Food and travel - you can't have the one without the other. And when you discover the out-of-the-box unique foodie spots SA has to offer, it certainly contributes to the experience.
On your Garden Route trip you might expect to find several seafood restaurants, cozy pizza joints and local pubs, but look a little further for those special places that make you come back time and time again. Those are the spots you remember - for their food, their people and their priceless setting.
The Garden Route provides numerous top notch restaurants with remarkable menus, but these are the out of the ordinary joints to tick off your list:
1. Marilyn's 60's Diner
If ever you wanted to set your inner Elvis free, this would be the place. A strange find in the Storms River Village, where you expect to find cosy coffee shops in wooden cabins and rustic backpackers. Driving through the village this joint screams for a closer investigation. Many visitors end up having lunch out of sheer curiosity. Your senses are rewarded as soon as you step inside. Cadillac’s and Chevy’s fill the interior, Elvis and Marilyn memorabilia cover the walls, a real working jukebox plays 'Blue Suede Shoes' and the American diner menu is spot on!
Walking through the peaceful streets of the village you would never believe that Marilyn's 60's diner used to host the Elvis Festival every year.
What makes the place special: It's a step back in time to 60's America, in the middle of the Tsitsikamma.
Where: Darnell Street, Storms River Village.
Contact: View their Facebook page here.
2. The Valley Inn
A well deserved oasis for the conquerors of the Otter Hiking Trail, this pub provides hikers with the perfect Mitchell's draught just in time.
Hidden on the very end of Nature's Valley, The Valley Inn provides an impressive variety of pub meals. No fuss hamburgers, schnitzels and fresh seafood is the best way to spoil a hiker that's been eating tuna and crackers for five days.
What makes this place special:
The big tree tells a few stories. First time visitors will immediately notice the oddly decorated tree around which the tables are placed. At first glance it is quite random to see hiking boots, crocs, 'visplakkies' and hats hanging from the tree above your table, but then you look down at your ripped up Hi-Tecs and hang then in the tree too. Maybe it will still be there with your next visit.
Where: Corner of St Michaels and Forest Drives, Nature's Valley.
Contact: Visit their Facebook page here.
ALSO SEE: Long hikes 101: Tips and trails to try in SA
3. De Vette Mossel
The Garden Route meets the West Coast! If you want to get the best taste of Garden Route cuisine and ambiance prepared in true West Coast style, De Vette Mossel in Groot Brak is a must-visit. Food is prepared on open fires in front of you, and you will probably leave with a few new 'Mossel' friends.
You can expect bucket loads of mussel meat, West Coast style snoek with sweet sweet potato, a seafood pot made with 4 types of fish, calamari, cleaned prawn tails, meat potjie, catch of the day, West Coast rock lobster, calamari steak, all topped off with proudly South African koeksisters.
What makes this place special: It's on the beach! You can literally take a dip between meals.
Where: Souwesia beach, between Groot Brak and Klein Brak.
Contact: Click here to view their website.
4. Fynboshoek Cheese
For the love of cheese! You'll have to make a reservation if you want to experience the cosy, cheesy goodness of this quaint foodie spot. Cheese master, Alje van Deemter opens this picturesque farm house to visitors where he prepares delectable cheese-inspired dishes.
Adding to the uniqueness is the quality cheese created by the award-winning cheese maker and restauranteur.
Drop in for lunch between 12:00 and 16:00 if you're travelling in the Storms River area for goat and cow's cheese, freshly baked breads and garden salads or even join a cheese-making demonstration.
What makes this place special: Well, it's a restaurant dedicated to cheese! Yummy!
Where: Fynboshoek Cheese Farm, Kareedouw.
Contact: Contact Alje on 042 280 3879 for your reservation.
5. Kaai 4 Braai Restaurant