It’s hard to keep up with Cape Town’s energetic culinary scene. From its restaurant-lined streets to glorious lunches in the winelands a mere 20-minute drive from the city, there’s a reason some refer to the Mother City as SA’s foodie capital. Whether you’re after innovative tapas with sweeping city views or slow and easy brunches with the hippest crowd in town, these 10 Cape Town restaurants need to be on your must-visit list.
Chef’s Warehouse Beau Constantia, Constantia
Liam Tomlin’s award-winning tapas restaurant, Chef’s Warehouse in Canteen on Bree Street, has extended its brilliance to Constantia with chef Ivor Jones leading the kitchen. Located at boutique winery, Beau Constantia, this restaurant is a must for panoramic vineyard views and seriously beautiful tapas. Dishes here are layered with clever flavours and textures, and made to share. While the menu changes with the season, you can always expect to see a triumphant risotto in flavours like earthy carrot or delicate saffron, local game such as blesbok, and the now infamous wild honey and lavender crème dessert. Book a wine tasting upstairs before lunch to take advantage of the beautiful location.
Clarke’s, Bree Street
This Cape Town haunt is situated on Bree Street and has a cult-like following thanks to some of the best burgers and brunches in town. The diner-style spot is always brimming with the city’s coolest crowd and there’s often a waiting list for a table, so get there early. For brunch, order a hair-raising Bloody Mary or mimosa before tucking into dishes like the hash eggs with cauliflower, Parmentier potatoes, poached eggs, asparagus and Hollandaise, or the huevos rancheros with slow-cooked organic black beans, smoked tomatoes and fried eggs. For lunch, don’t skip the grass-fed beef burger on a buttery brioche bun. This is hands down the best in the city and is topped with Underberger cheese and served with a side of seriously good fries.
Jason Bakery Green Point
The bread king of Bree Street has opened a larger bakery on the busy Somerset strip in Green Point. While you’ll still queue for a spot on the weekend, the wait is worth it. Think signature doughssants (croissant-doughnuts) in flavours like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup or TimTam; blueberry cheesecake croissants; poached apple turnovers. On the savoury front, there’s oozing egg and cheese-filled bacon croissants; mac-and-cheese pies; and OTT gourmet hot dogs.
Kleinsky’s, Sea Point
This tiny deli in the heart of Sea Point is always brimming with the local brunching crowd looking for a good latke or bagel fix. Nestle in and order a crispy latke Benedict topped with perfectly poached eggs and a gloss of hollandaise, or go for a lunchtime bagel topped with your choice of shmear (spread). On chilly days, don’t miss out on the chicken and matzo ball soup.
Kyoto Garden Sushi, Tamboerskloof
If you’re looking for beautiful seafood, you certainly won’t be disappointed at this calm Japanese oasis in Tamboerskloof. The flavours here are minimalist and clean with serious technique in both raw and cooked dishes. The fresh sashimi is the best way to start with delicate pieces of tuna, salmon and Cape salmon served with shaved daikon radish and freshly grated wasabi root. Follow this with West Coast mussels or the softly steamed line fish in bamboo, which is lightly seasoned and falls apart. The sushi here is also exceptional.
La Tête, Bree Street
This is nose-to-tail dining at its finest. Chef Giles Edwards continues to prove his worth on the quieter end of busy Bree Street in this clean-lined corner eatery. Both adventurous and wary eaters will be at home here with everything from creamy brains on toast to the famous eggy-mayo fish sandwich on fresh bread. Don’t expect to see foams, gels and smears here – the plates are simple, generous and delicious. Leave space for excellent warm madeleines and the floating island.
The Pot Luck Club, Woodstock
Innovative tapas-style dishes and 360-degree views of Cape Town are what make this Woodstock spot a must-visit. The menu is organised according to salty, sweet, umami, sour and bitter. Think famed ceviche fish tacos; umami-rich smoked beef fillet with truffle café au lait sauce, and venison tataki with sweet beetroot relish.
Osteria Tarantino, De Waterkant
This small, unpretentious hidden gem offers food that’s packed with traditional Italian flavours. The warmth and hospitality along with silken homemade pastas make this one of the city’s best-kept secrets. Starters like creamy burrata transport you to Italy but it’s the signature 4 Ps pasta that should be your go-to dish. Comprised of silky pappardelle, porcini, pancetta, Parmesan and a rich tomato base made with veal mince, it’ll have you licking the plate clean.
The Test Kitchen, Woodstock
The Test Kitchen secured its spot as the number-one restaurant in the country for the sixth consecutive year at the 2017 Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards. This is a truly special dining experience for any foodie visiting the city. The unstoppable Luke Dale-Roberts and Ryan Cole keep pushing the boundaries with show-stopping food that takes you on a journey around the world and back. Think Pervian ceviche and English pork scratchings to smoked scallop sashimi and springbok with bone marrow. Mark the occasion by opting for the wine pairing, which showcases some of the best wines that South Africa has to offer.
Another restaurant under chef Liam Tomlin’s stable is Thali. This beautiful eatery transports you on an Eastern voyage within seconds of walking in. A set thali tapas menu features exquisite curries with tender lamb or soft paneer, succulent smoky meats from the tandoor ovens, and a playful yet fragrant take on fish tacos with a Cape Malay twist. Ask for a table in the balmy oasis-like courtyard on warmer days.
About the author
Nikita Buxton is a full-time writer at Eat Out Magazine. Originally from Durban, she is not adverse to generous amounts of chilli and tries her best to pronounce “fish and chips” the correct way. She is a fanatical foodie and an amateur wine snob who believes that every great meal should start with a glass of bubbly.