Judging from this oh-so appealing list of restaurants, SA’s capital has it all. Offering everything from bakeries and butcheries to the best comfort food around, Pretoria is sure to delight residents and visitors with a rich variety of exciting food on its Jacaranda-lined streets in the year ahead.
This list is our critics’ pick of Pretoria’s best restaurants, as rated and reviewed for the 2017 Eat Out magazine.
La Terrasse Rooftop Café and Deli (Menlo Park) – Best African Eatery: winner for Gauteng
La Terrasse prides itself on a diverse offering, with dishes that are gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan. Meat eaters are also well catered for. The spicy chermoula tagine, served with soft-poached eggs and grilled pitas, makes for a massively flavourful start. A wide selection of meze showcases beautiful flavours, and mains are cooked in clay tagines. End with rosewater cheesecake.
Burger Bistro (Villieria)
The burgers here are superb, without trying to be gourmet or fiddly. They arrive in manageable portions made with good-quality products, and are served with excellent, crispy potato chips on the side. Funky variations include Monkey Gland, Roquefort, Wild Thing (with halloumi, raspberry and rocket), and the Elvis Presley with bacon and peanut butter.
El Pistolero (Constantia Park)
Fireworks are what you get here. Inventive starters include ceviche with red peppers, lime and pickled jalapeños. For mains, choose tacos with slow-cooked pork belly, adobo and pinapple-and-coriander salsa, or deep-fried hake, slaw, tamarind and ancho paste. Conclude with the churros.
Jo Mexican (Garsfontein)
Jo Mexican offers some really great classics onto which they’ve put their own spin, like hot, crumbed jalapeño poppers with a creamy and mild chilli sauce. Some of the more popular dishes include the shredded-beef chimichanga, the cheesy nachos with olives and borlotti beans, and their larger-than-life burrito crammed with spicy ground beef.
Rocomamas (Hazeldean) – Eat Out Savanna Best Burger Eatery: highly commended for Gauteng
The chilled vibe and excellent chips are just two of the reasons that this restaurant has such loyal fans. Recommended is the bacon, cheese and guac burger with sautéed mushrooms or the stellar chicken wings.
Padbok Thai (Brooklyn)
Delightful Thai dishes will transport you with their aroma and flavour. Start with a bowl of vibrant and spicy tom yum soup, followed by any of the authentic curries. The Penang with chicken is fantastic. Save space for the excellent crunchy banana fritters, which are drenched in honey and served with coconut ice cream.
Shilla’s Korean Cuisine (Hazelwood)
The unassuming surrounds make the food here so much more impressive. Portions are generous and so are the traditional condiments of blanched salted peanuts, silken tofu and kimchi. Light meals are delicious and satisfying, especially the pancakes stuffed with warm kimchi or calamari and spring onion. The pork dumplings are a highlight, and noodle lovers will enjoy the sweet-potato noodles with stir-fried veggies. End on the popular sweet and sticky rice cakes with red-bean paste.
Chef’s 566 (Garsfontein)
The food here is excellently prepared and delicious. Daytime dishes might include a rösti with cheese, mushrooms and salmon or Greek phyllo pies. They also have a takeaway menu promising delights such as lamb korma and Coke chicken. The dinner menu features notable brown mushrooms with bonemarrow and pan-seared duck with crushed sweet potato. End with the peanut-butter fondant.
Culinary Table Restaurant & Deli (Lanseria)
The harmonious synergy between garden and kitchen allows you to savour the freshness on a plate. Chef Daniela Gutstadt’s gnocchi gorgonzola should make any Italian happy and the smoked duck salad is flavoursome and light. Main courses are generous and might include dishes like fresh mussels and frites with mayo, lamb curry, or free-range chickens roasted in the Josper oven with herb butter.
La Madeleine (Lynnwood Ridge)
This iconic establishment is the home of comforting, classic French country food. Standouts include the legendary pork cheek, excellent bouillabaisse, prawn bisque with succulent meat, and the sweet ending of dark chocolate mousse or almond cake.
Zest (Menlo Park)
What strikes you when glancing at the menu at Zest is its innovation. Every dish is about contrasting flavours and textures. Start with a Thai seafood bisque with avo ice cream, then move on to chicken breast and prawn satay. Try the braised beef short rib on the bone with French green beans, and conclude with the decadent dark chocolate fondant.
BICCCS (Waterkloof Heights)
BICCCS is well loved, often packed with people grabbing a quick bite and freelancers working away on laptops while having a cuppa. Offerings include a range of sandwiches, wraps and snacks. The freshly baked croissants are crisp and buttery and are just perfect when enjoyed with one of the specialty hot drinks. In summer months, enjoy homemade gelato in interesting flavours like liquorice, rosewater or pistachio.
Copperleaf Café (Centurion)
Get off to a healthy start with the Sun-Up breakfast of two poached eggs, avocado and chunky cottage cheese on rye. The all-day offering includes baskets, salads, light meals, pizzas, pastas, grills and a special section for kids. Expect wholesome, delicious café food such as fillet-and-avo stack with feta and rocket, or a Thai beef salad with noodles and palm sugar. The gourmet sandwiches also deserve a special mention.
Good Stuff Café (Maroelana) Best Coffee Shop: winner for Gauteng
From melkos and banting hash to granadilla cake and dainty bunny chows baked in tins, the inventive menu at this coffee shop is just part of the reason the regulars keep returning. The other reasons include excellent coffee and a real community feeling.
Isabella’s Petite (Menlo Park)
This is fuss-free, delicious café food. Isabella’s may have a name for cakes, but the extensive food menu also includes winning breakfasts like chardonnay chicken livers on toast, and lunches of lamb naan pizza. Treat yourself to an ending of chocolate mousse cake or the pleasantly tart red-velvet cheesecake.
Black Bamboo (Ashlea Gardens) Best Bistro: highly commended for Gauteng
Head chef Pellie Grobler prides himself on never repeating a dish. Dishes are well balanced and delicately flavoured. Starters run from Cape curry-pickled fish to salt-baked carrots and pan-seared scallops to mains of kingklip with tiger prawns or springbok loin with chickpeas and a bonemarrow croquette.
Brasserie de Paris (Waterkloof Ridge)
Expectations are high, but the food does not disappoint. An amuse-bouche of gorgonzola cream is a luscious beginning. Starters might be potato-and-leek soup, escargot or steak tartare. For mains, the trio of beef fillet with bonemarrow, truffle butter and pomme frites is excellent. To finish, choose the chocolate-and-coffee mille-feuille.
Fermier Restaurant (The Willows)
Adriaan Maree’s passion for sustainable, farm-to-table cooking is infectious. The menu boasts accessible ingredients executed exquisitely: bream fillet on a fricassee of shiitake and peas; marron bouillabaisse; duck with coffee and red cabbage; and lamb with black garlic and pickled onions. End the meal with a celebration of chocolate, jelly, sherbet and berries.
Granita @ Kievits Kroon (Kameeldrift East)
Look forward to the likes of roasted baby beetroot with blue-cheese-and-mascarpone quenelles; seared langoustine tail with duck confit ravioli; and roasted lamb rump with stewed parsnips. Dessert might take the form of a trio of apples with panna cotta, sorbet and butterscotch sauce.
Kream Restaurant (Brooklyn)
It may be a little worrying when a restaurant offers steak, sushi, curry, and confit duck, but Kream delivers. Steaks can be ordered with a variety of accoutrements, and the oxtail falls off the bone onto a creamy mushroom risotto. They often have venison as well as numerous lamb, pork, chicken and fish options. Finish your meal with a classic like crème brûlée.
Prue Leith Restaurant (Centurion)
Don’t be daunted by the thought of students cooking you dinner. A delightful meal here delivers everything you’d expect from a modern fine-dining restaurant. Look forward to dishes like delicate seasonal soups; risotto with blue cheese and biltong; and Asian-style sea bass. The pastry chefs make works of art – the apple tarte tatin with salted caramel ice cream is a winner.
Restaurant Mosaic at The Orient (Elandsfontein) – Top 10
A meal at Restaurant Mosaic is one that can’t easily be duplicated. Chef Chantel Dartnall’s food is so at home here it’s impossible to imagine one without the other. A piping-hot courgette velouté surrounding icy asparagus and fava-bean mousse is playful and perfect. Another showstopper is the Irish scallop with maritime broth and pickled radishes. To end, the enchanting Recipe for Romance, which looks like a DIY cake (a bowl of flour, butter cubes, chocolate and an egg yolk), yet is anything but.
Al-Amin Restaurant & Take-away (Laudium)
The quirky venue is part of the premises of a garage. It’s best to enjoy a meal here with a large party and order an array of dishes for everyone to taste. The Indian breads are special and varied with a selection of parathas, rotis and naans. Then choose from the biryanis and vegetarian fare to a fish dish or two, or mutton or chicken curries.
Geet Indian Restaurant (Brooklyn)
Upon entering Geet, you are transported to India. The enticing aroma of roasting spices will excite you of what’s to come. For a mouth-watering start, try the Punjabi samoosas or paneer-stuffed mushrooms. The tandoori kebabs are crowd favourites, as are the butter chicken and the chef’s delicacy of lamb, slow cooked in onion gravy with saffron and roasted garlic. End off with chocolate samoosas.
Namaskar Restaurant (Colbyn)
On arrival, tuck in to poppadoms with pickles, then try a tandoori mixed grill of chicken in red marinade, seekh kebab and flavourful lamb. Flaky paratha and garlic naan are perfect accompaniments to a deep, rich prawn curry. For dessert, choose from traditional sweets.
Oriental Palace (Pretoria Central)
Oriental Palace has mastered the tandoori oven, so the breads here are extraordinary. Lamb masalawala, served with fresh ginger, chilli, tomatoes, yoghurt, cinnamon, cauliflower, potatoes and black sesame seeds, is a great meal. Also try the bhoona chicken, a number of lamb curries, and chef’s specialities such as the chicken nihari with aniseed and nutmeg.
Thali is a comfortable space, created by a family hailing from Kerala in South India. It’s nothing fancy, but the food is fresh and of good quality. Starters include samoosas and chilli bites, marinated brinjal, okra in onion-and-tomato gravy, and gobi Manchurian cauliflower. For mains, try the chicken biryani and lamb bunny chow. Desserts feature gulab jamin (sticky dumplings with cardamom syrup).
Alfie’s Pizzeria (Hazelwood)
The pizzeria is centred around a glorious wood-burning oven. A few starters and light meals appear, but it’s clear the classic pie is celebrated here. Choose between focaccia, pizze beanche, pizze rosse and calzone. The patate e cipolla is a knockout, topped with soft potato, mozzarella and sweet onions. The capricciosa is another fan favourite, topped with mozzarella, mushrooms, ham, artichokes, olives and a soft egg. It’s simple perfection. Finish with a perfect panna cotta or tiramisu.
Café Bree (Groenkloof)
Head here for the zivas filled with options like roast lamb with dijonnaise, rocket and caramelised onion, or opt for rich oxtail or veal piccata with mushrooms and cream. Desserts include comfort food like decadent cakes, cupcakes and cheesecakes.
Caraffa Ristorante (Alphen Park)
There’s something classic about the food here. Pasta is freshly made and, if you’re a gnocchi fan, try it with Quattro formaggi or osso bucco. Their rump, prepared in the pizza oven with olives, capers and mixed peppers and served with polenta, is a good pick. Great pizzas include the quattro stagioni with anchovy, mushrooms and ham. Desserts are pretty standard, including tiramisu, cassata tartufo and Italian kisses.
The menu here begins with a comprehensive list of tapas and starters – be sure to try the grilled sardines with pine nuts, raisins and vinegar dressing. Of course, there are also pastas, risottos, raviolis, pizzas and a very popular goat’s stew. For dessert, try the canoli Siciliani with pistachio ice cream.
La Fiamma (Faerie Glen)
Chef Jarrid Smith and mom Cinzia are a killer team. Try the rosemary-infused focaccia to get things started then move on to slow-roasted pork belly, or a trusty pizza with camembert, figs and bacon. End on a sweet note with elderflower panna cotta.
Piccola Italia (Monument Park)
Start with a clever mix of carpaccio and Caprese salad, or try the unusual mulligatawny soup starter. Move onto the special of spaghetti with prawns, nuts and rosa tomatoes, or the Neapolitan lamb puttanesca. There’s also beautifully prepared fillet tagliata with tomato and basil.
Ritrovo Ristorante (Waterkloof Heights)
The simplicity of Italian food here is boosted by produce and flavour. The menu is extensive and could include fennel-and-orange salad, insalata di mare with perfectly cooked seafood, oven-roasted prawns, and gnocchi with a traditional ragu or a spaghetti alla Napoletana. Their desserts of homemade ice creams are delicious.
Toni’s Fully Furnished Pizza Company (Rietondale)
Although the menu here has a fresh new look, you can still order some of the old Toni’s favourites. Health-conscious patrons can also opt for banting basses for the 30+ pizza options. There are also a few salads, pastas and desserts – including the legendary toasted almond, honey and cream pizza.
Villa San Giovanni Ristorante (Wonderboom National Airport)
The extensive menu offers delicious eats, a number of buffet options and set menus. Try Italian classics such as cannelloni ricotta; gnocchi quattro formaggi; the Napoleone pizza with sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke, fresh basil and feta; saltimbocca; osso bucco; and tiramisu ice cream.
Woodstock Urban Pizzeria (Constantia Park)
There are familiar names here like Regina and Margarita, but local palates are also represented with pizzas like the Jo-Burger with potato and asparagus, and the Woodstock with biltong and avo. The bases are thin and crisp and the toppings are generous.
Each dish here is irresistibly Instagram-worthy. Great go-to breakfasts include creamy sweetcorn scrambled eggs with bacon and parmesan, or Turkish eggs with hummus. For mains, try the salad of fresh tomatoes, grilled halloumi, and a tart pomegranate dressing. It’s fabulous alongside the aubergine stuffed with mince, topped with panko crumbs.
Prosopa (Waterkloof Heights)
If you kick off with the meze, that’s all you might get to. Highlights include fried brinjal and skordalia dip, halloumi cheese with grape chutney, and the more unusual pikilia platter. The lamb kleftiko is exquisite, as are the lambchops with spiced lentils. The Klein Karoo ostrich fillet with honey and soy is delicious, too. Desserts include a tempting Greek milk tart.
A’la Turka Speciality Restaurant (Doornkloof)
The menu here includes many hot and cold meze options. The creamy tzatziki with mint and dill is perfect for dipping pita breads. For something heartier, try the lamb kleftiko, slow-baked lamb shank or delicious kebabs. For a sweet ending, try Turkish delight ice cream.
The breakfast menu here offers quirky choices like putu pap with mascarpone and biltong shavings, plus all the classic egg dishes. Later on, opt for the delicious burgers and superb grills, served with chips, rice or salad. For lighter fare, order the chicken salad with peanut-butter-and-litchi dressing, or the steak-and-nachos salad. There are also gourmet jaffles and a tasty sweet ending of deconstructed milk tart.
Capital Craft Beer Academy (Menlo Park)
High-quality food includes innovative burgers, sticky ribs, steaks and bunny chows. Beet The Heat is an imaginative salad with pears and pickled beetroot. On the burger side, opt for The Big Daddy with bacon sun-dried tomatoes, cheddar and a beer and chilli sauce. The onion rings are a deliciously crunchy side. End on the red-velvet waffle.
Carlton Café + Delicious (Menlo Park)
A few favourites have been on the menu since the beginning, such as chef Conny’s southern fried chicken, served with potato salad; pap with mascarpone and fried biltong; and the old-fashioned Marmite tart. The white chocolate blondie with macadamia nuts is a popular sweet ending.
Culture Club – Bar de Tapas (Hazelwood)
This is a perfect spot to visit with friends for drinks and tapas. Highlights are sliced rump with chimichurri; Cypriot pork sausage with pita bread; Spanish meatballs with salsa brava; and silky smooth hummus. Don’t miss the churros with dark-chocolate ganache for dessert.
De Kloof (Waterkloof) Best Bistro: winner for Gauteng
Apart from a standard à la carte menu, De Kloof also offers a five- or seven-course tasting menu. Highlights might include cauliflower-and-gruyère fondant with baby-marrow ribbons, goat’s cheese crumble, tempura maraschino cherry and tahini purée. Desserts include rum baba and an innovative cheese plate with croquettes, crisps and crumbles.
DK Gourmet Burger & Craft Beer Bar (Waterkloof Ridge)
Look forward to gourmet burgers made with free-range meat, house-baked bread, special sauces and great toppings. The patties alone include soft shin brisket, beef cheek, chicken, lamb, salmon, pulled pork and veggies. Sides could include hand-cut chips, sweet potato chips, or onion rings. End with a malva pud with ice cream.
Ginger and Fig (Brooklyn)
Ginger & Fig has only been around for three years, but it has already become a Pretoria institution. Highlights to start include the legendary eggs Benedict, or smoked trout with sweet potato rösti and wasabi cream cheese. For lunch, go for the grilled cheese with truffle oil, or the slow-smoked brisket on sourdough with coleslaw.
La Pentola (Riviera)
The menu here offers tastes for the determined carnivore, the picky pescetarian or those who love fruit and veg. Try the Huckleberry Halloumi starter with sugar-macerated strawberries before moving on to a fish main of Hermanus sole or the KWV fillet. Desserts include an apple sponge or chocolate terrine.
Laughing Chefs (Rietondale)
The menu at this quaint establishment is very creative and cleverly divided into categories. Favourites include the mushroom arancini, lamb croquettes, and caramelised pork belly. Enjoy with one of the cocktails from the extensive menu.
Priva Gastro Lounge (Waterkloof Heights)
You could go à la carte here or splurge on one of the gourmet tasting menus. Recent favourites include the apple-braised pork belly with honey-soy sauce and smoked pumpkin, or the shredded oxtail with sun-dried tomato couscous and potato crisps.
Salt Eatery (Hazelwood)
One of the original restaurants in the newly revamped and happening Hazelwood dining scene. Their food is inventive and interesting with options like scotch eggs with black pudding for breakfast, steamed buns with pork belly or steak burgers for lunch. Desserts include sesame-infused crème brûlée, or red-wine-poached pears with gorgonzola ice cream.
Eisbein & Co. (Menlo Park)
If it’s hearty, rib-sticking food you’re after, look no further. Eisbein & Co. offers comfort food to the max. Starters include crumbed mushrooms or peri-peri livers, while mains offer generous dishes of pork shoulder or pork belly with your choice of starch and sauerkraut. For something sweet, the apple strudel is a treat.
Hinterland Vleishandelaar (Hazelwood)
Lamb and beef are crowned king in this well-loved establishment. The carpaccio is truly delicious, as are the popular marrowbones. For mains, choose between Kalahari or Karoo lamb chops, prepared to your preference, or go for the fillet, T-bone, rump, or sirloin steaks with your choice of sides. Other meat-based dishes include lamb curry or beef stroganoff. There are also some fish and chicken options for the non-meat eaters.
Ozé Café & Bistro (Hazelwood)
This modern, new Portuguese restaurant is drawing the crowds.Above average food includes bang-on octopus salad, T-bone steak with elegant butter sauce or a fiery peri-peri and home-baked pasteis de nata. The stylish interior makes a nod towards Portugal without the cockerels and wax-coated wine bottles holding candles.
By no means a complete list of all Pretoria restaurants, this list comprises the top restaurants rated and reviewed for the 2017 Eat Out magazine, which is on sale now. Let us know about your favourites in the comments section below.
Eat Out critics dine anonymously and pay for their meals in full. Read our editorial policy here.