Like in other countries there are grocery stores in South Africa. The biggest ones are Woolworths, PicknPay, Checkers and Shoprite. The opening hours are liberal. You will usually find an open grocery store until 9 pm. There are several smaller corner shops which are open even well after 9pm. No need to starve in our beautiful country.
If I had to rate grocery stores I would have to pick Woolworths. Lovingly also called Woolies. Besides all the normal groceries, Woolies stocks the best most amazing selection of picknick and braai goodies, which is due to the good weather beeeeg in South Africa. You can find small wrapped portions of deliciousness, including gourmet mini burgers, mini chicken kebabs, Quinoi salads etc etc.
Most supermarkets allow you to shop online. I put Woolies online shopping facilities to the test on New Years Eve. A correct delivery arrived perfectly timed and cool at my house ready for the party. Delightful.
There is also a quite distinct health food scene developing with places like Wellness Warehouses and Organic zone. Both shops stock everything you need as a health freak: Organic vegetables, free range meat, algave sugar, as well as rice pasta and nifty fake meat stuff like Tempeh Bacon. Talking about healthy eating, some places in Cape Town consume more heavy traditional food, like chops and steak than others. If you hear the expression "lentil curtain" or "boerewors curtain" in connection with suburb demarcations, you will understand how important food is for each Capetonian sub culture.
Everything in the mother city takes 9 months, so Cape Towns market culture has only just recently started developing. Most important food and lifestyle markets in Cape Town include: Hout Bay Market, Hope Street market, Old Biscuit Mill Market and the slow market at Oude Libertas out in the winelands. If you are in Johannesburg and interested in markets you could visit: Bryanston Organic & Natural Market, Panorama Flea Market, Bamboo Rooftop Farmers Market.
Markets are quite upmarket affairs in South Africa and rarely places where you would contract a stomach bug. Craft markets etc also sometimes have food stores. My friends and I wouldn’t consume food there.
South African Restaurants are amazing and quite affordable, as labour costs are quite a bit cheaper than in many European countries. The Eat Out magazine is the bible for South African gourmets. You can browse through the different restaurant categories, including anything from small bistros to 5 star establishments in Cape Town and Joburg.
Please note that alcoholic beverages can only be bought until 6 pm. Some liquor shops are open longer. Getwine is a South African wine portal which allows you to easily buy superb South African wine online and have it delivered to your door. They have labelled and unlabelled wines at reduced prices.
If you prefer tap water, be assured that South African tap water is one of the best in the world. It can even be safely consumed by babies and toddlers.
South Africa is a playground for gourmets. Enjoy but remember: A second on your lips, a lifetime on your hips.