Thinking about a foodie foray into the unknown? Off the beaten path dining used to be so easy; buy a plane ticket to a setting less travelled, make a break for somewhere rural, find a path, step off it left or right and break rustic bread with locals.
But in 2019, it seems like it’s all been done before. Your unadventurous mate from school has posted photos of snake eating in Vietnam, friends have slurped snails across the channel and enjoyed it, hell, even your nan has tucked into lamachan off the Gulf of Antalya. Fortunately, there are still some places yet to be rendered in sepia soaked 1080px. One of those places is South Africa, a veritable feast of historic and cultural influences, fine dining and over-the-flame cooking. Time to get stuck in, then; here are 5 IDEAL foodie destinations in South Africa you need to visit now.
JOHANNESBURG TO EAT MEAT (AND LOTS OF IT)
Johannesburg is a city known for its enthusiastic predilection for meat, some of it less familiar to British palates. It’s only natural, then, for foodies to be attracted to such an exotic scene. This city is considered the economic hub of South Africa, so it shouldn’t be hard to find flights in and out of the city at all times of the day. You’ll want to go with one of South Africa’s best domestic airlines to fly affordably; mango airlines rank at the top of that list thanks to their cheap prices and high quality. Once in Johannesburg your first stop should be the Carnivore restaurant, a multi award winning joint offering all you can eat meat, cooked over fire and served on swords. It’s all in the name, right?
Should you be in the mood for something less protein heavy, then check out the Neighbourgood’s Market, open every Saturday and scaling two floors full of local, seasonal fruit, veg and artisanal producers. It’s a hip, foodie happening scene, that’s for sure.
CAPE TOWN FOR THE ANNUAL STREET FOOD FESTIVAL
This festival, one of the most popular food events in the whole country, is an annual 10 day extravaganza of the good stuff. Pop-up stalls, kiosks, and food trucks cater to culinary tastes as diverse as the country’s population. Though it’s not just the country’s traditional treats on offer here (in fact, there’s famous street food from all around the world served), the most prominent foods are those of the South African cuisine like bunny chow, vetkoek, shisa nyama, and more. But you’d be silly to visit for this festival alone; the Mother City has so much more to offer hungry foodies. Our IDEAL tips for the best in Cape Town eating will help get your appetite sated.
THE WEST COAST HIGHWAY FOR SEAFOOD
Also called Route 27, the West Coast Highway is a place where seafood lovers flock from all over the country to satisfy their urge for the saline stuff. Itcthyophiles won’t be disappointed; there’s certainly no shortage of seafood restaurants that provide the finest snoek, mussels, lobsters and more along the sparkling route.
Die Strandloper and Die Strandkombuis restaurants are among the most famous. They’re known not just for their amazing seafood repertoire, but also the majestic sunset views, gentle winds, and golden sands right under your feet. If you want to keep it traditional South African (and let’s face it, why wouldn’t you?) then dishes like paella potjie, angelfish, mussels, waterblommetjie bredie, and snoek are where your focus should lie.
CAPE TOWN FOR THE CHEESE FESTIVAL
And it’s back to South Africa’s oldest city for another foodie fiesta, this time celebrating all things queso. The Cheese Festival is a world-renowned food event that takes place in Cape Town every year in April. You’ll be introduced to South Africa’s best wine (of which there is plenty) and cheese, in addition to other foods that marry well with beer, wine, and other alcoholic beverages.
The festival spans three days packed with various forms of entertainment like music, food theatres, cheese carving competitions, and watching celebrity chefs in action. While you’re there, be sure to seek out the potent, umami rich Fairview Blue Rock, as well as any South African take on mozarella. Although a relative newcomer to the cheese making world, the terroir of the country lends itself to gorgeous dairy based produce. Go get it!
PORT ELIZABETH FOR SUSHI
Port Elizabeth is the biggest city in the Eastern Cape province, and for very good reason is regularly at the top of any tourist’s must do list. It has it all; miles of sandy beaches, lagoons that are as secluded as you like and majestic cliffs which seem to look out onto the edge of the world. The truly unique aspect of the food scene in Port Elizabeth is their insatiable taste for sushi, with a diverse, delicious range of Japanese-inspired restaurants in the city. If we had to chose, then Fushin Sushi is one of the most highly regarded sushi restaurants in the area, with a wide offering of sushi and sashimi selections that would be up both beginner and expert sushi eaters’ alleys, in addition to their Alaskan snow crab and the Australian eel.