Four top-notch restaurants to try in the Northern Cape
The Northern Cape province of South Africa is one of the country’s unexplored gems. Stretching from the Karoo in the south to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in the north, the province encompasses semi-desert, a chilly Atlantic coastline and plenty of quaint little towns nestled everywhere in between. Known for its hospitality, warmth and rich history, the Northern Cape is about unfussy, wholesome food prepared according to family tradition and history.
1. Cluster d’Hote, Sutherland
Sutherland has gained fame as an important astro-tourism spot. SALT (boasting the largest single-optical telescope in the southern hemisphere) allows guests to observe deep space, explore the galaxy and learn about other planets. If you’re a budding astronomer with a love for the cosmos, Sutherland is perfect for you.
Cluster d’Hote is a family-run establishment housed in a Victorian “doll house” that has been remodelled. Expect rustic fare with truly South African roots that is prepared according to seasonal and local ingredients. The restaurant is most famous for its melt-in-your-mouth lamb shanks.
2. Cafe Zest, Upington
Upington is a small town located in the north of the Northern Cape and serves as the area’s biggest business district. This is a bustling hub during the weekends where local farmers gather to stock up on essentials and go for a spot of shopping. Located on the banks of the Orange River, Upington is definitely worth exploring for a few days.
Cafe Zest is a contemporary restaurant that serves hearty meals with a twist. It often hosts local musicians in the airy courtyard and is almost always busy. Exceptionally well-priced, Cafe Zest serves hearty portions of prime meat cuts, deliciously decadent burgers, and vegetarian and vegan options. Try its enormous “Princess” milkshakes topped with whipped cream, marshmallows and mini chocolate doughnuts.
3. Copper Oryx, Kimberley
Famous for the Big Hole dug into the earth during the diamond rush of the 1800s, Kimberley is a modest yet intriguing old town and the capital of the Northern Cape. There is so much history in Kimberley, having been at the centre of an Anglo-Boer War siege. Also not to be missed is the eccentric Ghost Trail, a thrilling and spooky tour around Kimberley’s rumoured ghostly hotspots.
The Kimberley Anne Hotel hosts the Copper Oryx, a quaint yet luxurious establishment that won a Lilizela Tourism Award in 2017. Expect huge harvest roasts, crispy pork belly and a selection of Cape Malay-inspired cuisine. The desserts are pretty fancy, too, with the light and airy panna cotta and summer berries being a firm favourite. This is Kimberley’s version of fine dining at its best.
4. Plattelander, Colesberg
Colesberg is a small little town renowned for its Merino sheep farming and stud-horse farms. Located off the N1, it’s an adventure-lover’s dream, with ample 4x4 and mountain-biking trails for the young at heart, as well as numerous game drives in the surrounding landscape. The town is a beautiful site for Cape Dutch and Georgian-influenced architecture and robust history. It is home to many heritage sites that can be explored at leisure.
The Plattelander is a family-run restaurant that is as unfussy as it gets. Generous and hearty portions are the hallmarks of the Plattelander, and it is considered a local favourite for the warm hospitality of the restaurant staff. If you’re looking to sample some traditional boerekos (farmers’ food) in an unpretentious setting, then this is the spot for you. Visitors rave about the lamb shank with pumpkin fritters, as well as the bobotie and potjie options. Come hungry!
Whether you’re visiting the Northern Cape for the first time or the tenth, the overwhelming consensus is that this underrated province has an abundance of surprisingly good spots if you know where to look. Although it is the most sparsely populated province in South Africa, the warm spirit and generosity of the local people is reason enough to visit again and again.
The Northern Cape is a delightful destination to include in your travel itinerary. Visit Discover Africa’s Safari Cost Estimator to tailor the cost of your African safari to suit your budget.