Thinly sliced pork, pickled in white wine, crumbed and deep fried, and served on charcoal brioche with kimchi & wasab mayo at James Diack's restaurant, Coobs.
Thinly sliced pork, pickled in white wine, crumbed and deep fried, and served on charcoal brioche with kimchi & wasab mayo at James Diack's restaurant, Coobs.
Image: Supplied / Wanted

After going to hundreds of food and booze experiences jammed into the calendar, the food team at Wanted (and our sibling title, Financial Mail) rounded up their epicurean highlights for 2018. 

Some of the choices may be controversial — shockingly, not all of them are in Cape Town — and yes, we’ve given an award for the sexiest chef, because, well, we’re not dead! We’ve dished out the kudos where they’re due, and hopefully helped you make your dining and drinking choices (fancy or not) incredibly simple. The pleasure was all ours.

BEST BAKED GOODS

Tonka Bean Bakery, Fourways, Joburg

The almond croissants here are clearly made from fairy-dust dreams and butter — lots of butter. Tip: exceptional for deadline-extension bribery.

BEST ICE CREAM

Unframed, Gardens, Cape Town

If we have to scream for ice cream, then we’re hollering at this Cape Town hipster stronghold. Its ever-expanding selection of largely vegan options is a revelation.

BEST BREAKFAST WITH A VIEW

East Head Café, Knysna

It's got one of the best views on the Garden Route and offers delightful breakfasts in every form and calorie count. Oh, and its service is morning brightening.

BEST HANGOVER FOOD

Clarke’s Bar and Dining Room, City Bowl, Cape Town

The fried-chicken burger situation is manna from heaven when everything else feels like hell.

BEST-KEPT SECRET

Banchan, Parkmore, Sandton

Nothing warms our collective hearts like a bowl of Korean noodles from this tiny, authentic spot. It puts the pseudo-Asian places to shame.

BEST TAKEOUT

The Leopard, Milpark, Joburg

The fuel that runs Wanted HQ. The little buzz bike that ushers in pata plate wraps and vigour bowls from our favourite Joburg deli/restaurant is a godsend that not even EFF protesters can keep us away from.

BEST CONFERENCE FOOD

Convivium, near Malmesbury

Yes, this may be cheating a little bit, as it is a food conference after all. But after the caprese salad sticks at every other meeting this year, it’s hard not to yearn for Luke Dale-Roberts’ goat tacos.

BEST BLOW-THE-BUDGET DINNER

Restaurant Mosaic, Elandsfontein, Pretoria

Best you book a Byzantine-esque room and stay the night. Between the magical food bonanza and the never-ending cellar, you won’t make it anywhere else.

Mosaic.
Mosaic.
Image: Supplied / Wanted

BEST JOURNO HANGOUT

The Blind Tiger, Parkview, Joburg

Got a scoop? A pitch? You know where to find us.

BEST DEADLINE TIPPLE

Kamiki

It got us through the best of times and the worst of times. Our mismatched cups and mugs runneth over with this sterling Japanese whisky.

BEST MAD COCKTAIL

The Sugarbird, Cause Effect Cocktail Kitchen, Gardens, Cape Town

We like our cocktails simple, so this bird-shaped-glass-meets-flower monstrosity was too much, but its extreme levels of ridiculousness deserve snaps for sheer audacity.

BEST COFFEE

Father, Braamfontein, Joburg

It’s a contentious decision. Fight us.

BEST WINE YOU'VE NEVER HEARD OF

Silwervis, Smiley Chenin Blanc

It tastes like the sea, there’s a sheep’s head on the label, and the winemaker wears a kilt. What more do you need?

BEST BUBBLES

Paul René MCC Brut Rosé

In terms of homegrown bubbles, you can’t do better than Paul René. Fruity, dry, and wonderful.

BEST SOCIAL-MEDIA FOOD PORN

@Veldandsea

Every photo is a moment of lush wonder beckoning you to the sea.

BEST WINE BAR

Publik, Gardens, Cape Town

Because it sells the aforementioned sheep’s head chenin and other delightful small-batch wines. And its spot off Kloof Nek Road is our Cape Town decompression chamber.

BEST PLACE TO BE SEEN

Gemelli, Bryanston, Joburg

This mainstay continues to be the preferred spot for the hungry, fabulous, and famous. And who can blame them? The grub is on point.

BEST-LOOKING CHEF

Ryan Cole

Let’s just say, we’re not only going to Salsify for the ridiculously good food.

BEST DURBS VIBES

Al Firenze, Umhlanga

Don’t forget about KZN, you guys. Sheesh! This is proper home-style Italian deliciousness.

BEST NEW KID ON THE BLOCK

Saint, Sandton, Joburg

Art on the ceiling, art on the plate — who knew pizza could be this fancy?

BEST INNOVATION

Wolfgat, Paternoster

You’ve got to drive far for it, but this mind-alteringly excellent and unpretentious fare is worth it.

BEST FOR ECOLOGICAL VIBES

James Diack

Diack brings his farm to several tables and we applaud him for every well-loved and truly sustainable ingredient. More of this, please.

Coobs chef James Diack.
Coobs chef James Diack.
Image: Supplied / Wanted

BEST SEAT IN TOWN

On the pass at the Test Kitchen, Woodstock, Cape Town

We know the right people — what can we say?

BEST JOBURG RESTAURANT

Farro, Illovo, Joburg

This glittering new star of the South African food scene has shaken things up with its oft-changing, casual fine dining. Nab a standing weekly reservation there — and thank us later.

BEST CAPE TOWN RESTAURANT

La Tête, City Bowl, Cape Town

Our hearts and minds belong to chef Giles Edwards and his chicken hearts, devilled kidneys, and brains on toast.

- From the December edition of Wanted.

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