Cape Town is the It foodie destination in the world – did you know that we won first place in Conde Naste’s Traveller’s Best Food Cities In The world’s list for 2016? So, move on over San Sebastián, Tokyo, Melbourne and New Orleans…
Yet, with so many great dining options, where are you likely to find locals enjoy their best meals? Check out our list below.
BREAKFASTS AND BRUNCH
Everything about this quaint café in the heart of Cape Town is heavenly (Hemelhuijs loosely translate from Afrikaans-Dutch to “heavenly home”) – from its décor to its food and service. Chef-proprietor Jacques Erasmus also pays homage to his traditional Northern Cape upbringing with his delicious dishes, such as Mosbolletjie bread (a traditional Afrikaans type of bread with aniseeds), cinnamon dumplings and smoor (tomato relish). Breakfast is also served all day and each meal is served on the most exquisite crockery (which you can also purchase at the restaurant).
Hemelhuijs is open for breakfast and lunch from Monday to Friday from 9am to 4pm and Saturdays from 9am to 3pm. Booking is essential as Hemelhuijs can fill up quickly. Contact them at +2721-418-2042 to make your reservation.
Bacon on Bree
Only in a city that loves food as much as Cape Town does will you find an entire restaurant dedicated to one delicious ingredient: bacon! The menu, luckily, offers a variety of dishes where the hero (bacon) stands out. Their Hairy Biker breakfast (Mexican beans with chorizo sausage, fried egg and bacon) is a favourite with locals, and so is the Harvey Spector sandwich (bacon, brie, tomato and pesto on fresh ciabatta). The restaurant isn’t just loved by local for its bacon – the quirky descriptions on the menu are another reason why locals keep returning.
Bacon on Bree is open for for breakfast and lunch from Monday to Friday from 7:30am to 5pm and Saturdays and Sundays from 8:30am to 3pm. No reservations accepted; tables provided on a first come, first serve basis.
This is by far the most popular bakery in Cape Town, and for good reason: it takes just one bite from owner and pastry chef Jason Lilley’s famed bacon croissants, pies, pain au chocolate, sourdough with scrambled eggs or chorizo egg cups to understand why. Throw in their delicious coffees, and it’ll explain why there’s always a crowd waiting to be served.
But it’s Saturday mornings at Jason Bakery that’s the real highlight for Capetonian, when Jason’s famous Doughssants are on sale. These scrumptious pastries are a delicious hybrid of croissants and doughnuts, and each week it’s served with a fresh, new and exciting flavour and filling.
If the crowds aren’t your cup of coffee, head on over to the Loop Street for Bardough By Jason – it’s the same concept by the same owner, but with a few different offerings (note that the Doussants are only available from the Jason Bakery on Bree Street).
Jason Bakery on Bree Street is open Monday to Friday from 7am until 3:30pm and Saturdays from 8am to 2pm. Bardough by Jason is open Monday to Thursdays from 7am to 3:30pm; Fridays from 7am to 9pm and Saturdays 8am to 5pm; it also re-opens on Tuesdays from 5pm to 9pm. No reservations accepted; tables provided on a first come, first serve basis.
This quirky restaurant at the top end of Cape Town’s famous Long Street is an institution with locals, and was even named as one of the world’s top 10 best burger places by the Telegraph in 2015. And here’s why: the menu offers a choice of 50 gourmet burgers (including a wide variety of vegetarian and vegan options), which is served with their famous fries, sweet-potato fries or salad. Do as the locals do and order half salad and half fries or half fries and half sweet-potato fries with your burger. Their Classic Royale is exactly what it says: a classic; while their El Burro (it features chorizo and chilli) is hot stuff.
What goes well with burgers? Yes, milkshakes! And the selection at Royale Eatery won’t disappoint – their Jack Daniel’s and Peanut Butter one is simply yummy!
Royale Eatery is open Monday to Saturdays for lunch and dinner from 12pm to 11:30pm. The restaurant has a walk-in section on the ground floor for those who decide on the whim to grab a bit to eat here, while those who reserve a table is seated upstairs. For bookings, please contact Royale Eatery at +2721-422-4536.
Chef’s Warehouse and Canteen
If you read our blog last month you may remember our write up about local chef Liam Tomlin’s Chef’s Warehouse restaurant at Beau Constantia. This month, however, we want to tell you about Liam’s original Chef’s Warehouse on Bree Street. Locals and visitors flock here every day for the the best tapas in town – the Tapas For 2 that consists out of the eight dishes literally have the local’s tongues wagging. We also love that the menu changes every day, ensuring that dishes are fresh, seasonal and exciting.
Avid cooks (amateur or trained) will also be enamoured by the selection of cooking products and recipe books that Chef’s Warehouse’s sells.
Chef’s Warehouse is open Monday to Fridays for breakfast, lunch and early dinner from 9am until 8pm and on Saturdays for breakfast and lunch from 9am to 2:30pm. No reservations accepted; tables provided on a first come, first serve basis.
Street style food is all the rage in Cape Town at the moment. Luckily, locals will tell you they prefer this kind of dining inside a restaurant instead of on the sidewalk. They will also tell you that El Taqueria, a taco bar in Cape Town’s hip Tamboerskloof area, is one of the best places to do so – its authentic Mexican fare is full of flavour and sees locals returning again and again, especially for the fish tacos, chicharrons (pork scratchings), churros and, of course, margaritas.
If small dishes will leave you wanting more, but you’re still in the mood for Mexican, then head on over to sister restaurants El Burro Green Point or El Burro Newlands. Their menus are bigger (and so are the dishes) but still come with the distinct genuine Mexican flavour that El Taqueria serves.
El Taqueria is open for lunch and dinner from 12pm until 11:30pm, and doesn’t accept reservations. El Burro Green Point and Newlands are open for lunch and dinner from 12pm until 11:3pm and reservations are accepted. Contact El Burro Green Point on +2721-433-2364 or the El Burro Newlands on +2721-201-1421 to make a booking.
If you’re looking for authentic African food, then gem is literally gold. Set in a Safari-style courtyard in Green Point, Gold Restaurant offers different tastes and dishes from the African Continent – from Timbaktu to Table Mountain, and from spicy to mild. Their unique, set menu is made up of 14 dishes that are intended to be shared with everyone at the table. Think: Egyptian lentils, Moroccan couscous, Cape Malay ostrich and lamb samoosas (pastry pockets), East African mango and lime chicken and Zambian kandolo balls (made from sweet potato).
What’s more, each culinary experience comes with a side serving of traditional African entertainment such as a praise singer, dancers and puppet show.
Gold Restaurant is open seven days a week for dinner from 6:30pm to 11pm. Booking is essential; call +2721-421-4653 to reserve a table.
Carne on Kloof
If it’s meaty dishes you’re after, then you’ve certainly come to the right place. Because this Italian Restaurant – housed in a quaint old house with exposed red brick walls, for that true Italian feel – is famous with locals for their steaks: raw meat cuts are presented to you on a platter where the waitor then explains the cut and how the chef will prepare it best. But, don’t make the mistake of overlooking the rest of the menu. Carne’s beef carpaccio, slow-baked ravioli and Karoo lamb also comes highly recommended too.
Carne on Kloof is open Mondays to Saturday for lunch from 12:00pm until 3pm and dinner from 6pm to 10pm (closed Sundays). Booking is essential; call +2721-426-5566 to reserve a table.
If you’re looking for something different, but want to know that your meal will still be finger licking good, then a visit to ASH restaurant is a must. Chef-proprietor Ash Heeger has worked with some of the world’s top experimental chefs including SA’s Luke Dale-Roberts and UK’s Heston Blumenthal. The menu may be small, but it’s packed with bold, smoky flavours. The pig head scrumpets (served with Szechuan-apple sauce) and lamb ribs from the Snackles (tapas) menu are moreish while the slow cooked rolled lamb main course and cheesecake doughnuts dessert will leave you satisfied but wanting more.
You’re also in good hands when it comes to the drinks menu – Ash Restaurant shares a space with celebrated wine cafe Publik Wine Bar; it offers a fine selection of the lesser-known, boutique wineries of South Africa.
ASH Restaurant is open Mondays to Saturday for lunch from 12:00pm until 2:30pm and dinner from 6pm to 10pm (closed Sundays). Booking is essential but walk-ins are also welcome. Call +2721-424-7204 or click here to reserve a table.
The Shortmarket Club
The Shortmarket Club is the third restaurant by one of South Africa’s best-loved chefs, Luke Dale-Roberts. While his first, The Test Kitchen (see further down for more details), is more suited for who wants fine dining and his second, The Pot Luck Club, serves tapas style food, Shortmarket Club finds a delicious, bistro-style middle ground between the two. Try the Parmesan and miso waffle for starters, followed by either the Crispy Pork Cheek with Gorgonzola cream and applesauce or the pan-fried duck breast with smoked figs and liquorice jus. Finish off with the chocolate fondant served with popcorn ice-cream…
The Shortmarket Club is open Mondays to Saturday for lunch from 12:30pm until 2pm and dinner from 7pm to 10pm; it’s also open for breakfast on Fridays and Saturdays from 8am to 10:30am (closed Sundays). Booking is essential but walk-ins are also welcome. Click here to reserve a table online.
The Food Barn Restaurant
One of Cape Town’s most-loved and longstanding fine dining restaurants can be found in the tranquil suburb of Noordhoek near Cape Point, and is beautifully housed in an old barn (hence its name). Acclaimed chef Franck Dangereux is renowned with locals for his French-inspired a la carte menu that’s served with a distinct South Africa flavour. Highlights include the Asian steak tartare, Karoo lamb and the squashed Hibicus marshmallow dessert.
The Foodbarn Restaurant is open for lunch seven days a week from 12pm to 2:30pm and open Tuesdays to Saturdays for dinner from 7pm to 9:30pm. Booking is essential; call +2721-789-1390 or click here to make your booking.
The Test Kitchen
Luke Dale Robert’s The Test Kitchen, situated at the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock, has made The World’s 50 Best Restaurant list six times since 2012 and has celebrity fans that include Michelle Obama and Oprah. And while it might be famous the world over, it’s the locals who will book up to three months in advance to sample what is undoubtedly the best cuisine in South Africa.
The restaurant also recently underwent changes and now consists of a Dark Room and a Light Room – each with its own set menu. The vanilla salted peach and rose scented foie gras on the Light Room menu is delectably dreamy, while pork scratchings on the Dark Room menu will leave your taste buds tantalised. The Test Kitchen is also now only open for dinners and only holds a maximum of 40 guests.
The Test Kitchen is open Tuesdays to Saturdays for dinner from 6:30pm to 8:30pm and booking is essential. May and June is currently fully booked, but July, August and September bookings open on 1 June. Click here to reserve a table online.
This newcomer to Cape Town’s food scene – which opened its doors in October 2016 – won New Restaurant of the Year for 2016 in South Africa’s most acclaimed foodie awards, The Eat Out Awards, in November 2016. And while chefs Scot Kirton and Glen Foxcroft Williams’ restaurant is categorised as fine dining, their setting in the Constantia is warm and welcome; their dishes are a beautiful combination of fine dining meets laid-back. Foxcroft offers delectable tapas plates to order as you please, but their set menus for lunch and dinner are the real winners. Highlights include champagne-poached oysters, yellow tail ceviche and tuna tartare.
The Restaurant at Waterkloof
Situated in the heart of the Somerset West winelands, The Restaurant at Waterkloof not only serves up fine modern French cuisine, but also features breathtakingly beautiful vistas of the Drakenstein mountain range from its glass promontory setting. Chef Gregory Czarnecki’s menu offers a choice of two courses, three courses, or a tasting (degustation) menu that comes with or without wine pairings. While pretty much everything on the menu is heavenly, The Alaskan Crab, free-range Quail and Dulcey Cremeux (pistachio, orange and rice pudding ice cream) stands out.
If you’re opting not to do the wine pairing meals, then make sure you partake in a wine-tasting prior to lunch or dinner to see which offering you’ll enjoy best with your food.
The Restaurant at Waterkloof is open Wednesdays to Saturdays for lunch from 12pm – 2pm and for dinner from 7pm to 9pm (closed Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays). Reserving a table is necessary; call +2721-858-1491 to make your booking.
Now, where to begin, right?