Even though we can’t exactly share a plate with them à la Lady and the Tramp (at least, not in public), our furry friends often make the best dining and social companions. So there’s no reason why your leashed buddies shouldn’t be able to join in on fine dining or a casual eat out experience. We’ve rounded up some of the best South African restaurants that won’t turn away four legs and begging eyes.
1. Pretoria – Afro-Boer
A garden tea paradise, Afro-Boer is praised for its consistently delicious food, attentive staff, and charming décor. With a menu that caters for “the dieters, the bingers, the banters, the indulgers and everyone fabulous”, it’s no wonder why this gorgeous pastel eatery is as popular as it is! The lush garden is the perfect spot if you’d like your pooch to be able to stretch its legs, and the overhead trees make for the perfect vintage tea party setting. Afro-Boer is so pet-friendly that the waiters will beg for owners’ permission to treat those irresistible fluffy faces with rusks or homemade meatballs, and you won’t want to come off as the bad guy and refuse. Make sure to get something just as delicious for yourself – customer favourites include the salted caramel latté, braai broodjie, lamb salad, and the heavenly selection of cakes and pastries.
2. Port Elizabeth – Something Good Roadhouse
A few steps away from Pollock Beach, Something Good Roadhouse is known for its classically retro menu. The burgers and shakes look straight out of a 50s American diner, but are deliciously and uniquely fresh and flavourful. Pups are very welcome, and the close proximity to the beachfront makes this the perfect stopover location while you and your fur baby are out for a stroll. Large, small or medium, there’s a place for every dog at this family-friendly café, as well as a refreshing bowl of water waiting at the foot of the table. While your pooch takes some time to relax and soak up the sun, treat yourself to a bacon waffle, home brewed beer, banana split or jumbo hotdog. Be warned: you might want to take your morning walk before stopping over for breakfast, because these mouth-watering portion sizes are generous to say the least! It could be difficult to move afterwards with such a full, satisfied stomach.
3. Cape Town – 12 Apostles Hotel
This is fine dining like Fido has probably never experienced before. Available from Room Service or The Leopard Bar, the 12 Apostles Hotel’s gourmet pet menu features some dishes that might make you jealous. Small dogs can be treated to a gravy-soaked beef fillet steak with boiled potato wedges from the ‘Bark-A-Licious’ selection, or ostrich mince with oats, apples and flax seeds. For the felines, it’s the ‘Puurfect Choice’ menu, highlights of which include salmon trout with scrambled eggs and poached chicken breast with garden peas. That’s right. A lucky, pampered Cape Townian pet ate a better meal than you did today. But if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em! The only thing that can rival this swanky eatery’s pet menu is its human menu! You can’t go wrong with ‘Tea by the Sea’, an elegant selection of pastries and hot drinks served overlooking Cape Town’s legendary oceans views. Nor will you be disappointed by the Leopard Bar’s signature cocktails, which range from Cosmos to Vanilla Chocatinis to custom orders using your favourite ingredients. In the middle of such delicious indulgence, don’t forget to keep an eye out for the “king of the castle”: resident feline royalty and sometimes maître d, Ingwe.
4. Durban – Surf Riders
Something of a legend among the locals, this seafront eatery is famous for its pet friendliness, craft beer, gourmet burgers and stunning views. This is the perfect place to grab something that never disappoints, and menu items range from sophisticated breakfast to pizza to hot dogs to deluxe milkshakes. Don’t forget to order some grub for your furry friend! Pups can be treated to the Poochini Snack Biscuit (peanut butter sauce, ice cream and sponge cake) or Bag of Bones (5 Surf Rider bones with bacon and nut butter), and are guaranteed to leave with high spirits. Surf Riders boasts the kind of friendly, relaxed atmosphere that’s addictive for both humans and pets, and you’re sure to keep coming back for more.
5. Joburg – Voodoo Lily Café
If you’re looking for an eclectic menu and great family vibes, Voodoo Lily Café is the place to go. This community café is all about wholesomeness and heart. Bread is made right on the spot (if you’re lucky you’ll receive a still-warm loaf straight out of the oven), ingredients are sourced locally and are mostly organic, and fair-trade coffee is supported. And the considerate care doesn’t just end with the human menu. Make sure to check out “For the Hounds” and treat your fluffy companion to a puppy biscuit or some choice cuts of organic chicken. As an added bonus, the restaurant is right across the road from a park, meaning that both kids and canines can enjoy a romp across the grass while their parents sit back with a (probably) much-needed glass of wine and watch from a comfortable distance. This café just radiates with low-key homely warmth, and both person and pooch are sure to feel cosy, cared for and happily well-fed.
6. Joburg – Arbour Cafe & Courtyard
Walking into a Parisian culinary precinct has never been easier than when it’s done in Illovo. Tucked away in an array of greenery sits Arbour Cafe & Courtyard, a quaintly magical eatery that’s more than ready to welcome you and your fluffy companion. The courtyard itself feels every bit a hidden gem – airy, open, and privy only to those who journey beyond the parking lot. This is a wonderful space in which you can lay your beloved pup across your lap while you sip on a mochaccino, or, if you’d prefer to go en bloc, have your own table guarded by a group of four-legged friends. Unfortunately for Rover, though, the menu is so delicious that you won’t want to share a single bite! Indulge in a mouthwatering salted caramel and apple crêpe or savoury galette (the cafe’s chef d’œuvre and one of a kind in all of Joburg). Open seven days a week, Arbour Cafe is conveniently located right next to a hair salon, jewellery and gift shops, a gallery, and even an art shop that’ll be the perfect haven for the kiddies while you order another galette.
By Virginia Boshoff