The two halves of the word Winelands sum up rather nicely the reasons for this region’s global popularity. Some of the world’s best grapes are harvested from these vineyards; and the rich earth in the valleys gives life to the finest quality produce imaginable. And what restaurants – especially those in the Cape Winelands themselves – do famously well is pair these two aspects in delicious combinations.
If you’re on a gourmet roadtrip around Stellenbosch, Paarl, Franschhoek, Klapmuts, Wellington or the Breede River Valley, we’ve got just the thing: the ultimate list of the best restaurants in the Winelands for 2015.
This list comprises all the Winelands restaurants in the Eat Out 500, the best restaurants in South Africa (as rated and reviewed by our editorial panel) that made it into the 2015 Eat Out magazine.
96 Winery Road (Zandberg Farm)
Enjoy country-style cooking with a touch of upmarket bistro food. Highlights include the pepper fillet and a 500g gourmet beef burger with caramelised onions, black mushrooms and brie.
The Bakery at Jordan (Jordan Wine Estate)
Simple décor highlights spectacular views of the dam, especially from the outside tables. The ever-changing menu features charcuterie, pickles and cheese platters, a seafood dish of the day like mussels or hake, and bread-based dishes like the decadent croque madame. A full range of Jordan wines will please avid wine drinkers.
Bistro 13 (Welmoed Wine Estate)
Chef Nic van Wyk offers solid bistro favourites with a surprising twist. Try the curried crispy calamari or crumbed pork fillet with smoked mash and caramelised onions.
Cuvée Restaurant (Simonsig Wine Estate)
Local farm produce adds a freshness to chef Lucas Carstens’s menu, which features highlights like juicy springbok rump with spiced gingerbread sauce and creamed savoy cabbage, and homemade butternut gnocchi with parsnip velouté.
Delaire Graff Estate Restaurant (Banhoek Valley)
The menu changes seasonally, but you can expect bistro-chic cuisine like Caesar salad with parmesan biscuits and biltong dust, and an indulgent toasted custard slice with caramel popcorn and banana sorbet. Fairy lights add a whimsical air to the outdoor terrace at night.
Eight at Spier (Spier Estate)
Billed as a farm-to-table eating experience, the menu incorporates produce from the estate’s biodynamic garden and Farmer Angus McIntosh’s pasture-reared cows and chickens. Think hearty chicken and mushroom pie, Asian chicken salad, and grilled rump.
Delheim Garden Restaurant (Delheim Wine Farm)
Enjoy charming country hospitality and generous portions of farm-fresh fare. Regulars return for special cheeses, onion pie, platters of charcuterie, and the Cape Malay chicken curry.
Indochine (Helshoogte Pass)
The à la carte menu features pan-Asian fare with a contemporary twist. Think smoky Thai barbecue pork belly with shiitake sausage and charred onions. Spectacular views of Delaire Graff Estate complete the experience.
Genki Sushi and Japanese Tapas Bar (Stellenbosch centre)
Top quality seafood and new-style sushi is plated with artistry at this local gem. Order house specialties like spider roll (crispy soft-shell crab), prawn dumplings and squid tentacles with seven-spice mayo.
Jordan Restaurant (Jordan Wine Estate) – 2014 Top 10
You can’t help but feel immediately at ease stepping into this unpretentious restaurant with its spectacular views over the dam and vineyards. Chef George Jardine’s food is unfussy but delicious and beautiful. Try the fried and glazed bone marrow on brioche with roasted Jerusalem artichokes and onion rings; smoked yellowtail with spicy sago and charred aubergine; or roast lamb on creamy lentils.
Makaron (Majeka House) – 2014 nominee
Passionate and well-travelled chef Tanja Kruger serves up playful dishes like the amuse bouche of Kentucky-fried quail’s legs, and tuna served with a dragon cracker and radish, often making use of the estate’s vegetable and herb garden.
Overture (Hidden Valley Wine Estate) – 2014 Top 10
Chef Bertus Basson is leading the pack when it comes to cooking South African heritage food. His dishes may sound very simple, but his focus on fresh flavours and use of top-quality produce results in intense, delicious flavours. Look forward to reinventions like ox tongue served with tiny onions and nasturtium ‘cream’, and a bold dish of squid on creamy miso. The breathtaking setting boasts a view over the hills and valleys that hug the road between Somerset West and Stellenbosch.
Longridge Restaurant (Eikendal Road)
Enjoy robust flavours with some classic French influences, like twice-baked gruyère soufflé, and two-way duck with a pan-fried breast, confit leg, minted peas and chips done in duck fat. A range of estate wines is bound to please.
Oppie Dorp Restaurant & Wine Bar (Dorp Street)
This vibey everyday eatery serves up solid bistro food at reasonable prices. Highlights include the pork belly starter and their signature leg of lamb, slow-roasted with wines and herbs.
Overgaauw Restaurant (Kloof Road)
Seasonal ingredients show off the region’s bounty. Sit at outside tables and serve yourself dishes like roasted aubergines dressed in olive oil from the farm, lamb and intriguing sides and salads. Their hospitality is a trademark.
Pane e Vino (Bosman’s Crossing)
This is a great lunch spot with authentic food at good prices served with Italian flair. The simple blackboard menu features pastas, foccacias and platters made with family recipes.
The Restaurant at Clos Malverne (Devon Valley Road)
All veggies and herbs are grown on the farm, and portions are hearty with a touch of delicacy. Highlights: pea and mint soup with bacon bits; port-soaked chicken livers; and chocolate fondant with Lindt chocolate balls. In summer enjoy the beautiful wrap-around stoep that’s popular with families.
Rust en Vrede Restaurant (Annandale Road) – 2014 Top 10
The service is excellent, the space captivating and the attention to detail unparalleled. Chef John Shuttleworth impresses with strikingly plated dishes that are cleverly put together, yet never overworked. Stand-out dishes include the sweet, earthy and elegant starter of pan-seared marron served in a Jerusalem artichoke velouté; the duck and pork terrine, with pickled romanesco and sweet raisins; and the tarragon gnocchi with smoked tomato purée, sweetbreads and parmesan.
Schoon de Companje (Stellenbosch centre)
The collective features a bakery, ice cream parlour, butchery, coffee roastery and wine shop. The menu focuses on baked goods with homemade spreads and local cheeses.
The Table at De Meye (Muldersvlei)
A seasonal menu at this country-style gem might boast heirloom beetroot tarte tatin; lamb ribs with roast potatoes; and peach and rhubarb crumble with buttermilk ice cream. The ambience is idyllic, with tables under the trees on the lawn.
Terroir (Kleine Zalze Wine Estate) – 2014 Top 10
Fans love the delicious, expertly cooked food by chef Michael Broughton. The portions are generous and the flavours wonderfully layered, leading to a marvellous, memorable experience. Expect vibrant, fresh seafood flavours in a line fish dish with mussels, squid, seaweed butter, lime salt and edamame beans; or rich pork belly paired with beets, pear and cider jus.
Tokara Restaurant (Helshoogte Pass) – 2014 nominee
Chef Richard Carstens’s love of combining French and Asian flavour and experimentation is evident in all his dishes. This is modern cuisine with clean flavours. The menu sports expertly roasted cob with mussels, calamari, lemon cream and squid-ink brioche; and tender grilled char sui beef with celeriac purée. The elegant restaurant is perched on a hillside overlooking the vineyards.
Towerbosch Earth Kitchen (Knorhoek Wine Farm)
This was the winner of the 2013 award for Best Country-Style Restaurant, so you’re in for a feast. Tuck into aged beef sirloin with chips and truffle butter; lamb shoulder with duck-fat potatoes; and free-range pork chops with cider-braised cabbage. It’s wildly popular with families on Sundays.
Wild Peacock Food Emporium (Stellenbosch centre)
This bistro-deli supplies local restaurants and the public with exclusive items like duck eggs, caviar, truffles, snails, wild pigeon and rabbit. Sit down to poached duck egg and pancetta, a roast, or cultivated oysters with bubbly.
Babel at Babylonstoren (Klapmuts-Simondium Road)
The Babylonstoren gardens are known for their abundant vegetables, fruit and herbs. In this light, white restaurant, choose your salad by colour (green, yellow and red) and enjoy mains like oven-roasted almond-crusted trout or beef fillet on the bone with Jerusalem artichokes.
Green House at Babylonstoren (Klapmuts-Simondium Road)
Fill your fabulous farm bread sandwiches with delicious charcuterie, smoked chicken and local cheeses or try a boerewors roll with hand-cut chips. You can find a seat in the glass greenhouse or outside under the trees.
Restaurant @ Glen Carlou (Simondium Road)
Camphors at Vergelegen (Lourensford Road)
An interesting and innovative menu offers fried Saldanha Bay oysters in kataifi; roast Karoo lamb with lentils, sweet potato and quince purée; and guava cheesecake with white chocolate and ginger. A table on the deck is first prize.
Equus Dine at Cavalli (Strand Road R44)
The 2014 Boschendal Style Award Winner, Equus Dine wows with stunning architecture and décor. Order the likes of poached hake with cauliflower purée and slow-roasted pork belly served with truffled mash, all complemented by estate garden vegetables.
The Restaurant at Waterkloof (Sir Lowry’s Pass Village Road) – 2014 nominee
An ideal destination for lovers of modern food and modern spaces. Using seasonal produce, lots of it biodynamically farmed on the estate, chef Gregory Czarnecki’s menu is light and fresh. Enjoy delicate lime-cured trout with avocado, daikon and salmon roe, or marron with fennel panna cotta and chive purée. The expansive, airy space has astonishing views over the vineyards, mountains and False Bay.
Bread & Wine (Môreson Farm, Happy Valley Road) – 2014 nominee
Chef Neil Jewell is a wizard with anything to do with this little piggy. His refreshing, no-nonsense attitude to food and the casual country vibe of this restaurant has gained him a loyal following. Add to that some of the best charcuterie in the country and it’s a winning recipe. A comfortable, unpretentious eatery with pops of bright colour, this is the ideal setting to enjoy a lingering, relaxed meal – preferably al fresco among the lemon trees in summer.
Café Bon Bon (La Petite Dauphine on Excelsior Road)
Very popular with families, the restaurant is located in a beautiful old farmhouse. Lovingly made comfort food delivers maximum flavour in generous portions. Their speciality is grilled lamb rump with roasted olives, artichokes and gnocchi.
Foliage (Main Road)
Here chef Chris Erasmus demonstrates his passion for wild ingredients and traditional Cape cookery, with everything from wild geese to foraged mushrooms making an appearance. Be adventurous; you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Haute Cabrière Restaurant (Lambrechts Road, R45)
Executive Chef Ryan Shell is one of the most underrated chefs in the valley. A straightforward à la carte menu offers a half-dozen choices per course, while the numerous tasting options include a menu paired with estate wines, a tapas-style menu, a seasonal lunch menu and a vegetarian tasting menu. The Saturday morning cellar tours and sabrage demo are legendary.
The Kitchen at Maison (Maison Wine Estate R45) – 2014 nominee
Chef Arno Janse van Rensburg serves modern food with a strong Asian theme. Monkfish with kohlrabi and Brussels sprouts is a standout, as is the successful braised beef short rib with kimchi and carrot purée. The Kitchen is a family-friendly affair, with the interior leading seamlessly into the garden and vineyard beyond.
Pierneef à La Motte (La Motte Wine Estate, R45)
The restaurant’s Cape winelands cuisine is as good as ever. Local and sustainable ingredients are key, with much of the produce coming from the estate’s gardens. Indoors it’s quite formal; the terrace and outdoor tables are more family-friendly.
Racine Restaurant (Uitkyk Street)
Reuben Riffel’s newest restaurant serves up earthy, bold and robust flavours, enhancing slow-roasted ingredients with Asian dressings and sauces. Order the signature chilli-salted squid or crisp pig’s tails in hanepoot and thyme syrup.
The Restaurant at Grande Provence (Main Road)
This is modern food bursting with flavours and textures. The tasting menu comes with the works – an amuse bouche, palate cleanser and pre-dessert – and could feature seasonal delights such as Karoo lamb croquettes or the Galaxy of Textures that will have any chocolate lover weak at the knees.
Reuben’s Restaurant & Bar (Main Road)
Upmarket, flavour-packed and accomplished bistro cooking is the hallmark of the original Reuben’s restaurant. The delicious pork belly and salt-and-pepper squid are signature dishes with good reason, but regular blackboard specials with Asian and Cape influences throw other excellent options into the mix. On warm evenings ask for the courtyard.
The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français (Main Road) – 2014 Top 10
So much of what chef Margot Janse does defies description, but one thing is certain: she’s pushing the envelope in showcasing unique South African flavours. Strong techniques and flavours back up dramatic, striking presentation. Just an example: a soup course comes in the form of a small pile of octopus, daikon and mushrooms nestled under a leaf of dehydrated sorrel. Over this is poured a cucumber and horseradish consommé, creating a fantastic rock pool of flavours and textures. Also winner of the 2014 Grolsch Service Excellence Award.
Bosman’s Restaurant (Grande Roche Hotel)
Classic international cuisine puts local ingredients into the limelight. The tasting menu treats with items like smoked snoek and poached oyster; roasted quail breast with spiced sweetcorn parfait; springbok loin with cranberry gel and sage jus; and a salted caramel toffee log with dark chocolate jelly mousse.
Cosecha Restaurant (Noble Hill Wine Estate)
Drawing on traditional Mexican street food, the fare is as bold and colourful as a string of peppers. Everything is freshly made, from guacamole (prepared at table) to prawn ceviche, black bean empanadas and tortillas stuffed with shredded pork. Find a seat in the serene garden courtyard, chic lounge or deck with its panoramic views.
The Goatshed Fairview Estate (Suid-Agter Paarl Road)
A great way to start is to order a cheeseboard. For something more substantial, order chicken and mushroom pie, springbok shank and lamb shoulder, or a fragrant lamb shoulder curry. Pay a visit to the goat tower after your meal.
Harvest at Laborie (Taillefert Road)
Chef Matthew Gordon has crafted an approachable menu of contemporary, delicious cuisine such as slow-roasted duck with potato gratin, pork belly glazed in Chinese master stock, and West Coast mussels marinière. The large playground is popular with families at lunchtime.
Noop (Main Road)
Noop is in one of those gorgeous old houses with a delightful stoep. Delicious options include Norwegian salmon gravlax; a popular venison burger with caramelised onion, bacon, camembert and truffle mayonnaise; and a roast half duck with Cointreau jus and potato-and-butternut dauphinoise.
Terra Mare (Main Road)
The tented back terrace is a favourite meeting spot for the locals on sultry Paarl evenings. Starters include a delicious crispy rösti with parma ham, brie and truffle oil, and three excellent carpaccios: tuna, beef and springbok. For mains, choose from a superb pan-fried ostrich fillet with spätzle, and beef fillet on the bone with pesto mash.
Festa (Kleinvalleij Estate, Bainskloof Road)
This quirky Winelands spot delivers generous portions of comfort food. Expect anything from fragrant bobotie to fillet and chips and succulent handmade hamburgers. Toasted bruschetta, a range of sourdough sandwiches and pizzas (also available with gluten-free base) are perfect for lighter meals. The couches on the verandah (with vineyard views) are perfect for lazy afternoons.
Mo & Rose (Soekershof, 7km from Robertson)
In a valley with plenty of homely comfort food, this upmarket bistro offering is worth seeking out. Expect the likes of beef fillet with bean cassoulet or the favourite of olive-crusted springbok loin with sweetcorn bread. The bright and airy barn has glass doors opening onto succulent gardens.
Chef Ryan Josten’s signature double-baked gruyère soufflé with grappa sauce is a staple starter; also try the Struisbaai yellowtail tataki with avo, wasabi panna cotta and ponzu dressing. Mains nearly always include an excellent steak and a really good pie, but the mushroom risotto with crispy goat’s cheese will warm any vegetarian’s heart.
Reuben’s at The Robertson (Robertson)
Upmarket bistro offerings include springbok loin or lamb shank with pommes purée, fillet with hand-cut chips, and a fragrant aubergine curry. Terrace tables overlook the pool and garden. If you’re staying over in Robertson, this hotel is something special – as is the breakfast they serve.
This list comprises all the Winelands restaurants in the Eat Out 500, the best restaurants in South Africa (as rated and reviewed by our editorial panel) that made it into the 2015 Eat Out magazine. Did we miss one of your favourites? Be sure to tell us about it in the comments section below.