Did you know?
The poaching of abalone (perlemeon in Afrikaans) is an enormous threat to South Africa’s resources of the shellfish.
South African seafood is superb, with a varied assortment of linefish and shellfish available owing to our geographical situation on two oceans – the cold Atlantic and the warm Indian.
Thanks to the Cape Malay influence, pickled and curried fish have become traditional fare, while all South African cultures enjoy fish braais (barbecues). More recently, sushi has become very popular, with a profusion of Asian-style restaurants and fast-food outlets across the country.
The overfishing of our waters is a pressing concern and initiatives such as the Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (SASSI) are welcomed. SASSI has introduced a colour-coded system to indicate to consumers when a fish is endangered or unsustainable – green indicates the product has been responsibly harvested and can be eaten freely; orange shows that the species may be threatened; and red denotes that it should not be touched. SASSI Restaurant Supporters will have the initiative’s logo on view in their restaurants. Support this initiative by checking the status of fish before ordering or eating.
South Africa boasts an impressive range of establishments offering seafood, from high-end exclusive eateries to countrywide restaurant chains (Ocean Basket; Cape Town Fish Market; John Dory’s) to seaside takeaway kiosks that do the freshest of no-frills hake and chips.
Coastal cities score high marks for quality fish eateries. In the Mother City, the Black Marlin in Simon's Town, Kalky’s in Kalk Bay and Panama Jacks in the Table Bay harbour are worth a try. There are also a number of restaurants specialising in fish at the V&A Waterfront, as well as in the fishing villages of the West Coast, such as Paternoster.
On the Garden Route, the Robberg Seafood Safari in Knysna and Plettenberg Bay has a good reputation, while Durban’s Glenashley Fisheries, Café 1999 and New Café Fish are recommended.
Inland, Johannesburg’s Fishmonger in Illovo is packed on a nightly basis, while Montego Bay Seafood Restaurant, Sushi & Oyster Bar on Nelson Mandela Square does brisk business. Portuguese, Mozambican and Brazilian restaurants in general are renowned for excellent shellfish.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Johannesburg: Tel: +27 (0)11 655 1300
KwaZulu-Natal: Tel: +27 (0)31 569 5871
Cape Town: Tel: +27 (0)21 54 3780
Kalk Bay harbour
Tel: +27 (0)21 788 1726
Tel: +27 (0)21 448 1080
Cape Town Fish Market
Tel: +27 (0)83 4002 005
Best time to visit
Most seafood restaurants are open for lunch and dinner from Tuesday through Sunday (although some are open on Mondays). Generally, South African kitchens close early – around 9pm. Information on times is available on the various websites. It's always a good idea to book beforehand.
Around the area
Book a charter-boat adventure when visiting South Africa's coastal cities.
What will it cost
Prices depend on the establishment, but the average cost of a seafood platter these days is in the region of R120 to R150 (which will often feed two people), while a hake and chips will set you back about R45. Prawns and crayfish are often offered as SQ items on menus.
Where to stay
If you are visiting Cape Town, then book a guest house or B&B in Kalk Bay or Hout Bay and enjoy watching the fishing boats come in. The West Coast is very well known for its seafood, and there are numerous B&Bs and boutique hotels along the coastline.
What to eat
You can't visit the coast without ordering a groaning seafood platter (mussels, calamari, linefish and prawns) with a view of the ocean and a glass of the Cape's own Sauvignon Blanc.