What to eat and drink in South Africa

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South Africa’s culinary diversity reflects its multicultural society, ranging from pan-African cuisine to seafood and steaks in globally acclaimed restaurants, so eating is an excellent way to the heart of the Rainbow Nation.

The Cape was the birthplace of South African cuisine, but KwaZulu-Natal is important too: there were migrants from other African countries, British colonialist settlers, Indian indentured laborers and Mauritians who planted exotic fruits and introduced spicy tomato sauces. Learning the cultural influences that abound in South African cuisine leads to exciting explorations of the country’s many specialties. 

Squeeze every moment out of your next vacation with tips and tricks from Lonely Planet in our weekly newsletter delivered to your inbox. Colorful barbecue braai: plates containing chicken, steak, boerewors salad and coleslaw, laid out and ready to eat on tableSouth Africa’s beloved braais are feasts of barbecued meat and vegetables, grilled over charcoal or wood © Getty Images / iStockphoto

1. Braai the beloved country

South Africa’s beloved braais are feasts of barbecued meat and vegetables, grilled over charcoal or wood. Gas would be sacrilege, as there’s a culture of camaraderie around the ritual of cooking a curly boerewors (spiced beef sausage) and steaks over the coals, ideally accompanied by a braaibroodjie (toasted cheese, tomato and onion sandwich).

Whether toasting the evening with a brandewyn en Coke or flipping chicken on a shisha nyama (township braai), most locals love cooking chops and mealies in a grid.

Where to try it: The best option is to hit a small-town slaghuis (butcher), pick up some Blitz firelighters and braai at your campsite or farmstay. Casual “bush pubs” are good places to try a braai, as are steakhouses such as the Hussar Grill chain (try the flagship in Rondebosch, Cape…

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