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There’s nothing better than finding a hidden gem – a restaurant or café or little spot that nobody else seems to know about. Whether you’re a local or visiting Pretoria on holiday, we’ve rounded up some of the best spots that display the unique character of this special city.

Wonderboom Nature Reserve
A breath of fresh green air in the midst of the urban creep of the area, Wonderboom Nature Reserve has, at its heart, a 5.5 metre trunk that is all that’s left of the original wild fig that first started growing here over 1000 years ago. The tree was apparently once big enough to shade 1000 people at a time, and over the years its branches have rooted and produced daughter trees – there are now three circles of daughter trees around the original tree. Situated to the north of Pretoria near the Magaliesberg Mountains, it’s a must-see if you’re near Pretoria.

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Fermier isn’t just a restaurant – it’s a hydroponic and organic vegetable and fish farm as well. The restaurant is the brainchild of chef Adriaan Maree who is attempting to create a restaurant that will be completely self-sustainable in future. In his own words, he’s “creating an entire “ecosystem” from the fish and vegetables to the livestock, that suits our idea of responsible, conscientious farming (and restaurant) where even “waste” is turned into a functional part of the cycle.” It’s well worth a visit.

+27 Café
More than just a café, this tiny, unique space belongs to the architects at +27 Design. They use the café to showcase their design talent in all facts and to provide tailored services in architecture, custom designed furniture, men’s fashion, product design and superb coffee and food. They serve breakfast, lunch and coffee outdoors in this one-of-a-kind space.

Piccola Italia
The setting may be uninspiring – a suburbran shopping centre in Monument Park – but Piccola Italia serves up excellent Italian food with all the right trimmings and is one of those places you’ll want to return to again and again. In fact, that’s exactly how their business works, with regulars from the area filling up tables night after night.

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If you’re looking for something a little unique – some of Pretoria’s best-kept secrets – these are our favourites. What are yours?

Words: Bridget McNulty

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