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IIt’s often worth it leaving behind the big lights and taking a road trip to explore small-town cuisine, or even making a trip of it and spending a night or two and exploring what else is on offer. Here are some of our best small-town food stops.
Diesel and Creme, Barrydale
This Barrydale treasure trove combines quirky décor and great road trip cuisine. From rubber duckies lining the kitchen pass, bicycles hanging from the ceiling and old-time petrol pumps out front, Diesel and Creme offers warm, fresh food to passersby and visitors of the Karoo Moon Motel.
Tuck into one of their warming lamb curries or go American with a homemade burger. They recently reached their own personal record of making 516 milkshakes in one day, and it’s worth relaxing with an ever-popular Diesel and Crème gourmet milkshake while you take in the views across the Barrydale Valley before embarking on your journey.
TThe Windmill, Hartebeespoort
While the Jasmyn farm stall may be voted Trip Advisor’s “Number 1 thing to do” in Haartebeespoort, it’s the Windmill Restaurant that has frequent travellers coming back for more. It’s housed inside an old giant windmill, and visitors can enjoy a Dutch-inspired lunch to the sound of a nearby babbling brook. The apple pie with cream comes highly recommended.
After lunch take advantage of the farm stall, which is open until 5:30pm daily. Here you can shop for farm fresh produce at a fraction of the cost of city shops, before heading back to the big smoke.
Oude Post Bistro, Buffeljagsrivier
If you’re going anywhere near the Eastern Cape, be sure to stop at Oude Post Bistro for their delicious, freshly roasted roosterkoeks. They sell hundreds a day, and between 800 and 1 300 freshly rolled and roasted roosterkoeks leave the kiosk each day.
Go traditional with apricot jam and cheese or get “fancy” with one of their weekly new flavours. It’s the perfect touch of “braai” on your road trip. Watch the ladies roll and roast the buns on the hot fires out back or peruse the deli while you wait for your order.
SSpringbok Lodge, Springbok
Springbok’s very own gemstone- and crystal-filled, number plate-lined, daisy placemat café, Springbok Lodge, has been at the heart of the Cape Town-Namibian journey for more than 20 years.
In fact, a visit to Springbok just isn’t the same without a tour of the giant gemstones, desert roses and sparkly crystals in the lodge’s reception area. Pop by for a classic burger and chips, ice-cold cooldrink or road trip snacks as you make your way through the Namaqualand.
The Marmalade Cat, Darling
Home to Tannie Evita, Darling is a wonderful hub of flora, farming, arts and culture. Wake up to the sounds of red bishops outside your window before strolling into the charming town for brunch. Pop into The Marmalade Cat for a bite to eat while enjoying their toasted or freshly baked goods. How do you know it’s The Marmalade Cat? The ginger kitty outside of course! The restaurant also offers thoughtful gifts and knick-knacks for easy access to country crafts.
Pickles and Things, Dullstroom
Though you’ll find several spots in Dullstroom dishing up trout and pancakes, Pickles and Things, in the heart of this town, shines for its hearty breakfasts like the Dullies (eggs, bacon, tomato and smoked trout fillet), gourmet sandwiches, and fantastic burgers. The coffee is good, and in autumn and winter, log fires (almost synonymous with Dullstroom) keep out the chill.
TThe Blind Pig, Wilderness
Pop in for a gin tasting at the Blind Pig and Bootlegger Brewery. Nestled around a bend off the N2 in Wilderness, the Blind Pig offers 12 craft beers on tap, including Darling Brew and Fraser Folly Pilsner. You can also tuck into their bottled options including CBC Amber Weiss, Kudu Lager and Devil’s Peak Pale Ale.
If you’re not crazy about beer, but don’t want to feel excluded, try the delicious Moerkoffie Condensed Milk Stout on tap, or Everson’s Pomegranate Cider for something quite unique. It can get busy on long weekends so book ahead or try your luck during the off season to enjoy your visit at a leisurely pace, while getting the best service away from the crowds.
The Franschhoek Station Pub, Franschhoek
Franschhoek may be the cuisine capital of the Western Cape, but not everyone who visits the town is in pursuit of a Michelin-style meal. The Franschhoek Station Pub is a gastropub in the heart of the village that plays host to many a visitor looking to keep their eye on the rugby match, and enjoy a few cold pints and a hot meal with friends and family. Try their huge burgers, chicken-strip baskets or waffles for comfort eating at its best.
Clarens Brewery, Clarens
There are lots of eateries to choose from in this Free State town, but Clarens Brewery is a good stop for craft beer lovers, where you can taste, drink and buy their own brewed beer. Even if you’re not into beer, you can tuck into platters of German sausages, cold meats, relishes, pickles, gherkins and olives. Their deep-fried chips served with tomato sauce and mayo are almost worth a visit alone.