Mpumalanga is home to the dramatic Drakensberg mountains, gushing waterfalls and the country’s largest game reserve, the Kruger National Park. The ‘place where the sun rises’ is just under four hours’ drive from Joburg, and also borders KwaZulu-Natal, the Free State, Limpopo, and our neighbours Mozambique and Swaziland.
Heading off on safari? Here’s our guide to the best restaurants in the capital Nelspruit (recently renamed Mbombela), Dullstroom, Middelburg, Hazyview and White River:
This breakfast and lunch spot offers thick pillowy pancakes in every flavour imaginable (think chicken and mushroom with cashew nuts; bobotie with chutney vinaigrette; and sticky pork fillet with peaches) as well as hearty breakfasts.
The quirky country-style restaurant offers fireside dining in the winter, and lazy veranda lunching in summer. We hear the duck with blueberry jus is exceptional.
Pickles and Things
The food is fresh, healthy and delicious at this breakfast and lunch spot. Think pork chops with apple marmalade, sautéed julienne vegetables and deep-fried straw potatoes; and salads dressed with macadamias, pumpkin seeds, feta and fresh herbs. There’s also a great view of Dullstroom.
Walkersons Country Manor
A little way along the R540 to Lydenburg, this fine dining restaurant offers fantastic paupiettes oftrout served on a bed of avocado with segments of fresh lemon and salad burnet.
Cybele Forest Lodge and Spa
Situated on the R40 midway between White River and Hazyview, this restaurant offers a great gourmand menu with highlights such as potato-crusted prawn on lightly pickled warm vegetables and chicken egg and noodle soup. They also offer gourmet picnics.
Pioneers Butchery and Grill
This steakhouse offers super-aged grain-fed beef and homemade boerewors in an elegant, bushveld environment.
The Royal at Highgrove House
With spectacular views this restaurant is a great option for outdoor dining. We hear the white chocolate and coffee mousse with roasted strawberry sauce is worth saving space for.
Dishes range from light meals like sirloinsteak on ciabatta, and superb Thai chicken cakes with oriental noodles, avocado and wasabi mayo; to prawn and pea risotto or ‘steak Benedict’. The superb deli offers sausages, bitong, pâtés, and a range of cakes, pickles and sauces.
Quality Indian food. The whole fish pollichathu, wrapped in banana leaf and pan-fried is superb, as is the crad masala and nadan beef curry. Sit on the veranda for a view of the trees.
Food is Lowveld chic, with options like spaghetti vongole of clams, tomato, garlic herbs and olive oil, Moroccan-spiced lamb cutlets, and pork belly roll with honey glazed gravy. Spectacular views of Nelspruit.
Despite being located inside the I’langa Mall, the veranda offers a nice view of the Nelspruit granite domes. They also boast not one, but three versions of eggs Benedict.
The Bistro at Metamorphis
Over 20 tapas dishes are available for lunch. Also a lovely venue to visit in summer, when the stoep, fountain and willow tree make a great outdoor setting.
Offering Moroccan cuisine and surprisingly, sushi this off-beat restaurant is nevertheless a popular hangout for locals and tourists alike.
Magnolia Restaurant & Cocktail Lounge
Choose between the café-style restaurant and a fine dining space upstairs, which boasts commanding views over White River. The café, meanwhile, offers an all-day high tea which can be enjoyed outside, under a pergola.
Oliver’s Restaurant and Lodge
Diverse, creative food is offered in this comfortable forest cabin on the White River Country Estate, with views over the gardens.
Zannas Flavour Junction
A good option for salads, soups and other café-style dishes in the Baghdad Centre.There’s an outdoor area for alfresco dining.
By Hennie Fisher and Katharine Jacobs
Need some more ideas? The following restaurants also come recommended by our reviewers:
Café-style breakfast and lunches.
Mozambican and Portuguese cuisine.
South African breakfasts and lunches.
Seasonal, fusion cuisine offered at lunch and dinner.
Cooking for yourself? Check out our database of stores and markets in the area.