If only more award-winning chefs opened fast-food joints… So thank you Bertus Basson for bringing this wondrous burger heaven into our lives. The 200g free-range beef number is the stuff dreams are made of. The bun is big and fluffy and golden brown, the patty a substantial juicy delight and the toppings (lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles and double cheese) just enough to make every bite perfection. If you want more, you can add bacon, smoked chilli sauce or melrose and biltong. But the original itself is massive and more than sufficient.
This is important to keep in mind when ordering sides. Share them, you probably won’t have space with the generous portions. Choose from handcut potato chips (au natural or with BBQ spice, cheese or peri-peri), spiced onion fritters and crispy spicy onion. Or, if you’re kidding yourself, have an uitpakslaai – a rif on the traditional Afrikaans salad with creamy dressing and layers of tomato, onion, peas, lettuce and olives.
Best part? You get a free soft-serve ice cream with every burger bought. And it’s delicious.
There’s a tiny selection of affordable wines by the bottle or 250ml caraffe. Think Waterkloof Peacock Chenin Blanc and the Hartenberg Alchemy Malbec blend. Otherwise have one of the two beers, water or soft drinks.
Friendly counter service. Just make sure you claim your free roomys before they empty the machine.
Although the bright, modern space is aimed at the takeaway crowd, there are high tables and chairs for those wanting to have wine and linger. The table on the sidewalk is perfect for student watching.
Quick meals and quality food on-the-run.
Eat Out critics dine anonymously and pay for their meals in full. Read our editorial policy here.
Hetta van Deventer Terblanche
De Vrije Burger takeaway in the heart of central Stellenbosch is the latest venture of Eat Out Top 10 chef Bertus Basson, in partnership with his wife Mareli. This creative and hardworking duo is behind popular eateries such as Overture, Spek en Bone and Bertus Basson at Spice Route.
The difference here is that De Vrije Burger’s menu features only one thing: a seriously good 200g free-range beef burger with all the trimmings – lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles and double cheese – at R75. Diners can choose a patty done medium or medium-rare. Additional toppings can be ordered to build the burger, such as Melrose cheese and biltong, smoked chilli sauce or bacon. Hand-cut chips in three flavours are optional extras (R30–R42.40): barbecue, cheese or peri peri. The latter, made with fresh chillies and sweet-and-sour spices, should come with a warning for being highy addictive.
Bertus’s menus often feature a thread of authentic South African flavour. In this instance the salad option, uitpakslaai (unpacked salad) will bring back memories of gatherings with friends and family (especially in Afrikaans communities) of the 80s and 90s. It indicates a salad that is not tossed, but can either be composed of layers or, more commonly, ingredients packed in neat rows with different salad ingredients on a large, flat, often foil-covered tray. De Vrije Burger’s uitpakslaai (R35) is simple but highly recommended, with a creamy dressing at the bottom and layers of crisp lettuce, peas, tomato, olives and onions.
Water, soft drinks, and a small but adequate wine list featuring wine by the bottle (R120–R135) or carafe (R40–50), and two craft beer brands (R35) can be enjoyed on the premises.
Food is served takeaway style, with a friendly and welcoming reception. Owners Bertus and Mareli might pop in.
Minimalist, with a palette of white and blue. Four small rectangular wooden tables and chairs spill out onto busy Plein Street, where patrons can enjoy a drink or finish their burgers straight from the grill.
You are entitled to a free draairoomys (soft-serve ice cream) with each burger. Otherwise buy one for R5, topped with 100s and 1000s sprinkles.
Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay for their meals in full. Read our editorial policy here.