Better late than never is the only quote I can share for this one. I’ve been meaning to post list for some of the best restaurants for vegetarian food in South Africa’s Winelands for a long time. Somehow it got lost at the bottom of my post drafts and the back of my brain after I wrote a list of the great veggie-friendly spots we found in Cape Town. Anyway, if you are lucky enough to be going to South Africa soon and are vegetarian/traveling with one, this will definitely help you. I have many good things to say about the place, but there isn’t the largest variety of food in the Winelands in general. The restaurants are mostly fine dining European with at the most a sprinkling of ethnic spices in one or two dishes. If all you want is a warm Thai curry or a falafel and hummus wrap, you might not find it in Franschhoek. Don’t get me wrong – the quality of food is top-notch and if you’re a little open to trying different things or are ok with eating several small dishes to make a meal, spending a few days here is heaven on earth. Since I spent a significant amount of time researching + visiting these spots, I thought I’d share some of the best restaurants for vegetarian food in Franschhoek that I found.
The towns in the Winelands i.e. Franschhoek, Paarl and Stellenbosch are anywhere between 20-50 minutes from each other (depending where you are) and easily accessible if you have a car. If you’re very interested in wine, the best way to approach planning a trip here is choosing the wineries you’d like to visit and working on lunch and dinner options accordingly. Most wineries have restaurants or small cafes attached. Note that many restaurants book up quickly and reservations are required. Here’s where some good planning is helpful!
La Motte was my favorite winery of the ones we visited. Their restaurant, Pierneef a La Motte is set in a garden filled with greenery and good vibes: soft music, little streams of water running through and a luxurious yet rustic feel all around. There are two separate menus: a more casual one with sandwiches, salads and wraps for the garden (what they call La Motte Farm Shop) and a slightly more formal one including appetizers and mains for the restaurant. The options for vegetarians aren’t vast but still more than most other wineries we visited. Everything was delicious – we sat in the garden and had the perfect mid-day meal with a glass of rosé, a cheese plate, a salad, a wrap and scrumptious dessert of Paris Brest.
It was so good, we went a second time. One minus about Franschhoek is the lack of variety of cuisine – for picky vegetarians, staying for more than two days without any prior food research might be tough. You won’t find any Thai, Chinese, Indian, Middle Eastern kind of food in the downtown area. We were happy to have this pizza and salad spot around the corner for a little change from the typical fine dining vineyard experience.
Cafe BonBon at La Petite Dauphine
A great breakfast spot with an outdoor area to enjoy the fresh air. The menu features a variety of eggs and sweet favorites like pancakes, french toast and oats in addition to a buffet with pastries, yogurt, cheese and the usual.
After much research and deliberation, I found this spot in Paarl which is about 20-25 minutes away from Franschhoek. Set by a small lake, this garden restaurant has all-day breakfast and lunch (but isn’t open for dinner). On offer is everything Mexican, from breakfast burritos to guacamole to quesadillas to enchiladas. It’s a delicious change from the typical winery restaurant.
This one comes with a slight disclaimer but the concept is interesting. Although this was the place I was probably most excited about when planning my trip, in real life I was slightly disappointed. I made a reservation a month in advance or whatever it was. Don’t get me wrong – the philosophy, planning, landscaping and farming are stunning at Babylonstoren. It’s a working farm and You’re free to explore parts of their farm and botanical garden where the chefs forage for fresh ingredients. I just felt that what I got to eat (the green salad) was maybe a little too beautiful and botanical without enough sustenance – it just didn’t come together for me in terms of the food. They also have another restaurant called the Greenhouse that doesn’t take reservations offering sandwiches, baked goods, etc. Still, I’d love to give it another chance on my next trip to SA.
COFFEE & SOMETHING SWEET
This is a tiny little cafe just off the main street in Franschhoek with delicious coffee. It makes for a nice mid-day stop while exploring the downtown shops and galleries.
I wish we could have stopped for breakfast or lunch at Schoon de Companje. I couldn’t resist grabbing some pastries and coffee for the car ride back to Cape Town from Franschhoek. I got an almond croissant (a good one is rare in India so this, again, was planned and deliberated) and a lemon poppy seed cake (again, one of my favorite things that’s rarely available here). Both were delicious and took me back to my New York days of special breakfasts with sweet treats and cappuccinos.
From simply the wine tasting aspect, Boschendal and La Motte were my top picks of all the wineries we visited. Both have outside seating so you can enjoy the fresh air of the Winelands. I’m more of a red wine drinker but in South Africa I appreciated the crisp, fruity white wine more. Wine drinkers will have separate research to do in choosing the wineries they’d want to visit but simply from a general/aesthetic perspective you can’t go wrong with these two.