Judging from this oh-so appealing list and the number of capital city winners in our first-ever Best Everyday Eateries, Pretoria is taking names when it comes to good food. Residents and visitors can look forward to a rich variety of exciting food in the Jacaranda-lined city in the year ahead. Here’s where to eat in Pretoria in 2016.
La Terrasse Rooftop Café (Menlo Park) – 2015 Best African Eatery winner
These are the fragrances and flavours of North Africa, with abundant platters and Moroccan-spiced tagines of lamb with dates and honey, chicken with preserved lemon, beef with sweet potato, and butternut with lentils. Winner of the African category at the 2015 Best Everyday Eateries.
Guia Chinese Restaurant (Faerie Glen)
Visit with friends and share their beef hotpot with black-bean sauce, fried salt-and-pepper calamari, pork chops and the chicken curry. The plastic flowers and garish wall hangings don’t detract from the great eating experience.
Their diverse menu features the likes of dim sum, a substantial sushi selection and some great teas. The ambience is very sexy, with a fresh look and touches of light wood.
The menu at this intimate spot could take you years to wade through, but try the popular teppanyaki; a bento box of fresh sashimi, grilled fish, tempura seafood, seasonal veg, sticky rice and miso soup; or tasty sliced-beef pot. The food is beautifully prepared and they use quality produce that is often imported.
Padbok Thai (Brooklyn)
The focus here is primarily on delicious and authentic Thai food. Highlights include dumplings, crispy prawn cakes, chicken satay, green papaya salad with prawns, chilli and roasted peanuts, and red duck curry with fruit. Be sure to leave space for banana fritters with sticky honey and homemade coconut ice cream.
Shilla Korean Cuisine (Hazelwood)
With their business-minded décor and setting, you would never expect the food to be as mind-blowing as it is. The traditional Korean food experience includes fragrant minced pork dumplings, seafood pancakes, and yangnyum galbi (rib-eye beef barbecued at your table).
Wing Hin (Hazelwood)
This is the best Chinese cuisine in town, with a menu that encourages you to have an adventure. Go for delicious dumplings, sublime roast pork with plum sauce, roasted duck or the salt-and-pepper calamari.
Blos Café (Faerie Glen)
A great all-rounder for breakfast and lunch. Standouts include omelettes and gourmet burgers. Or what about their signature lamb and prune potjie, richly flavoured with cumin, coriander, paprika and cinnamon? It’s a huge venue, with tables inside and out on the stoep. They cater nicely for children, with parties, activities and menus.
Boston Bistro (Hazelwood) – 2015 Best Bistro winner
This neighbourhood favourite has everything from great tapas plates (chorizo, pea purée, a fish cake, feta, olives, fried cannelloni cigar and charred bread) to gourmet burgers. Look out for blackboard specials. Winner of the Bistro category at the 2015 Best Everyday Eateries.
Eisbein & Co (Willows Crossing)
Spectacular meaty fair, from eisbein to pork belly or shoulder, cut to order and prepared Nuremberg style. They’re also proud of their large sole, duck with sour cherries, and the bush pig (when available). There’s both a formal and a more relaxed balcony area.
L’épis Doré (Menlo Park)
Look forward to superb breakfasts and dishes like and cassoulet et baguette (shredded duck, bacon, French lamb sausage and white beans), delicious fishcakes, homemade quiches and rotisserie duck. There’s a large veranda and various seating areas in the garden.
This chain seems to be on point with everything they do. The range spans from breakfasts to quesadillas, pastas, and salads and grills – and each dish is expertly prepared. Staff are friendly, efficient and well trained.
Zest Bistro (Menlo Park)
Highlights at this popular bistro include seared duck livers with Turkish fig paste; grilled Moroccan marinated lamb leg; beef shin braised with chocolate; and slow-cooked five spice pork belly with ginger, coconut milk and sweet potato purée. There’s a lovely deck where you can enjoy the balmy Highveld evenings.
(The Willows) – 2015 Best Coffee Shop: highly commended
This is the perfect balance between classic Afrikaans culture and eclectic modern trends. Try the toasted brie braaibroodjies oozing with caramelised onion, and end off with sweet butternut fritters sprinkled in cinnamon-sugar and drizzled in syrup. Guests can grab a table under the trees and let the kids play. Highly commended in the Best Coffee Shop category of the 2015 Best Everyday Eateries.
La Coco C (Silver Lakes)
This new kid on the food scene in Pretoria will knock your socks off with clever, creative and healthy dishes ranging from French toast with peanut paste and crispy bacon to creative sandwiches topped with meatballs, marinara sauce and provolone.
Lucky Bread Company (Brooklyn)
The sweet-potato and multi-seed loaves are fantastic, and the Spicy Chicken Meltdown is one of the best sarmies in Pretoria. The mall location is bustling and buzzy; milkshakes and waffles provide a perfect pick-me-up before you return to your shopping.
Black Bamboo (Menlyn Boutique Hotel)
The ever-changing menu takes you on a journey of flavour and texture. The braised lamb shank is a favourite, wrapped in golden phyllo pastry and served with pea purée, sweet-potato mash and Guinness jus. During the warmer months, dining on the deck is a treat.
Brasserie de Paris (Waterkloof Ridge)
This is sassy, smart, classically inspired food. You can’t go French without a good onion soup starter; steak tartare; sole meunière with lemon butter and pommes frites; and apple tatin. In summer, escape to the garden or balcony for fresh air and a view.
De Kloof Restaurant (Waterkloof)
It’s a taste kaleidoscope; one of Tshwane’s best. The head-to-tail concept is given new meaning with dishes like Mary Had A Little Lamb – stuffed loin, belly, lamb-head medallion, pea purée and parmesan polenta. Enjoy spectacular sunsets from the stoep. (DK Gourmet Burgers downstairs is highly recommended, too.)
Granita (Kameeldrift East)
The menu sparkles with items like goat’s cheese custard with roasted beetroot and red-wine reduction; confit duck leg; and vanilla rum mousse. The terrace is perfect for a pre-dinner drink.
Kream Restaurant (Brooklyn)
If red meat is your thing, try the fillet with bone marrow or the rump with béarnaise sauce, roasted onions, mushrooms and a poached egg. Kream is sophisticated and elegant, with beautiful interiors and art, and they have an impressive selection of Champagnes and MCCs.
Priva Gastrolounge (Waterkloof Heights)
This sultry and sexy late-night spot has plush leather couches on the terrace that are perfect for unwinding. Sample sea bass with saffron sour cream and squid-ink pasta; a lamb rack with brandy, mustard and edamame; herbed calamari with cayenne aioli; or the juicy brioche-bun burger with sweet-potato fries.
Prue Leith Restaurant (Centurion)
This is a learning institution, so there might be imperfections, but the benefits far outweigh these moments. Look out for dishes like calamari with orange-braised fennel, and potato-and-dill ravioli with lemon-parmesan cream, prawn foam and seaweed dressing. Staff are youthful, bright and enthusiastic and there’s a beautiful garden and a balcony to enjoy.
Restaurant Mosaic (Elandsfontein) – 2015 Top 10
Expect to be blown away by chef Chantel Dartnall’s menu of beautiful tastes, textures and sheer drama. Three seasonal menus of varying complexity are offered, categorised as Petite, Discovery and Grande. A restaurant for special occasions.
Al Amin Restaurant (Laudium)
The brothers who run this delightful eatery get the mix just right. Amazing parathas, rotis and naans make a fine start. After that, opt for creamy butter chicken, a rich mutton korma, peri-peri prawns or vegetarian dhal makhani. Focus on the food and enjoy the colourful backdrop of the petrol station.
Geet Indian Restaurant (Brooklyn) – 2015 Best Indian Eatery: highly commended
Chef Gita Jivan regularly visits India for new inspiration. The extensive menu features a vegetarian starter section, platters and curries from several Indian regions. The choc-coconut samoosa should not be missed. Geet’s large interior is cleverly divided into sections, with candles creating a feeling of intimacy. Highly commended in the Best Indian Eatery category at the 2015 Best Everyday Eateries.
Their authentic cuisine boasts perfect spices and flavours, from their Indo-Chinese starters to the best prawn curry you could wish for. With views onto a busy main route, the eatery makes guests feel part of the bustling city. Ask for seating on one of the balconies on a sunny day or warm night.
Oriental Palace (Pretoria central)
This hotel restaurant has a nostalgic, old-fashioned flair. The menu choice is staggering; explore from familiar creamy chicken korma and dhal makahni to the more adventurous chicken vindaloo or dhal gosht. Go in a group so you can taste a whole range of dishes.
Alfie’s Italian Café (Hazelwood)
Their food is prepared simply and with great care – and you won’t find a pizza in sight. Look forward to stunning pasta, grilled lamb chops, or homemade gnocchi delicately draped in rich and creamy gorgonzola sauce. At night, candlelight and big windows lend a very romantic, intimate atmosphere.
Café Bree (Groenkloof)
Classic Italian comfort food at this antique shop, art gallery, florist and bakery includes oxtail with sofrito in a tomato-based sauce; oven-baked lumaconi with mince, spinach and béchamel; and superb lasagne. The deck is a lovely spot.
Caraffa (Alphen Park)
Look forward to traditional trattoria fare in a cosy setting. Strengths include generous cuts of free-range meat done in a wood-burning oven, fresh pasta, and a great selection of seafood. It may not be fancy, but it’s extremely well executed cooking.
Fumo Restaurant (Groenkloof)
A treat from start to finish. Highlights include the best nettle risotto in the country, perfect ravioli, black-ink pasta with clams and broccoli, and fish stew with Napoletana sauce. There’s live jazz on Sunday afternoons.
La Fiamma (Faerie Glen)
Start with their involtini melanzane before moving on to the puttanesca pasta, classic saltimbocca alla Romano or thin-crusted pizzas boasting a variety of classic flavours. Brown paper tablecloths allow the kids (or parents) to get creative between courses.
Piccola Italia (Monument Park)
This is Italian food made with love. You can’t go wrong with their large selection of pasta and pizza made in an authentic pizza oven, as well as focaccia, Italian salads, soups and tramezzini. It’s a relaxed, smallish space, with regulars chatting amiably to other patrons.
Ritrovo Ristorante (Waterkloof Heights) – 2015 Best Italian Eatery: highly commended
This award-winning spot is famous for its food, great wine and family values. Highlights are cuts of beef done to perfection, prawns in a heavenly bubbly-and-garlic sauce, and thin-based pizzas. Find a seat at the windows with their panoramic views, in the dining room, or in the special-occasion wine cellar. Highly commended in the Best Italian Eatery category at the 2015 Best Everyday .
Toni’s Fully Furnished
Pizza Company (Rietondale)
They have good pasta and a few other items, but most famous are Toni’s pizzas. They’ve tweaked the toppings and expanded with a few more adventurous combos. Try the one with tomato base, mozzarella, peppadew and basil pesto, goat’s cheese, walnuts and avo. The place is warm and fuzzy with a gentle family-friendly buzz.
Villa San Giovanni Ristorante (Wonderboom Airport)
This eatery’s hospitality and generosity of spirit shines through in the food. Classic Italian fare includes melt-in-the-mouth osso bucco, homemade lasagne, and some of the best gourmet pizzas. Children are especially welcome and can make their own pizza or play in a well-equipped play park.
BICCCS (Waterkloof Heights)
At BICCCS there’s no rush and clients are left to linger as long as they wish. Everything is top notch, from their creamy scrambled eggs to the herb-crusted chicken, coffee any style you want (and always the best) and Giovanni’s ciabatta. To crown it all, there’s homemade ice cream.
Prosopa (Waterkloof Heights)
The imaginative menu boasts a range of dishes from Greece, Portugal and Spain. Try the fried brinjals with a creamy dip; delicious croquettes stuffed with feta and gruyere; their signature lamb kleftiko; chocolate chilli beef fillet; and the galaktoboureko served with fennel-and-citrus ice cream. White tablecloths create an elegant ambience and private booths make it cosy and romantic.
A’la Turka (Doornkloof East)
This is an extravagant dining experience set in a castle with Turkish-slanted décor. Start with tzatziki, tabbouleh, hummus, kizartma, dolmades and baba ganoush; move on to meaty platters; and conclude with traditional baklava and a Turkish coffee.
Carlton Café Delicious (Menlo Park)
The Marmite tart is simple perfection, topped with caramelised onions, a perfectly poached egg and a parmesan crisp. For something more substantial, Conny’s Southern Fried chicken should not be missed, nor should the aubergine ‘sandwich’ with layers of honey-infused ricotta and feta cheese instead of bread. The café is relaxed, modern and unpretentious, with rows of cookbooks and homemade products for sale.
Ginger and Fig (Brooklyn)
The open kitchen shows the chefs and baristas working their magic. Order the hand-cut rib-eye burgers, duck wontons, or the soft, slow-smoked melt-in-the mouth beef brisket served on freshly baked sourdough bread with coleslaw, pickles and delectable coffee-barbecue sauce.
Laughing Chefs Restaurant, Venue & Tapas Bar (Rietondale)
The offering of decidedly South African flavours includes blue-cheese snails, deep-fried chicken livers, and various meat skewers, including bobotie or ostrich. For something more substantial, opt for the Moroccan slow-roasted lamb shank with star anise jus. Picture lush gardens, the soothing sound of rippling water, and a pool that runs the length of one of the dining rooms.
La Pentola (Riviera)
Chef Shane Sauvage pushes flavours and textures to great effect here in dishes like halloumi with fresh strawberries; the house speciality of thinly sliced smoked salmon, lightly dressed with fresh gooseberries, lemon and honey, dusted with almonds, and served with lemon cream and seaweed caviar; and spaghetti with mussels, calamari, prawns and line fish pan-fried in butter, garlic and black pepper and doused with wine, olive oil, herbs and lemon.
La Madeleine (Lynnwood)
The menu is carefully thought out, with lots of innovation and imagination at play. Look to dishes like pigeon with port-wine sauce, mushroom ravioli and braised Kalahari truffles, and sweetcorn panna cotta with vegetable-and-grapefruit salsa and home-cured gravlax. The garden is inviting in the warmer months.
LM in the East (Lynnwood)
Quality, comfort and value for money have made LM a trusted neighbourhood favourite for working lunches and family gatherings. Combos are popular, with standouts of ‘best of the best’ prawns, braised oxtail and the fillet al tegamino.
Hillside Tavern (Lynnwood)
Meat and fish are the stars of the show, from basic steaks in different sizes and cuts to pork-neck steak with apple or mustard sauce, and combos of steak and chicken, and ribs or prawns. Service is extremely efficient, even on a packed night, and you’re never left hanging.
Hinterland Vleishandelaar (Hazelwood)
Meat is king here. Some rave about the starter salad of blue cheese, pear and caramelised nuts, and the tempting marrowbones, while others dive straight into lamb chops from the Kalahari and the Karoo, or beef fillet, rump, sirloin and T-bone. The inside opens up to the outside, which is perfect in Pretoria’s amazing climate.
These are the Pretoria restaurants with ratings high enough to crack our 2016 Eat Out 500, the best restaurants in South Africa as rated by our panel of professional critics. Buy your collector’s issue of the 2016 issue of Eat Out magazine to find out more about the winners of our first-ever Best Everyday Eateries awards, as well as the top fine dining restaurants in the country, and read about the cocktail trend that’s making a comeback in our bars.