If you're looking for an unusual dining experience, then look no further than some of the more creative South African restaurants, which see restaurateurs going all out to surprise and delight their customers.

Did you know?

The Goblin’s Cove, a family-style restaurant in the Magaliesberg, lives up to its name. Shaped like a cave with nooks, hollows and chambers, it is filled with artistic images of fairies and goblins at every turn. It’s a fantasy world to delight both adults and children.

In South Africa, you may find yourself dining in a funky converted shipping container or suspended by a crane at a table in the sky. Quirky eating spaces, some of them mobile, are on the rise, adding an element of surprise to your dining experience

The Western Cape is certainly the place to set foodie trends, and popular out-of-the ordinary restaurants in the Winelands include the Green House (which is literally a green house) at Babylonstoren near Paarl, and Waterkloof restaurant near Somerset West, where you can find yourself suspended in space in a glass promontory with an excellent view.

Close to Cape Town's city centre, you will also find the Kitchen, a restaurant that attracted the attention of America's First Lady, Michelle Obama, on a visit to the Cape. It’s a 15-seater lunch and takeaway venue that really does make you feel as if you're eating in owner Karen Dudley's kitchen, with specials such as Love Sandwiches on the menu.

If seafood is your fancy, then book a table in a cave at Bientang's Restaurant in Hermanus, in the Overberg area of the Western Cape. This eatery, partly built in a cave, overlooks the famous Walker Bay, and if whale season is in full swing you might actually be able to spot some of these behemoths from your table.

Freedom Café in Morningside, Durban, makes use of a bright red shipping container extended with glass. The restaurant features bright blocks in primary colours and funky garden-type furniture. Dining at the Cargo Hold at uShaka Marine World could also provide a few thrills – you get to see sharks swimming by as you dine on fine cuisine.

In Johannesburg, the tiny Cube restaurant continues to create waves. It's a place where incredible meals are served in a miniscule space, thanks to super-foodie Dario de Angeli. Another spot that gets the thumbs-up is Blackanese in the Maboneng Precinct, a restaurant that marries the African and Japanese experience (don't forget to try the biltong sushi).

Another trend gathering momentum in South Africa is the mobile, or pop-up, restaurant, which easily lends itself to a great variety of themed events and experiences.

There’s Dinner in the Sky, for example, where a table is lifted by crane into the air for a dinner session. Eat 360, operated by a well-known Johannesburg chef, moves around downtown Johannesburg and fans are alerted to its location by SMS.

In Cape Town, a mobile tea room called Lady Bonin’s Tea Parlour serves organic teas at the Neighbourgoods Market on Saturday mornings, and can be hired for private functions.

The Outlandish Kitchen is another pop-up operation moving around the Cape, utilising the services of local, celebrated chefs and local produce for its dinner programme. Operating countrywide for private functions is Die Wors-rol, serving gourmet pork-sausage rolls.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

The Kitchen
111 Sir Lowry Road, Woodstock, Cape Town
Tel: +27 (0)21 462 2201
Email: info@karendudley.co.za

Freedom Cafe
37 St Mary's Avenue, Greyville, Durban
Tel: +27 (0)31 309 4435
Email: info@the-concierge.co.za
Website: www.tastefreedom.co.za

Best time to visit

Many restaurants in South Africa are closed on Mondays. It's always a good idea to book, though,, especially for the more popular restaurants.

Tours to do

If you're visiting Cape Town, then a visit to the harbour at Kalk Bay is a great way to spend a morning or afternoon. In Johannesburg, the Maboneng Precinct is a great place to hang out, with its funky shops and art galleries.

Get around

Having your own car when visiting South Africa will give you freedom of movement.

What will it cost

Most of the restaurants have menus that can be downloaded off the internet.

What to eat

The Love Sandwich at the Kitchen, prawn cakes at Freedom Café, and the biltong sushi at Blackanese are all a must.

Best buys

Local South African wine to go with your meal.

Related articles