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Finding a “traditional” meal in Cape Town is complicated. After all, it’s hard to pin down what authenticity means when your country is the ultimate cultural smorgasbord.
That diversity works to our benefit, though. There wouldn’t be much dissent if the city named itself the culinary capital of Africa. The best restaurants in Cape Town vary wildly from hole-in-the-wall street food to world-beating fine dining and exotic wild game providers.
Throw in a thriving bar, brewery, and winery scene, and you’ve got the recipe for a mighty tasty trip to the southern tip of Africa. What else do you need?
Without further ado, these are the best restaurants in Cape Town.
Location: Kalk Bay
What to get: Fish and Chips—go for the hake
The rundown: Fish and chips are about as quintessentially British as food comes. So what’s it doing here?
Of course, colonialism has played a huge part in the culinary traditions of South Africa. The British presence and Cape Town’s proximity to the ocean have led to an excellent selection of chippies to enjoy. Hole-in-the-wall institutions like Kalkys are the best places to grab some—it’ll most likely be hake, unlike the UK’s leanings towards cod, halibut, and haddock.
Be prepared to wait at Kalkys. It draws lines out the door most days. But it’s worth waiting to sit by the seaside, fish supper in hand.
The Butcher Shop and Grill
Location: Cape Town Central
What to get: Something big and flame grilled…ostrich, maybe?
The rundown: Capetonians take their meat seriously. While there are a growing number of vegetarians in the city, most of the population is very meat-forward. High-quality steak takes center stage in a number of restaurants like The Butcher Shop and Grill. South African beef is leaner than its American counterpart, so don’t go above medium unless you fancy a dry steak.
Sifting through the menu, you may also stumble across some game. Ostrich, springbok, and impala are regular features on many menus, including The Butcher Shop. It’s not a gimmick—give it a go.
Location: Ottery Road
What to get: A Gatsby
The rundown: Arguably the most Capetonian thing you’ll eat, a Gatsby is a massive sub sandwich, typically a foot long or more. They don’t have a definitive filling, but expect whatever you pick to be packed with meat and finished off with fries and sauce. Its name is a nod to the F. Scott Fitzgerald book, owing to the richness and over-the-top nature of the sandwich.
Cosy Corner is a local favorite and offers a range of different sandwiches. Masala Rump Steak is popular, but you can go a little off the wall and try a Vienna sausage or fish one too. It’s a must in Cape Town.
Eastern Food Bazaar
Location: Cape Town Central
What to get: Bunny Chow
The rundown: Don’t worry: no bunnies were harmed in the making of this dish. Bunny Chow is a beloved Indian South African dish. Invented by Indian migrant workers in the sugar cane fields, the dish is a hollowed-out loaf of white bread that is then filled with curry.
Sounds a bit odd. Looks a bit odd. Tastes brilliant. Eastern Food Bazaar is one of the best places to try this unique dish out.
Chef’s Warehouse Beau Constantia
What to get: Whatever they give you
The rundown: Perched impossibly in the hills overlooking Cape Town, Chef’s Warehouse Beau Constantia is a delight in every sense. Its set four-course menu changes seasonally and places a heavy emphasis on local produce—particularly from its own garden.
The open kitchen adds some drama to the experience, while the sprawling views of the coastline complete the atmosphere. Nothing left to do but tuck in at one of the best restaurants in Cape Town. And, of course, enjoy a few glasses from its stunning wine list.
Location: Parliament Street
What to get: The full tasting menu
The rundown: The description on FYN’s website reads “A Neoteric Japanese African Experience.” You can translate that as “Buckle up, we’re taking you on a culinary rollercoaster.”
The staggeringly beautiful restaurant prides itself on boundary-pushing dishes, utilizing the vast array of African produce but refining it with Japanese techniques. Think: ostrich egg chawanmushi, guinea fowl wontons, and rooibos smoked sashimi.
Still no clue? It doesn’t matter. Just let it happen. It’s not just one of the best restaurants in Cape Town, it’s the 37th-best restaurant in the world. You’re in safe hands.
La Petite Colombe
Location: Leeu Estates in Franschhoek
What to get: Chef’s full-tasting menu
The rundown: We’ll just leave this quote from a Cape Town food writer here after telling you the restaurant is situated on an idyllic vineyard plantation.
“A meal at La Petite Colombe restaurant is like doing the tango with a stranger. You enter the dance floor uncertain of what to expect, and when the music stops at the end, you are left breathless and speechless. And when words are not enough, only hearty applause will do. I am clapping loudly right now.”
And they have a sweets cart rolled to your table at the end of the meal. Perfection.