Often overlooked in the world of global cuisine, African food is natural, exciting and delicious. Combining a heady mix of flavoursome game meat, fresh vegetables and handcrafted breads, the typical African diet is both nutritious and full of variety.
WRITTEN BY JOE JOHNSON
1. The Tasting Room, Cape Town
Like many great restaurants, The Tasting Room is located inside an established, luxury hotel, Le Quartier Francias. Tucked away in the spectacular Franschhoek Valley, the scenery is almost as captivating as the food. Run by award-winning Dutch chef, Margot Janse, the jewel in the crown here is the opulent nine-course surprise menu consisting of elements such as spekboom leaves, Kalahari salted kabeljou and Chakalaka lollipop.
Janse is notoriously picky about where the ingredients are sourced from, with most of the food being grown in the grounds of the hotel. As with any great restaurant, the visuals are key, the restaurant is decked out with a clean, crisp theme, white table clothes and napkins are de riguer here, the culinary presentation is equally detailed. The tasting room has won ‘Top 50 Restaurant’ awards for the past seven years running, underlining its unrivalled dominance not just in Africa, but in the world.
2. Crocafellas, Kruger National Park
This playfully titled eatery offers a unique dining experience, primarily because its located right in the centre of one of Africa’s biggest safari locations and suspended above a body of water inhabited by several crocodiles! The menu consists of traditional African bistro dishes, just make sure you’re downwind of the crocs…
3. L’Orange Bleue,Thaba Pitsi Nature Reserve, Limpopo
In total contrast to some of the other restaurants on this list, L’Orange Bleue, located in a popular nature reserve, takes an ultra-casual approach, with laidback, quirky decor and simple yet delicious food. An example is the exquisite Duck Carpaccio with foie gras.
4. The Phatt Chef, Thabo Mofutsanyana
With the abundance of land in Africa, farming is a huge industry and it’s no wonder that steak is one of the specialities on the continent, albeit mainly in the wealthier regions. If it’s steak you’re after then the Phatt chef is your one stop shop for a whole rangeof meats, aged for a minimum of 28 days.
5. Reuben’s, Franschhoek
At first glance, Reuben’s looks like any other generic chain restaurant, yet on closer inspection it emerges as an expert proprietor of fine African flavours, adapted to suit European and US tastes. Standout dishes include the melon soup, veal rack and Franschhoek trout.
6. Angsana Riad Bab Firdaus, Marrakesh
The majestic Bain Firdaus hotel in Morocco houses one of the most renowned eateries in the region, boasting luxurious surroundings and offering the opportunity for dinners to enjoy the ambience of a pool and water feature. Moroccan food is en vogue at the moment, but surprisingly the Baib Firdaus specialises in Thai cuisine.
7. Tamarind, Mombasa
Kenya is one of Africa’s primary tourist destinations, which means it has a wealth of restaurants and bars on offer. One of the finest here is Tamarind; located near a harbour, it is the perfect place to feel in fresh fish, something the restaurant’s chefs specialise in preparing.
8. Abou El Sid, Cairo
Many African cities are populated with restaurants serving Asian food, but for those looking for a true taste of Africa, this eatery in Cairo offers traditional Egyptian classics like Walnut Chicken and pigeon dishes, served in beautiful surroundings, which is perhaps why it is a little more expensive than other Cairo restaurants.
9. The Grazing Room, Johannesburg
Taking inspiration the way that the beasts of the African plains feed, The Grazing Room offers both large and small dishes, akin to a Spanish Tapas restaurant. The signature dish here is said to be the Yorkshire pudding topped with bone marrow and oxtail.
10. The Test Kitchen, Cape Town
The head chef here, Luke Dale-Roberts, makes it clear that he wants to appeal to younger diners. The contemporary theme is reflected in the modern menu, with diverse, flavoursome dishes like Beef Tataki, Pork Belly, and fresh fish.
Joe is a travel blogger and food lover with a particular penchant for African food. He’s looking forward to trying some saltfish when he takes his Caribbean holidays later this year.