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A guide to restaurants celebrating local SA cuisines

Including Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban and Port Elizabeth and a whole lot of local flavour.

by: Ceili McGeever | 26 Sep 2017

(Image by The Potato Shed)

Cape Town and Western Cape

Here is our guide to Cape Town's finest African restaurants.

Miller's Thumb, Tamboerskloof

Always featuring prominently in the top 10 restaurants in Cape Town on Tripadvisor, this brightly coloured restaurant has been open for over two decades. It has a very loyal following of patrons who trust and love their honest, quality dishes, many inspired by local culinary traditions. On the menu you'll find West Coast mussels, Malay-spiced catch of the day, springbok carpaccio and calamari.

The Backyard, Sea Point
The Backyard is a unique spot in the Sea Point area, embodying the essence of a traditional shisa nyama which is where it gets its name from - it feels just like a friend's backyard. The braai is always lit up, with favourites like basted sticky ribs and chicken kebabs and sides to choose from like corn on the cob, green salad and roast potatoes. It's hearty, family-style dining at its best.

Hemelhuijs, CBD
The Hemelhuijs menu is what food dreams are made of, with dishes and a beautiful design that show the artistic approach to the café's food. Food is prepared to give diners a complete sensory experience, with many indigenous ingredients that bring on that sense of nostalgia. You'll find things like soft mielie pap with Karoo honey, homemade mosbolletjie, crayfish and bobotie frikkadels.

The Little Bo-Kaap Kitchen at Cinta Food Market
This small market has a wonderful philosophy of social dining and a pure love of food. Zainie Misbach a local Bo-Kaap resident who runs the Bo-Kaap Cooking Tour serves her traditional Cape Malay dishes at the market. She offers various Cape Malay curries, including bobotie and vegetarian curry, as well as a spicy scrambled egg Poola served with a roti for breakfast and on the sweet side, homemade koeksisters.

Wolfgat, Paternoster

Wolfgat takes indigenous eating to new heights, with ingredients foraged from the surrounding Strandveld area, making dishes unique and wholly inspired by nature. The experience is unlike any other, overlooking the West Coast shore, as you eat a seasonally inspired tasting menu, with items freshly foraged the same day dishes are prepared. Booking is essential.


Soweto's Vilakazi Street is very well-known for their abundance of traditional South African restaurants. Here is a guide to five of the best along the vibrant strip.

Flames, Westcliff
Flames describes themselves as an artisan braai restaurant, serving South African braai classics with a contemporary twist. They have a proper outdoor braai kitchen where they cook their quality meat and seafood, creating dishes that embody local flair with a dash of inspiration pulled from across the globe. They have a huge variety of quality beef variations and all the regular A-grade cuts, as well as pork belly, ostrich, duck and a seafood selection. The veranda is a stunning way to enjoy a sunny day in Joburg, overlooking the lush treetops.

Moyo at Zoo Lake and Melrose Arch
There couldn't be a better location for the Zoo Lake branch of Moyo. It is one of a kind and engulfed in greenery, offering a proper escape from the Joburg city, and a natural haven allowing you to unwind. The Melrose Arch branch offers the same festive experience in a more modern, city setting. Moyo has earned its solid reputation for providing an authentic and immersive experience that celebrates the vibrant cultures of Africa. What's great is there's a little bit of everything from African deluxe sandwiches to Mozambican prawns to poitjies to the glorious breakfast and lunch buffets. Heritage day will see a special buffet, so have a look at their website for further details.

Pata Pata, Maboneng
Pata Pata, on Fox Street, serves up traditional African, home-style cooking, in a laid-back environment. It's an unpretentious space to chill with friends and indulge in dishes like vetkoek and mince, bobotie, boerewors and classic fish and chips. Inspired by the 60s sounds of jazz in Soweto, live music is a regular occurrence at Pata Pata.

The Potato Shed, Newtown
The Potato Shed celebrates it's Newtown surroundings, sitting in an old building that functioned as a market over 100 years ago, the aesthetics and design have stayed true to its unrefined essence. The spirit of the restaurant embodies a distinctive Joburg feel, with a lively atmosphere that reflects the once bustling marketplace. Food is cooked over flames, in true South Africa style with specialities like lamb on the spit and chicken pokers. They also often have live music to honour the history of jazz in the Newtown area.


Moyo Ushaka
Just like it's Joburg sibling restaurants, Moyo celebrates the spirit of Africa and our local culinary triumphs. This one is ideally located at Ushaka Marine World, right next to the beach, with palm trees and Durban's tropical heat adding to the overall good vibe. Meat is cooked on a traditional kraal grill in which you can choose various cuts or a platter to share. Other dishes include peri per prawns, chicken and prawn curry, and other signature Moyo dishes inspired by a variety of African cuisines.

Palki, Berea
Durban's Indian heritage is a very prominent feature in the overall cultural landscape of the city, and because of this, they have the most incredible authentic Indian restaurants. Palki is certainly one of these with traditional Durban and Indian curries in a wide variety. The restaurant hosts regulars and family gatherings weekly. Do not miss the classic chicken tikka, mushroom Manchurian and the lamb vindaloo.

Mali's Indian Restaurant, Morningside
Another traditional Indian and Pakistani restaurant, with a warm and cosy interior that boasts sophistication. Curries are served in copper bowls above tea lights and are beautifully prepared by Indian chefs with intricate expertise that is evident in every dish. Try the mushroom Munchurian and the chicken chettinad.

Afro's Chicken Shop, various branches
We featured these guys in our guide to specialised restaurants and bars who focus on a specific food or drink item. Chicken, being South Africa's favourite meat statistically, is prepared exactly as it should be at Afro's, with no fuss, simple spicing, and in a variety of classic dishes like the chicken burger and 'tjips', chicken strips and chicken livers and toast. The whole philosophy embraces locality, appealing to different walks of life, and Durban's various cultures.

Chow Time! Burger, Tjips & Slaw FTW! ? ? What's your favourite Afro's meal? Tag or DM us! #afroschicken

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Mozambik, Ballito
Due to Durban's close proximity to Maputo and the sea, they've always been influenced by the flavours of Mozambique, which is why you will find many restaurants serving traditional Mozambican and Portuguese food. Mozambik in Ballito, takes it a step further with a venue right on the beach and a tropical feel, combining the essence of Durban and Mozambique. You'll find per peri prawns and peri peri chicken along with other mouth-watering flame-grilled options.

Port Elizabeth

Boma, Lovemore Park
This country restaurant is well-known for their South African buffet, situated just a little out of PE's city centre. They host many events and special occasions, because of their large, unique venue that sits in forest-like surroundings. The enchanting space is matched by good food with traditional poitjie being a speciality.

Frederick & Son, Baakens Valley
This trendy hangout is dedicated to gourmet burgers and boeries. Boerewors rolls are usually reserved for street vendors but these guys are taking them up a notch with toppings like feta, homemade relish, and jalapeno sauce. The owner comes from a butchery background which was his father's business. There, Freddy (son), and his brother would sell boerie rolls on weekends. When the family business closed down, Freddy chose to continue his father's legacy with Frederick & Son, using his grandfather's boerewors recipe. This is a perfect weekend spot, with a great outdoor area that lends itself to casual dining and an icy beer on a warm day.

Burgers in the valley tonight #frederickandson #burgers #portelizabeth #burgernight??

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Read last week's restaurant guide:

17 Restaurants in SA that serve the classic good ol' fish and chips

(Image by Kalky's)This spot sits right in the Kalk Bay harbour and is a Cape Town icon. For years the little seaside shack has been serving families and friends from all walks of life, on their plastic red tablecloths. Sitting right by the sea, next to bobbing fishing boats, the whole experience is as authentic as it could possibly get.

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