South African cuisine is just as diverse as its cultures, with influences from British, Dutch, German, Indian, Malay, Portuguese, Greek, Italian and of course the native African influences.
- Braaivleis, meat roasted over an open wood or charcoal fire, is very popular and generally done at weekend social events. The act of roasting the meat as well as the social event is referred to as a braai.
- Pap, a porridge made with corn meal. Slappap (runny porridge), is smooth and often eaten as a breakfast porridge, Stywepap (stiff porridge) has a doughy and more lumpy consistency and is often used as a replacement for rice or other starches. “Krummel” pap also called umphokoqo (crumby porridge) is drier, resembles couscous and is often served at a braai covered in a saucy tomato and onion relish called sous.
- Potjiekos, a meat and vegetable stew made in a cast iron pot over an open fire. A favorite at braais.
- Boerewors, a spicy sausage. Boerewors Rolls are hotdog buns with boerewors rather than hotdogs, traditionally garnished with an onion and tomato relish.
- Biltong and Droëwors, seasoned meat or sausage that has been dried. Beef, game and ostrich meat is often used. A favourite at sports events and while travelling.
- Bunny chows, half a loaf of bread with the inside replaced by lamb or beef curry, a speciality of the Indian community in Durban.
- Bobotie, meatloaf with a Cape Malay influence, seasoned with curry and spices, topped with a savoury custard.
- Morogo, a wild spinach on its own or with potato. Sometimes served with pap.
- Waterblommetjiebredie, mutton and indigenous water lily stew.
- Masonja, for the culinary adventurer, fried Mopanie worms.
- Melktert, “milk tart”, a milk-based dessert.
- Koeksisters, a deep-fried sticky dessert.
- Vetkoek, deep fried dough ball made from flour, served with curry mince or apricot jam.
You will find the usual array of international fast food outlets. McDonald’s, KFC, Domino’s Pizza and Wimpy are found throughout the country.
Local franchises worth mentioning are Black Steer, Spur and Steers for the best burgers and Nando’s peri-peri chicken. Chicken Licken is also a very popular choice for the locals, especially for their hot wings.
Pizza delivery is available in most urban areas whereby food can be ordered online with places such as Domino’s Pizza and Debonairs.
If you want keep to a budget and not bother with cooking, everywhere all supermarkets chains have a deli, bakery and kitchen sections providing a wide range of ready to eat meals and sandwiches or you can choose yourself from the hot buffet or salad bar. These items are sold by weight at reasonable prices.
- Seafood franchises like Ocean Basket and Fishaways specialise in seafood, either to eat in or take away. Inland, due to the distances from the coast, fresh fish dishes are not easily found. However near rivers, some establishments offer what’s regionally available. In coastal cities and towns, the situation is reversed with Cape Town and Durban being particularly good in having a choice of excellent seafood establishments at their respective waterfronts.
- Vegetarian and Vegan fast food and sit in outlets or restaurants are quite popular in urban South Africa, the Kauai franchise usually present in shopping malls and CBDs amongst other places, lead the way in variety, quality and keen pricing. Another source of affordable ready made such meals, can be found at supermarket chains like Fruit&Veg, Woolworths, Pick & Pay, Spar or Checkers, while a growing number of regular restaurants will also cater for such diets.
- Kosher and Halal dietary requirements are well known in SA. In areas with reasonable to high concentration of Jewish and Muslim populations, is quite easy to find restaurants, butcheries and supermarkets catering for these needs. In other areas, it may require searching to ascertain their existence or a Jewish or Muslim person can always contact their nearest respective religious place of worship or organization for enquires.
Milk is widely available at most supermarkets, but bottled orange juice not-from-concentrate is much, much harder to find than in North America. Most South African retailers carry only orange juice reconstituted from concentrate or orange juice blended with other juices or milk. Soft drinks like Coca-Cola and Pepsi are widely available, though.
The legal age to purchase and drink alcohol in South Africa is 18. Almost all restaurants are licensed to serve liquor.
Witblits or Mampoer are locally distilled under the auspices of the Department of Agriculture, and allocated a manufacturers’ licence. They are safe and enjoyable to consume and does not resemble the names for moonshine or firewater. The alcohol content is controlled by the Department, so is the quality.
Local beer production is dominated by SABMiller with Castle, Hansa, Black Label and Castle Milk Stout being most popular brands. There are also Micro Breweries all over South Africa. Imported beers such as Stella Artois and Grolsch or Laurentina, are also widely available. The Namibian Windhoek brand beers are also popular and generally available.
Prices can vary widely depending on the establishment. Expect to pay R25 for a 0.5 L beer (July 2017).
South Africa has a well established wine industry with most of the wine produced concentrated in the Cape Winelands in the Western Cape and along the Orange River in the Northern Cape. Wine is plentiful throughout the country and prices remain affordable, with 750ml bottles of a really good red starting from R100 and Chardonnay from R90. Good quality wines in bulk are also available in 5L and 3L cartons. A 3L of good red will cost about R110 and a 3L Chardonnay, about R95. Prices are not fixed, it pays to shop around for good deals.
Amarula Cream is made from the marula fruit. The marula fruit is a favourite treat for African elephants, baboons and monkeys and in the liqueur form definitely not something to be passed over by humans. Pour over crushed ice and enjoy. The taste, colour and texture is very similar to Baileys Irish Cream. Cape Velvet is a favourite in and around Cape Town.
Tea and coffee:
The local Rooibos tea, made from a herb from the Cederberg Mountains is a favorite for many South Africans. You will find coffee shops in most shopping malls, such as Mugg&Bean and House of Coffees. Coffee shops similar in concept to Starbucks, like Seattle Coffee Company and Vida e Caffe (Portuguese themed), are becoming commonplace.