Paternoster – an amazing foodie retreat in the Cape that is well off the beaten track.

Paternoster – an amazing foodie retreat in the Cape that is well off the beaten track.

Paternoster is my favourite gourmet retreat in the Western Cape.   It is literally in the middle of nowhere –  two and half hours drive from Cape Town.  Here you can experience a little foodie paradise.  It would be a drawcard just for the food – but there is a reason that the foodies wish to retreat out here – the place is quite simply beautiful.

Paternoster is located on a beach on our dry coastline – the West Coast.   There was originally a small fishing village over here (and still is!).  The family that owned the farm next door gradually started selling off pieces of the land that they owned and a little village was formed.   Most of the village has followed two styles with building – they have chosen between white West Coast style cottages with thatch roofs or building with the rustic stones of the area (or a combo).   Both are quite simply gorgeous.

This little village offers the following combo that matches what I am looking for completely:

  • A couple of really great restaurants and dining experiences
  • The opportunity to buy crayfish (lobster) straight from the fisherman as the boats come in (make sure it is crayfish season when you are there – as purchasing from the fishermen out of season will get you arrested!)
  • A lovely beach for walking and sun tanning (note swimming is only for the brave as it is really cold – it is the Atlantic!)
  • It is fun to walk around and explore the village – the architecture is lovely and it has a really quaint seaside village feel to it.


Pam’s Guide to eating out in Paternoster:

Note I would recommend that you put some bookings in place if you are going to be there over the weekend – this is a weekend break away and the locals come in from Cape Town and the region for the weekend………and yes the restaurants do get fully booked!  Dining options:

  1. Dinner with Chef Arnold Hoon at Ah! Guesthouse – Arnold is a chef who came on holiday from Joburg with his wife and fell in love with the village of Paternoster – they ended up buying a little piece of land and building a small guesthouse on the ground.  The guesthouse reflects the artistic nature of the owners and is really comfy and luxurious.  Each night Arnold opens the guesthouse for dinner to those that have booked.  The maximum number is around 12 people for dinner.  Each day Arnold starts prepping food from around 3pm – if you would like lobster – make sure you ask in advance – alternatively you go with the menu as it is served.  It is always delicious!  For a foodie this is a great place to stay as breakfast is a continuation of the foodie journey!!  Note that Arnold is a highly talented chef and I would highly recommend that you place a booking for dinner here.  It is also great fun to meet up and chat to the mix of people who turn up for dinner.  This is a great social evening! Check out some of the pictures of their food here: http://www.ahguesthouse.com/great-food To book contact Arnold on +27 824645898 or e-mail info@ahguesthouse.com
  2. Gaatjie – this is owned by West Coast foodie Suzi Holtshausen who has written books on West Coast Cuisine.  Suzi owns Salt Coast Guesthouse and has expanded to this lovely location just above the beach in Paternoster.  This is a gourmet celebration of what is local and loved along the West Coast.  Expect West Coast Mussel dishes, oysters, sardines, lobster dishes in season and a creation of anything that is fresh.  This is a foodie feast  – do not plan to rush this meal – this is the perfect place to spend a long lazy afternoon working your way through the menu.  There is apparently a minimum charge of R150 per person during peak summer season.  I would highly highly recommend that you put a booking in place well before you arrive in Paternoster.  I love this spot and our last meal there was one of the best I have enjoyed in my life.  Contact Suzi at (022) 752 2242 or email: saltcoast@tiscali.co.za
  3. The Noisy Oyster Paternoster – this spot has an absolutely magical setting – it is set back from the coast under milkwood trees which have tibetan prayer flags tied between them.  The whole ambiance is delightfully bohemian and you feel relaxed immediately.    I like to do the coast restaurants during the day and to visit the noisy Oyster at night.  They always have wonderful signs such as “visit us for West Coast Viagra”…………oysters!  The setting is wonderful, the food is a celebration once again of West Coast cuisine and I would also highly recommend this spot!  To book call 022 752 2196 or Email: dkj@netactive.co.za Closed Sunday and Monday
  4. Voorstrand – we love the Voorstrand Restaurant – it has the best location – it is right in the centre of the beach and it is one of my favourite spots to have a long lazy lunch and just chill and have drinks for the afternoon.  Tell them to place your table on the beach if there is no wind – there is something so fun about having sand in between your toes while you enjoy a lovely bottle of wine!  Note that the Voorstrand offers good honest food – they are not as gourmet as the others – but it will be perfect for those who like their food a little more simple in preparation.
  5. Cook yourself!! This is the secret to Paternoster – it is really worthwhile hiring a holiday home while you are in Paternoster – this way you can go and buy your own lobster in season and cook your own – such bliss!!!   We have enjoyed lots of lovely lunches with lots of crayfish and champagne!   My idea of heaven!

Pam’s Guide to Accommodation in Paternoster

  • Ah! Guesthouse – a wonderful foodie guesthouse right at the end of the old village next to the beach. www.ahguesthouse.com
  • There is a variety of gorgeous homes that are available for renting as many owners only go on weekends or a few weeks a year.  One website that we have used to book before is www.stayinpaternoster.co.za (tip: the nicer houses are usually the one with a few bedrooms – the ones with one bedroom are basic – so even if you are just two people – it is worth looking at the larger houses for a more stylish stay!)
  • The Blue Dolphin – this has the most perfect location!  It is in front of Ah! Guesthouse in the old part of town and right on the beach.  This is owned by a wonderful slightly eccentric couple called George and Courtney.  The guys can cook really well and if you are staying there you can ask them to prepare you crayfish (lobster) or a traditional South African Braai (BBQ) on their terrace.  The guys bring a delightful Afrikaans slant to the cuisine and do a wonderful local celebration of flavours with their breakfasts.  The guesthouse is basic – but really comfortable and the hosts are really welcoming and warm.  The guys also rent out a self catering cottage right on the beach called Baby Dolphin – we stayed at the cottage and absolutely loved it!! George had to come and assist us with prepping the crayfish!! He looked at us like we were slightly mad!!  We are after all city girls and were very squeemish to put the live crayfish in the boiling water!!  www.bluedolphin.co.za
  • Abalone Guesthouse: This is a fairly new little boutique hotel in Paternoster and they have done a really lovely job with it www.abalonehouse.co.za

Heres hoping that if you are a foodie and you are traveling to South Africa that this inspires you to go and have an amazing time in Paternoster.  I cannot express how much fun it is to explore, meet the people and to taste the cuisine.  It is indeed a little piece of paradise.


Ps via e-mail I was advised that a good lady to get crayfish from during seasons details are: Ersula – 073 992 5628.  Have not tried her out – but will let you know once I have.  You can also simply watch for the boats coming in on the beach – but if you wish to be organized for a dinner party – chat to Ursula in advance!  (Note Crayfish are lobster for those who are not local)