- 2foodtrippers Cape Town Food Guide
- Cape Town Restaurants
- Other Restaurants Worth a Visit
- Specialty Shops
- Research Cape Town Hotels
- Book a Tour
- Buy a Travel Guide
We didn’t know what to expect when we arrived in Cape Town South Africa, both in terms of the city and its food. After a month of exploring and eating all over the city, we became Cape Town food savvy. Read on to see our favorite Cape Town restaurants, bars, markets and more.
Cape Town is famous for its beautiful topography, tumultuous history and fabulous weather. But what about its food?
Having grown up during the era of Apartheid, we often saw South Africa in the news when we were young, but not in the most favorable light. Back then, the news was filled with segregation, poverty and violence. However, in more recent years, South Africa has been getting lots of great press, with many people referring to the city as the ultimate vacation destination. Curious to check it out for ourselves, we started our South Africa odyssey with a full month in Cape Town. Yes, we spent an entire month eating our way around Cape Town.
We arrived in Cape Town after two days of travel. Tired and hungry, we wandered around aimlessly, eventually eating mediocre Chinese takeaway food. On day two, we visited the first (of many) third wave coffee shops and got our first tips of great places to eat. We soon discovered the magic of biltong and boerewors, two popular meat products in South Africa. We had incorrectly expected to eat a lot of fresh fish in Cape Town given the city’s coastal geography, but as it turns out, due to South Africa’s long history of Dutch farm settlers, red meat rules the city’s protein roost.
Cape Town’s prime location along the former Dutch East India Company’s Spice Route placed the city at the center of Cape Malay culture. That culture, with its heavy use of spices like cumin, coriander, star anise and turmeric, shows its presence in the food all along the Cape to this day. Local favorites include mild curries and triangularly shaped samosas which are smaller than the thinner shelled samosas more commonly seen in Indian cuisine.
We clearly had a lot to learn about the places to eat in Cape Town. Within a week, we had eaten at one of the best Cape Town restaurants, toured the city on one of the ubiquitous hop on hop off buses and enjoyed an eight-hour food tour. Within a month, we had eaten at several of the top restaurants in Cape Town. And then there’s the wine. Oh, how we miss South African wine.
2foodtrippers Cape Town Food Guide
Our Cape Town food immersion was intense and thorough. Our taste buds thanked us, but not so much our waistlines. Such is the price we pay to be food travel professionals who create travel food guides like this one!
Cape Town Restaurants
With all of the adventurous things to do in Cape Town, you might think that people would be too busy or tired to eat out. The reality is quite the contrary – the vibrant Cape Town restaurant scene is filled with restaurants at every price point. After eating our way through Naples Italy for a month, we weren’t particularly impressed by the fish or pizza in Cape Town. But we found some wonderful restaurants in the Mother City.
Top Rated Restaurants
As a top destination for rich and famous people like Leonardo DiCaprio, Charlize Theron and Kanye West, it’s no surprise that Cape Town has its fair share of destination dining restaurants. Two of Cape Town’s restaurants, The Test Kitchen and La Colombe, regularly make the top restaurant list not just for South Africa but also for the entire world. Accordingly, advance reservations are absolutely necessary at the city’s top restaurants.
The Test Kitchen |The Potluck Club | The Shortmarket Club
Helmed by Chef Luke Dale-Roberts, The Test Kitchen is Cape Town’s most respected and lauded restaurant. We heard great things about this gastronomic gem located in the hip Old Biscuit Mill but didn’t eat there, though not for lack of trying. Although we didn’t end up dining at The Test Kitchen, we recommend a meal there if you are able to get a reservation. However, we did score a dinner reservation at The Pot Luck Club (also – not an easy reservation), a fortuitous circumstance since many of the authoritative locals we spoke to regard Dale-Roberts’ two other restaurants as good as and in some ways better than The Test Kitchen.
The Pot Luck Club has two seatings each night and serves shareable plates in the following taste categories – salty, sour, sweet, umami and bitter. We tried six small plates during our dinner and loved the way that Dale-Roberts was able to integrate spicy Cape Malay flavors into the restaurant’s modern global cooking ethos. For example, the restaurant rubs octopus with local spices and serves it with Japanese ingredients like teriyaki and pickled cucumber. We can’t pick a favorite dish since we loved them all from the spicy Peri Peri Chicken to the crunchy yet rich Pork Belly Pho. Even the Woodstock Bakery Ciabatta with chimichurri and carrot hummus rocked our world.
The Test Kitchen is located at The Old Biscuit Mill, 375 Albert Rd, Woodstock, Cape Town, 7915, South Africa.
The Potluck Club is located at The Old Biscuit Mill, 375 Albert Rd, Woodstock, Cape Town, 7915, South Africa.
The Shortmarket Club is located at 88 Shortmarket St, Cape Town City Center, Cape Town, 8000, South Africa.
Chefs Warehouse and Canteen
Located in the heart of town on busy Bree Street, Chefs Warehouse and Canteen is a must during any Cape Town visit. Although the tiny restaurant serves global tapas dishes prepared by an Irish chef, the experience at Chef Liam Tomlin’s restaurant is a Cape Town classic. We enjoyed a range of dishes including popcorn-like deep fried squid served with summer fresh green basil and bright sundried tomatoes as well as luscious pork croquettes served Brit style atop fresh green mushy peas. The restaurant’s eating style is casual, with diners sharing communal tables both inside the cosy space and on the sidewalk terrace. Tapas for two costs R650 (about $50 US) and is worth every rand. Desserts and drinks are extra.
Chefs Warehouse & Canteen is located at 92 Bree St, Cape Town City Center, Cape Town, 8000, South Africa.
After making his bones in the kitchen at London’s St. John, Fergus Henderson’s Nose-to-Tail standard bearer, Chef Giles Edwards returned to his native South Africa and opened La Tête in 2016. Nose-to-tail eating, a philosophy which espouses eating the whole animal and not just the prime parts, is a philosophy embraced by the likes of Anthony Bourdain and Mario Batali. This philosophy shines at Edwards’ Bree Street bistro.
We loved the creatively prepared food at this impressive restaurant and appreciated the chef’s passion for supporting local producers. The daily changing menu features dishes like delightfully creamy Lamb Brains on Toast, fresh local Mussels with Leeks and Bacon as well as meaty Grilled Ox Heart with Chips. During our meal, sharing a plate of freshly baked Madeleines provided a perfect ending and was well worth the 15-minute wait.
La Tête is located at17 Bree St, Cape Town City Center, Cape Town, 8000, South Africa.
We loved La Colombe – on paper. The restaurant is situated on a hillside in Constantia and features a drool-worthy view of the vineyard covered landscape. Chefs Scot Kirton and James Gaag are considered to be among the best in the world. The seasonal ingredients are locally procured, and the service is similar to what can be found in many European Michelin-starred restaurants.
However, in reality, we liked this restaurant but didn’t love it. We found the dishes to be fussy and over-plated. Though the knife cuts were wonderful and the sauce preparation divine, there seemed to be a lack of cohesiveness that subtracted from the food’s overall wow factor in plates like the lamb cooked three ways. In a way, it all played out like a big budget movie with no plot or characters. Plus, the service team tried too hard with a different server appearing at our table way too many times during our meal. Considering the pedigree and reputation of this restaurant, we expected more.
La Colombe is located at Silvermist Wine Estate, Constantia Main Rd, Constantia, Cape Town, 7848, South Africa.
Other Restaurants Worth a Visit
Ask ten locals for their favorite Cape Town restaurant and you’ll likely get ten different answers. We ate at a lot of them and these were our favorites.
The definition of braai is to grill meat over an open flame. In Cape Town, Braai is so much more. It’s not just a style of preparing food – it’s a way of life that involves socializing with friends while eating and drinking. If you’re lucky, you can enjoy a braai with locals. Either way, head directly to Mzoli’s for the ultimate braai meal.
Eating at Mzoli’s is a unique experience. Located in a township just 20 minutes from Cape Town’s CBD, Mzoli’s is part meat shop, part restaurant, part party and all fun. Crowds convene to Mzoli’s in droves to eat braai, drink a lot and dance to house music. Though in a township, Mzoli’s offered the most integrated crowd we saw during our month in Cape Town, with tourists mingling with locals regardless of race or skin color.
We arrived not knowing what to expect beyond that we’d be eating grilled meat. After parking the car (never fun to do with South Africa’s car guard culture), we bumbled through ordering our meats and sides. We selected some chicken, ribs and boerewors plus sides like pap and veggies. The meat selection was huge, and we didn’t want to miss a thing.
After ordering the meat and sides, we took it all to the grilling station where the braai magic actually happens. Grill masters marinade the meat and cook over open flames (See the picture at the top of this article.) The result is grilled meat with local South African spiced barbecue sauce cooked to a light char. Order some pap (a South African corn mash similar to grits) and chakalaka (a South African vegetable succotash), and you’re in for a party. This is an experience best enjoyed with a crowd – the bigger, the better.
Mzoli’s is located at Ny 115, Guguletu, Cape Town, 7751, South Africa.
Woodstock, an artsy Cape Town neighborhood, has a slew of trendy restaurants including the famous ones at the Old Biscuit Mill mentioned above. But there’s something extra special about Woodstock’s The Kitchen. Rumor has it that Michelle Obama loved her lunch at The Kitchen. We loved ours too.
The Kitchen, owned and operated by former caterer Karen Dudley, is more of a luncheonette with tables than a full service sit down restaurant. Known for salads and “love” sandwiches, the restaurant also serves hot food like roast chicken, in a cafeteria style. We ordered one plate of food which was more than enough to share. As a bonus, sharing allowed us to save room for desserts like lemon bars and brownies. Trust us, you’re going to want dessert when you eat at The Kitchen too.
The Kitchen is located at 111 Sir Lowry Rd, Woodstock, Cape Town, 7915, South Africa.
Since Cape Town’s Bo-Kaap neighborhood was previously called the Malay Quarter, Bo-Kaap is clearly the neighborhood to try Malay food in Cape Town. We were intrigued by Cape Town’s centuries-old Malay influence and the food of this culture.
After tasting a samosa in Bo-Kaap during our food tour, we wanted to get back to the neighborhood for a proper meal. Our research took us to Bo-Kaap Kombuis which translates to Bo-Kaap Kitchen. This is a great restaurant to try a wide selection of Cape Malay cuisine since food is served buffet style. The selections are extensive with all kinds of seasoned meats, salads and cheese. Pork is not included since the restaurant is Halaal. (Many of the Cape Malay people descend from Indonesian Muslims.) You won’t miss pork though when you eat dishes like denningvleis stew with slow-cooked lamb cubes, vegetables and tamarind paste.
Dias Tavern Portuguese Restaurant
Although Dutch people settled in Cape Town by the droves, Portuguese explorers were actually the first Europeans to discover Cape Town back in the 15th century. These explorers and the subsequent Portuguese settlers made their mark on Cape Town, which drove us to seek out Portuguese food in South Africa. (We have as soft spot for Portuguese cuisine since we honeymooned in Portugal ten years ago.) You’ll find Portuguese-influenced African food all over Cape Town – dishes like grilled, spiced Calamari rings and Prego Rolls, open faced roast beef sandwiches topped with peri-peri spiced beef gravy.
Located near many of the city’s best coffee shops and our favorite cookie bakery (see Charly’s Bakery below), Dias Tavern serves these Portuguese inspired dishes plus more in a festively casual atmosphere. Dias Tavern is a popular spot for locals due to the flavorful food and highly affordable prices. Many linger to cheer on their favorite futbol teams or enjoy the live music on weekend nights.
Dias Tavern Portuguese Restaurant is located at Opposite Buitenkant Street, 15 Caledon St, CBD, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa.
Located uphill from our City Bowl Airbnb apartment in the Vredehoek neighborhood, Sidewalk Cafe appealed to us on several levels. We loved the cafe’s beachy laid back vibe and welcoming service. The cafe has a wonderful menu with comforting dishes like a great prego roll, fish & chips with a batter spiced with turmeric and open faced grilled chicken with bacon and brie. Word is that the coffee is good at the cafe too, but we don’t know that for sure since we always opted for cocktails and local South African wine. However, we do know that the wi-fi is good at Sidewalk Cafe which is not always the case in Cape Town. Bravo, Sidewalk Cafe!
Sidewalk Cafe is located at 33 Derry Street, Vredehoek, Cape Town 8001, South Africa.
To us, the best part of eating at Live Bait Kalk Bay was the view. The restaurant’s picture windows look right out on the sea, providing a front row vista of hypnotic waves and the occasional gull. As we mentioned above, we found the fish to be disappointing in Cape Town. We’re not big fans of the tough, overly meaty kingklip, which is the most popular fish served throughout the city. Live Bait serves a variety of seafood options beyond kingklip. While some of the dishes, like the crayfish, were enjoyable, the seafood linguine medley with parmesan cheese and overly creamy sauce was an absolute gut bomb. But we did love the beer and the view.
Live Bait has two locations. We ate at the restaurant located at Kalk Bay, Cape Town, 7975, South Africa.
Bacon on Bree
We first sampled Richard Bosman Quality Cured Meats at the Oranjezicht City Farm Market (see below), and it quickly became our cured meat of choice while in Cape Town. To our pleasant surprise, Richard Bosman and his wife also own and operate Bacon on Bree. After frequenting next door neighbor Culture Club Cheese, we finally ate at the “baconporium” and cafe during our last week in Cape Town.
Bacon on Bree is a great spot to enjoy food like the Hall-Elujah Salad with Grilled Halloumi Cheese. Along with Kamili coffee, craft beer and local wine, the restaurant serves a range of accessible salads and sandwiches. Half of the fun is reading the menu with sandwich names like The Meryl Streep and The Sophia Loren. The other half is eating tasty food, especially the dishes with bacon. No surprise there.
Bacon on Bree is located at 217 Bree St, Cape Town City Center, Cape Town, 8000, South Africa.
The Dog’s Bollocks and The Bitch’s Tits at YARD
True confession – we picked our Cape Town Airbnb apartment based on its proximity to third wave coffee shops. The closest of those coffee shops, Deluxe Coffeeworks, shares its space with YARD and its two restaurants – The Dog’s Bollocks at night and The Bitch’s Tits during the day. Thanks to our love for coffee, we ended up eating massive hamburgers at The Dog’s Bollucks during our first week in Cape Town and tacos at The Bitch’s Tits not long after that.
Whether you go at night for burgers or during the day for tacos, dining at YARD is an interactive experience where diners write their orders on a chalkboard and pick up food once the counter staff yells out their names. The atmosphere is casual, and the service is sarcastically friendly. Plus, Deluxe coffee is readily available.
YARD is located at 6 Roodehek St, Gardens, Cape Town 8001, South Africa.
If you like to eat dumplings with a side of tragically hip service, then Beijing Opera is the restaurant for you. Even if you don’t, it’s still worth a visit for the excellent dumplings served in a communal style setting. Just like an actual Chinese opera performance, this dining experience can be highly entertaining if you’re in the right mood.
Interestingly, Beijing Opera originally operated as a pop-up restaurant before setting down permanent roots. We liked the menu filled with creative dim sum including one of our favorites – pork bao buns. These dumplings were steamed until beautifully tender and juicy, and the savory, meaty flavors brought back memories of our time in China.
Beijing Opera is located at 48 Albert Rd, Woodstock, Cape Town, 7915, South Africa.
Proving that every type of cuisine is available in Cape Town, this neighborhood cafe caught our attention. Featuring traditional Greek dishes like gyros and dolmades along with an array of surprisingly good seafood like giant prawns as well as local South African wine, Marika’s is a great spot to enjoy simple Mediterranean flavors far from the Mediterranean Ocean. Service is friendly, and the decor is highly influenced by the owner’s love for Greece. This is a good choice when you’re in the mood for something different from typical South African food.
Marika’s Restaurant is located at Upper Buitenkant St, Oranjezicht, Cape Town, 8001, Južna Afrika.
We mentioned that Cape Town doesn’t have a lot of seafood. Sevruga is an exception to that rule. With a prime location at the V&A Harbour right by the city’s Ferris Wheel, Sevruga offers an elegant dining experience featuring a wide selection of seafood. Yes, the restaurant serves kingklip, but also so much more. We’re talking about options like shellfish and sushi, plus dim sum if you’re really hungry. We tried a few dishes, but we especially enjoyed the more than abundant sushi platter with its colorful selection of tuna sushi, salmon sushi and specialty rolls.
Sevruga Restaurant is located at Shop 4 Quay 5, Victoria Wharf, V & A Waterfront, Cape Town 8001, South Africa.
As you would expect in a resort town, Cape Town has plenty of sweet options. We taste tested a variety of desserts from chocolate to ice cream. These were our favorites Cape Town desserts.
If a rainbow were to explode, the result would be Charly’s Bakery. At least that’s what we think would happen.
Charly’s bakery, located in a colorfully painted building, displays its true color explosion inside with whimsically decorated cakes, cupcakes and cookies. Owner Jacqui Biess brings the fun to the popular District 6 bakery along with lots of sugar and glitter. Cape Town residents have long known about Charly’s Bakery, but the secret went international in 2011 with the debut of Charly’s Cake Angels. Their buttery glazed cookies with an array of colorful, cheeky messages are not to be missed (See picture below.)
Charly’s Bakery is located at 38 Canterbury St, Zonnebloem, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa.
We ate some fairly forgettable sandwiches for lunch at Jason Bakery, but the same can’t be said for their Pistachio Raspberry Doughssant that we shared one sunny Saturday morning. A kissing cousin to the Cronut famously invented at Dominique Ansel Bakery, the Doughssant is a flaky cross between a donut and a croissant. Jason Bakery offers a different Doughssant flavor every week, often using local and seasonal ingredients. They also bake some fine loaves of bread.
Jason Bakery is located at 185 Bree St, Cape Town City Center, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa.
Unframed Ice Cream
Leave it to somebody from Lyon France to open the best ice cream shop in Cape Town. Yann Rey opened tiny Unframed Ice Cream in August 2016 with a focus on the finest ingredients and methods. Using cream imported from his home country, Rey offers 12 diverse ice cream and sorbet flavors plus toppings sauces. We’re talking about flavors like Dirty Sea Salt Caramel, Burnt White Chocolate and Turmeric Latte. Go for the five-flavor ice cream flight if you can’t narrow down the choices to fit on one cone.
Unframed Ice Cream is located at 45C Kloof St, Gardens, Cape Town 8001, South Africa.
Believe it or not, we didn’t just eat at some of the best restaurants in Cape Town. Since we lived like locals in our Cape Town Airbnb apartment, we often cooked meals at home. Sure, we bought most of our food at grocery stores, but we also shopped at specialty shops for our most of our cheese and meat.
Culture Club Cheese
Thanks to British couple Luke Williams and Jessica Merton, Capetonians have access to world class cheese on a daily basis. Their cheese shop, Culture Club Cheese, sells a full range of cheese options from South Africa as well as some delectable European cheese imports like Brie de Meaux from one of the best producers in the world. Williams earned his cheese chops at La Fromagerie in London, and he now uses those chops to champion local cheese makers.
We shopped at Culture Club Cheese on our first day in Cape Town and returned several times to satisfy our dairy cravings. Watch our YouTube video for the full story.
Pro Tip: Buy your cheese after you eat a meal at Culture Club Cheese. The shop also offers lunch and dinner menus.
Culture Club Cheese is located at 215 Bree St, Cape Town City Center, Cape Town, 8000, South Africa.
Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants
Although meat is readily available in Cape Town, not all of the meat is created equally. For the times that we wanted a better meat product, we shopped at Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants (FFMM).
Located in the Woodstock neighborhood, the FFMM headquarters is a butchery with an attached shop. The butchery sources organic meat procured from local farmers, ensuring the quality and sustainability of everything that the store sells. FFMM is a great spot for buying meat and also for drinking a Rosetta pour-over coffee.
Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants has three locations. The Woodstock butchery and store is located at 143 Sir Lowry Rd, Woodstock, Cape Town, 7915, South Africa.
Shopping at markets is the ideal way to access fresh produce and eat lunch in Cape Town at the same time. We shopped at several markets during our month in Cape Town, and these were our favorites.
Oranjezicht City Farm Market
Oranjezicht City Farm Market is located at Granger Bay Blvd, V & A Waterfront, Cape Town, 8051, South Africa.
The Neighbourgoods Market at The Old Biscuit Mill
The Saturday farmers market at The Old Biscuit Mill was probably cool when it started in 2006. Today, though, the market skews toward being too crowded and overpriced. Despite these shortcomings, we still enjoyed meandering our way through the sprawling space and checking out the 100+ stalls selling all kinds of food and drink options. If your goal is to see and be seen while you shop for food and grab a bite, then this is the market for you.
The Old Biscuit Mill is located at 375 Albert Rd, Woodstock, Cape Town, 7915, South Africa.
V&A Market on the Wharf
The V&A Market on the Wharf was our go-to market on days of the week that weren’t Saturday. This daily market features 50+ vendors selling all kinds of artisan products and fast casual food. As a bonus, the market is located on the V&A harbor, making it convenient to both a large shopping mall and the Ferris Wheel pictured above.
V&A Market on the Wharf is located at Dock Rd, Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa.
The Cape Town coffee scene is the best we have experienced in the entire world. (Disclosure – We haven’t been to Australia yet.)
Seriously, we loved many of the city’s different coffee roasters including Deluxe Coffeeworks, Kamili Coffee and Truth Coffee. We were so enamored with Truth Coffee’s owner and steampunk decor that we even filmed a video at the city’s most famous coffee shop. Check out our YourTube video to learn more about the happening Cape Town coffee scene.
We didn’t hang out in many Cape Town bars because it was too darn easy to enjoy amazing wine in our air conditioned apartment. Sometimes, though, we ventured out to drink cocktails and beer. These are our two favorite spots to drink potent potables in Cape Town.
Devils Peak Brewing Company
A proponent of “beer as it should be”, Devil’s Peak Brewing Company has been brewing and serving craft beer in the Woodstock neighborhood since 2012. Head brewer JC Steyn brings an Oenology background to the brewing process, which favorably impacts the brewery’s flavor profiles. That being said, this beer is accessible and pairs well with food.
Devils Peak Brewing Company is located at 150 Cecil Rd, Salt River, Cape Town, 7925, South Africa.
Outrage of Modesty
Outrage of Modesty is a rare breed of cocktail bar where the drinks are prepared by expert mixologists, with each drink a miniature masterpiece in terms of presentation and delivery. Drinking at Outrage of Modesty brought back memories of our experience at Aviary, the groundbreaking luxury cocktail bar in Chicago.
Outrage of Modesty is located at 88 Shortmarket St, Cape Town City Center, Cape Town, 8000, South Africa.
We can’t end our Cape Town Food Guide without mentioning the great food and wine available in the nearby Cape Winelands. Check out our Cape Wineland Food Guide for awesome restaurants in Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschhoek.
If you like taking food tours around the world, check out our favorites food tours for inspiration.
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We thank Cape Town Tourism and their partners for supporting our visit to Cape Town. We also thank Sevruga Restaurant for providing our meal to facilitate this article.
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