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IIn 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 Est Est Alea tasting 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.
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.
TTravel tips & planning info
Who to contact
Refer to restaurant websites below.
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.
Around the area
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.