Skyline Rooftop Restaurant

Rise to new heights at Skyline Rooftop Restaurant. (Photo: Marriott International)

Eat + Drink

Dig Into 5 Winter Dining Trends in South Africa

Winter dining is about so much more than comfort food. When you’re exploring a country with as diverse an array of cultures as South Africa, you’ll find an equally wide range of gastronomic delights and dining trends. Mild winter weather — particularly in Cape Town, which enjoys a Mediterranean climate — also opens up outdoor dining options, even at the height of winter.

Here, we zoom in on some of the hottest winter dining trends in Africa’s southernmost country.

As always, check for travel restrictions and closures before planning your trip.

Cocktail Hour

If you’re in the mood for something lively, make a beeline to Pretoria’s Skyline Rooftop Restaurant, Bar and Lounge, where weekly entertainment, including live music and DJs, will keep the winter blues at bay.

Offering unrivaled views of the Pretoria cityscape, the restaurant dishes up pizzas, tapas, tacos, burgers and salads, as well as sharing platters. Buckets of beer and nostalgic ’90s-era shooters like Springboks and Bob Marleys are sure to keep the young — and young-at-heart — happy.

Fire & Ice! Restaurant, Umhlanga Ridge in Durban.
Get beach house vibes at Fire & Ice! Restaurant, Umhlanga Ridge in Durban. (Photo: Marriott International)

Go for the cocktails and stay for the food at the beach house-style Fire & Ice! Restaurant, Umhlanga Ridge in Durban.

Weekly drink specials keep the crowds coming, and family-friendly fare like gourmet burgers and milkshake combos, as well as bunnychows (a must-try, Indian-curry-inspired specialty) are popular staples at this casual yet sophisticated locals’ favorite.

Kick back on the deck and soak up the balmy Durban nights (yes, even in winter!) sipping a cosmopolitan or an iced coffee as you enjoy the sounds of the live DJ’s sunset session.

Health-Conscious Eating

South Africa is blessed with an abundance of fresh produce, so keeping pace with the global shift toward sustainable farming, seasonal ingredients and healthy eating habits has happened quite organically (if you’ll excuse the pun).

thirty7 showkitchen
Get a close-up view of the action at Restaurant Thirty7. (Photo: Marriott International)

Patrons, both local and international, will feel at home at Restaurant Thirty7 & Louis B’s Bar, where the culinary teams commit to serving only certified organic, pasture-reared and ethically produced meat, and sustainable seafood.

The restaurant’s “showkitchen” allows diners to learn while they watch chefs prepare their meal. It’s even possible to practice new culinary skills by scheduling a private, one-on-one session with the team.

The menus cater to vegans, too, while flexitarians are free to jump on board, as “Meat-Free Mondays” gain momentum across the globe. Order something unique from the coffee menu, or simply to go dairy-free, opting for almond, soy or oat milk with their coffee.

Variety Is the Spice of Life

Why be confined to a meal consisting of three courses — eaten in a particular order — when you can taste an assortment of the best that a restaurant has to offer?

Thanks to influences such as Spanish-style tapas and the family-style dish-sharing that is prevalent across Asia, the compulsory “beginning, middle, end” structure of South African mealtime is a thing of the past.

wanderers restaurant
Share your meal at Wanderers Restaurant. (Photo: Marriott International)

Pick one of the “to share” options at Protea Hotel by Marriott Johannesburg Wanderers Restaurant in the upmarket Illovo neighborhood, where fresh ingredients meet fusion flavors in Middle Eastern–inspired kofta and falafel platters.

Or go for a cheese board with a South African twist featuring local olives and biltong — the country’s pride and joy, a cousin to American beef jerky.

Fire & Ice! Menlyn Restaurant
Heat things up at Fire & Ice! Menlyn Restaurant. (Photo: Marriott International)

Contemporary African cuisine is on offer at Fire & Ice! Menlyn Restaurant in neighboring Pretoria, along with their hearty African Platter for Two, as well as tasty international cuisine.

In the spirit of variety, don’t forget to wash it all down with a few award-winning South African wines. You’ll be spoiled for choice with curated wine lists featuring top estates at each of these establishments. And as locals know, there’s no better way to warm up on a winter’s day than with a glass of red.

Dining Meets Design

Cape Town may have been Africa’s first World Design Capital, but Joburg is determined not to be outdone by its seaside sister. Dining in this cosmopolitan city is as much about ambience and decor as it is about food.

keystone bistro dining room
Keystone Bistro is design centric and delicious. (Photo: Marriott International)

Keystone Bistro has one foot in design and the other in dining, with high ceilings, inspiring art and decor, and a selection of welcoming books to dip into while you enjoy your afternoon tea.

Locally procured ingredients add a dash of South African flair to the menu, and a thoughtfully curated choice of wines — served by sommeliers — elegantly rounds off your dining experience.

bull run south africa
Experience excellent steak at The Bull Run. (Photo: Marriott International)

The Bull Run, which takes its name from optimistic upturns on the stock market, is a magnet for discerning diners, many of whom work at the nearby Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

Known as one of the best steakhouses in the city — where that accolade is no small feat — the Bull Run will delight with succulent cuts of meat in bold, almost brazen, surroundings that can stand up to any T-bone steak.

Antler-adorned walls meet black leather seats and a mahogany bar counter. Dry martinis at the Dollar Bar, which runs the length of the restaurant, will end any business meeting with a bang.

Sensory Dining

A memorable dining experience involves using all five of your senses and begins long before you sink your teeth into your main course. The world’s best restaurants remind us that dining is a theatrical ritual to be savored as each scene unfolds.

dining room at towers restaurant
Towers Restaurant is a local favorite. (Photo: Marriott International)

Towers Restaurant is a Cape Town favorite that features a display kitchen designed to stimulate the senses. Watch world-class chefs in action as they prepare internationally inspired dishes with an emphasis on local and sustainable produce.

Each of the restaurant’s three dining sections features mood-enhancing lighting, whether you choose to soak up the vibrance of Century City’s urban hub or prefer a private dining area where you can hang onto your companion’s every word.