Road trip restaurant pitstop guide: Johannesburg

Whether heading home or to a holiday destination, these are a few pit stop recommendations for a bite to eat while on your short trip on and off the N4 from Johannesburg.

Along the N4 toll road towards Mafikeng or Botswana

The Grove Restaurant (Swartruggens)

The Grove is a little gem hidden in plain sight on the side of the one-street town of Swartruggens, along the Platinum N4 toll road towards Mafikeng or Botswana. The place is a restaurant and an antique gift shop with a charming retro rustic environment and a garden. There’s indoor and outdoor seating with plenty of space for parking. There’s drive-through parking for large cars, camping trailers and caravans. The kids’ facilities is its other attraction, which makes it ideally suited for families. Known for homemade food made really good, they offer breakfast, brunch and lunch with pizza being one of the specialities. The Grove burger and the carrot cake are also popular. The spot is vegetarian and vegan friendly with a good selection of beers and everyday wines. It’s open every day from 8am until 6pm. They close at 8pm on Fridays.

Wag ’n Bietjie (Groot Marico)

Further ahead on the same route of the N4 is Wag ’n Bietjie steakhouse and bar in Groot Marico. The family restaurant is the small town favourite, offering good food, burgers and steaks. Its homely and leafy atmosphere lends itself to the bush quality of Groot Marico and also echoes sentiment of the restaurant name for one to relax and take a break. A good cold beer is guaranteed. The big yard allows for kids to play around and explore the land. The spot is available for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Wag ’n Bietjie is open Monday to Friday from 10am until 11pm. On weekends, they open at 9am, and they close at 5pm on Sundays.

Along the N4 towards Nelspruit or Kruger National Park

The Farm Stall at Halls (Mbombela)

Driving from Johannesburg, The Farm Stall at Halls is just a few kilometres from Mbombela (Nelspruit) and it is the Lowveld’s longstanding landmark. It’s the perfect stop to stock up on fresh fruit and farm produce as well as getting unique gift ideas. The Farm Stall Coffee Shop, with indoor and outdoor seating in the garden, offers farm fresh breakfast, light lunch or afternoon tea. Popular treats include chicken and beef burgers, pie with gravy, savoury and sweet pancakes, waffles, muffins, and cakes. The coffee shop is consistent with weekly specials such as the breakfast order that comes with a free filter coffee or tea from Mondays to Saturdays only. There are also daily specials, which range from Nacho Thursdays where you get to customise your fillings to burger Tuesdays with a choice of chicken, beef or rib. The Farm Stall and its shops are open every day from 7:30am to 4pm.

On the D799 Kaapsehoop Pass, off the N4

The Bohemian Groove (Kaapsehoop)

For a scenic and alternative route, you can detour into the D799 from the Ngodwana Paper Mill on the N4 and go with the Kaapsehoop Pass leading to the charming little mountain top village of Kaapsehoop. Only 27km from Nelspruit and located at 1,468 metres above sea level, Kaapsehoop is known for its picturesque landscapes and roaming horses. Among a couple of eateries lining the entrance is The Bohemian Groove, which is an arty and soulful restaurant with an art gallery. Get lost in the artistic décor with hanging artworks, handmade furniture and lightings created by artist owners Charl and Andrea Fourie. Andrea is the chef and her menu boasts fresh ingredients from the vegetable garden in the premises and local producers. The food takes inspiration from Andrea’s German heritage with a variety of German and continental dishes served from breakfast through lunch and early sundowner dinners. Included are smoked eisbeins, bockwurst, German lentil soup with sausage and gluhwein on cold and misty days.
Signature dishes include The Bohemian Groove’s famous lamb curry and lemon meringue cake. The restaurant also has a bakery boasting fresh sourdough breads, German pretzels, pasteis de nata, blueberry choc-chip sourdough muffins, brigadeiros, croissants, doughnuts and a variety of cakes. The spot caters to vegetarians and vegans. It is open on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays between 8am and 7pm. Live music shows are a regular feature.

Salvador Main Street Bistro (Kaapsehoop)

If you’re looking for quick and easy meals, Salvador Main Street Bistro is an option. This easygoing pub and restaurant is known for its pizzas, grills, pancakes and relaxing atmosphere. It offers breakfast, lunch and early dinners. It is open every day between 8am and 10pm.

Did we miss your favourite road trip spot? Let us know in the comments below.

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