• Brimming with indigenous forests, languid lagoons and golden beaches, Knysna is a natural paradise and picturesque holiday destination adored by South Africans. The coastal town is home to a laid-back dining scene that offers just about everything, from seafood shacks and homely pubs to coffee shops and speciality eateries.

    Here are 20 Knysna restaurants and cafés that are worth checking out:

    1. Olde’s Pub & Grill

    Boasting one of the best-stocked bars in Knysna, Olde’s Pub & Grill also offers patrons hearty pub grub on a daily basis. From scrumptious burger specials and ribs, to delectable steaks and classic British dishes like bangers and mash, all the meals on the menu go down a treat with a pint or two.

    • Times: Monday to Thursday, 10:30am to 9pm | Fridays and Saturdays, 10:30am to 10pm | Sunday, 11:30am to 9pm
    • Location: 14 Gray Street, Knysna
    • Contact: 044 382 6514 | [email protected]
    • Website: oldesrestaurant.com
    Picture: Olde’s Pub & Grill / Facebook

    2. All That Jazz Artisan Bakery & Bistro

    All the cakes, quiches, pies and bread are freshly baked at All That Jazz Artisan Bakery & Bistro. Some of the best toasted sandwiches, jaffles, pies, pastries, platters and puddings can be enjoyed here. The bakery is also accustomed to whipping up some exemplary high tea sandwiches and bite-sized quiches for events.

    • Times: Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm | Saturday, 8am to 2pm
    • Location: Waterfront Drive, Knysna
    • Contact: 081 309 5242 | [email protected]
    Picture: All That Jazz Artisan Bakery & Bistro / Facebook

    3. The Drydock Food Company

    This waterfront restaurant is located on the docks of Knysna’s marina, making it the perfect spot to sip on something refreshing while the sun sets over the water. Enjoy intimate lunches (or dinners) dining on your choice of fresh seafood, salads, sushi, fusion cuisine and desserts. The Drydock Food Company also stocks a range of the finest local and imported wines, beers and spirits to accompany your meal.

    • Times: Monday to Sunday 11am to 10pm
    • Location: Knysna Waterfront, Knysna
    • Contact: 44 382 7310 | [email protected]
    • Website: drydock.co.za
    Knysna Restaurants - Drydock Food Company
    Picture: Drydock Food Company / Facebook

    4. 34 South

    The famous 34 Degrees South is neither a bar nor a deli. Describing itself as an eating and drinking place, 34 South is open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as for sushi, oysters, Mediterranean, Mexican and Thai cuisine, among other delectable dishes. The restaurant also features a retail section, where patrons are spoilt for choice with a wide range of clothing, gifts and accessories, imported sweets, luxury groceries, and ready-cooked meals. Their wine shop is also stocked with decent table wines as well as rare blends. It even has a bakery!

    • Times: Mondays and Tuesdays, 8:30am to 10pm | Wednesdays, 11am to 10pm | Thursday to Sunday, 8:30am to 10pm
    • Location: Knysna Quays, Knysna Waterfront
    • Contact: 044 382 7331 | [email protected]
    • Website: 34south.biz
    Picture: 34 Degrees South Restaurant Knysna / Facebook

    5. East Head Café

    This local landmark is open for families and friends, or anyone interested in good food and good wine in a special setting. Featuring breathtaking views of the famous Knysna Heads, East Head Café creates dishes with a focus on flavour and freshness. All meals are prepared using local produce, and guests can enjoy a cosy fire-side dish on cold winter days.

    • Times: Tuesday to Sunday, 8:30am to 3pm
    • Location: 25 George Rex Drive, Knysna
    • Contact: 044 384 0933 | [email protected]
    • Website: eastheadcafe.co.za
    Picture: East Head Café Knysna / Facebook

    6. African Bean

    With a focus on our country’s melting pot of cultural cuisines, African Bean is the go-to for filling meals bursting with South African flavours. Among several other specialties, the restaurant is renowned for its home-cooked Cape Malay chicken or beef mince curry wrapped up in handmade rotis, served every Friday.

    • Times: Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm | Saturday, 8am to 2pm
    • Location: 29 Main Road, Knysna
    • Contact: 044 382 2845 | [email protected]
    Picture: African Bean / Facebook

    7. Blackwaters River Lodge

    Guests (and golfers) at the Blackwaters River Lodge are always welcome at the on-site Earth and Fire Restaurant, which used to be a tractor shed. Now a cosy indoor dining area, patrons can indulge in meals prepared from home-grown vegetables while overlooking the golf course. The lodge supports local farmers and producers to ensure freshness. Diners also have a choice between a picnic basket or a braai pack if they prefer to eat outdoors.

    • Times: Open from 9am, bookings essential
    • Location: N2 Highway, Goukamma
    • Contact: 044 383 0105 | [email protected]
    • Website: blackwaters.co.za
    Knysna Restaurants - Blackwaters
    Picture: @BlackwatersInfo / Twitter

    8. Freshline Fisheries

    Named TripAdvisor’s number one seafood restaurant in Knysna, Freshline Fisheries is the spot for a casual but freshly-caught meal with friends and family. The outdoor beach restaurant is not licensed to sell alcohol, so patrons are encouraged to bring their own; and no corkage is charged. The restaurant subscribes to the Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative and its hake and linefish are handline caught.

    • Times: Monday to Saturday, 11:30am to 10pm | Sundays, 12pm to 3pm
    • Location: Corner of Waterfront Drive and Long Street, Knysna
    • Contact: 044 382 3131 | [email protected]
    • Website: freshlinefisheries.co.za
    Picture: Freshline Fisheries / Facebook

    9. Sirocco

    Sirocco is named after the warm wind that blows across the Mediterranean. The vibey lunch and dinner restaurant is situated on the water’s edge of Thesen Island, among the commercial part of the residential island. If you’re looking for a place that embodies relaxed sophistication, a beautiful interior, friendly service and great food, this is where you want to be.

    • Times: Monday to Sunday, 12pm to 10pm
    • Location: TH28, Thesen Island, Knysna
    • Contact: 044 382 4874 | [email protected]
    • Website: sirocco.co.za
    Knysna Restaurants - Sirocco Restaurant
    Picture: Sirocco Restaurant / Facebook

    10. île de païn

    The Knysna Lagoon surrounds this popular café-style restaurant. Patrons can enjoy distinctive breakfasts and lunches with daily homemade bread, patisserie and overall classic dishes with a twist. Île de païn’s beverage selection offers a range of coffees and teas, fresh juices and a curated wine and beer menu. Sandwiches, pastries, salads and coffee can either be grabbed to-go or guests can relax and mingle while surrounded by the picturesque view.

    • Times: Tuesday to Saturday 8am to 3pm
    • Location: The Boatshed, Thesen Harbour Town, Knysna
    • Contact: 44 302 5707 | [email protected]
    • Website: iledepain.co.za
    Picture: île de païn / Facebook

    11. Blend Country Restaurant

    From a Sunday roast to live music gigs, Blend Country Restaurant is a buzzing social spot that knows how to have a good time. The restaurant cooks up an array of dishes that are considered and comforting. There is always something happening at there, whether it be a wine tasting, musical performance, weekday specials, or even fundraising events. It’s definitely a spot to check out.

    • Times: Tuesday to Saturday, 3:30pm to 10pm | Sunday, 12:30pm to 6pm
    • Location: George Rex Drive, Knysna
    • Contact: 044 384 0493 | [email protected]
    Picture: Blend Country Restaurant / Facebook

    12. Anchorage Restaurant

    Fresh oysters, linefish and a koeksister-flavoured crème brulee are just some of the many delectable dishes available at Anchorage Restaurant. The traditional seafood shack has been serving for 20 years, making it the oldest restaurant in Knysna. With a wide range of dishes, perfectly cooked, and good wine and craft beer, Anchorage offers patrons a charming lunchtime meal.

    • Times: Lunch: Wednesday and Friday | Take away: Monday to Saturday, 4:30pm to 9pm
    • Location: 11 Grey Street, Knysna
    • Contact: 44 382 2230 | [email protected]
    Picture: The Anchorage Restaurant Knysna / Facebook

    13. Chatters Bistro

    Although most famous for its made-to-order pizzas, Chatters also has starters, pasta and salads on offer – including some vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options.  The restaurant is fully licenced for beers, wines and spirits too. Patrons can enjoy indulging in something savoury (or sweet!) by the inside fireplace.

    • Times: Tuesday to Saturday, 12pm to 10pm
    • Location: 9a Grey Street, Knysna
    • Contact: 44 382 0203 | [email protected]
    • Website: chattersbistro.co.za
    Picture: Chatters Bistro / Facebook

    14. Grain Mill Organic Bistro

    This casual self-service bistro and shop has something for everyone, whether you’re vegan, vegetarian or a meat lover. With fresh bread baked every day using their own stone-ground flour and certified organic grains, the Grain Mill Organic Bistro’s weekly bread schedule features a delectable feast with items such as spelt ciabatta and rolls, and wheat sourdough and spelt seed loaves.

    • Times: Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm
    • Location: 3 Grey Street, Knysna
    • Contact: 83 635 7634 | [email protected]
    Knysna Restaurants - Grain Mill Organic Bistro
    Picture: Grain Mill Organic Bistro / Facebook

    15. O Pescador

    The menu of this Portuguese prego restaurant features oysters, mussels, calamari, sardines, and prawn cocktails – all freshly caught each day. For a South African/Portuguese cuisine experience, O Pescador is the place to be. The family-owned restaurant specialises in fresh seafood, quality steaks and free-range chicken dishes. While this is a cosy spot to have dinner, the outside deck offers stunning views of the harbour.

    • Times: Monday to Sunday, 11am to 8:45pm
    • Location: Knysna Quays, Knysna Waterfront, Knysna
    • Contact: 44 382 3476 | [email protected]
    Picture: O Pescador Knysna / Facebook

    16. Butterfly Blu Restaurant

    For an idyllic dining experience, Butterfly Blu Restaurant offers panoramic sea views, a stretch of white sandy beach, and rolling dunes to take in while enjoying some of the freshest produce and locally sourced ingredients. The contemporary interior, decks, lounge areas and cocktail bar have earned the restaurant a reputation as one of the most beautiful in Knysna. The evolving menu ranges from the classic ‘fish and chips’ dish to elegant curries, burgers, lasagne and cocktails.

    • Times: Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday 11:45am to 8:15pm | Wednesday and Friday 11:45am to 9:15pm
    • Location: 198 CR Swart Drive, Knysna
    • Contact: 44 381 0027 | [email protected]
    • Website: butterflyblu.co.za
    Picture: Butterfly Blu Restaurant / Facebook

    17. Oak Leaf

    Oak Leaf Café is nestled among oak trees in Belvidere Estate, about 8km west of the centre of Knysna. The restaurant offers home-style cooking suited for everyone: meat eaters, vegetarians, vegans, and kids, and produce is sourced from farms in the area. Oak Leaf Café started as a vegan food stall at Wild Oats Market before becoming a vegan kitchen and deli. The café opened in 2019 after the niche enterprise grew exponentially, necessitating the brand to reinvent itself in order to accommodate all streams of dietary requirements.

    • Times: Tuesday to Sunday, 9am to 3pm
    • Location: 168 Duthie Drive, Belvidere Estate, Knysna
    • Contact: 66 141 5204 | [email protected]
    • Website: oakleafknysna.co.za
    Picture: Oak Leaf Knysna / Facebook

    18. MUSE Fusion Food

    MUSE Fusion Food combines the best of two or more culinary disciplines, creating delectable dishes that are sure to excite. Enjoy delectable mussels infused with white wine and garlic; spicy Thai mince with chilli, garlic, ginger, and coriander and topped with peanuts; or indulge in an ‘Alien Safari’, one of the many delicious pizzas prepared in the wood-fired oven.

    • Times: Wednesday to Saturday 1pm to 10pm
    • Location: 152 Old Cape Road, Knysna
    • Contact: 44 382 0804 | [email protected]
    • Website: musefood.co.za
    Knysna Restaurants - MUSE Fusion Food
    Picture: MUSE Fusion Food / Facebook

    19. Whitewashed

    If you’re looking for a cosy, simple and relaxed atmosphere to enjoy some good coffee and cake, White Washed Café is the answer. Hidden in the Knysna Industrial area, the shabby chic-style café offers home-cooked meals, burgers and salads, and desserts. Some wine and bubbles can also be enjoyed with a lovely snack platter, promising a good time.

    • Times: Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm
    • Location: 5 Noble Street, Knysna Industrial
    • Contact: 44 382 1494 | [email protected]
    Picture: Whitewashed / Facebook

    20. Tapas and Oysters

    This vibrant waterside restaurant on Thesen Island offers patrons views over the Knysna Lagoon. Known for its great food, friendly service and vibey atmosphere, diners are spoilt for choice at Tapas and Oysters. The menu features a wide range of Spanish, Mediterranean and South African tapas. In addition, fresh oysters, seafood dishes, homemade dips, pizza, crunchy salads and desserts all add to the diverse menu. Every tapa is served with freshly baked rocket salt baguettes.

    • Times: Monday to Sunday 11am to 10pm
    • Location: TH 29, Thesen Island, Knysna
    • Contact: 44 382 7196 | [email protected]
    • Website: tapasknysna.co.za
    Picture: Tapas & Oysters

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    Article originally written and published by: Ilze-Mari Van Zyl for Cape Etc.

    Feature image: Unsplash