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Top 10 Restaurants in Africa & the Indian Ocean Islands

Africa is a vast continent with a very diverse cultural heritage. Add the tropical Indian Ocean isles along its eastern coastline and you have a foodie treasure trove of flavours and culinary traditions. The continent’s contemporary chefs are turning this fusion heritage into an art form on a par with the iconic cuisine of London, Paris, Sydney and New York.

The illustrious World’s 50 Best Restaurants and its offshoot, the Diners Club Global Selection, includes no less than five restaurants in Africa – four of them in South Africa’s gastronomy capital, Cape Town. Here’s our selection of the Top 10 Restaurants that should be on every foodie's Africa must-do list.

Top 10 Restaurants in Africa - Tasting Room staff
The Tasting Room made the World's 50 Best Restaurants list again in 2013.
Top 10 Restaurants in Africa - Tasting Room
The food is 'creative but well-conceived and unpretentious'.

1. The Tasting Room, Franschhoek

In 2013, Chef Margot Janse’s The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Francais made the Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants list for the eighth time. The judges described the menu as taking “diners on a gourmet safari”. Traveller reviews describe the 9-course dinner served over a comfortable 3-hours as “an experience, not a meal” and the dishes as “creative but well-conceived and unpretentious”. Janse has chosen flavours and local ingredients that celebrate South Africa’s culinary heritage in a deliciously stylized way. The waiters guide their guests through each course, explaining Janse’s quirky local references and the perfectly paired South African wines. According to a recent review, The Tasting Room is a gourmet experience “worth travelling to the ends of the earth for!”

Foodie notes:

  • Trip Advisor: Certificate of Excellence 2013 and 78% recommend it.
  • Location: Le Quartier Francais in Franschhoek, Cape Winelands.
  • Operating hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 19h00 till late.
  • Reservations: Recommended  Contact: res@lqf.co.za

 

Top 10 Restaurants in Africa - The Greenhouse
The Greenhouse in Constantia serves up exceptional dishes, from sumptuous desserts to game fish, wild oysters and venison.
Top 10 Restaurants in Africa - The Greenhouse head chef
Chef Van Der Walt on the pass.
Top 10 Restaurants in Africa - The Greenhouse dining
The Greenhouse is situated in a charming Cape Dutch homestead.

2. The Greenhouse, Constantia

The Greenhouse is as elegant and unpretentious as its superb pedigree. Located in The Cellars-Hohenort Hotel, a member of ‘The Collection by Liz McGrath’, it is one of five Relais & Chateaux restaurants under the executive direction of Master Chef Peter Templehoff. Chef Gerald van der Walt is on the pass, delivering progressive South African cuisine that travellers describe as “a once in a lifetime experience – a delicious work of art.” The Wild tasting menu features traditional ingredients like Springbok and Ostrich, alongside seafood favourites like game fish and wild oysters. The wine list is short but excellent, and the waiters discreet and informative. Dining at the Greenhouse is a theatrical experience staged in a stately Cape Dutch homestead surrounded by beautiful landscaped gardens.

Foodie notes:

 

Top 10 Restaurants in Africa - The Overture
Overture is an innovative feast of local, seasonal ingredients.
Top 10 Restaurants in Africa - The Overture dining
The wine pairings celebrate Stellenbosch's best cellars.

3. Overture, Stellenbosch

Chef Bertus Basson’s Overture proudly took its place on the 2013 Diners Club World's 50 Best Restaurants Academy’s ‘Global Selection’. Basson’s contemporary South African menu is an innovative feast of local, seasonal ingredients, ensuring that the tasting menus evolve with the seasons. Travellers describe the restaurant as “utterly charming”, and the flavours as “unforgettable” with “touches of genius”. The waiters are friendly and attentive, and the wine pairing a heavenly testament to local cellars. If you want to see Basson in action, book a seat at the counter overlooking the kitchen. You won’t witness any Ramsay-esque drama, but you’ll be mesmerized watching this master chef at work with his passionate team.

Foodie notes:

  • Trip Advisor: Certificate of Excellence 2013 and 88% recommend it.
  • Location: Hidden Valley Wines, Stellenbosch, in the Cape Winelands, 40-minutes outside Cape Town.
  • Operating hours: Lunch (a la Carte) Wednesday - Sunday from 12h00 and dinner Thursday, Friday & Saturday from 19h00.
  • Reservations: Recommended  Contact: info@dineatoverture.co.za

 

Top 10 Restaurants in Africa - The Test Kitchen
The Test Kitchen won the coveted 2013 Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants 'One to Watch' award.
Top 10 Restaurants in Africa - The Test Kitchen dessert
Quite simply - art on a plate!
Top 10 Restaurants in Africa - The Test Kitchen gourmet
An innovative menu shows off Chef Dale-Roberts culinary style.

4. The Test Kitchen, Cape Town

British-born Chef Luke Dale-Roberts rose to fame at Constantia’s La Colombe restaurant. In 2013, his venture The Test Kitchen - located in Cape Town -  won the coveted Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants ‘One to Watch’ award. Dale-Roberts’ culinary style is best described as international, eclectic fusion. His restaurant is casually elegant, a focused, industrial space for the creation of fine foodie art – similarly, the waiters are attentive without being fussy. Travellers said: “The food was beautiful! Art on a plate and tasted divine” and “adventurous without being over the top – truly outstanding!” Superb wine pairings showcase the best of South African wineries alongside an innovative cocktail menu. Treat yourself to near perfection on the tasting menu or select something sublime from the a la carte options.

Foodie notes:

  • Trip Advisor: Certificate of Excellence 2013 and 95% recommend it.
  • Location: The Old Biscuit Mill, Cape Town.
  • Operating hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 12h30-14h00 and 19h00-21h00.
  • Reservations: Recommended  Contact: reservations@thetestkitchen.co.za

 

Top 10 Restaurants in Africa - DW-Eleven-13
The menu features superb seasonal ingredients.
Top 10 Restaurants in Africa - DW-Eleven-13 chef
Chef Marthinus Ferreira takes a modern approach to South African cuisine.

5. DW-Eleven-13, Johannesburg

DW-eleven-13 has a menu as original as its name – which refers to its Dunkeld West address in Johannesburg. Chef Marthinus Ferreira’s modern take on South African cuisine plays with layers of flavour to highlight his favourite seasonal ingredients. Both the a la carte and tasting menus change with the seasons, and the wine list features some of the best small cellars in the country. Ferreira’s restaurant has a sophisticated ambience but welcoming ambience. Travellers said, “Close your eyes and savour each mouthful of sublime flavours.” The waiters are friendly and explain the menu with great charm. A recent reviewer said: “I love it when a restaurant surpasses my expectations!”

Foodie notes:

  • Trip Advisor: Certificate of Excellence 2013 and 95% recommend it.
  • Location: Dunkeld West Shopping Centre, Dunkeld West, Johannesburg
  • Operating hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 12h00-14h30 and 18h30-22h00.
  • Reservations: Recommended  Contact: info@dw11-13.co.za

 

Top 10 Restaurants in Africa - Le Chateau dining
Authentic Mauritian cuisine with a fusion flair.
Top 10 Restaurants in Africa - Le Chateau
Expect fresh, local flavours and silver service.

6. Le Chateau de Bel Ombre, Mauritius

Le Château De Bel Ombre, located near the Southwest coast of Mauritius,offers authentic Mauritian cuisine in a romantic and beautifully restored colonial mansion dating back to the 1800s. The à la carte fusion menu is a testament to the talented chefs, who combine traditional sensibilities with modern techniques to produce dishes like pheasant terrine with tamarind confit. Their sterling efforts are complemented by silver service and a very pleasing wine list. Travellers said: “The food was wonderful! Beautiful surroundings and impeccable staff.” and, “we loved it!” Every Saturday is Mauritian Night, when the kitchen showcases an authentic island feast. Booking a table on the balcony or in the French garden is highly recommended – if the restaurant is busy and the kitchen a little slow, simply relax and soak up the natural beauty of the estate around you.

Foodie notes:

  • Trip Advisor: 72% recommend it.
  • Location: Domaine de Bel Ombre, Southwest Mauritius
  • Operating hours: Monday – Saturday, 19h00 - 23h00.
  • Reservations: Recommended  Contact: +230 623 5522

 

Top 10 Restaurants in Africa - Cafe des Arts
This festive restaurant celebrates both European and Creole flavours.
Top 10 Restaurants in Africa - Cafe des Arts wine
The menu is perfectly complemented by the heavenly setting.

7. Café des Arts, Praslin, Seychelles

Seychelles has not always enjoyed the best reputation for gastronomy, but restaurants like Café Des Arts on Praslin Island are putting this island nation back on the foodie map. Café des Arts is an unapologetically festive restaurant set on one of the world’s most beautiful beaches, Cote d'Or. Italian and French gourmet sensibilities meander into spicy Creole territory on this menu with dishes like octopus gratin with lobster and tuna carpaccio with a caper, garlic, and olive oil dip. The wine list is excellent, the desserts are decadent, and the service friendly. Lunch is light and informal, served on wooden deck on the sand. Travellers describe Café Des Arts as: “the most romantic restaurant in the Seychelles!” and the food as “very good – the portions are large so we shared a starter and dessert but splurged on a rather good wine recommended to us.” A definite island stop for foodies.

Foodie notes:

  • Trip Advisor: Certificate of Excellence 2013 and 81% recommend it.
  • Location: Cote d'Or, on Praslin IslandSeychelles
  • Operating hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 12h00 – 15h00 and 19h00 - 22h00.
  • Reservations: Recommended  Contact: +248 423 2252

 

Top 10 Restaurants in Africa - Al Fassia
Al Fassia: where Moroccans eat Morocco's traditional cuisine.

8. Al Fassia, Marrakech, Morocco

If you eat Moroccan food in Morocco, it’s best to trust the locals’ choice, and Al Fassia is it. It’s worth noting that local patrons order Al Fassia’s famous mechoui (roast leg of lamb) in advance of their dinner reservations! Most Moroccan restaurants insist on serving you a buffet feast, but Al Fassia allows guests to choose from an a la carte menu. Service is polite and fast, and there is a decent wine list. A recent traveller said: “Delicious food in generous portions and surprisingly affordable”. The restaurant is modern and elegant with crisp white tablecloths, but we recommend booking a table in the gorgeous garden, a romantic oasis away from the bustle of the city. For superb traditional fare in a beautiful setting, Al Fassia is a must-do for foodies exploring Morocco.

Foodie notes:

  • Trip Advisor: Certificate of Excellence 2013 and 85% recommend it.
  • Location: Guéliz, Marrakech
  • Operating hours: Wednesday – Monday, 08h30 – 20h00.
  • Reservations: Recommended  Contact: +212 524 434060

 

Top 10 Restaurants in Africa - La Domaine
The khoi pond setting is spectacular at night.
Top 10 Restaurants in Africa - La Domaine cuisine
The menu at Domaine Anna is extensive and generous.

9. Domaine Anna Restaurant, Mauritius

Mauritius's Domaine Anna is most spectacular in the evenings when torches line the long drive way and tables are set in softly lit gazebos on the khoi ponds, surrounded by lush landscaped gardens. Most of the fresh ingredients on the Chinese menu come from Chef Hang’s own estate and the wine list is very decent. Something of a self-taught visionary, Hang Leung Pah Hang set out to enchant every sense at Domaine Anna: it’s a truly magical venue with great gastronomy. Travellers said: “Be sure to sit outside - the tables are great for families and romantics.” An extensive menu with generous portions, Hang’s waiters are friendly and helpful, quick to explain a dish or bring an extra table to accommodate your order, as one reviewer found out: “The seafood platter was so big they had to bring over another table!”

Foodie notes:

  • Trip Advisor: Certificate of Excellence 2013 and 68% recommend it.
  • Location: Médine, Flic en Flac, Mauritius
  • Operating hours: Tuesday - Sunday, 11h30 – 14h30 and 18h30 – 22h30.
  • Reservations: Recommended       Contact: +230 453 9650

 

Top 10 Restaurants in Africa - The Carnivore
The Carnivore is a must-do on Nairobi stopovers.
Top 10 Restaurants in Africa - The Carnivore staff
A spirit of joyful chaos and generous waiters rule the feast.

10. Carnivore, Nairobi, Kenya

The Carnivore - located in Kenya's capital Nairobi - has been a staple on tourist itineraries since 1980. The atmosphere is informal and joyfully chaotic, with waiters rushing between a central roasting pit and guest tables, delivering freshly carved and succulent roast meat direct to your plate. Alongside a delicious selection of side dishes and ingenious sauces, this ‘beast of a feast’ includes lamb, pork spare ribs, ostrich, crocodile and beef, all roasted on traditional Masai swords. A selection of desserts and famous Kenyan coffee complete the menu. Travellers said: “the atmosphere is such fun – the place is dimly lit, except for the BBQ pit, which creates a real medieval banquet atmosphere!” Generous portions, friendly service and theatrical décor make the Carnivore a dining adventure.

Foodie notes:

  • Trip Advisor: Certificate of Excellence 2013 and 65% recommend it.
  • Location: Langata Road in NairobiKenya
  • Operating hours: Monday to Sunday, lunch and dinner.
  • Reservations: Recommended 
  • Contact: reservations.carnivore@tamarind.co.ke

 

Written by Donyale MacKrill. Connect with her on Google+

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