Ingredients fresh from the African soil and sea
Top foodie haunts in Cape Town
12 February 2019 by Charlotte Smith.
One week in Cape Town and I’ve returned with slightly chubbier cheeks and a penchant for oysters at sundown. This strikingly beautiful city is a haven for foodies – surrounded by mother nature’s gift of goodness – many ingredients are fresh from the African soil and sea, paired with world-class Western Cape wines and the spectacular ocean vistas and mountain backdrops just make everything taste that little bit better.
And if that wasn’t quite enough to lure the culinary curious to the Cape, the prices will. Here, you can splurge on scallop starters, wild game steaks, cognac infused desserts, cocktails and a top notch bottle of Pinotage – the regional blend – often for a fraction of London prices.
The cuisine is a tribute to Cape Town’s cosmopolitan history and modern day culture, with flavours of South-East Asia and Northern Africa alongside European style cooking. The city is quickly building a name for itself as a leader in gastronomy, with new restaurants and chefs popping up across the city. But, be warned, the cat doesn’t stay in the bag for long, and many of these restaurants are fully booked weeks in advance – so make your reservations!
From lunch-sized nibbles to all-out wining and dining, here’s my top foodie haunts for a visit to Cape Town:
The Silo Rooftop
This is a great spot for day 1 lunch in the Cape. Located in the hive of the V&A Waterfront at the top of a swanky five star hotel, the Silo Rooftop offers relaxed al fresco dining with spectacular panoramic views. From here, you can spot Robben Island, Table Mountain, Lion’s Head and the Twelve Apostles so it’s a great place to get your bearings and pop the cork on your first holiday tipple. The menu here is light, ideal for lunch, with snacks, salads, sarnies, sharing platters and sweet treats. The chicken flatbread was an absolute winner – but the menu changes with the seasons so see what takes your fancy.
V&A Food Market
Another Waterfront hangout, ideal for people watching over lunch or a cheap hipster-vibe dinner. The V&A Food Market is a collection of artisanal street food markets that celebrate local produce and talent, you’ll often find a street performance in full swing by the outside seating. We were lucky enough to slurp on fresh oysters, with a chilled glass of Chenin Blanc and a cool breeze blowing off the table-top mountain, whilst being serenaded by a soulful singer and her guitar. Stop here for a bite to eat, or pick up some biltong and Cape Town gin to take home.
The Gin Bar
Speaking of gin, for a pre-dinner drink take a wander along Wale Street and look out for the Chocolate Café. Head through the back (maybe pick up a brownie on route) and you’ll find one of the country’s only true speakeasy bars hidden within a Mediterranean-style secret courtyard. This murky quirky brick building was recently a morgue, but now serves a concoction of expertly garnished potions to remedy all manner of ills. Why not try their gin based cure for the head, the heart or the soul? The bartenders know a thing or two about gin, and are happy to make recommendations or talk you through the local and international gins that dress the shelves.
From the Gin Bar, you’re in walking distance of Long Street. Known as backpacker central, this street may not have the same sophistication as the V&A, but it’s packed with lively bars and restaurants and it’s along here you’ll find Fork, serving Spanish pinchos with a South African twist. The dishes are Insta-worthy morsels of belly satisfying goodness and the place itself has a cool but relaxed informal dining vibe. We ate here as the Spanish do, late at night with a bottle of red.
Addis in Cape
Another Long Street resident is Addis in Cape. You HAVE to eat here and with a gluten free menu and an even split of meat, veggie and vegan dishes I sincerely hope you do. The owners have gone to great lengths to create an authentically Ethiopian dining experience, with vibrant décor, traditional furnishings and beautiful woven basket-like serving tables called Mesobs. The food is presented on a pancake-like sourdough base called Injera which is also used to mop up the food – no other utensils required! End your meal with the classic coffee ceremony. Dinner is regularly fully booked but we were quickly seated for lunch and the lunch menu is incredible value for money.
Kloof Street House
Thanks to a recommendation from our Lion’s Head guide, we ended up at this uber-chic Victorian style house situated on Kloof Street, an extension of Long Street but a bit more local. The place is constantly buzzing with young fashionistas all drawn in by the trendy décor and tantalising menu – you’ll need to make a reservation or you’ll be lucky to get a table before 10pm. Dining here is an occasion - book yourself in for a candle-lit dinner in one of the characterful intimate dining rooms, stop by for cocktails in the plant-potted fairy-lit garden or join for live jazz Sundays. The hosts and waiters will make you feel at home and I recommend trying the ostrich, this is South Africa after all!
Situated on the shores of Clifton Beach is the Bungalow – a white washed, fine-dining, champagne and sushi sort of restaurant. Not the type of place I’d splash out for in London but an affordable luxury in Cape Town and worth every penny. Arrive in time for sunset and be whisked away by the attentive service and indulgent array of seafood and grilled meat dishes – paired with some of the Cape’s finest wines. But it was my dessert that I haven’t quite stopped raving about, Hennessy 3 C’s – chocolate brownie, chocolate fudge ice cream, chocolate oat crumble and coffee ice cream – ok, so somewhere along the line they must have snuck in a forth C, and paired with a glass of Hennessy VSOP this dessert knocked my socks off.
And there you have it, my top seven foodie hangouts, well six and a gin bar. You can experience these for yourself on any one of our South Africa base itineraries as they both start in Cape Town. Tuck in and enjoy!