Cape of Good Eats

Here’s where I like to eat in Cape Town.

I document my culinary exploits in great detail on Instagram — look up the hashtag #capeofgoodeats for all of my Cape Town highlights. I also compiled a list of 18 essential Cape Town restaurants for the food bible Eater.com. And if you’re still struggling over where to eat, click download the Zomato app. It’s the go-to Yelp-like resource for all of Cape Town’s restaurants, hepatitis complete with menus and reviews. It also has helpful collections you can browse for various moods/occasions, from burgers to sundowners to gluten-free to dim sum. But if you’re curious about my picks, read on below.

IMG_5285Pictured: zucchini carpaccio at Hemelhuijs.

FINE DINING

The Test Kitchen / Pot Luck Club & Gallery One of most difficult reservations in town is at chef Luke Dale-Roberts’s Test Kitchen; if you can’t get in, try for a table at his nearby Pot Luck Club.

The Roundhouse If the weather is nice, you won’t find a better view of the beach anywhere in the city than from the gardens at the Roundhouse. Don’t believe me? Check out my Instagram shot.

La Mouette Depending on how the conversion rate is looking any given day, you can treat yourself to chef Henry Vigar’s decadent six-course tasting menu for under $25. No, not a typo. Great cozy setting for a special occasion.

Bombay Brasserie Cape Town pretty much sucks at the Indian food department — but Bombay Brasserie at the Taj (where else?) gets it SO right. Elegant setting, delicious Indian food, but prepare for a splurge.

MARKETS

Neighbourgoods Market Weekly market at the Old Biscuit Mill — it’s pretty popular with tourists, but there are still plenty of locals who head there every Saturday morning to sample some of the best artisanal fare from across the region. I blogged about it here.

Oranjezicht City Farm Market This used to be a low-key affair on the grounds of a popular urban farm in Cape Town, but its outgrown its original home and now takes place every Saturday at a tent near the V&A Waterfront.

FAST FOOD

Mariam’s Kitchen Cape Malay fast food — two locations, one in St. George’s Mall, right in the tourist circuit, and one on Heerengracht Street. Order a steak salomie. My favorite thing I’ve eaten in all of Cape Town — trust me on this.

Nando’s Global chain that originated right here in South Africa. Spicy peri-peri chicken, juicy and delicious.

COFFEE

Coffee culture is HUGE in Cape Town. Some of the best spots: Rosetta Roastery, Truth, Origin, Yours Truly, House of Machines, Bootlegger, Haas Coffee Collective, Tribe Coffee, and Deluxe Coffeeworks.

BREAKFAST/BRUNCH

Hemelhuijs My go-to spot for all-day breakfast or lunch. Delicious, fresh, seasonal, creative, gorgeous.

Kleinsky’s Delicatessen Great New York style deli fare — reubens, pastrami hashes, bagels, the works.

Company’s Garden Restaurant New-ish eatery in a beautiful setting: the historic Company’s Garden. Nice adult-size swings and giant chessboard are fun for grown-ups and kids alike.

Manna Epicure Chic restaurant on Kloof Street, with some seriously delicious coconut bread, among other things.

Four and Twenty If you’re willing to trek out to the suburb of Wynberg, I dare say this is the best brunch in Cape Town.

Starlings Cafe Charming little cafe hidden in plain sight on a busy street in Claremont — you’d have to know it’s there to find it, pretty much. The garden is idyllic and the breakfasts are awesome. Halal-friendly menu.

Loaves on Long Artisan bakery in a historic building on Long Street with delicious fresh breads and pastries and a nice breakfast menu.

Jason Bakery Jason Lilley has a manic following for his almond croissants and his doughssant-of-the-week (in insane flavors and combinations). If you’re not hitting up a market on a Saturday morning, this is the best local brekkie scene in the city.

STEAKS/BURGERS

Carne SA Rumored to have the best steak in Cape Town. While I haven’t consumed enough steaks to verify that claim, I can attest that it’s pretty damn good.

The Avenue This random (halal) steakhouse isn’t too far from where I live, so I wind up going here a LOT. It has delicious steaks and sauces, but I’m partial to the cheeseburger – one of the best I’ve ever had anywhere.

NV-80 Don’t be turned off by the garishly lit mall you’ll find NV-80 in — once you enter the second-floor restaurant, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how stylish and funky the interiors are. The (halal) steaks and seafood are some of the city’s best.

IYO Burgers Best burgers I’ve had in Cape Town.

Backyard Grill South Africans take their braais — barbecues — very seriously. If you can’t finagle an invite to someone’s house for one, this homey Seapoint spot is your next best bet for authentic smoky grilled meats.

Dog’s Bollocks Some of Cape Town’s best burgers are found in… an alley? This burger joint is a bit random (and funnily named), tucked into a garage on a small side street, but it’s definitely worth tracking down for burgers that are bigger than your face.

HQ You don’t get a choice here: salad, steak, and fries is what you’re going to eat, and the only way you can exert any control is by deciding how well you want your meat done (this is a classic steak frites concept à la Le Relais de Venise). This joint is bumping even on a Monday night.

Boston Random – a Boston-themed restaurant and bar with awesome burgers named for Boston’s famous sons and daughter’s – the Uma, the Matt, the JFK, and more.

LOCAL FAVORITES

Black Sheep Popular restaurant on Kloof Street – just great, hearty food and a nice vibe, a good place to go if you’re wondering where the plugged-in locals eat.

Bocca Hip pizzeria on buzzy Bree Street. No reservations, so be prepared for a wait.

Culture Club Cheese Temple to cheese with a menu that the lactose intolerant should avoid at all cost. Their gooey-crispy grilled cheese sandwiches with gourmet toppings are a must.

Charango Cape Town’s first Peruvian restaurant is one of the hippest new openings in the city

The Kitchen Wholesome, fresh food favored by the likes of Michelle Obama. I blogged about it here.

The Foodbarn Delightful ambience, with high-end gourmet cuisine by top chef Franck Dangereux served up in a revamped barn. I blogged about it here.

Haiku/Bukhara Haiku is one of the best modern Asian restaurants in Cape Town, and its sister restaurant, Bukhara, is easily the top Indian spot in town (sadly, for such a great food city, Cape Town is woefully lacking in the Indian food department). You’ll find them both in the heart of town, or at their newer outpost at the Waterfront, where you can order off of either menu. Both are halal.

Del Mar Best Mexican I’ve had in Cape Town, but don’t expect typical taco-ish fare — this is refined Mexican dining, with gorgeous views over Camps Bay.

SEAFOOD/SUSHI

Pigalle The decor is a bit dated but the seafood is always on point at this Greenpoint mainstay.

Baia This Waterfront spot is my pick for peri-peri prawns.

Willoughby’s I’m not big on sushi, but those who are unanimously claim that this unlikely spot in the middle of the mall at the V&A Waterfront is the best sushi in the city.

Nuri Sushi Cheap, delicious sushi in the middle of the CBD (I think they’re opening a second outlet nearby on St. George’s Mall too).

Umi Super-trendy Camps Bay modern Asian restaurant with beautiful ocean views and delicious (if expensive) sushi and sashimi.

CAPE MALAY

Bo-Kaap Kombuis High-end takes on the region’s distinctive Cape Malay cuisine — a fusion of Indian, African, Dutch, Indonesian, and Malaysian food.

DESSERT

The Creamery This ones for the ice cream aficionados. Creamery has cafes in the suburbs of Salt River, Newlands, and Mouille Point, or you can keep an eye out for the Creamery stands at Neighbourgoods Market or the V&A Waterfront food market.

Honest Chocolate Cafe Tiny little cafe and bakery featuring the cult local artisan chocolatier’s wares and freshly baked treats.

Kloof Street House There’s a lot more at this restaurant than just dessert, but I love going there after dinner to soak in the eclectic decor and indulge in the creative desserts.

Charly’s Bakery I can’t say I personally am too impressed by their cakes and treats, but I don’t mind including this here because the building itself is a site to behold — a giant pink confection of a place that’s worth a photo opp. And who knows, you might find the cupcakes are to your liking. (Another photo opp lies directly next to it: a beautiful mural of Mandela.)

WINELANDS FAVORITES

Babylonstoren Located en route to the Winelands, about half an hour from Cape Town, this gorgeous farm resort has two fabulous restaurants, Babel and Greenhouse. I blogged about a lovely lunch there here, and I wrote this beautifully shot spread for Bon Appetit magazine here.

Delaire Graff I don’t drink, but I accompanied a friend to a tasting here once and I can attest that the setting is one of the most picturesque I’ve ever seen.

Tokara Again, can’t weigh in on the wine, but I had a nice lunch at Tokara Delicatessen, and I rather enjoyed the olive oil tasting.

Schoon de Companje Absolutely delightful artisan bakery and café in the heart of historic Stellenbosch.

Spice Route This wine estate in Paarl feels like a culinary theme park for grown-ups — a seemingly endless expanse of fine dining, pizza, beer, burger, chocolate, and coffee options in a scenic setting.

Hoghouse Brewing Company I really liked chef PJ Vadas’s new spot in a historic house on the grounds of Spier wine farm — beautiful ambience and delicious freshly baked breads and pastries.

Still hungry? Check out my Eater.com guide to 18 Essential Cape Town Restaurants. And I’m Travel + Leisure’s Local Expert for Cape Town, and here are some of my food-focused top five lists from 2014:

Top Chefs in Cape Town
Best New Restaurants in Cape Town
Romantic Restaurants in Cape Town
Best Vineyards in Cape Town’s Winelands
Best Bars in Cape Town
Best Braai in Cape Town
Best Markets in Cape Town
Best Seafood Restaurants in Cape Town
Where to Eat in Cape Town’s Winelands Region
Best Coffeeshops in Cape Town
Best Cafes in Cape Town
Best Budget Restaurants in Cape Town
Best Breakfast Spots in Cape Town
Top Kid-Friendly Restaurants in Cape Town

And some Local Expert picks for Food & Wine:

Food & Wine, November 2014: Cape Town’s Best Date Spots
Food & Wine, November 2014: Cape Town’s Best Restaurants for Groups
Food & Wine, November 2014: Cape Town’s Best Hangover Cures
Food & Wine, November 2014: Cape Town’s Best Birthday Bars

STILL not satiated? Here’s a selection of food-focused Cape Town stories I’ve written:

Travel + Leisure, December 2015: Downtown Cape Town Is Loosening Its Tie
Travel + Leisure, October 2015: Our Favorite Local Bakeries Around the World
Conde Nast Traveller India, October 2015: Which Vineyard in South Africa Is for You?
Travel + Leisure, July 2015: Cape Town’s Bree Street Is a Gastronomic Hot Spot
Bon Appetit, May 2015: Eat, Drink, and Garden Your Heart Out at Babylonstoren
WSJ Magazine, February 2015: Bree Street: Cape Town’s Hippest Block
Endless Vacation, The Winelands of South Africa
New York Times, November 30, 2014: Restaurant Report – La Parada in Cape Town
Food & Wine, May 2014: Go List: Cape Town
New York Times, January 26, 2014: Have Some Dim Sum with Your Shirts?
Endless Vacation, Spring 2014: Cape of Great Food
Washington Post, November 15, 2013: In Cape Town, the Colorful Cuisine of the Cape Malay Quarter