Best and Worst Food in South Africa

Information about the best and worst foods in South Africa.

Tasting the foods and drinks of a country can be a memorable highlight (or mental scar) for any traveler.

Please submit your impression of the best and worst foods that a traveler should try in South Africa. What is it made out of? What does it taste like? Where is the best place to find it in South Africa? What foods or drinks should be avoided at all cost?

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March 19th, 2009

In South Africa it's mandatory to identify veg options on menus but a great deal of the best food revolves around meat.

(1) Boerwoers and other braii (SA BBQ) meat - attempt to get it from a butcher not a grocery store for much better seasoning and quality. Well marinated chops are the other braii classic you can't miss. Pap and vliess is traditional to accompany the meal, which done properly amounts to several courses of meat over several hours with friends.

(2) Biltong - somewhat like raw beef jerky, the traditional after-bar treat. Ostrich biltong is a good variation.

(3) Nandos - the sides are unexciting but the chicken itself is truly lekker, peri peri if you like it hot. Also, KFC in SA is surprisingly less gross than North America and a vice of many.

(4) Steers. Steers is how fast food should be. The Avo and Macon (bacon) burger is always in my heart.

(5) Melktart, rusks, koek sisters and anything else an Afrikaans bakery stocks. Rusks are my favorite, essentially dried cake eaten with morning coffee or rooiboos tea. Oumas at the grocery store will do, but the magic comes in delving into freshly baked buttermilk rusks.

(6) PIES. You can get fairly high end savory pies of many kinds and there are entire franchises selling mid range pockets of puff pastry meat delightfulness. I have heard of, but never found, breakfast pies. For gastro renegades, get a milky grey filled cheese burger pie at a truckstop along the way and brace yourself for the terrible deliciousness.

(7) Bunny Chow - half a loaf of bread filled with curry, an edible take away. Indian street food in Durban CBD, in general, is memorable and safer than other countries due to SA food standards. The curry available in markets there is worth taking home.

(8) Boboti - traditionally Afrikaans but somewhat of a fusion food as it incorporates meat pie and chutney into something resembling shepherd's pie.

(9) Although not requested, the following are regional: springboks (creme de menthe and amarula, a sweet baileys-like alcohol), klippies and coke (south african brandy), and cane trains (cheap cane liquor shots chased with green cream soda). The beer, wine and cider are equally memorable and worth investigating.

Obviously it's a huge land mass and every province has different things to choose from. The Eastern Cape has an abundance of Calamari and a few places with fantastic sushi; the North has avocados and oranges. Jo'burg and Cape Town have world class restaurants at down market prices, many put European chefs to shame - definitely a country to budget to eat out.

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