South Africans are big red meat eaters, however, if you aren’t a fan there are always other delicious options on the menu. If you’re planning a trip, make sure these restaurants are on your to-do list.
Located inside the swanky 54 on Bath hotel in Rosebank, the Level Four Restaurant and Champagne Bar is a great place to go to if you want to indulge. You can sit inside and have dinner in an intimate setting, or outside on the terrace and be surrounded by immaculate gardens. This is the perfect spot, whether for high tea or for sundowners and some tapas.
A South African man raised in Italy, Alessandro Khojane, is the founder of this hit restaurant in Bryanston, an upmarket suburb in Johannesburg. Gemelli is definitively Italian but simultaneously very contemporary in its design and ambience, with a large mural lining the main wall fronted by a long marble-topped bar. The grilled meats on offer are impressive but the real standout on the menu are the pasta dishes – especially the signature dish, the penne Allesandro (named after the owner of course) – a wonderful combination of prawns, smoked chicken, peppers and grain-mustard cream.
This impressive restaurant is in the impeccable Four Seasons Hotels The Westcliffe. It was recently refurbished and boasts unbeatable views of Johannesburg’s skyline. The menu varies from casual afternoon snacks to fine dining in the evening. It’s also a very popular spot for sundowners, with many customers flocking here to take in the view while having a cocktail. If you’re a meat lover, we’d suggest the Karoo lamb chops.
Situated in Fordsburg, this casual eatery is known to serve the best Indian cuisine in Johannesburg. You don’t need to make a reservation and can simply arrive and enjoy authentic and affordable dishes including lamb korma and butter chicken. The garlic naan is to die for – a great take-out idea for lunch the next day.
Situated on a farm in Muldersdrift, Casalinga serves up dishes made with the produce grown there. As chefs prepare your Norwegian salmon filled with mozzarella and topped with béchamel sauce, you can take a walk through the farm. You’re likely to spot a bride as this is also a very popular wedding venue. Also housed on the same property is the Leafy Greens Cafe catering to both vegans and vegetarians. Here, you can browse at the little store that sells an assortment of health products, and be surrounded by lemon trees and roaming chickens as you enjoy your almond brownie.
Can you imagine dining while suspended 50m above the ground? Well, you can try it with this Sandton-based restaurant. Twenty-two guests are strapped in and hoisted above the ground where they are served champagne and a delicious meal. Not only is it thrilling, but the impressive skyline views are certainly memorable. Book ahead, as only pre-set dates and times are available.
Nestled at the foot of the Swartkop Mountain Range, this accommodation and restaurant is popular because of its special dining experience surrounded by nature. A quick 30-minute drive from the city centre will have you dining inside a thatched lapa (gazebo) overlooking a large pool, or you can eat outside on the terrace. You’ll often catch a glimpse of zebra drinking water from the pool and you’re more than likely to spot a few giraffes taking a stroll past. You don’t have to be a guest at the lodge to dine at the restaurant but it is advised that you book ahead of time.
The iconic Wandie’s Place in Dube, the heart of Soweto, originally operated as an illegal shebeen (bar) during apartheid. It is now a restaurant and bar loved by both tourists and locals. Celebrities including Chris Rock, Will Smith and Richard Branson have been seen here. It is well known for serving traditional African food such as umngqusho (seasoned corn and bean stew), marogo (wild African spinach) and chakalaka (spicy onion and tomato). Sit at long tables inside or outside and mingle with the friendly locals.
Braamfontein is a hip area in the inner city that has in the last few years seen eateries, coffee shops, and bakeries open up. This cute eatery on De Beer Street serves casual snacks and quick meals for those on the go. If you’re looking for a hearty meal then your best option is the Mexican sandwich which is filled to the brim with bacon, guacamole, and tons of cheddar cheese.
This meat eaters’ paradise is about a 40-minute drive from the Johannesburg city centre. You’ll be guided through the Hall of Kings to enter the great eating hall that surrounds a huge open fire, surrounded by statues of Masai spears. It’s all-you-can-eat here, with exotic game meats including crocodile, warthog and ostrich on the menu. Each table is given a flag, and when you tip the flag over, staff will stop bringing meat to your table. End your meal with a Dawa – a Kenyan cocktail that’s vodka with lime, mixed with a honey stick.
– TEXT BY JESSICA FARAH
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This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings.