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Affordable eats: 7 great restaurants in South Africa for a midweek meal on a budget

by | 17 February 2023

There’s no denying it, times are tough and money is tight. We can all agree that eating out is a luxury, but some restaurants are better suited for spontaneous visits than others.

These are my picks of some of the best restaurants for a casual, midweek (or mid-month) meal that won’t break the bank.

Cape Town

Bodega Ramen

(Cape Town City Centre, Cape Town)

When the craving for a steaming bowl of brothy noodles hits, there’s no ignoring it and Bodega is undoubtedly the spot to scratch that itch. With a frequently-updated blackboard menu, you’re never sure what’s going to be on offer, but you’ll always find their staple ramen available. Warming and satisfying and under R200, these ramen bowls are an affordable no-brainer that will fill you up, every time.

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Obi Restaurant

(Cape Town City Centre, Cape Town)

One of Cape Town’s old reliables, Obi is known for fresh sushi, bold Japanese flavours, and really well-priced lunch and dinner specials. Having ranked highly in the value category in last year’s Reviewers’ Choice Awards, this crowd-pleaser is an excellent spot for a last-minute catch-up with a friend (just make sure you check online if they have space!) or a group get-together that won’t leave you feeling out of pocket.

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Limoncello Ristorante

(Noordhoek, Cape Town)

There is no shortage of special restaurants to visit on a Sunday in the Western Cape, but some of them require a little planning ahead, from a cost perspective. Limoncello, another of your 2022 favourites, ticks all the boxes for scenery (and a scenic drive out to Noordhoek!) and outstanding food at a reasonable price point. A seafood-focused, Italian-inspired menu with fresh, housemade pasta that doesn’t cost a bomb? You better believe it.

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(Norwood, Johannesburg)

Another top-scorer in the 2022 Reviewers’ Choice awards, Ba-Pita is known for generous platters of Middle Eastern fare intended to be shared, family-style. Tables of 2 – 4 people are well-catered for, with the choice of vegetarian, meat or Ba-Pita’s synonymous platter, but there is also the option to create your own if that’s more your thing. Whatever your budget, make sure you get the laffa flatbread, it’s iconic.

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Parea Taverna

(Sandton, Johannesburg)

Parea is a testament to doing one thing and doing it very well. This stalwart has been a staple in Joburg’s restaurant scene for over 25 years and, when it comes to unfussy Greek food, no one does quite like them. The shareable nature of the menu tends to be a lot more affordable, too, and Parea has a number of platters guaranteed to satisfy everyone, but really, what more do you need than some fried halloumi, grilled calamari and a Greek salad?

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Butcher Boys Umhlanga

(Umhlanga Rocks, Durban)

One of Natal’s best-loved restaurants delivers on a number of fronts, from food to service and vibe, but considering their meaty focus, they’re relatively well-priced too and rack up many 5-star reviews for ‘value’. While the individual steak cuts might not be everyone’s idea of affordable, their sharing platters and meat combos are really good value for money. This is one to keep in mind for a spontaneous date night.

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And beyond…

De Vette Mossel

(Grootbrak, Hermanus and Hartbeespoort)

“Seafood” and “affordable’”aren’t often two words commonly associated with one another, but De Vette Mossel brand, with restaurants in Grootbrak, Hermanus and Hartbeespoort, is known for delivering an authentic “seekos” experience that doesn’t break the bank. Their all-you-can-eat set menu includes numerous courses of seafood dishes, such as braaied snoek, seafood potjie and mussel pots. You can, of course, opt for more expensive add-ons, like crayfish, which will push the price up, but considering their generous portions and enthusiastic encouragement to eat as much as you like, there’s no risk of going hungry here.

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jess spiro

Jess Spiro

Jess Spiro is a chef, freelance food writer and editor based in Cape Town, South Africa. She has a soft spot for roast chicken and a well-blended Negroni.

All views and opinions expressed in this article represent that of the author, Jess Spiro, and do not represent that of Dineplan or the companies we work with. While we make every effort to ensure that the information we share is accurate, we welcome any comments, suggestions, or correction of errors.

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