Traditional South African food

Delicious delights of the table
African food is colourful, interesting and alien to most visitors. It also tastes terrific. A well-prepared local meal can be a highlight of your trip to South Africa. Many restaurants specialise in the cuisine of the continent and serve a good variety of traditional African dishes.

Trying some delicious traditional African food should be part of every visitor’s itinerary. A number of specialised restaurants in South Africa do an excellent job of serving both modern and traditional African food. Each dish reflects one or more of the different cultural influences found across the continent.

Traditional African food is generally cooked over an open fire or in a three-legged pot (or potjie), so meat tends to be served in either stewed or grilled form. A starch usually accompanies the meat: mieliepap (maize porridge), potatoes or rice. Beetroot, carrots, cabbage and pumpkin are the vegetables most commonly served. Typical South African dishes include tripe, morogo, chakalaka, amadumbe, and the ubiquitous boerewors roll.

Tripe is a traditional treat favoured by most Africans. In the Cape it is considered a regional delicacy and is often served lightly curried with small new potatoes and fried onions.

Morogo is a type of wild spinach. Combined with butter-braised onions and tomato or mixed into maize porridge, it is a rural ingredient with mainstream appeal. Amadumbe is a sweet potato and peanut mash. A tasty restaurant variation of the dish is to cook sweet potatoes, mash them with butter and sprinkle them with roasted peanuts, topped off with a drizzle of honey.

Chakalaka is a spicy relish served alongside a main course and consists of grated carrots, green peppers, sliced onion, vinegar, chilli and that secret ingredient that will distinguish it from anyone else’s.

The boerewors roll is pure South African cuisine – our tastier answer to New York’s hot dogs. At a roadside stand, boerewors (a variety of spicy sausage) is char-grilled over an open-flame then placed into a bun and covered in mustard and tomato sauce. Delicious!

Other local favourites include a wide variety of delectable Cape Malay dishes, biltong and sweet delicacies such as the koeksister and melktert.

Grilled chicken feet and heads – known as walkie-talkies – are a popular dish in rural South Africa.

Abysinia:

Tel: +27 (0) 72 918 8824
Address: Cnr Queens and Langerman Streets, Kensington, Johannesburg, Gauteng

Zemara:

Tel: +27 (0) 72 756 2057
Address: 223 Schoeman Street, Arcadia, Pretoria, Gauteng

Hantam Huis:

Tel: +27 (0) 27 341 1606
Address: 44 Hope Street, Calvinia, Northern Cape

Gramadoelas:

Tel: +27 (0) 11 838 6960
Address: Market Theatre Complex, Bree Street, Newtown, Johannesburg, Gauteng

Ile Maurice:

Tel: +27 (0) 31 561 7609
Address: 9 McCausland Crescent, Umhlanga, KwaZulu Natal

Mzoli’s Place:

Tel: +27 (0) 21 638 1355
Address: Shop 3 NY115 & NY108, Gugulethu, Western Cape

Restaurant Ivorian:

Tel: +27 (0) 11 487 0885, +27 (0) 82 743 6537
Address: 8 Francis Street, Yeoville, Johannesburg, Gauteng

Addis in Cape:

Tel: +27 (0) 21 424 5722
Address: 41 Church Street, Cape Town CBD, Western Cape

Moyo:

Tel +27 (0) 11 684 1477
Address: Shop 5, The High Street, Melrose Arch, Johannesburg, Gauteng

The Cape Malay Restaurant:

Tel: +27 (0) 11 684 1477
Address: 93 Brommersvlei Road, Constantia, Cape Town, Western Cape

You will find traditional African and South African restaurants in all major cities and most larger towns across the country.

Anytime. Like food traditions the world over, African food changes with the seasons: open-air grilling is popular in summer; hearty stews and soups in winter.

Most restaurants serving traditional African food are very reasonably priced. Traditional street food, such as boerewors rolls, is even cheaper.

An open-mind; traditional African food may not always sound, or even look, that good, but it's all delicious.

Start your African food experience with a boerewors roll or some grilled meats; then move on to the more challenging dishes.