Our Favorite Restaurants in South Africa, from Local Seafood to Spanish Bistros

SAN Deck (Johannesburg)

Picture yourself sipping on an elderflower and basil gin and tonic next to a modern-designed fire pit as the sun goes down, with warm company and lounge-like ambiance. Got it? Welcome to SAN Deck, one of my favorite spots in Joburg located in the Sandton Sun Hotel. Their extensive list of bespoke cocktails has all the classics you know and love, plus some inventive additions from their team of mixologists. Enjoy imbibing, but don’t miss out on the chalmar rump steak served with tomato chutney and a fried egg, either!

Pigalle (Johannesburg)

It’s pretty difficult to nail down who has the best seafood in a fisher’s heaven like South Africa, but I have to say, Pigalle crafts exquisite dishes that are unlike any other with an elegant, urban-chic atmosphere to boot. The plating itself is an art, with well-thought-out arrangements and garnishes that add pops of color and a boost of flavor. Take my word on this one: the seafood platters for two are the best way to indulge at Pigalle.

Butcher Shop (Johannesburg)

Red wine, red meat, and a deli shop to take home some snacks from—need I say more? Butcher Shop packs all the culinary punches that you would expect from an unmatched South African steakhouse, plus some unique additions. Take your pick from Dutch veal, Kobe-style Wagyu, or Argentine ribeye, custom cut depending on your preference of course. If “boutique butcher shops” were a thing, this one would certainly fit the bill in my eyes.

Harbour House Waterfront (Cape Town)

A meal out at Harbour House Waterfront is always on my to-do list when I’m in Cape Town. With waterfront views of the bay and gorgeous plates of flower-garnished swordfish, how could I stay away? Seafood delights from langoustines to handmade pappardelle pasta with calamari are sure to please any palate. Sushi lovers will take affectionately to the detailed list of maki, sashimi, and nigiri plates, and there are plenty of plates available for vegetarians and carnivores too.

Tasha’s (Cape Town)

Bistro lovers, listen up because this Spanish-inspired café will give you a taste of Barcelona right on Cape Town’s glittering waterfront. Tasha’s makes brunch and lunch a cultural experience, with tapas ranging from jamón and manchego cheese to decadent burrata mozzarella and fragrant marinated and roasted artichokes. Not to mention, the interior is both chic and unique—with terracotta pot light shades and indoor plants adding a pop of greenery. Come for the tapas, stay longer than planned for the dark chocolate delice and salted honey ice cream.

Rust En Vrede (Stellenbosch)

Local vineyard wine pairings with your alfresco lunch are two of the components that make Rust En Vrede one of my list additions. This Stellenbosch favorite is both casual yet sophisticated, with both four and six-course menus offered with a wine pairing to suit your palate. Dishes change regularly with the seasons and local produce, allowing for a one-of-a-kind experience depending on your time of arrival. It’s estate living at its finest, replete with sprawling vineyards and a mountain backdrop.

Delaire Graff (Stellenbosch)

Once you step foot onto the exquisite, airy patio at Delaire Graff, you won’t want to leave anytime soon. Their seasonally shaped menu features decadent simplicities such as their own olive oil blend, all the way to delicacies such as bone marrow paired with quinoa and mushroom. The tasting menu looks as good as it tastes, and you’ll probably find yourself itching to take a photo of the masterpiece before even trying the first bite.