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. Boschendal Restaurant

    $$$$ | South African

    Reserve well in advance for the buffet lunch here at one of the Cape's most beautiful and historic wineries. A wide selection of soups, quiches...Read More

  • 2. Geelbek Restaurant

    $$ | South African

    Passionate about food and history, Elmarie Leonard created this restaurant to preserve the area's fast-disappearing old recipes. It's her way...Read More

  • 3. Harvest

    $$ | South African

    La Borie Wine Estate is nestled in the Paarl valley, with Paarl rock as its backdrop. Harvest, the on-site restaurant, offers elegant, relaxed...Read More

  • 4. Muisbosskerm

    $$$$ | South African

    For the true flavor of West Coast life, come to the original open-air seafood restaurant, on the beach south of Lambert's Bay. It consists of...Read More

  • 5. Oep ve Koep

    $$ | South African

    Don't be fooled by the appearance of this tiny rustic bistro with a retro garden area. If you're looking for sensational cuisine, Oep ve Koep...Read More

  • 6. 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

  • 7. Waverley Hills Estate

    $$$$ | South African

    If you're looking for a day trip, Waverley Hills Estate is a 20-minute drive from Tulbagh. This 320-acre estate is known for its organic wines...Read More

  • 8. 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

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