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
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.
The brainchild of twin sisters and self-taught chefs, Jamie and Jessie Friedberg, Bree Street’s Between Us is a stylish space where everything, from the interior design and hand-thrown ceramics to the fresh menu, has been carefully thought out and meticulously curated. Whether you tuck into polenta pancakes for breakfast, pappardelle with oxtail ragu for lunch, beef brisket for dinner, or pistachio loaf any time of day, you know you are in for a treat.
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.
This fine-dining mainstay – one of only three South African restaurants on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2022 list – has been wowing locals and visitors alike for more than 20 years. A winding road will lead you high up to the lush Silvermist estate in the Constantia Valley, where you can choose between the blow-out tasting menu or the reduced menu, with options for vegetarians and pescatarians also available. Don’t miss the signature Tuna La Colombe, a play on a tin can filled with cubes of marinated, raw tuna.
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.
Ask Cape Town’s top chefs for their top restaurant recommendations and chances are they’ll mention Aubergine. German chef Harald Bressemschmidt’s legendary restaurant in the Gardens area has been going strong since 1996 – a considerable achievement in a city that thrives on change. It’s a sophisticated yet unpretentious space, serving intriguing dishes that perfectly fuse Eastern and Western influences, as well as fantastic wines. In summer, the lush terrace is the place to be.
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 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.
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.
Lexi’s Healthy Eatery
This mostly vegan wholefood restaurant in Sea Point believes in eating to nourish and please your body and palate. Accommodating flexitarians with a small range of free-range meat and fish options, the light and airy café welcomes everyone with open arms and generous portions. Open all day, come for the açaí smoothie bowls and matchas, then stay for the Green Warrior burgers and Glow juice.