For a relatively small coastal town, Hermanus offers a plethora of dining options, and not only in town. Foodies in search of superfresh organic ingredients, innovatively combined and presented with unpretentious home-style flair, should head into the glorious countryside. East lies the quaint village of Stanford, where Mariana and husband Peter tend to their vegetable garden as carefully as to their guests in Mariana's Home Deli & Bistro (tel. 028/341-0272; lunch Thurs-Sun; no children under 10; no credit cards). If Mariana's is full (it is sometimes booked up over a month in advance), another gem to root out is Hovercraft's (tel. 028/341-0603; Fri-Sat from 7pm, Sun lunch from 12:30pm; no credit cards). It's just a handful of tables in a tiny ramshackle cottage surrounded by rambling moonflowers and wayward irises, and the menu is tiny and eclectic -- but a decadent Sunday lunch roast is just about assured. If neither of these has a table, turn to Stanford stalwart Paprika (tel. 028/341-0662; Wed-Sun dinner, Sun lunch; open more regularly in season), where new owner-chef Dolla Bruce chalks up daily specials on the blackboard outside the cottage. Alternatively, head west, turning into the sublime Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, where the burgeoning wine community has begun to capitalize on its 360° superb vistas (and dire global wine trading conditions) by diversifying into restaurants -- best of these is Heaven (tel. 072/905-3947; Tues-Sun noon-3pm), on the Newton Johnson Winery. The view is, okay, heavenly; and the menu, changing almost daily depending on what's available, is excellent. Signature dishes include the deep-fried onion with tandoori chicken filling, and the steak, cooked to perfection by Bruce (originally of B's Steakhouse, which you'll pass on the way here), served with a béarnaise sauce. There is also the swanky, see-and-be-seen La Vierge (tel. 028/313-2007; open daily for lunch and dinner), where you can quaff the estate's fine, steely-green sauvignon blancs and enjoy French-country meals in a glass-fronted bubble with dramatic views. (Try the honey, artichoke, pickled mushroom, and tomato jelly salad with Parmesan crisps.) Deeper into the countryside is laid-back Mogg's Country Cookhouse (tel. 028/312-4321; lunch Wed-Sun). Having passed all (and hopefully sampled a few) of the Hemel-en-Aarde wineries along the way, you'll find a colorful cottage at the end of a bumpy dirt track -- a thoroughly rustic venue (a reincarnated laborer's hut) where mother-and-daughter team Julia and Jenny serve up a small a-la-carte menu that changes weekly; expect such delicious combinations as roasted tomato and pepper soup, or kassler chops with goat's cheese and figs. It's warm and friendly, and you can bring your own bottle of wine at no extra charge. If the presence of the ocean helps to work up an appetite, try Milkwood (tel. 028/316-1516), a casual seafood restaurant located just above the Onrus beach (a short drive west of Hermanus), which scores top ratings for location and views. The food's not bad, either -- you can't go wrong with a plate of oysters, followed by linefish and washed down with the region's delicious Birkenhead beer.
Back in town, you'll almost certainly want a sea view while imbibing its bounty: Few restaurants in the world can beat the location at Bientang's Cave (tel. 028/312-3454; daily 11:30-4pm; Fri-Sat 7-9pm; reservations essential) -- a cave in the rocks literally just above the sea, with whales sometimes breaching at what feels like touching distance. You can eyeball the behemoths as you sample fresh linefish or bouillabaisse, but the food is pretty basic and the service can be slack. Also casual is Burgundy (tel. 028/312-2800), opposite the old harbor. The oldest building in town (the stone-and-clay cottage was built by a Swedish boat builder in 1875), it has a large terrace overlooking the bay and offers simple, perhaps slightly overpriced fare. For lunch, expect offerings such as a seafood salad with snoek, mackerel, and marinated calamari; the dinner menu is more comprehensive. Or follow ex-head-chef Deon to his new eatery, Joubert (tel. 028/312-4983; lunch and dinner Mon-Sat), tucked away in the high street. Here the slow-roasted duck is a favorite.
If you want a fine-dining atmosphere and attentive service, book a seaview table at the Pavilion or Seafood at the Marine (both at the Marine Hotel, see below), or specify the same at Meditterea Seafood Restaurant (tel. 028/313-1685; www.meditterea.co.za; dinner daily 6-9:30pm and Sun noon-3pm). Generally considered the best nonhotel restaurant in Hermanus, Meditterea has a great seafood selection (the seared tuna is signature but only occasionally available, as is the seafood trio of linefish, prawns, and grilled calamari). If you're stuffed with seafood, try the tender lamb cutlets with fresh mint risotto or anchovy mashed potatoes. Book well in advance, particularly if you want a window seat.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.