Whether you are tucking into an oxtail stew in the Little Karoo or a sirloin steak at an upmarket city steakhouse, you will soon realise that South Africans know their meat and its restaurants serve up the real deal.

Did you know?

If you're keen to sample some local venison, look out for ostrich and kudu, which often feature on menus.

South Africans really do love their meat, so if you're keen on sampling a perfectly cooked steak then you need look no further than the great South African steakhouse.

Each town, suburb or city is sure to have a favourite steakhouse that serves top quality meat, piping hot side dishes (usually featuring chips, fried onion rings and vegetables), excellent wine and ice-cold beers. It's always a good idea to ask the locals what their favourites are. Here are a few suggestions.

One of the best steakhouses in the country is Carne SA, an award-winning, upmarket restaurant in central Cape Town, whose Italian owner, Giorgio Nava, specialises in meat cooked to perfection.

Other old favourites in the Cape include Nelson's Eye in central Cape Town, Barristers in Newlands, Hussar's Grill in Rondebosch, Green Point and Camps Bay, and HQ (also in central Cape Town), which specialises in grilled sirloin with a side order of chips, salad and Cafe de Paris butter.

In Johannesburg, the Butcher Shop & Grill in Sandton (with a butchery and deli too) is famous for its superior cuts. The Local Grill, in Parktown North and Boksburg, has made a name for itself, while the Karoo Cattle and Land restaurant in Rosebank has established itself as a restaurant with a uniquely South African flavour. Also try the Grillhouse (Rosebank and Sandton) for superb meat dishes.

Smith & Wollensky Steakhouse in Eastgate also gets the thumbs-up from carnivores, as do the Turn & Tender restaurants (there are four in Johannesburg), where regular clientele enjoy perfectly cooked steaks and great side dishes. For those who love a bit of tradition, the Thunder Gun Steakhouse in Northcliff is famed for its ribs (and other meat dishes too).

Durban also has a few legendary spots. The Oyster Box Hotel in Umhlanga is home to the Grill Room, offering a variety of meat dishes. Havana Grill at the SunCoast casino on the Marine Parade, Steak and Ale in Umhlanga and Joop's Place in Morningside all offer something special for meat eaters.

In Port Elizabeth, Flava restaurant, serving lamb steaklets and BBQ pork, has made a name for itself as the place to go for great grills and fabulous deserts.

And don't overlook the smaller towns on your travels, where you are bound to find something special, in particular Karoo lamb, which is a great country favourite.

Take some local advice and tuck in.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Carne SA
70 Keerom Street, Cape Town
Tel: +27 (0)21 426 5566

Butcher Shop & Grill
Shop 30, Nelson Mandela Square, Sandton
Tel: +27 (0)784 8676/7

The Local Grill
No. 40, 7th Avenue, Parktown North
Tel: +27 (0)11 880 1946

How to get around

Having your own car in South Africa is an added benefit as it gives you freedom of movement.

What will it cost

Prices will vary from menu to menu and restaurant to restaurant. However, an average main course in a good steakhouse or meat restaurant will set you back between R90 and R150.

Length of stay

Most steakhouses are open for lunch and dinner from Monday to Sunday (closing time 10pm, or when the last table leaves). Many restaurants in South Africa are not open on Mondays, so it's best to check. It's also a good idea to book a table as many of these restaurants are very popular with locals.

What to eat

Enjoy the Florentine beef steak at Carne SA or an ostrich fillet at the Butcher Shop & Grill.

Best buys

If you are keen on meat, you should try some biltong, a South African version of jerky. Most popular are beef or game biltong, which is readily available at supermarkets, butcheries and at airport retail stores.