Sundowner sessions to enjoy in Pretoria

South Africa’s capital sure knows how to show visitors a good time – here are 12 stunning sundowner sessions not to miss!

La Cantina (Rietondale)

La Cantina lies literally in the shadows of the hill on which the Union Buildings sits. The owners have a long history as Pretoria restaurateurs, having relocated the original La Cantina from the Pretoria CBD. The menu offers super great pizzas and other easy Italian fare, but there are also a few more serious main course items. Essentially you are looking at a place that offers the public what they want – a good steak with chips and possibly some butternut and creamed spinach. But if a good wood-fired pizza and some of the best outdoor sunset relaxation is what you are after, there are few places that beat their outdoor tables, wide umbrellas and small wooden play structure for kids. They have an adequate wine list, and they make decent G&Ts. If you stick around long enough post-dinner, do not miss out on one of the best Dom Pedros in town. If you had a rough day, ask for a triple shot of whiskey – keep the Uber ready on speed-dial after that one.

Tin Roof Café (Mooiplaats)

Pellie Grobler marches on in the kitchen of Tin Roof Café, wooing diners with his fine sense of flavour and cooking abilities. It is somewhat of a trek to get out to them, but that is even more reason to get there early and experience some real South African country sunsets. It has a rural style, with a dash of a Southern French feel; sit out on the stoep amongst the large thorn trees and immediately know that you are in Africa. Grab a plate of salt and pepper calamari, served with creamy risotto, aioli, grilled lemon and spring onion, or pear and grilled haloumi salad with red-wine poached pears, pecan praline, seasonal greens and a sultana and citrus vinaigrette. Whatever you opt for, enjoy it with a glass of fine wine and imagine yourself being transported to a place that is a mix between Avignon and Lephalale.


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Capito (Hazelwood)

Even though sweet, colourful cocktails seem to be de rigueur these days, nothing beats a flute (or even a coupe) of chilled bubbly for something supremely elegant and refreshing. How lovely then if a restaurant has a whole selection of sparkling wines from all over the world! Capito stocks Italian Frizzanti such as Lambrusco, French Champagnes, an array of interesting South African bubbles, and a Catalonian Macabeo Codorniu Clasico Cava. The restaurant sits on the corner of a small centre that features a collection of restaurants and has a lovely open area outside in front of the restaurant. The view is perhaps not memorable, but the surrounding architecture and public art are well worth a stroll around, drink in hand. Afterwards tuck into some great Italian fare.


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Summit Grill and Skybar (Garsfontein)

Summit Grill and Sky Bar is housed in one of the few venues situated in a high-rise building in Pretoria. Although other cities may offer sea or mountain views, if you stand on the Summit’s deck and peer northwards over the rolling hills, you can see Limpopo and onwards to Zimbabwe in the real distance. Since this is a hotel, it means that there are staff on duty all the time and one could essentially have a cocktail and some snacks at any time of the day. Grab a Watermelon Daiquiri or their signature cocktail, the Summit Sky, a plate of fresh oysters with smoked salmon, rocket, wasabi mayo and ginger, and imagine yourself part of the real Africa stretching beyond the borders of suburbia.

Rosewood Terrace (Morelata Park)

Restaurants on golf courses often benefit from the aesthetic thought that went into creating the location. This little restaurant is located in the Kimiad Golf Course in Moreleta Park, and offers a child-friendly environment where one could invite a few friends and their children along for afternoon drinks and snacks prior to heading home for supper. The Rosewood Platter would be ideal for just this, being so well priced that one could certainly get the kids their own platter. They close at 8 in the evening during summertime, which means one can sit outside and watch the sun set slowly under gigantic Jacaranda trees.


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De Kloof (Groenkloof)

De Kloof remains as popular as ever. Situated on the Waterkloof Golf Estate, this spot has magnificent views across the greens over the Groenkloof Nature Reserve and west towards the setting sun. They offer a five- or six-course tasting menu with paired beverages, often starting off with a glass of Spier Secret sparkling rosé. Proceed with a glass of chilled sherry from Spain and hang out on their extensive balcony to peer into the setting sun.

Moroccan House (Menlo Park)

If you are in the mood for colour, design, ornateness, vibrancy and a whole lot of fun, this small independent hotel-cum-restaurant is the place to visit for sundowners. They make a mean strawberry, mint, cardamom and vodka cocktail oozing North African glamour and style, which one can sip out on their rooftop terrace and imagine it being Casablanca or Fez. They host many feasts throughout the year, of which a number are still due to take place before the end of 2021. They offer traditional Moroccan platter tables, which they serve in their La Riad Food Theatre. The Royal platter includes kefta briouats, lemon chicken kebabs, lamb kebabs and vegetable briouat parcels. Desserts include orange blossom, lemon, rosewater and rose Turkish delights and cheesecakes all served with tiny glasses of Moroccan tea.

Brasserie de Paris (Waterkloof Ridge)

Although this is one of the few remaining independent restaurants in Pretoria that offers old-fashioned, white-linen service, there is nothing old-fashioned about the food or ambience. Apart from the fact that it is housed in an architect-designed mid-century building, the interior, table settings, flowers and food are all very much 21st century. Restaurant manager Siniša Nikolic is a committed wine fundi and will gladly assist with all beverage requests. Tuck into pork bonbons with maple bourbon reduction and artichoke purée, or kingklip ceviche with citrus, pickled radish, onion and ginger. Order a bottle of Lallier “R Series” Brut, and head to their roof for some of the best sundowner views the Capital City has to offer.


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Forti TOO (Lynnwood Manor)

Forti TOO is a relatively new restaurant in the stable of restaurateur Fortunato Mazzone, established in the throes of COVID, to join Forti’s Grill and Bar, BICCCS Bistro (Forti Bistro) and the very newly launched Vee & Forti, a classy produce and booze shop also located in the Lynnwood Bridge Mall that stocks an impressive array of deli items, wine and much more. This is a smart restaurant that was designed to impress, but also features many personal touches such as the corner with memorabilia commemorating the memory of Forti’s father, the late Giovanni Mazzone. There is an array of food items on the menu – share a plate of fresh mussels, or a Cremona pasta made with a rose sauce, or simply sit back and tuck into one of their shared platters such as the Izimbambu platter that serves four to six people and features a whopping 2kg of traditional salted, dry-roasted lamb ribs. Lynnwood Bridge boasts a central court with bespoke artwork and water features, and one can find few places better to sip on a drink and do some people watching.

Villa San Giovanni (Wonderboom)

Many of us only dream of lifting off into the sunset from an aircraft carrier à la Tom Cruise. However, if this is not meant to be, settle for having drinks and cocktails on the verandah of Villa San Giovanni, which literally takes up the space that separates the tarmac from the restaurant. Few things are as exciting as sitting out among the smell and roar of airplane engines, while the early evening descends. This is a fully functional restaurant that has various sections, from formal to very casual with lots of areas dedicated to children. They offer some house-brand VSG wines by the glass to perfectly compliment any of their sundowner food items, including some inventive potato dippers with bacon, smashed avo and melted Gouda cheese, and a vast array of burgers with scene-appropriate names such as Cabin Crew and the 747 Jumbo.

Casa Gelati (Gezina)

This remains one of Pretoria’s best-kept secrets, 30-odd years later. Paul Vaz has run this restaurant, first established by his father, for a large part of his life. Although charming to people who love it, this is not a restaurant for everyone, which is exactly the reason one should try it out if you are into quirky and honest experiences. The pavement, which is the best place to sit on a late summer evening, offers a view out to the west into the oncoming one-way stream of taxis and other commercial vehicles, the odd thundering motorcycle or souped up thunderbird, that would make celebrated fine art landscape artist MJ Louwrens reach for a canvas. Their liquor license has lapsed, so they offer nothing alcoholic to drink for fear of breaching the regulations. But the passing humanity, who never intrudes, is worth a bit of tee-total hardship. All of this comes with some of the simplest but best wood-fired pizzas that are served with a fabulous little chilli sauce on the side.

Afroboer (Equestria)

This sumptuous property, part of a “complex” of other businesses, offers a standalone building purposely built as a restaurant with large rooms and large sash windows that allows beautiful light in. More importantly, however, is the completely decadent garden with large shady trees and immaculate lawns that one overlooks or can even enjoy sitting in. There is ample parking, even though they are practically always filled to the brim. Initially only a daytime restaurant that was often frequented by those not keeping office hours, they have expanded into various other offerings such as their spaza shop, born from need, which emerged during Covid. Their evening restaurant is also slowly gaining momentum, so hanging around for the sunset hour is totally possible. The staff is engaging and well trained, and they offer a whole page filled with tapas, such as ketel chips, citrus-infused olives, grilled fresh asparagus served with salsa verde, pomegranate seeds and chopped pistachio, beetroot with goat’s cheese and toasted pumpkin seeds, sweet potato and chickpea fritters, and much more. Grab a glass of Org de Rac Organic Die Waghuis Rooi, head out to the stoep and revel in the cool calming hour that descends on these beautiful gardens.


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