • 6. Tokara

    $$$ | Eclectic

    At the top of the Helshoogte Pass with absolutely amazing views of the valley and mountains, Tokara is a Winelands must-do. Chef Richard Carstens...Read More

  • 7. Bar Bar Black Sheep

    $$ | Eclectic

    This relaxed establishment offers rustic, slow-cooked country food with a twist; their dishes are hearty and big on flavor. Fresh, seasonal...Read More

  • 8. Bodega

    $$ | Eclectic

    On the huge veranda of a historic barn, a languid air of well-fed ease wafts around Bodega. Happy children run around on the lawn against the...Read More

  • 9. Bread & Wine Vineyard Restaurant

    $$$ | Eclectic

    This rustic restaurant on Môreson Farm has won numerous accolades for its food and is a great place to stop for lunch on the Wine Tram route...Read More

  • 10. Café des Arts

    $$ | Eclectic

    When Topsi Venter, doyenne of the Cape culinary scene, decided to hang up her apron and retire, it seemed appropriate that one of her former...Read More

  • 11. Fraai Uitzicht

    $$ | Eclectic

    In a deeply rural setting between Robertson and Ashton, this 200-year-old fruit and wine farm is home to a rustic restaurant where the menu...Read More

  • 12. 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

  • 13. 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

  • 14. 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

  • 15. 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

  • 16. Overture

    $$$$ | Eclectic

    At the end of Annandale Road, Hidden Valley Estate perches on a mountain ridge, flanked by the splendor of fynbos-covered hills and a silvery...Read More

  • 17. Pomegranate

    $$ | Eclectic

    The busy road and the swaths of invasive nonnative trees that need to be chopped down give absolutely no indication of the gem that lies beyond...Read More

  • 18. Readers

    $$ | Eclectic

    The historic residence of the former church reader (lay-person trained to preach and lead worship) makes a cozy setting for this restaurant...Read More

  • 19. Reuben's

    $$$ | Eclectic

    Everybody loves a success story, and Reuben Riffel has hit the jackpot: a string of restaurants in desirable South African destinations, all...Read More

  • 20. Terra Mare

    $$ | Eclectic

    Owner-run Terra Mare has become a favorite with locals and tourists alike, offering not just great food, but a wonderful dining experience in...Read More

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