Our Cape Winelands food guide includes the best places to eat in Stellenbosch as well as outstanding eateries in both Franschhoek and Paarl.
Ten days in the Cape Winelands was just enough time for us to scratch the surface of the area’s outstanding cuisine. Like many, we were lured to the Cape Winelands by the chance to taste some of the world’s best wine at the source.
We envisioned ourselves sipping the best South African wines like Chenin Blanc and Pinotage while gazing into the scenic horizon and chatting with passionate winemakers. We didn’t have any expectations about the food though.
Wrapped up in our South African wine love affair, we never worried about what to eat between sips. We’re happy to report that both the wine and food in the Cape Winelands blew us away.
While the CapeWinelands has gained fame from wines like Pinotage, we found joy in tasting more traditional varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. The Cape produces some of the most unsung Cabernet in the world for shockingly low prices.
We were happy to enjoy these wines with big flavorful steaks, game meats like springbok and surprisingly forward gastronomic food in notable towns like Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschhoek. Great wine deserves great food, and chefs in the Winelands were more than up for the challenge. Beautiful scenery, great spaces and breathtaking views to match make the Winelands a lifetime dream destination for epicureans.
Cape Winelands 101
The Cape Winelands is a vast geographic area near Cape Town with the kind of hot, dry weather that is ideal for producing much of South Africa’s best wine.
Wine varietals are varied, though the region is known for reds like Pinotage, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc and whites like Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Although Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl are famous throughout the world, up-and-coming Cape Winelands destinations include Ceres, Elgin, McGregor, Montagu, Robertson, Somerset West, Tulbagh and Wellington.
Cape Winelands Food Guide
Now that we’ve established that a visit to the Cape Winelands is a must during any South Africa vacation, you’re probably wondering where to eat between wine tastings. It’s never too soon to start researching restaurants in this part of South Africa since more popular spots book up in weeks in advance.
Restaurants in the Cape Winelands run the gamut from super casual cafes to high-end dining. Many of the best Cape Winelands restaurants are located on vineyards, providing diners with the opportunity to enjoy their meals along with wonderful wine and breathtaking views of mountains jutting into the horizon.
That’s not to say that visitors can’t eat well in the thriving center of cities like Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl. City dining provides opportunities to people-watch and offers the convenience of returning to your hotel safely after drinking a bottle (or two) of wine.
We got our first introduction to the Stellenbosch food scene by taking a fun Foodies on Foot tour with Bites & Sites, a local Stellenbosch cultural food tour company. Not only did tour guide Hanli Fourie introduce us to some of the best food in town, but she also shared a lot of fun historical facts as she walked us around South Africa’s second oldest city.
With over 150,000 residents Stellenbosch South Africa is the biggest city in the Cape Winelands with the largest concentration of restaurants and one of the country’s largest universities. There’s a youthful energy and plenty of things to do in Stellenbosch both night and day.
Spontaneous diners can wander the city’s busy sidewalks and find places to eat in Stellenbosch after a hectic day of wine tasting. However, with some advance planning, it’s possible to enjoy a memorable experience at one or more of the best restaurants in Stellenbosch. We recommend the following:
96 Winery Road
A big red wine deserves a big juicy steak at its side, and that’s exactly what you can eat at 96 Winery Road. This 21-year old restaurant, helmed by two of the area’s best winemakers, Ken Forrester and Martin Meinert, is a perfect spot to enjoy both just outside of Stellenbosch.
Despite its country chic decor, cozy vibe and extensive wine list, the food is the main event at 96 Winery Road. Many diners order the massive Duck and Cherry Pie, but steak is the way to go here. Choose the brontosaurus sized Hollandaise Pepper Fillet (steak au poivre) flambéed tableside or, better yet, the more simple, manly ‘Beef on the Bone’. Paired with a bottle of Meinert’s rich, full-bodied, complex Cabernet Sauvignon, there is no better way to go.
If you appreciate Martin Meinert’s wine like we did, you can make an appointment to visit his winery. Visits are by appointment only and are well worth your time.
96 Winery Road is located at The Country Guesthouse, 96 Winery Rd, Somerset West, Raithby, 7130, South Africa.
Overture | The Deck | Spek & Bone
Bertus Basson achieved celebrity chef status from his role on The Ultimate Braii Master, but that hasn’t stopped him from running his Stellenbosch restaurants with a focus on serving great food to his hungry customers. A proponent of South African cuisine and local products, Basson has three restaurants in Stellenbosch plus one in Paarl (see below).
Basson’s flagship Stellenbosch restaurant, Overture has been wowing customers at Hidden Valley Wines since 2007 with its rustic setting and sophisticated food like Farmyard Terrine and Chalmar Sirloin. Not counting wine, meals cost between 465R to 690R at Overture, a bargain for a restaurant of this caliber.
The Deck is a great option for a more laid-back dining experience at Hidden Vally Wines, especially if you’re in the mood for a burger with a view. As a bonus, the casual restaurant does not take reservations, making it feasible for many spontaneous travelers to secure a table.
As for us, we absolutely loved our meal at Spek & Bone, Basson’s newest restaurant in the heart of Stellenbosch named after his pet pig (Spek) and his pet boxer (Bone). Here, we shared dishes including a savory Beef Tartare served with cornichons and potato crisps in a ‘ginormous’ giraffe bone, BBQ Peri Peri Wings, Sauteéd Gnocchi with mushroom and parmesan crumbs, Yuzu Dressed Fish Tacos and a vibrantly colored Beet Salad.
Despite his busy schedule, Basson was at the restaurant during our meal and even twisted our arms to try the Peppermint Crisp King Cone (pictured at the top of the article), a typical yet delightful South African ice cream cone with crunchy, candy cane like bits on top and caramel popcorn on the side. Who were we to say no?
Although wine is readily available, consider ordering a Gin and Tonic as a refreshing change of pace during your dinner at Spek & Bone.
Located inside the luxurious Majeka House hotel just five kilometers from downtown Stellenbosch, Makaron Restaurant offers a modern menu filled with small plates and wine pairing options. Half of the fun at this restaurant is choosing four to six of Chef Lucas Carstens’ creations, and the other half of the fun is eating them.
Standout dishes during our meal included the Beef Tartare “Poke” Bowl and the Springbok Rump as well as the pictured Sashimi topped with juicy, slightly bitter grapefruit that bursts with flavor.
Plan to arrive a half hour before your reservation. You will want to start your meal with cocktails by the pool.
Makaron Restaurant is located at Majeka House, 26 Houtkapper Street, Anesta, Stellenbosch, 7600, South Africa.
The Table At De Meye
Relaxing with great food, local wine and dear friends is the greatest pleasure to be had in the Cape Winelands, and there is no better place to indulge in this pleasure than having a simple picnic like lunch at The Table at Dey Meye. Just nineteen kilometers from downtown Stellenbosch, the ultra-chill farm setting feels like a world away from the city center.
A rustic farm building serves as the dining room during the winter. However, during the warmer summer months, diners eat a three-course meal on tree-shaded tables strategically scattered around the yard in a fashion that creates a convivial yet intimate environment.
For our leisurely lunch, Chef Jess Shepard served family-style, seasonal dishes like a savory Tomato Tart with Salad, Grass Fed Beef with Crispy Potatoes, Roasted Aubergine and Chocolate Pave with Sweet Corn and Rosemary Ice Cream. Both the wine and conversation flowed as we shared the experience with friends in this bucolic setting.
Make reservations well in advance. Since The Table is only open for lunch three days a week, availability is limited.
The Table is located at De Meye Farm, Muldersvlei Rd, Klapmuts, Stellenbosch, 7600, South Africa.
Kaapse Vonkel MCC & Oyster Bar
Our quest for good seafood in Cape Town ended an hour away in Stellenbosch when we slurped down Saldanha Bay oysters in downtown Stellenbosch. Big, meaty and sweet, these oysters represented everything that we love about eating oysters in a true oyster farm to table situation. The giant fresh black mussels proved equally satisfying served with a creamy, yet light white wine emulsion.
Oysters and mussels are just part of the story at Kaapse Vonkel MCC & Oyster Bar, a seafood bar conceived by De Warenmarkt, Simonsig Wine Estate and The Mussel Monger. The oyster bar serves a variety of Simonsig’s bubbly by the glass or the bottle, a perfect accompaniment, as well as local wine.
If you don’t feel like eating at the sleek oval bar, you can order closed or shucked oysters for takeaway.
Kaapse Vonkel MCC & Oyster Bar is located at De Warenmarkt, 20 Ryneveld St, Stellenbosch Central, Stellenbosch, 7600, South Africa.
If your special vacation deserves a special meal, then you should consider dining at Delaire Graff. Part of the Delaire Graff Estate, a Relais & Châteaux hotel, Delaire Graff offers a true destination dining experience replete with all you would expect from a Michelin starred restaurant in Europe.
At night, this is the place to splurge on Chef Michael Deg’s ten-course tasting menu along with wine from the estate’s winery. During the day, you can dine outside in a more casual setting where you can enjoy the view during your meal.
Take time to wander around the property before or after your meal, preferably at sunset when the views are particularly magical.
Delaire Graff is located at the Delaire Graff Estate, Helshoogte Rd, Stellenbosch, South Africa.
The Demo Kitchen
** Important Update – The Demo Kitchen is now permanently closed. **
While in Stellenbosch, why not attend a cooking demonstration at the Demo Kitchen or eat an interactive five-course meal in the artsy space? Chef Moskou du Toit prepares his inspired food in an open kitchen using local, seasonal ingredients.
During our visit, we feasted on a platter loaded with springbok carpaccio, Fairview cheese, pickled mushrooms, macerated plums, fresh figs, deep fried kale and warm artisan bread.
Be sure to try the Grape Grinder Chenin Blanc. The chef’s parents produce this refreshing, sweet wine in Swartland, a three-hour drive from Stellenbosch.
The Demo Kitchen was located at 3a Drostdy Rd, Stellenbosch Central, Stellenbosch, 7600, South Africa. The Demo Kitchen is now permanently closed.
Practically a stone’s throw from the Delaire Graff Estate, the Tokara Wine Estate is similarly epic in terms of its scope and its views. When dining at Tokara, you can choose between the elegant Tokara Restaurant or the more casual Tokara Delicatessen.
Although your decision will depend on your mood and wallet, either choice will surely include sophisticated food and excellent olive oil. Gert van Dyk runs the olive oil program at Tokara with Italian presses and passion.
The sculptures at the Tokara Wine Estate are nothing short of striking. Be sure to stroll around Tokara to see the Tokara’s sculptures before the sun sets.
Tokara Restaurant is located at Tokara Wine Estate, Helshoogte Rd, Stellenbosch, 7600, South Africa.
Other Notable Stellenbosch Restaurants
But wait, there’s more! Although we couldn’t eat at every Stellenbosch restaurant in six days, these are the restaurants we plan to try when (not if) we return to Stellenbosch:
Stellenbosch Food Options
In addition to dining at the top restaurants in Stellenbosch South Africa, we recommend the following venues for other Stellenbosch food experiences:
The Saturday Market At Vergenoegd Löw
Plan to spend time at the Saturday Market at the Vergenoegd Löw during a weekend visit to the Cape Winelands. Better yet, make this your first stop since it’s on the way from Cape Town to Stellenbosch.
Set on the wine estate’s expansive lawn, the weekly market features food, drinks, live music, art crafts, wine and more. This is a great spot to buy local treats like koeksisters, a popular dessert where fried dough is dipped in syrup.
The market’s main event is the daily duck parade with over 1,000 Indian Runner ducks. These ducks may not be able to fly, but they will make sure you have a “riduckulously awesome day”.
Make sure you see the duck parade when you visit Vergenoegd Löw. Forget the big five – these ducks may be the coolest animals in all of South Africa.
Vergenoegd Löw is located at Baden Powell Dr, Faure, Stellenbosch, 7131, South Africa.
Go to Eikeboom Slagtery, a local butcher that specializes in the South African meat staples – biltong and boerewors. Located in the center of town, Eikeboom Slagtery is not just a showroom.
Meat hangs from the ceiling, and butchers cut meat to order using traditional techniques. This is a necessary stop whether you’re a big biltong fan or tasting South Africa’s dried meat de rigueur (think beef jerky but better) for the first time.
Buy extra biltong to take with you on the road. This dried meat product is an excellent road trip snack.
Eikeboom Slagtery is located at 19 Plein St, Stellenbosch Central, Stellenbosch, 7600, South Africa.
Any walk in downtown Stellenbosch should include a stop at Le Chocolatier for a taste or two of the shop’s artisan chocolates. Since 2010, the folks at Le Chocolatier have been making chocolates by hand in nearby Paarl using African cocoa beans and Swiss traditions.
While in the shop, you can indulge in pralines and truffles or buy a bar to enjoy later. Popular flavors include Dark Caramel, Strawberry Cream and Lemon Sorbet.
Try Le Chocolatier’s coffee beans coated in chocolate for an extra kick of caffeine.
The Chocolatier is located at 10 Church St, Stellenbosch, Cape Town, 7600, South Africa.
The country’s third oldest city, Paarl is hot. Literally. We sweated our booties off in Paarl South Africa. We didn’t mind the heat though since we stayed at the fabulous Grande Roche Hotel and ate divine food both at the hotel and in local restaurants. Here’s where we ate and you should too:
The stars sparkled as we arrived at FABER, the relatively new restaurant at the Avondale Wine estate. The sky’s display was an auspicious start to this fabulous meal.
At FABER, we ate a selection of Chef Eric Bulpitt’s creative menu while chatting with his welcoming wife Celeste throughout the meal. Open since October 2016, the restaurant focuses on both food and service – the married team considers customers to be guests in their house.
It’s no coincidence that Faber translates to artisan in Latin. Food like Bulpitt’s Beef Carpaccio with aioli, crispy kale and oyster emulsion as well as his flash-fried Eustinberg Duck Hearts with chestnuts, figs and buttery croutons are true works of art.
Save room for Pastry Chef Amore Botha’s creations. We highly recommend her dessert with vanilla whipped cheesecake, lime ice cream, beer, dehydrated chocolate mousse and lime dust. It’s an odd combination but Botha makes it work.
FABER is located at Avondale Wine, 7624, Klein Drakenstein, Paarl, South Africa, Paarl, 7624, South Africa.
At first glance, Bosman’s Restaurant looks quite formal much like the rest of the stately Grande Roche Hotel. Dig deeper and you’ll find a luxurious yet relaxed restaurant where the sole focus is on serving the best food with the highest level of service.
The restaurant’s excellence starts with Chef Roland Gorgosilich, a burly Croat with classical French training and experience working at Michelin starred restaurants in Austria. His passion for food is mirrored by Sommelier Duane Hendricks’ passion for wine.
Sure, you can order a la carte dishes here, but you really should try one of the chef’s surprise tasting menus with three, four or seven courses. You may get full during the meal, but you won’t want to miss a bite of Gorgosilich’s exquisite plates. You can taste Gorgosilich’s experience in cohesively crafted plates like the Springbok Loin prepared sous-vide that showcases his sophisticated techniques and love for food.
The Spice Route is a culinary destination that easily lives up to its tagline of being a “sensory journey of discovery for the modern-day explorer”. Situated on a Paarl wine farm, the Spice Route offers more than a dozen shops and restaurants in addition to its full range of wine. These are our favorites:
You’ll have fun tasting meats like Chinese Salami with five spice and Italian Style Salami with nutmeg, plus the tasting will help you decide what to buy for later. At a cost of 30R (approximately $2 USD), a tasting at Richard Bosman Cured Meats is a definite no-brainer.
Remember celebrity Chef Bertus Basson from the Stellenbosch section above? Well, he has yet another restaurant at the Spice Route in Paarl.
Protein is the main event at Basson’s self-named restaurant, ranging from smoked meat to baked tongue. The food here is as good as we expected after our fabulous meal at Spek & Bone, with the view of Table Mountain providing visual competition to the food.
After spending a month eating Naples pizza, we weren’t particularly impressed by the cracker-like pizza with an abundance of toppings in South Africa. However, we enjoyed eating a pizza lunch at La Grapperia. Though the pies were paper thin and loaded with toppings, the outdoor setting was sublime.
The largest craft brewery in Africa, Cape Brewing Company (CBC) brews German-style beers in its spacious Spice Route facility. The brewery has been here since the end of 2012 and brews five million liters of beer each year including two for Cape Town’s Devil’s Peak.
We tasted seven of the beers during our tasting including the four core brews (Lager, Pilsner, unfiltered Amber Weiss and Krystal Weiss) plus Harvest Lager, Raspberry Krystall Weiss and Pale Ale. For those keeping score, the Raspberry Krystall Weiss was our favorite.
Spice Route is located at Suid-Agter-Paarl Rd, Paarl, 7620, South Africa.
Whatever you want to say about a meal at Babel Restaurant, you’ll have to admit two things.
First off, the grounds at Babylonstoren are nothing short of gorgeous with the seemingly endless rows of fruit trees and just as many nooks and crannies. Second, love it or hate it, the food is fascinating in a high concept sort of way – one in which diners order food by color.
We enjoyed the “yellow” appetizer pictured above with its mix of lightly smoked trout, pickled raisins, Babylonstoren frantoio olive oil, caper and sea salt ice cream. However, the not pictured “green” appetizer was a hot mess. Main courses, like the inconsistently prepared filet of beef on the bone, were so big that we could neither finish them nor entertain the idea of dessert.
Skip dinner at Babel Restaurant and instead order scones and tea in the estate’s more casual Greenhouse Restaurant.
Babylonstoren is located at Klapmuts Simondium Road, Simondium, 7670, South Africa.
A trip to the Cape Winelands would be incomplete without a stop in Franschhoek. We stayed at the Franschhoek Boutique Hotel in this picturesque wine town for two days, which gave us just enough time to enjoy a few wine tastings at top Franschhoek wineries and eat great food. Here are the two restaurants we loved during our visit:
Chefs Warehouse At Maison
Any visit to Franschhoek South Africa must include a visit to the Chefs Warehouse at Maison, either for a wine tasting or a meal, preferably both. The restaurant’s zen environment, marked by its modern decor and a front row view of Franschhoek’s majestic mountains, would be enough to ensure a pleasant experience.
Similar to the Chefs Warehouse in Cape Town, the Franschhoek restaurant has a casual menu filled with shareable plates. The key differences are the view and the wine. And to that we say cheers!
Be sure to order the estate’s wine with your meal. We especially recommend the Chardonnay and Shiraz.
Chefs Warehouse at Maison is located at R45, Franschhoek, Cape Town, 7690, South Africa.
Tuk Tuk Microbrewery
As it turns out, too much of a good thing isn’t so good after all. Such is the case with chef-y food and the world’s best wine. It sounds odd, but we were drawn to Tuk Tuk Microbrewery, a restaurant that specializes in craft beer and Mexican food in the middle of South African wine country, as a change of pace after nine days of culinary decadence.
What can we say? We loved sitting on the swanky microbrewery’s terrace, sipping Cape Brewing Company (CBC) beer brewed at the Spice Route (see above) and munching on cheesy nachos. If this is wrong, we don’t want to be right.
Don’t worry if you’re not a beer drinker. Tuk Tuk Microbrewery also serves local wines and cocktails. If you’re brave, you can try the T&T with tequila, spicy tomatino and a side of lager.
Tuk Tuk Microbrewery is located at 14 Huguenot Rd, Franschhoek, 7690, South Africa.
Other Notable Franschhoek Restaurants
While we stand by our two recommended restaurants, we acknowledge that there are additional Franschhoek restaurants worthy of your time and Rand. We suggest that you start with these two:
Cape Winelands Coffee Shops
Cape Winelands Wineries
Wondering where to taste some of the best wine in the world? You should start with our favorite wine tasting experiences.
Read our Stellenbosch wine tasting guide.
Cape Winelands Logistics
The drive from Cape Town to the Cape Winelands takes less than one hour. Although you could easily do a Cape Winelands day trip from Cape Town, we recommend a multi-night stay so that you have time to visit more wine farms and restaurants without feeling rushed.
During our visit, we stayed in Stellenbosch for six nights, Paarl for three nights and Franschhoek for two nights. We recommend that you mix up your stay to experience all three areas like we did. However, if you choose to stay in one location, all destinations should be within a 30-minute drive.
As for transportation, your best bet is to rent a car in Cape Town so that you can drive to and around the Cape Winelands. Other options include public transportation (i.e. a bus or train) to downtown Stellenbosch or Uber, a popular car service in South Africa.
You can also arrange a bus tour from a local operator that specializes in wine tourism. We recommend Cape Food & Wine Tours since we really enjoyed doing one of their ‘foodie Thursday’ tours in Cape Town.
View the latest Web Story.
Pin It For Later
About The Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on their website 2foodtrippers. Since launching the site in 2012, they’ve traveled to over 40 countries in their quest to bring readers a unique taste of the world.
Original Publication Date: July 25, 2017