A culinary journey through the Mother City
Cape Town is regularly named one of the most exciting food cities in the world, and for good reason – from fine dining stalwarts and scenic al fresco spots to casual eateries, lively street food cafés and innovative food concepts from around the globe, the Mother City’s culinary scene is on fire. Add to this the diversity of cuisine and the fact that Cape Town restaurants are incredibly well priced (foreign currency will buy you a world-class fine dining experience for what seems like a pittance) and you might want to start planning your entire trip around the delights of food – as many do.
Capetonians are very passionate when it comes to food, and can extol the virtues of their top restaurants at length. We weigh in on these discussions by taking you on a culinary journey around town, introducing you to some of our own tried and tested favourites – from starry Camps Bay (where you can tan on the beach one minute, and enjoy a panoramic lunch across the road the next) to buzzing Kloof Street, vibrant Bree Street (Cape Town’s premier food hub) and new foodie hotspot Sea Point, as well as further afield to Hout Bay and the Constantia Valley.
Make sure to also stop by some of Cape Town’s immensely popular food markets, which locals love to visit at the weekend to stock up on fresh organic produce and to catch up with friends over coffee and breakfast. We rate the highly atmospheric Oranjezicht market in Granger Bay at the V&A Waterfront (open every Saturday and Sunday, plus Wednesday evenings during the summer months).
We recommend starting the day with breakfast in your villa, prepared by a private chef, before heading off on your culinary adventure – alternatively, try one of our top breakfast spots in Cape Town.
My Personal Favourite Restaurants in Cape Town
A new Kloof Street neighbourhood favourite, Upper Kloof pulls in the punters with an eclectic – some might even say eccentric – design (including a cabinet of curiosities), a potluck-style sharing menu, and killer cocktails courtesy of award-winning mixologists Just Short. Chef Amori Burger brings her elevated take on shared dining to the table, with international flavours that pack a punch, and dishes meant to be enjoyed with loved ones. The outside terrace is another big drawcard in summer. https://www.upperunion.co.za/
Salsify at The Roundhouse
Opened by Luke Dale Roberts and his former The Test Kitchen head chef Ryan Cole in 2018, Salsify has garnered a stellar reputation as one of Cape Town’s most impressive dining destinations. The restaurant’s location at the historic The Roundhouse in Camps Bay, at the foot of Lion’s Head, makes for a scenic setting, while the interiors manage to be striking without distracting from the food. The 6-course lunch- and 10-course dinner tasting menus are an elegant study of local seasonal ingredients and unexpected flavour combinations – perfectly presented, every bite is a taste experience that lingers long after you’ve left. https://salsify.co.za/
Chefs Warehouse at Beau Constantia
Widely credited with having brought small-plate dining to the Mother City, Irish chef Liam Tomlin is one of Cape Town’s most renowned culinary voices, with his Chefs Warehouse restaurants topping the foodie bucket list for many. The outpost at the Beau Constantia wine estate is a real showstopper, with drop-dead gorgeous views of the Constantia Valley through floor-to-ceiling glass. Chef Ivor Jones has taken Tomlin’s global tapas concept to new heights here – expect a roll call of exceptional dishes to share. http://www.beauconstantia.com/
One of the most talked-about openings of 2021, Swedish chef Jesper Nilsson’s cool Scandi-style restaurant has been breathing new life into Kloof Street. Book a table in the plant-filled courtyard, and go wild ordering from the excellent small plates menu, which exemplifies simple, honest cooking using the best local produce. The wood-fired Neapolitan-style pizzas are a highlight, as is the innovative cocktail menu, featuring flavourful concoctions. https://elgr.co.za
This three-storey Italian import brings la dolce vita to Bree Street. Relaxed all-day bistro Locanda is spread across the ground floor and middle floor – stop by for fresh pastries and a strong espresso in the morning, or for antipasto platters and freshly-made pasta, risotto, and meat and fish dishes for lunch and dinner. I also recommend an aperitivo in the tucked away Martini Terrazza, a garden-styled courtyard that serves brilliant cocktails and sharing plates.
The Best Plant-Based Restaurants in Cape Town
Cape Town has turned itself into a plant-based restaurant pioneer in recent years, with a whole host of vegan eateries sprouting like mushrooms – and every restaurant worth its salt now offering non-meat menus.
The Conscious Kitchen
This plant-based juice bar & café on trendy Kloof Street offers locally-sourced ingredients, served in a fun beach-style setting complete with swings to recline on. The menu is 100% vegan (with the option to add free-range eggs, or to swap the oat- or almond milk in your coffee for cow’s milk), and features the likes of scrambled spicy tofu, spinach protein waffles, rainbow bao buns, and a variety of vegan burgers, plus health shots and super lattes. What you won’t find is processed foods and sugars, food waste, or plastic packaging, making eating here also a highly ethical choice. https://www.theconsciouskitchen.co.za/
KANÉLA, Sea Point
While this family-run café’s menu is not vegan per se, many of the healthy dishes are plant-based. The wholesome offering is also highly satisfying, from the vegan tofu scramble to the rich smoothie bowls, gooey toasties (made with delicious sourdough), and sweet treats. Coffee is made from beans grown in the Democratic Republic of Congo, processed and roasted by a family-owned business in Uganda. The zen plant-filled interiors and sun-dappled courtyard add to the atmosphere, and will make you feel like you’re miles away from buzzing Sea Point. https://www.instagram.com/kanela.cafe.cpt
The brainchild of Toby Scheckter, who, having returned from health-conscious New York spotted a gap in the market, Sea Point’s Scheckter’s Raw is a great spot for those looking for plant-based, natural, cruelty-free and nutrient-dense food. From vegan tofu scrambled ‘eggs’ to pumpkin pie flapjacks, organic maca waffles and freshly made smoothies with glorious names such as the Beet Boxer, this is vegan food at its very best. https://schecktersraw.com/
Founder Tash transformed her dad’s old garage into a bite-sized juicery that quickly established itself as the go-to spot for those in search of post-yoga nourishment. The plant-based, zero waste Oranjezicht café (which now also has an outpost in trendy Woodstock) delivers on all fronts, from its awesome menu (think Insta-worthy smoothie bowls, juices and sandwiches) to its commendable sustainability initiatives.