Going Gourmet on South Africa’s Garden Route
The Garden Route is one of South Africa's top destinations.
With charming seaside towns framed by indigenous forests and wide sweeps of golden sand, it is easy to see why the Garden Route offers one of the most beautiful road trips in South Africa. But look beyond the gorgeous scenery and you will also find food and drink lovers' hotspots: from cool climate vineyards to artisan cheese producers offering an authentic taste of the region. For your next road trip, add these six stops to the menu…
Grab a coffee
First, fuel up for the road at one of the many artisan roasters in the region. On the outskirts of George look for the eye-catching yellow signage of Elvis Brew, where you can enjoy your flat white overlooking the George airport runway. Or drive another 20 minutes to the town of Wilderness, and The Green Shed Coffee Roastery. It’s been a local favourite since 2015, with micro-batches of beans roasted on-site. On the hillside above, close to the popular ‘Map of Africa’ viewpoint, Hallo Coffee lays out a great brew with views out across the Indian Ocean.
Wild Oats Community Farmers’ Market
Since opening in 1999, this community-driven market has become a highlight of the Garden Route, bringing farmers, producers and hungry shoppers to the sleepy town of Sedgefield. There’s a strong focus on local produce, with dozens of stalls offering everything from home bakes and farm preserves to freshly picked vegetables, free-range meats and local cheeses. Alongside the producers, there’s a great variety of field kitchens turning out piping-hot breakfasts. Wild Oats runs on Saturday mornings year-round.
Ile de Pain
For the past 20 years the ‘island of bread’ – set in the heart of Knysna’s Thesen island development – has drawn a crowd of locals and tourists eager for a taste of their famous artisan breads, pâtisserie and elegant café cuisine. It fills up fast for brunch, so be sure to get there early, or book one of the stylish apartments upstairs and simply pop down to fill up the pantry. Either way, don’t leave town without an Ile de Pain loaf, all handmade from stone-ground flour and baked in a traditional wood-fired oven.
Plettenberg Bay is perhaps the most glamorous corner of the Garden Route, but the finest combo of seafood with a sea view is to be found a short drive outside town, in the hamlet of Keurbomstrand. Here on a rocky outcrop, just metres from crashing waves, Ristorante Enrico dishes up an extensive menu of Italian-inspired classics. Alongside pizza, pasta and grills, the standouts are the seafood plates, from fresh linefish to generous platters, with some of the catch coming fresh from Enrico’s own boat. The best tables are out on the terrace, with sunset views across a long stretch of empty sands.
Hidden away amid the lush forests of the Tsitsikamma region, Alje van Deemter’s charming cheese farm and restaurant is a hidden gem worth seeking out. But you’ll need to plan ahead. He only welcomes 20 guests per day, for lunch only, and there’s no menu to speak of. Instead, for the fortunate few he lays out a generous spread of delicious local produce. It’s all focused on the remarkable goat and cow’s milk cheeses produced on the farm, including silky chèvre, fresh burrata, flavoursome mozzarella and aged cheddar. They’re all served with freshly-baked bread and salads picked from the garden. A cosy farm cottage is available for overnight guests.
A glass of the Garden Route
Over the past decade the Garden Route has cemented its reputation for crafting memorable cool-climate wines. Atop the Montagu Pass outside George, the high-altitude vineyards of Herold Wines define their signature Pinot Noir, while in the rugged coastal region beyond Knysna the likes of Bramon and Packwood are known for their elegant Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Méthode Cap Classique, South Africa’s méthode champenoise sparkling wine. Most estates are open for tastings and sales.
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