Knysna is a popular destination in South Africa. Located on the scenic Garden Route on the south-eastern coast between Mossel Bay and Storms River, Knysna is an ideal stopover when exploring the Western Cape.

Knysna is about a five-hour drive east of Cape Town and has much to offer – beautiful scenery, beaches and forests as well as unique attractions including Knysna Elephant Park, Garden of Eden, Monkey Land – just to name a few. Knysna offers plenty of excellent accommodation and a host of wonderful restaurants.

Eating out is part of the fun on holidays but can sometimes be a hit and miss affair. On a recent trip to Knysna we discovered some new places to eat and some local favourites.


Don’t miss Freshline for a rustic feet-in-sand experience and delicious local seafood.

This is the type of restaurant that South Africans do so well.

The food is fresh and the atmosphere beautifully rustic. The speciality here is fresh seafood – grilled, fried or on the braai – however you want it cooked, they will do it for you. There are also sides of delicious salads, rice, chips, etc.

The décor is rustic – sand covers the floor, seating is at wooden picnic tables under umbrellas, fairy lights and lanterns add a charming ambience. We visited in cool weather and loved the fires burning in sawn-off drums – smoke lingered in our clothes when we left and reminded us of the outdoors and campfires.

Freshline is not licensed and it’s not unusual to see the locals arrive with Eskies – it’s BYO wine, beer or spirits. Even better, there is no corkage fee.

You will find Freshline just off Long Street as you drive from Knysna Central towards Thesen Harbour Town (turn left just before you cross the Thesen bridge). Tel: +27 44 382 3131.

Rib & Rump

Right next door to Freshline and owned by the same people, Rib & Rump opened in March 2015. It is a great addition to Knysna’s restaurant scene.

We visited on a Monday evening and had no problems getting a table. The atmosphere is rustic and there is an outdoor area for the warmer weather – sandy floor and timber tables and benches.

The food was delicious. We ordered a 200g Rump Steak, a 300g serving of Pork Ribs and a Mediterranean Salad. The steak was perfectly cooked and tender, the ribs were meaty and delicious and the salad serving was generous.

At the time of our visit there was a choice of rump, sirloin, fillet and T-bone steaks in various sizes, plus beef kebabs, pork ribs, springbok loin, kudu loin and ostrich fillet. There is a choice of either pepper, peri peri, mushroom, monkey gland and garlic sauce to accompany your steak. The beef is AAA grade and aged to perfection. For dessert we ordered a Traditional Weskus Trifle (Weskus means West Coast), served in an enamel cup and deliciously fresh.

The menu is being expanded and it is possible to order seafood from Freshline next door, however our friendly waiter said they can’t guarantee the seafood meal will arrive at the same time as the meat because the meals come out of different kitchens.

The prices are very reasonable – our meal was just R200 (about A$20).

We can highly recommend a visit to Rib & Rump. We expect in summer it is advisable to book.

Visit the website at for more information or Telephone 044 382 0722. You will find Rib & Rump just off Long Street as you drive from Knysna Central towards Thesen Harbour Town (turn left just before you cross Thesen Island bridge). Tel: +27 44 382 0722.


Pembreys is a long-time favourite and with good reason. In our opinion, the best dining experience in Knysna. We particularly enjoy the Sunday roasts, and the selection of anti-pasta to start.

Pembreys, Brenton Rd, Knysna. Tel +27 44 386 0005

East Head Cafe

One of the best restaurants in Knysna for breakfast or lunch. East Head Café is on the water at Knysna Heads – fabulous views. Usually closed in May.

East Head Café is at 25 George Rex Drive, Knysna. Tel +27 44 384 0933.

Col’Cacchio Pizzeria

Enjoy delicious wood-fired pizza, pasta and salads on charming Thesen Island. The menu is extensive and vegetarians are well catered for.

We ordered the “Green Genie” pizza with a topping of roasted garlic, roasted butternut, roasted beetroot, shitake mushroom, rocket, avocado, Italian parmesan, feta, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, balsamic glaze – which we shared between two.

The restaurant has a very pleasant, modern atmosphere and seating is either indoors or out with lovely views over the lagoon. If you have children they will love the playground and you can relax at an outdoor table to keep an eye on them while enjoying your meal.

We loved the food and the atmosphere and would happily go again.

14 Ferry Lane, Thesen Harbourtown, Knysna. Tel 044 302 5750.

Chatters Bistro

We had a quick Friday night dinner at Chatters – it was recommended by a local.

We ordered a vegetarian pizza together with Penne Sicilliana. The pizza is wood-fired with a good, thin pastry and fresh toppings. While not authentically Italian pizza, we found it a healthy meal with fresh ingredients and not overly salty as so many pizzas are. The pasta was delicious and featured goats cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, cherry tomatoes and basil. Overall it was a good, light meal. The desserts also looked delicious.

The standout at this restaurant is the friendly service. It is a family-run and it certainly shows.

The front courtyard of the restaurant is very pretty at night with lights and candles. Inside there is a small fire, which is warm and cosy on winter evenings.

Chatters Bistro is at 9A Gray Street, Knysna. Tel +27 44 382 0203. Website:

Café Mario

Visited the very popular Café Mario on a Saturday evening and arrived around 6.30pm without a booking. The inside tables were either taken or reserved but the friendly staff offered us a high, round table outside. Although it was a little cold, we accepted the table and were kindly offered blankets which kept us warm.

The menu was extensive and we asked for a recommendation for a pizza and pasta dish to share. We took our waiter’s advice and ordered the Pizza Rusticana (mozzarella, tomato base, cream spinach, bacon, feta, avo) and the Pasta Rucola (fettuccini with rocket, pesto, tomato, feta and chicken sautéed with onion and pepper). Both dishes were very tasty. The pizza was wood-fired with generous topping and the pasta was a generous serve.

Café Mario is a good choice for Italian food and would be particularly pleasant at lunchtime as it is located on Knysna Quays.

Café Mario, Knysna Waterfront. Telephone +27 44 382 7250.

34 Degrees South

This has been a Knysna favourite for many years. Located at the Knysna Waterfront, 34 Degrees South has an extensive menu and now includes a sushi bar. Not just a restaurant, you can also buy deli items, wine, bread, fish, gifts and more!

Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Telephone +27 44 382 7331, Knysna Waterfront. Website:

Earth & Fire Restaurant (Blackwaters River Lodge)

A lovely restaurant – particularly during the day as it is situated in the beautiful grounds of the Blackwaters River Lodge on the Goukamma River.

The restaurant is located in what was originally a tractor shed and has a cosy indoor dining area plus a deck that overlooks the garden and golf course. We visited for afternoon tea but the menu was very tempting with home made dishes and freshly baked bread.

Earth & Fire, Blackwaters River Lodge, N2 Hwy, Goukamma, Knysna.

Die Gieter Restaurant (Knysna Riverside Lodge)

The Knysna Riverside Lodge changed ownership in late 2014 and with it the Die Gieter Restaurant (part of the property). Local residents are raving about the food and hospitality at Die Gieter – described as French/Mediterranean. Bookings recommended.

Die Gieter Restaurant, Phantom Pass Rd, 5, Knysna. Tel +27 44 386 0201.

Mon Petit Pain

A good place for breakfast or light lunch with delicious pastries, bread, sandwiches, etc. Lovely atmosphere in a cottage on Hedge Street, Knysna – look for the black and white striped awning (not Gray Street as listed on their website – they moved to Hedge Street some time ago). Telephone +27 44 382 7873.


Another restaurant that local residents highly recommend. The Anchorage specialises in seafood but there are also excellent choices for game and meat. Bookings are advisable

Anchorage, 11 Gray St, Knysna. Telephone +27 44 382 2230.

Jean’s Bakery

This bakery serves delicious home-baked food (cakes, pastries, pies, quiche, bread, etc) and is a great spot for lunch, morning tea or afternoon tea. On a nice day, there is an attractive deck for eating outside. It’s also a great place to pick up something to take away. If you are shopping at Fruit & Veg, stop at Jean’s for a treat. Cakes are a speciality.

Waterfront Drive (next to Fruit & Veg), Knysna. Telephone +27 44 382 5531

Fruit & Veg

While not a cafe, Fruit & Veg is a one stop shopping food experience. Not only can you buy your fruit and veg, you can buy meat, deli items, bread, pastries, groceries and more.

Corner Waterkant Drive & Tide Street, Knysna

Wild Oats Community Farmers’ Market

Fresh, local, homemade produce – this is one of the best food markets we have visited anywhere in the world. Don’t miss the ‘big breakfast’ and the cinnamon pancakes – enjoy them at the rustic tables underneath the trees – a beautiful setting.

Saturday mornings 7.30am-12 noon (Summer) and 8am-12 noon (Winter)
Find the market just off the N2 on the western side of Sedgefield (on your left if driving from Knysna, about 20 minutes by car).

Ile de Pain

During our visit in May 2015, there was a fire at Ile de Pain that closed the restaurant. It is worth keeping an eye out for a new opening date as Ile de Pain has been a Knysna icon for years. Located on Thesen Island, it’s a charming café and bakery open for breakfast and lunch. Very pleasant sitting in the airy interior, or outside in the courtyard. Fresh, wholesome food including delicious pastries and bread (made in a wood fired oven).

Ile de Pain, 10 The Boatshed, Thesen Harbour Town, Knysna. Tel +27 44 302 5707.
Ile de Pain Facebook page –
May 2015