With the Knysna Oyster Festival in full swing, a celebration of fine food and wine and fun, it’s only natural that this latest post focus on this foodie-favoured region. The Garden Route may be all about the scenery, but don’t forget to check out the food scene, too! This part of South Africa is renowned for its restaurants plating up sumptuous meals with a large side of small-town charm. Take a look at our top picks for restaurants along the Garden Route:
Zinzi Restaurant, Tsala Treetop Lodge, Plettenberg Bay
First up is the restaurant at Tsala Treetop Lodge. Found between Knysna and Plett and surrounded by forest, Zinzi offers the perfect setting in which to enjoy its exotic menu. Not only do its chefs construct masterpieces on your plate, but the surrounding architecture and interior design are considered masterpieces in themselves. Try their Garden Route mussels to start and their Lebanese line fish for the main event. Bonus: there’s a children’s menu, too!
Emily Moon Hotel, Plettenberg Bay
Emily Moon, found at Emily Moon River Lodge, is a quirky and beautiful space, filled with trinkets from around the world. Their unusual menu is full of fresh and homegrown ingredients with starter menu items including salt and pepper crispy calamari and home-cured venison carpaccio. Our favourite main plates are their herb-crusted lamb rack and braised pork belly. To finish, we suggest their traditional malva pudding or their cheese board comprised of locally-sourced cheeses and preserves.
Cruise Cafe, Knysna
What is a visit to Knysna without freshly shucked oysters? Cruise Cafe has the wonderful combination of a stunning lagoon-side deck and top-notch service. It’s known for its fresh seafood and excellent wine selection and is a terrific place to have a bite to eat or a cocktail before taking the Featherbed Paddle Cruiser to the Heads. The chef’s choice has to be their prawn tempura served with Chinese veg noodles.
The Girls, Wilderness
You’d be forgiven for driving past The Girls Restaurant as you travel along the N2 through Wilderness, but you’d be very sorry you did! This African-themed and award-winning restaurant has some of the best food in the Garden Route. Menu highlights range from their deconstructed steak tartare to their extensive range of prawn dishes (prawns being their speciality).
Salinas Beach Restaurant, Wilderness
Salinas admit that if they were any closer to the sea they’d be in it. Found right on Wilderness Beach, Salinas has a seemingly endless menu with their calamari and aged sirloin a guaranteed lip-smacker. While feasting your eyes on the magnificent view, why not also feast on their South Indian Fish Curry or their Fish Thermador?
Some would say we’ve saved the best for last (well, I think so, anyway). Overlooking the Knysna Lagoon, Sirocco is a popular hangout by local and visitor standards. Insider’s tip – ask about the catch of the day, they’re often some of the best meals. Sushi and flatbread-style pizzas are also on the menu, and upstairs at The Project Bar, you can’t go wrong with oysters and champagne.
Have we missed some of your favourite food spots along the ever-green Garden Route? Let us know in the comments section below!