So I thought I would try something different today. We eat out a lot…
The benefit: We VERY QUICKLY got to learn about the best places to eat in Port Elizabeth (our home for only 10 months now).
(Note: it took me a while to publish this, so technically I have now been here for a year, but our list of favourites stay the same. )
Now, this is me paying it forward:
- For the restaurants that have kept us fed the past almost-year: Thank you and I hope someone else sees your name on this list.
- For others visiting the area: Don’t miss out on these places. This is first hand knowledge doing the talking.
Without further ado…please follow my taste buds.
I put this one first because except for my regular work station (see below), this is the place my husband and I visit the most. Why? Because Cake.
We discovered the best baked item you’ll ever find and you can eat it in a stunning environment: Inside the centre your senses are entertained with quaint decor or you can sit outside where the nursery’s plants create a wonderfully refreshing space. As a bonus you can browse the book shop, the dress shop and other stalls.
But back to cake.
It’s called ‘Try it’. And we did. And we were forever thankful that we did.
Layers of cake, meringue, cream, custard…and I don’t know what else (I don’t care) create the perfect dish to brighten any day. My husband doesn’t like cake the way I do and he is ADDICTED to this. It’s sweet, but not to sweet. It’s always fresh because it doesn’t get time to go stale. On a Saturday the last pieces disappear by lunch time.
So you better get there early.
2. Best Place for Pork Belly: Bridge Street Breweries
One thing we learnt in Port Elizabeth is that you should always stay open to new experiences. The thing that was your favorite yesterday may not be on the list anymore tomorrow.
I was 35 before I heard people going on and on about Pork Belly. For some reason, from the moment we arrived in PE, people mentioned it. So, being curious, I tried it. At more than one place. And I was thoroughly disappointed. Places where meat was the ‘specialty’ (I won’t name names) failed to impress me.
And then friends took us to Bridge Street. With a very interesting menu in front of us I was surprised that our friends both ordered the Pork Belly AGAIN. They did mention it more than once already but with so many options, why not try something new?
And then I tasted it.
And then I understood.
OUT OF THIS WORLD.
I loved what was on my plate too, but the PB was something worth returning for again and again. Divine and not too rich.
I get it now guys! Thank you for ruining my ‘favorite things’ list.
3. Best Coffee Shop for Lemon Meringue: Coffee Society
Okay, I will admit I’m biased here. This isn’t only my favorite place for Lemon Meringue but it’s also my favorite place to hang out during the week. Working from home is a blessing but at least twice a week I need to get out of the house. That’s when I head over to Coffee Society where free Wi-Fi, good coffee and friendly faces serve as my office for the day.
But here’s why you have to go there and why you’ll thank me later: They got it right…the perfect balance between sweet and sour in the Lemon Meringue. I have honestly never tasted this anywhere else.
So do yourself a favour and get one (they’re small so you can order a whole one for YOURSELF) with some artisan coffee.
CS has a lot to offer, but I had to pick one thing for this list.
Anyone who has been to Blue Water Cafe will tell you something different they love. The view. The atmosphere. For us: the sushi.
Okay, I also love their Foccacia bread, but the Sushi is simply on another level. Always fresh and very original combinations. I can’t believe there was a time I didn’t eat sushi (yes it’s sad I know). I would have missed out on this and that would have been a tragedy.
5. Best Sauce Tasted at a Restaurant – Nanaga Farmstall
This isn’t a dish, but it should be with every dish you eat from now on. At least, that’s how it is in our house. My husband fell in love with Nanaga’s tomato chutney when we had it with our roosterkoek at the farmstall restaurant.
Luckily you can purchase it in the shop across the courtyard from the restaurant. Now we always stop for another bottle of this flavourful condiment if we’re in the area.
Okay, this place isn’t IN Port Elizabeth, but it’s close enough and when you’re exploring the area, driving a few kilometers shouldn’t matter. (Yes I love road trips)
6. Best Restaurant for a View: Sacramento
So this isn’t about a dish, but isn’t atmosphere part of every exceptional food experience? For that, I head over to Sacramento.
It’s near the sea.
It’s cozy inside and there’s a fireplace.
You can see the sea.
They welcome dogs.
You can look at the waves.
There’s some interesting decor relating to old ships and canons (Sacramento was a ship).
It’s right by the sea.
You can see where I’m going with this and they do have some impressive dishes on the menu.
Just go to the sea and thank me later.
7. Best Gin…and Other Things, You’ll Find at Coco Jo’s
So, I love chocolate and this restaurant uses cocoa (and its variants) in most of its dishes. You would think that’s why I recommend it. In the end, that wasn’t what blew me away.
While they have a beautiful setting overlooking a garden and I love that their pasta has flavour in each morsel of every bite (not simply a bit of sauce drizzled over bland carbohydrates), all of that comes second to this:
The most refreshing gin cocktail I have ever had. It tops anything I had in Johannesburg while I lived there.
Thank you to the manager who saw I needed that on a Friday and paired with their chocolate dessert I was in Coco heaven.
8. For Take Aways Just Go to Cassie’s
I think everyone in PE probably knows about this chain of restaurants, right? And rightly so.
It offers everything you expect from a takeaway restaurant. Even the Russian and chips meal is AMAZING. But this place goes one step further with fast food and even has some of the best ribs in town.
For dessert: Cassie’s makes soft serve the way I remembered it’s supposed to taste. That was back in 1989 when I was on holiday in JBay and had the creamiest ice cream near the beach front. Nothing ever came close to that. Until Cassie’s happened. Thank you dear take away outlet for recreating childhood bliss.
And yes, they have chocolate flavoured ice cream!!!
Okay, I’m cheating because I’m mentioning more sushi, but there’s one thing John Dory’s has that has us going back for more. Okay two things:
- Sushi dessert containing strawberries and chunks of cream cheese (yes CHUNKS).
- Bean curd pockets filled with prawns and avo
Both of those get drizzled with delectable sauces. Together they make up another favourite meal (especially because it comes at half price on Wednesdays).
10. Fish! At Sunridge Fish Tales
I come to the end of my list and realize I almost forgot the most important thing to be had in any town by the sea: Good old fish and chips. We’ve tasted quite a few vendors’ versions of this famous meal. My neighbours tell me I still have a few places to go, but at the moment our favourite is found at Fish Tales.
A perfect weekend evening (or any evening for that matter) is this fish (fried for me, grilled for hubby) with perfect slap chips and the restaurant’s tartare sauce. Add a good series (Game of Thrones, right?) and a soft couch & I can face anything the next day.
I think that about covers it. This list is bound to change often, depending on where we head to next. But I hope it gives you an idea of where to start.
Please, if you have any more suggestions, leave a comment below. There are many Friday nights that need dinner destinations. Help me make my next 10 months in my new home town be as tasty as the first 10.
Now I’m hungry.