A GUIDE TO AFRICA
HIDDEN GEM RESTAURANTS ALONG THE GARDEN ROUTE
The drive between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, commonly known as the Garden Route, is one of South Africa’s best self-drive destinations. The beautiful beaches, luscious forests, dramatic mountains, striking cliff formations, and peaceful lagoons make it the ultimate road trip.
The the quaint coastal towns and villages offer a multitude of accommodation and outdoor activities. The Garden Route is the perfect family option with bird shows and puzzle parks for the little ones, and world-class golf courses for dads. Of course, with every road trip comes the inevitable food pit stop. The Garden Route is not short of restaurant options but we’ve put together our top restaurants along the route. Here are Pembury’s hidden gem Garden Route restaurants:
1. De Wingerdt Restaurant, Riversdale
De Wingerdt Restaurant is ideally situated in the beautiful vineyard of De Doornkraal Wine Estate stretching to the Vette River bordering the quaint town of Riversdale. The menu boasts a number of carefully curated dishes ranging from South African to internationally-inspired dishes. The cuisine is preservative free and made on-site using produce from the vineyard’s organic gardens. This results in dishes with fresh, local and exceptional flavours. Specialty dishes include the Kudu Carpaccio, Country Style Lamb Shank and Linefish Salsa Fresca.
2. Carola Ann’s, Mossel Bay
Quaint and oozing charm and character, Carola Ann’s is one of Mossel Bay’s gems. The ideal breakfast and lunch spot, the menu is Middle-Eastern inspired and offers a number of vegetarian and wheat-free options. Fresh food and a relaxed atmosphere make it the perfect place to stop for a light meal along the Garden Route. The ‘Arabian’ and ‘Syrian Style’ Breakfast Bowl make for exotic and delicious breakfasts. For example, the Mezze Platter or slow-cooked harissa pork with cauliflower and butter bean mash make for an excellent light lunch.
3. Bayleaf Café , George
Located in George, the Bayleaf Café is a hidden gem with a personal touch and wonderful food and one of our favourite places to eat along the Garden Route. The café boasts a lovely, quaint garden perfect for sunny days. Service is friendly, and the dishes are simple and made with local ingredients. So expect fresh, delicious flavours! For a light lunch, try the bobotie spring rolls or the Moroccan chicken salad. And for dessert, their cakes are exceptional!
4. Serendipity, Wilderness
Based on the philosophy that South Africa is abundant with secret culinary gems, Serendipity believes in showcasing the beauty of local and innovative cuisine. Because of its location on the Touw River Lagoon bank, the restaurant has a relaxed but elegant atmosphere. Serendipity offers exceptional South African haute cuisine – each dish is explained passionately to guests. The menu changes according to seasonality – at the time of writing, dishes include Rooibos-Tomato Consumé, Seared Sesame Crusted Bonito Loin, and Dark Chocolate and Date Torte.
5. East Head Café, Knysna
A trip to the rocks of Knysna’s famous Eastern Head will take you to the East Head Café. Boasting panoramic views of Knysna Lagoon, the restaurant offers a laid-back dining experience with delicious food. The menu keeps things simple with a few interesting twists. The marinated beetroot and goats cheese salad or po’boy burger, for instance, may appeal to more those feeling more adventurous. Otherwise the classic fish and chips won’t fail to disappoint.
6. The Fat Fish, Plettenberg Bay
The Fat Fish can be found in both George and Plettenberg Bay and is arguably one of the best Garden Route restaurants. The Plettenberg Bay restaurant promises sea views and al fresco dining. The menu is predominantly seafood based and carefully curated. As a result it boasts a wide range of dishes, tapas and sushi. Dishes cater to everyone from vegetarians to adventurous eaters and comfort foodies. So there really is something for everyone! The menu itself is quirky, printed in the format of a newspaper. Tapas include Cajun baby squid, soused salmon and arancini. For mains, try the grilled prawns, roast monkfish tail, or green pea and ricotta whole wheat linguine.
7. Fynboshoek Cheesefarm, Storm’s River
Out of all the Garden Route restaurants, Fynboshoek Cheesefarm offers a unique dining experience. They have no menu but rather rely on seasonal and homegrown produce. The restaurant is situated approximately 7kms from Storm’s River Bridge and is open only for lunch, so booking is essential! They serve handpicked salads and freshly baked breads alongside raw Fynboshoek goat and cow milk cheeses. For dessert, a baked dessert is served alongside home-made ice-cream. Expect an intimate, authentic experience with award-winning food and beautiful surroundings.