Pierbusseti's Favorite Foodie Destinations: Knysna

Located along South Africa’s scenic Garden Route, Knysna should be at the top of any foodie traveler’s list for one major reason: its fresh local seafood. Most notably, the Western Cape province is world-famous for its annual oyster festival, held in July. For any budget, Knysna has a wide array of eateries that offer some of the most spectacular views of the cape and some of the most flavorful seafood dishes that are sure to have any food-lover back for seconds.

Since it originated in 1983, The Pick ‘n’ Pay Knysna Oyster Festival has become one of the most popular events on the Western Cape for both locals and tourists. The festival is held over two weekends in July, spanning from the 1st to the 10th. There are activities all ten days, such as the Pick ‘n’ Pay Cape Times Marathon, as well as entertainment for the whole family. But of course, the main draw is the freshly caught oysters served however you like them (cooked, naked, or garnished) and with plenty of dressings at the various Tabasco “Hotspots” located throughout the festival grounds.

For those who cannot make it out for the big festival, there are still plenty of opportunities to try Knysna’s famous local oysters. Restaurants like 34 South, located on the waterfront, serve fresh oysters as well as any other seafood dishes you might desire (including sushi), caught right out in the harbor. Or one can enjoy an oyster cruise in the Knysna lagoon, just off Thesen Island, and learn about the difference between cultivated oysters and fresh, wild oysters.

Even for the foodie who is not a big seafood fan, Knysna has something to offer. Chatters is a family-run restaurant, making handmade pizzas served with equally excellent wine pairings, and South Africa knows a thing or two when it comes to great wine. For those interested in fine dining, there is also Pembrey’s Bistro, with a French-inspired menu passionately crafted by co-chefs & owners, Peter & Viv Vadas. Their ever-changing chalkboard menu always features exquisite dishes such as slow-roasted karoo lamb with fresh-made ravioli or grilled ostrich fillet hummus with port & sultana.

While visiting South Africa, travelers will surely want to try local delicacies that they cannot get anywhere else. Bobotie is a traditional South African dish that has been served in the region ever since the 17th century. It consists of minced meat that is both sweet and spicy (usually seasoned with curry powder), an egg-based topping, and often served with sambal and yellow rice. Another 17th century dish that was brought over by the Dutch is Potjiekos (or “small pots”). The only requirements for this dish is that it is cooked in a small potjie, or three-legged cast-iron pot, outdoors. Everything else as far as ingredients and spices for the stew is up to the individual chef.

So whether travelers want to sample local South African flavors and delicacies or learn firsthand why the Cape province is so famous for its oysters, Knysna is a picturesque foodie destination with cuisine and wine that is nothing short of unforgettable.

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