Home > Gluten Free Travel Stories > Gluten-Free Foods in the Pietermaritzburg Area of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Gluten-Free Foods in the Pietermaritzburg Area of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Kwazulu-Natal. Courtesy of H Dragon

by Jewel Koopman

On behalf of those of us with gluten intolerance or celiac disease, I have been doing a survey of restaurants, cafés and shops in the Pietermaritzburg, Hilton and Howick areas of KwaZulu-Natal. As there are many places which sell food in this area, I have not yet approached all of them, and these are preliminary results. Some of the restaurants and cafés are small and privately owned, whereas others are part of a large chain or franchise, and branches can be found all over South Africa, in shopping malls and airports.

Disclaimer: Please note that neither myself, nor this website, nor any of the eating establishments mentioned take responsibility for anyone falling ill due to mistakenly eating gluten-free food, or food marked gluten-free, which was not actually gluten-free. Please check with the chef or management if you are at all unsure of any food item, and do not eat anything which you suspect may upset your system, even if the food is marked gluten-free.

Awareness of gluten intolerance (GI) is gradually growing in South Africa, and more and more restaurants and shops are selling gluten-free (GF) products. However, most restaurants do not offer GF bread, muffins or cakes. If you are staying in a self-catering establishment, and wish to bake your own bread and cakes, Nature's Choice and other brands of GF flour mixes can be found in some of the larger and more up-market supermarkets, such as Pick & Pay and the Spar. Some of the upmarket Spars and Woolworths supply ready-made GF bread and muffins. They, Dis-Chem pharmacies and health shops, also stock ready-made GF cookies and other GF items.

The Banting low-carb diet is very popular in South Africa, and most Banting bread and other items are GF. One can also find GF pasta in Nonna's (near the Quarry Shopping Centre in Hilton), the Rotunda in Hilton, the health food shops, Dis-Chem at the Liberty Mall in Pietermaritzburg (Pmb) and some upmarket supermarkets.

In Bed & Breakfasts (B&Bs), restaurants and cafés, it is fairly easy to find enough GF food to eat at breakfast time. Often a buffet is available, providing yoghurt, fruit salad, fruit juice, bacon, beans, tomatoes and a variety of eggs - fried, poached, scrambled and omelettes and tea, rooibos tea and coffee. Most places do not have GF bread or muffins on offer, except for Coffeeberry, Sagewood and Mugg& Bean in Pmb, and The Farmer's Daughter in Howick.

Lunch becomes more problematic, but most places offer basic salads and chips or baked potatoes. Some offer grilled fish and chips cooked in a dedicated deep-fat fryer.Please see my restaurant questionnaires for details about what is on offer at various eating establishments.

In Pmb, I recommend Tea on 23 in Scottsville; Coffeeberry at Cascades Shopping Centre; Sagewood Café at Blackwoods Nursery near the Royal Showgrounds, and FegoCaffé in Exclusive Books and Mugg& Bean at the Liberty Midlands Mall. The chef at Coffeeberry has family members who are GI, so is very aware of the situation.

In Howick, I recommend the Yellowwood Café and the Farmer's Daughter, on the Karkloof Road. The owner of the Yellowwood Café has a good knowledge of GF requirements, as she also provides GF food for wedding guests and those attending other functions. At the Farmer's Daughter, the manager's husband is GI, so she is very aware of the problem.

Dinner or supper is usually easier than lunch, with fish, chicken, lamb or beef, rice, potatoes and a variety of vegetables, on offer. Please be careful of the sauces, stews, curries and gravies, and check that cornflour, rather than wheat flour, has been used for thickening. Please see the questionnaires for a detailed response. Most places do not serve GF puddings or desserts, except for Yellowwood Café, and Coffeeberrywhere a few puddings are GF.Even the ice-cream may sometimes contain gluten at some places. Please note that not all of these places are open in the evening.

Please note that many of the large franchises serve food which is heavily battered, so one has to be careful. The Spur has an excellent website where a detailed breakdown of the contents of every item is listed in an ingredient declaration, specifying whether or not it is GF. Unfortunately, there is little GF food on offer. One could eat the drifter breakfast with chips and no toast, a basic salad, chips or baked potato. The burger patties and steaks appear to be GF, but they are heavily laced with other flavour enhancers, to which some GI people may have a bad reaction.

Many people with GI also have leaky gut, or very sensitive digestive systems, so additives such as monosodium glutamate or maltodextrin, or seeds, such as linseeds and sunflower seeds, may cause a bad response.


Wherever you're going, remember to take a free gluten free restaurant card with you.

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