If you ever find yourself on the long and dusty R355 between Ceres and Calvinia in the Tankwa Karoo, be sure to stop here for a cold one and a roosterkoek burger.

Where is it?
On the R355 between Ceres and Calvinia in the Tankwa Karoo.

Why stop there?
This trading store, restaurant and bar is a welcome oasis in the middle of nowhere. There’s cold beers, plenty of good food, a Karoo swimming pool, a play area for kids and a store where you can pick up any necessities. It’s a much-loved establishment by locals, bikers, roadtrippers and Burners alike and for very good reason. 

When is it open?
Monday to Saturday 09h00-17h00, Sundays 08h00-17h00. Closed on Wednesdays.

Contact details
Email them or visit their Facebook page.

I appear to be a bit behind in discovering this unique desert oasis, but it’s not often that I hang around in the Tankwa Karoo. In fact the last time I was there, it was for the second AfrikaBurn event in 2008 and I don’t recall ever visiting the Tankwa Padstal.  But now I have been, thanks to a friend’s recent birthday weekend away, and I was suitably impressed by this quirky little outpost in the middle of nowhere.

The Tankwa Padstal, owned by brothers Hein and Wally Lange, is not just a padstal selling pies, bread and trinkets. It’s a trading store, restaurant and bar. However, it wasn’t always this way. Here’s the rather endearing story…

On a Sunday evening in September 2014, a youngster upset patrons at the Tankwa Padstal with his drunken behaviour and was asked to leave. That night, fuelled with rage, he returned with some petrol and set the entire padstal on fire.  The flames were so strong that most of the existing building had to be demolished.  Everything was lost and insurance was minimal. However, word travels fast in the desert and within a few hours people were calling to see how they could help.  A motorbike club collected money from far and wide, trucks came through with building materials, locals and fans came to help with the rebuilding and AfrikaBurners set up a temporary bar in a tent.  Talk about a whole lotta love! And now the Tankwa Padstal is even bigger and better than before.

You’ll find a painting of the original Tankwa Padstal in the bar.

I never visited the original store, but the new one certainly got my attention thanks to all the interesting décor, oddments and works of “art” (both outside and indoors). Then there’s the clientele that range from bikers to cyclists, upcountry visitors to sheep farmers and local children looking to buy some sweets. It’s quite an eclectic mix!

The restaurant menu can be found on a blackboard and includes roosterkoek with various fillings, including cheese and jam and ham, cheese and tomato.  You can have breakfast (including a Babalas Breakfast) or opt for a roosterkoek burger with handcut chips. The burger options include beef and chicken (or have the best of both) and there’s also a vegan patty. In fact, I was interested to find out that Hein Lange is a vegan – not something you’d expect to find in lamb chop territory!  Not being vegan, I tried out their “new” chicken kiev dish for lunch and it comes highly recommended…

Behind the bar you’ll find Wally Lange who will regale you with stories about the history of the padstal while happily pouring you’re a cold one. There’s also plenty of interesting bits and pieces in the bar, including their famous “Barbie Q” – a collection of Barbie dolls in a braai grid!

The shop is typical general dealer store, with everything from cooldrinks to sweets and crisps, to household necessities, toys and paint. You can set aside at least an hour to snoop through everything in there! And don’t be surprised if you leave with a tin mug or jars of homemade Karoo pickles or jams. Watch out for their famous ginger beer – it’s got quite the kick!

There’s a play area for kids (make sure they are covered in sunblock as there is no shade in the play area) and whilst I didn’t see any dogs there, I am sure your dog would be welcome too. In fact, I think everyone is welcome here as you are certainly made to feel that way!

I know that this padstal has been around for a long time and has always been hugely popular with locals, travellers, bikers and Burners, but I am glad that I finally discovered it. And if you ever find yourself on the long and dusty R355, be sure to make a turn for a cold one and a roosterkoek burger. But be warned, you may stay longer than anticipated!

You are welcome to cool off in their Karoo swimming pool.

Published December 2020 | Own cost