For a meal that takes full advantage of Pretoria’s mild weather and lovely pockets of nature, choose one of these restaurants with great outside dining.
Escape for an alfresco meal off the beaten path on the banks of the Hennops River. The restaurant overlooks the river and is surrounded by trees, so the drive from the city is more than worth it for a short escape. You might spot a water monitor, jackal, otter or kingfisher if you’re lucky. The menu is highly annotated, making it easy to navigate for vegan and banting diets as well as those avoiding pork or nuts. For starters, you might go with the warm smoked duck and mung bean salad. Mains calls for their fillet Al Fiume topped with rocket, parmesan shavings and balsamic reduction, served on a blended hummus mash. End your meal at the river with variations on traditional Italian desserts, such as lemon tiramisu with berry coulis or a vanilla panna cotta with citrus jelly and chocolate mousse. If you’re bringing the children, you’ll be pleased to know that kids under five eat for free.
This old favourite has been around for over 20 years but came under new ownership in 2014 and offers a wide variety of options, both in terms of the venue and the menu. The main drawcard remains the view of the Austin Roberts Bird Sanctuary and its dam, which will quickly make you forget that you’re in the capital city. Enjoy the view and try to spot some local birds from one of the several waterfront decks, which have thatch roofs but are open to the elements. The outdoor boma area is perfect for events with a South African flair or Sunday lunch buffets. The Blue Crane is a go-to spot for sunset drinks – they have an impressive wine list that includes a section of rare finds. The à la carte menu offers a strong variety, including vegetarian options.
Rademeyers Chapel and Venue is a perfect al fresco option in the city for nature lovers, as it’s situated inside of the small but lush Moreleta Kloof Nature Reserve. Choose a table outside under umbrellas or the gazebo and you’re likely to see some of the local wildlife, including zebras and ostriches. Swing by for woodfired pizza, a burger or a juicy T-bone steak and chips – it’s the perfect casual lunch spot!
If you’re looking for outdoor dining that is perfect for both you and the kids, try this hidden gem in the east of the capital. While the inside areas are cosy, it’s the comfortable and airy garden where this restaurant lives up to its French name of “the slow life”. Grab a spot underneath the trees or umbrellas and while away the time with delicious goodies from the bistro kitchen as the kids play safely. There’s a significant drinks menu, including smoothies and cocktails, and the food menu includes vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options. For breakfast, try the Turkish poached egg dish that includes roasted sweet potato and halloumi as well as cucumber, baby tomatoes, pita and yoghurt. If you’ve come with a group or are particularly hungry, consider a platter (single or to share) such as the one with a white wine-and-fennel mussel pot plus lemon-and-garlic prawns, all of which come served with toasted ciabatta.
For a more urban outdoor eating experience, visit this rooftop spot atop the Protea Hotel in Loftus Park. Look over the cityscape at sunset, up at the stars, or take a dip in the small pool on a hot day. This is an open-air option out on the picturesque deck. While you’re there taking in the stunning view, choose from one of the interesting cocktails, such as the pink elderflower gin and tonic or the pomegranate basil mimosa. A highlight on the menu is the soft-shell tacos filled with options such as Cajun chicken, vegetable slaw and sriracha mayo or crispy pork belly with an Asian dressing. From gourmet pizzas to steaks, they’ve got it all! For a sweet break, opt for the churros with chocolate and caramel dips.