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EEating out is a pleasure in Bloemfontein – or Mangaung, as the greater metropolitan municipality of Free State’s provincial capital is now named. There’s something for every taste, whether you’re keen to try boerekos (traditional Afrikaans farm food), urban African township fare, traditional meat and potatoes, fast food with a local twist or world-class designer cuisine.
Those with adventurous palates will enjoy the way Sotho and Afrikaans food traditions merge on a plate. Portions are big, and red meat is the name of the game – so make sure that you arrive at Free State dinner dates feeling enthusiastically carnivorous. Here’s a sample of just 4 food experiences to try:
If you want to meet gregarious locals, visit Get Together on Nelson Mandela Drive. Don’t be put off by the fact that the coffee shop is situated inside a converted car wash attached to a busy petrol station; rather concentrate on the delicious Afrikaans fast food delicacies such as vetkoek (deep-fried fritters filled with spicy mince).
Another way to meet the locals and discover authentic Sotho food (and beer!) is to take a township tour on the Mangaung Cultural Route – you can contact Bloemfontein Tourism for details.
If haute cuisine is more your style, treat yourself at De Oude Kraal Country Estate, 35km south of the city. It is situated on a merino sheep farm dating back to 1885. There are blesbok and black-headed herons in the gardens… and decidedly decadent five-course set menus in the dining room. Free State food traditions are reflected in caramelised sweet potatoes, tamarind- and clove-rich denningvleis lamb and malva pudding, which take starring roles in a gastronomic performance deluxe.
Another treat is Seven on Kellner in Westdene, for reasonably priced Mediterranean-style food. Whether you pick wood-fired pizza or harissa-rubbed lamb loin, you are sure to find comfort and flavour on the plate.
TTravel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Nelson Mandela Drive, College Square, Bloemfontein
Tel: +27 (0)51 444 3179
De Oude Kraal Country Estate
N1, 35km south of Bloemfontein
Tel: +27 (0)51 564 0733
Seven on Kellner
7 Kellner Street, Westdene, Bloemfontein
Tel: +27 (0)51 447 7928
How to get here
Bloemfontein is situated in the central interior of South Africa and is easily accessible via a flight to Bram Fischer International Airport, or on major road networks. The most popular route is along the N1 – the City of Roses is about 400km from Johannesburg and 1 000km from Cape Town.
Best time to visit
Winter is an excellent time to visit Bloemfontein, as days are generally sunny and mild – but you should take along a warm jacket for the evenings.
Self-drive is best; you can hire cars at the airport, or in Cape Town or Jo’burg, if you’re planning a road trip through the country.
Around the area
The observatory, gardens, wildlife park and statue of Nelson Mandela on Naval Hill are well worth a few hours’ visit – the stunning view of the city and surrounding hills is a bonus. The city is also home to several museums and monuments of historical interest, and shopaholics should check out the Loch Logan Waterfront.
What will it cost?
Restaurants vary in price, but expect to pay around R150 for a main meal and a glass of wine. At Get Together, a vetkoek filled with mince will cost you a modest R32.
Length of stay
Two nights and 3 days in Bloemfontein will give you enough time to make the most of the local attractions.
What to pack
Casual elegant gear for eating out at some of the more upmarket restaurants.
Where to stay
There are plenty of city hotels, guesthouses and backpackers available via the listed website, and if you want some variety enquire about township stays.
What to eat
Local boerekos, traditional Sotho food, or ‘chocolate with everything’ in Coco C’s at the Loch Logan Waterfront.
Try out traditional African beer – you’ll find it for sale on the Mangaung Cultural Route.