Cape Town has got it all! Beauty, culture, history, and of course…. great food. Plus, Cape Town restaurants are incredibly affordable so you can eat like a king (or queen)! For the past five weeks, we have been eating our way through the Mother City scouting out the best restaurants for our readers. Yes, our pants fit a bit tighter than before, but it’s all worth it! Here are our top picks of Cape Town restaurants (in no particular order)!
Kloof Street House is one of the hottest restaurants right now in Cape Town and for a good reason. This place is vibrant and upscale, yet not overdone. The restaurant is housed in an old Victorian house, and as you enter through the garden, you step into another world. The food is delicious, and you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. Our advice is to save room for dessert. The salted caramel cheesecake with popcorn ice cream was to die for. Kloof Street House can get busy so try to make a reservation in advance. Sometimes you can get lucky and stop in early and get a table in the garden. If there is a wait, you can always walk up Kloof Street to their sister venue, Asoka, to kill some time with a pre-dinner cocktail.
Oh, the Gnocchi! We love Italian food and True Italic does it right. It is the traditional, simplistic nature of this place that exudes feelings of comfort, familiarity, yet excitement at the same time. Chef Luca does not mess around. His Italian dishes are deliciously authentic as many of his ingredients are actually imported from Italy. True Italic is located in Cape Town’s CBD on Bree Street but once you’ve entered the restaurant, the exposed brick walls, slightly rustic tables, and windowless dining room create an intimate atmosphere that allows you to escape to Italy, for a few hours.
Fork is a great place to go if you don’t want to commit to one dish for the night. It’s conveniently located right downtown on Long Street. The Risotto Tarts are packed with flavor and the Crispy Asparagus and Parmesan Rolls are simplistically lovely. The downstairs is tiny and has a lounge-type feel as the majority of dining takes place upstairs. It is best to visit Fork with a group of like-minded foodies who are up for sharing small bites and tasting new creative dishes. And yes, they only give you one utensil: a fork. No need for anything else, as every dish they serve can be eaten with only a fork!
You may have guessed from the name that this place used to be a mill. The space, which put the neighborhood of Woodstock on the map, has evolved into a hub for artisan food and creative crafts. In addition to housing several of Cape Town’s best restaurants (the Potluck Club and the Test Kitchen), there are lots of galleries and boutiques located in the Mill for your shopping pleasure. We highly recommend visiting Old Biscuit Mill on a Saturday as the Neighbourgoods Market is open from 9am-2pm. Over 100 food vendors set up shop and churn out some of the best food in Cape Town. The place fills with smells, sights and sounds and there is a great energy you won’t want to miss. Since there are so many food vendors at the market we recommend doing a full lap around the place to get a full sense of all your options before deciding what to eat.
Located inside Old Biscuit Mill, this is one of our highest recommendations for restaurants in Cape Town. Chef Luke Dale-Roberts is a world-renowned, culinary rockstar. The Test Kitchen’s tasting menu, which is packed with seasonal, fresh ingredients, is pretty pricey (especially for South Africa) but if you’re willing to splurge it will not disappoint. Pescatarian and Vegetarian menus are available on request and the chefs can arrange special menus to accommodate all different types of food allergies. This place is a real treat–if you can get in. Make sure to make a reservation in advance as they have varying hours and are usually are fully booked weeks (sometimes months) in advance.
If you are looking for a quick and delicious takeaway lunch, Sababa is your spot. They have two locations in Cape Town both serving up creative Middle Eastern fare. They cook all their dishes right before opening and put together an absolutely stunning, artistic buffet. We recommend stopping in early in the day as sometimes certain foods run out. Sababa has some of the best Middle Eastern bites we have had outside of the Middle East- that alone should convince you to stop in!
While French food generally is not our favorite cuisine, this place kills it. La Mouette artistically serves up delicate, delicious food, in their peaceful, lush courtyard or their cozy, romantic dining room. It’s an absolute treat to eat here as every time is a new experience, depending on where you’re seated and how you order. Their tasting menu is a great value year round, but during the winter months they drop their prices significantly, so tasting is even more affordable. Not into tasting menus? You can’t go wrong with the a la carte option either. Both the a la carte and tasting menus rotate seasonally, so you’re bound to have fresh, delicious food every time you visit.
The Black Sheep has a rotating, daily menu and they base their dishes off of what ingredients they can get fresh. They have their menu on a blackboard and once they run out of something, the dish is crossed off the list. Get there on the earlier side so you don’t miss out on certain hot menu items. Set on Kloof Street, Black Sheep’s atmosphere is trendy and modern while remaining laid-back and casual. Plus there is an awesome view of Table Mountain from the dining room. They have great drink selections but you can also BYOB for a 70 ZAR corkage fee.
Mzoli’s, coined the “Church of Meat,” is a butchery/restaurant located in one of Cape Town’s surrounding townships, Gugulethu. The ambiance of plastic chairs, a metal tin roof and sticky tables should be enough to tell you that this is a “no frills” establishment. You come here for the meat, the people and the experience of a true South African braai (barbecue). You start by stepping up to the butchery counter and ordering the meat you’d like grilled. Proceed to grab a cheap beer or two and pray you brought your appetite. They grill your selected meat in their special sauce and soon enough you’ll be feasting your face off! Mzoli’s is open every day, but Sunday is the day to be seen at Mzoli’s. Make sure to get there early as this place fills up quickly and gets fairly rowdy by noon. Mzoli’s may not be for everyone, but if you are looking for a unique, exciting, (and slightly hectic) experience, you should certainly make the trip out to Gugulethu.
Situated up on the side of Signal Hill above the colorful Wale Street in central Bo-Kaap, The Kombuis has been serving up some of the best traditional Cape Malay cuisine for almost two decades. If you’re looking for a local, traditional meal with an unbelievable view of Table Mountain, this place is not to be missed. Unlike the spicy curries of Asia, Malay curry is a bit sweet. The Kombuis’ tasting platters include a few curries and their bobotie, so you will be able to sample a variety of Cape Malay flavors. The restaurant is family run, and the owners are incredibly warm and friendly. They even gave us a ride down the hill when we were finished with our lunch. We found their desserts not only delicious but so unique. Save room!
This exquisite tasting menu will not disappoint. From the mountain top views, to the creative food displays and calming ambiance, La Colombe is well worth the trek out of the city. As you embark on the food journey created by Chef Scot, time will suddenly slow down and you won’t want it to end. Thankfully, it’s quite a long tasting and there are fantastic views to fill in the gaps between courses. While on the more expensive side for Cape Town meals, La Colombe definitely provides an exceptional experience well worth your time and money.
Azure Restaurant at The Twelve Apostles Hotel*
Azure Restaurant is one of a kind, because of its exclusive location right under the 12 Apostles. From the balcony and dining room, you’re privy to some of the most spectacular views in all of Cape Town. While the views are what attract many to this hotel and restaurant, the wine and food are quite incredible too. First, you are presented with an unbelievable heap of fresh breads, crackers, and spreads. Then their on-site sommelier will come over and help you choose a bottle of wine (or two) for the night based on what you want to eat. Overall, the service is exceptional, and the food is delicious. We would recommend saving this restaurant for a special occasion as you’ll want to fully indulge and bask in the views while your unavoidable food coma begins to set in.
*Fine dining options
You may also like: A Weekend of Food: Unique Culinary Experiences in Cape Town