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Taste SA at these awesome under-the-radar eateries

If the past pandemic has taught us anything, it’s to better appreciate the things we take for granted. Like living in one of the world’s most flavourful countries with countless eateries to choose from. From Kakamas to the Karoo, we show you the lesser-known treasures in SA’s travel pantry.

Perfect pizza and a Sunday fiesta at Nolio Italian Bistro (Gqeberha)

Jonathan Gunston of Nolio Italian Bistro makes hands down the best authentic Neapolitan pizza in South Africa. This small eatery on the vibey Stanley Street restaurant strip in Gqeberha is more than meets the eye. Apart from the pizza, his fresh seafood dishes are to die for. On Sundays, there are unbeatable cocktail specials and live music.

Nolio Italian Bistro

Exterior of Nolio Italian Bistro. Image by Josh Meiri.

Eggs benny worth every penny at Village Café (Nottingham Road)

This new kid on the block on the popular KZN Midlands Meander is making waves for all the right reasons. Village Café bravely opened after lockdown last year and has since become the best spot for a classic eggs benny on a slow Sunday morning. They also bake their own fresh croissants every morning. Bonus!

Views for days and Kalahari ways at Khamkirri (Kakamas)

This little oasis on the banks of the Orange River offers respite from the harsh Northern Cape sun and a taste of the region’s unique grub. Springbok fillet features regularly and pairs well with the wines produced along the river. Their special chicken salad is made with sweet mango slices when in season. Cocktails and meals are served on the deck overlooking the river.

Rainbow trout without a doubt at Flying Scotsman (Dullstroom)

This cosy, stone-walled eatery at Walkersons Hotel & Spa is a romantic must-do, complete with a roaring log fire on the nights when the Dullstroom fog rolls in. Rainbow trout, naturally, is celebrated prominently and enjoyed overlooking the Walkersons reserve’s trout dams. Pray the lip-smacking trout linguine – made with fresh dill, white wine and cream – or the whole baked trout basted in butter are on the menu when you book.

Flying Scotsman

Small plates and Karoo tastes at Hello You (Graaff-Reinet)

A sweet little find in the Karoo Heartland’s prettiest town, Graaff-Reinet. Hello You offers Karoo-style fine dining and small plates. Try their mosbolletjie sandwich with locally sourced venison, caramelised peppers and smoky Provolone cheese or opt for the icon – Karoo lamb chops, of course. They offer a tastefully curated selection of South African wines too.

Bokkoms for all at Ek En Djy Vissery (Velddrift)

Bokkoms are the West Coast’s answer to biltong and the taste of these whole dried harders has become synonymous with the region. Enjoy them as is or use them as a clever South African substitute for anchovies. Buy your bokkoms to go from Ek En Djy Vissery, and try their bokkom platter served with a bottle of Bukettraube from Darling Cellars while you’re there.

Bokkoms

Bokkoms in Velddrift. Image by Marike Herselman.

Fresh bakes and deep-fried hakes at InFood Bakery & Deli (Jeffrey’s Bay)

The InFood enterprise of SA’s world-renowned surfing hub Jeffrey’s Bay has grown over the years to include J-Bay Bru Co and the Infood Coffee Society, all scattered across town. However, the favourite remains their flagship Bakery & Deli, where the smell of baking bread always permeates the air. A crowd favourite is their craft beer-battered fish made from the freshest catch of the day.

Blueberries and Mbowenis at Mountain Café (Magaliesberg)

Nestled in the Magaliesberg Mountains on a working blueberry and kiwi farm, this quaint café celebrates seasonality. The menu changes weekly, but their iconic blueberry cheesecake is baked fresh every day to please those with a sweet tooth, including former finance minister Tito Mboweni. Just like the cheesecake, he’s a crowd favourite with all visitors at this mountainside nook.

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