I’ve been meaning to write this blog post for years and now it’s come about by necessity. I am constantly asked for recommendations about where to eat in Cape Town from internationals that follow DrizzleandDip.com and friends and acquaintances that visit the mother city.
This is a comprehensive list based on where I love to eat and where I tend to eat again and again. There are restaurants out there that are really great and I’m still trying to get there. This is my list based on my experience and no offence to any restaurant that isn’t featured here.
I have started two restaurant guides, which I will continue to post my recommendations to as regularly as I can. They are my Facebook Taste & Titbits page @EatCapeTown, and my Instagram @EatingCapeTown page. I post interesting dishes, favourite restaurants and various specials I find along the way. Follow along for all the deliciousness I manage to hunt down.
I’m dividing this up by area and then adding a few other categories at the end, like best places for drinks, breakfasts, casual eateries, sushi, pizza etc.
CAPE TOWN CITY & GREEN POINT
You can’t book at this popular restaurant as guests are seated on a first come first serve basis, but this will be the best food you will eat in Cape Town without a reservation. Authentic Spanish inspired tapas menu that is utterly delicious and amongst my favourite restaurants in Cape Town. The sardines on toast is not to be missed as is the savoury churro with Jamon dust. The larger menu items like the paella are designed to share with a few people. This is one of my very best restaurants, and to be put on the top of the list for anyone visiting Cape Town. Pop into Local at Heritage Square afterwards to browse the lovely food shop. Also great for a light meal and glass of wine.
This is the hottest new restaurant on Kloof Street and housed in the former Janse & co space. The modern, casual and multi-cultural menu by Chef Jesper Nilsson (with a strong nod to his Nordic roots) is served in a calm zen-like setting with a gorgeous outside (covered) courtyard. The newly installed bar serves inspired cocktails alongside a state of the art pizza oven. The menu is designed to share and I would highly recommend doing this between 4 people vs 2. This way you can sample more and the portions are very generous.
This spacious restaurant offers airy indoor (aka safe) seating and private dining space for 20 people.
The Test Kitchen (in the Eastern precinct of the city in Woodstock)
Ranked as the top restaurant in South Africa for six years by Eat Out, and second this year the Test Kitchen is a definite if you can secure a reservation in advance. Diners are treated to a world-class tasting menu experience in a small and intimate setting. The theatrical experience roves from a dark room to a lightroom and has many surprises such as butter churning and unique cocktails paired with food. The restaurant is only open for dinner and reservations open six months in advance
Review coming soon
I love this stylish eatery that reminds me of being in New York. The menu is innovative small plate dining so go with friends and order as many dishes as you can. This gem is tucked away down Pepper Street just off the upper parts of Bree Street.
Arguably the best seafood restaurant in town, this is where you will find exquisite Japanese cuisine. It’s also the only place I know that serves fresh wasabi in the city. There is a focus on quality and the sushi is of a very high standard. It has a very calm and pampering atmosphere with good service. In winter they offer a special menu that makes things a little more affordable.
This is a great spot for breakfast or lunch in the city center. The menu in this stylish restaurant always includes a few South African flavours and has a carefully curated menu. Particularly popular amongst interior designers, architects and style lovers.
If you are looking for delicious Indian tapas in a beautifully designed setting, then this is the place to be. It’s one of Liam Tomlins restaurants and has a similar menu setup to the Chefs Warehouse & Canteen. You order the tapas for two, which includes 8 innovative tapas dishes. It is cosy and intimate with a lovely outdoor courtyard.
If you like local and quirky owner-run spots, this is the best in town. Small with vintage kitsch it is always buzzy. There is a small menu of delicious modern Asian food, which include popular street food favourites like Bao with pulled pork. This is highly recommended and reservations are essential. They have recently moved to bigger premises in Greenpoint (in the former El Burro space)
The Potluck Club (just out of the city in Woodstock)
Highly acclaimed Asian inspired tapas menu. Housed at the top of a grain silo, New York warehouse loft styled, it has magnificent views. Difficult to get into as they book up far in advance, but you could try lunchtime if you can’t get in at night. They do the most fabulous long Sunday brunch paired with bottomless bubbly or bloody Mary’s.
El Burro (Green Point)
This is my favourite Mexican restaurant and I love their ceviche and fish tacos. The pork chilorio is also delicious if I can ever get away from the first two. Booking is advisable in the evening and essential on weekend nights but has moved downstairs to a smaller space that was formerly Cabrito serving more Taqueria style food. They have a big selection of tequilas and mescal too. Their sister restaurant El Burro Taqueria on Kloof Street is another fab spot for a quick bite on the run.
This mid-level priced seafood has fast become the go-to seafood restaurant in the city. Situated in trendy Bree Street, they only buy fresh sustainable seafood. They have a lovely bubbly and oyster bar with inside and outside (weather permitting) seating areas. They also do a daily oyster happy hour from 12 – 1pm and 5 – 6pm. *Im currently not sure if this restaurant is open or closed.
IL Leone Mastrantonio (Green Point)
I have only ever had amazing pasta at this popular spot and I always eat their seafood or prawn linguini. They serve the very best and thinnest flatbreads that are so crispy and delicious, they are worth visiting for alone.
This is my current favourite place to meet for drinks in Cape Town and the food in the restaurant is rather good too. Perfect for sharing. I love the decor, the vibe, the upstairs balcony and the downstairs lounge for a late-night razzle.
Simple bistro fare served in a cosy inside space (fireplaces in winter) and lovely patio outside area (great in the day and in summer). Their risotto is legendary, and through winter they run a weekly menu special with a focus on either Italy or France paired with specific wines. Their wine list is very good. They also make the best-fried chips in Cape Town if you happen to land up in their cosy bar called the Snug adjacent to the restaurant.
The third of Liam Tomlins restaurants and located on Beau Constantia wine estate with exquisite views over the Constantia Valley. World-class food under the watchful eye of head chef Ivor Jones. You can check out my full review and pics here.
One of my all-time favourite restaurants in Cape Town nestled high up on Silvermist Estate, this well-deserved winner of the 2019 Eat Out Best Restaurant of the year award is benchmark fine. Deservedly seen by many as the country’s finest restaurant it is an experience not to be missed. The highly innovative tasting menu changes with the seasons and expect it to delight all your senses with touches of theatrical food theatre. They offer a really good winter and spring special menu too which is slightly pared-down but still amazing.
See my review of the 2019 Chefs menu
This is a beautiful fine dining space located in a garden setting on the grounds of the iconic Cellars Hohenhort Hotel. Elegant and sophisticated, the kitchen is headed up by Farrel Hirsch who trained under the mentorship of Peter Tempelhoff. Having garnered a few awards under his belt already, his food philosophy centres around telling a story and foraging sustainably using hyper-local plants and ingredients in the menu. Expect a playful and generous amuse course and a bread course that includes tiny monogrammed brioche rolls with innovatively flavoured butter. See my review of the 2019 Spring menu.
This cosy bistro with a buzzy open plan kitchen serves an innovative small plate menu that is perfect for sharing. There is a cheese and cured meats pantry for viewing and the ambience is cosy and intimate. In summer there is seating outside on a leafy pavement in a small centre next to Groot Constantia. The dishes change with the season and you can choose a selection or have a fixed menu.
Housed on Steenberg next to the winery is a modern bistro with designer elements. I love this restaurant for breakfast, lunch or evening tapas. Here you will find delicious food with an Asian thread in a beautiful setting overlooking the mountain and vineyards. Be sure to have a wine tasting on your way in (or out). For more about Steenberg, check my post here.
This quaint little neighbourhood Parisienne-style cafe in the heart of charming Wynberg Chelsea is always buzzing. It’s one of my favourite places for breakfast, tea or lunch in the Southern suburbs. They are committed to sourcing local and seasonal produce and their large menu is peppered with innovative touches which has something for everyone. They also host small functions for fifteen to thirty 30 guests offering a set menu
Kalk Bay is one of my favourite areas to visit in Cape Town and my all-time favourite place is Olympia Café. Slightly worn and grungy it is like eating in your grandmother’s kitchen. You are seen as a friend, not a customer and staff have been there for many years.This 20 odd-year-old iconic eatery is super casual and focuses on amazing seafood dishes. You will always find a few vegetarian dishes, salads and pasta on the menu too. I tend to only order the linguini di mare, a dish they have had on the menu for as long as I can remember and it’s one of my tastiest dishes in Cape Town. Their mussels served with freshly baked ciabatta from their own bakery next door are also delicious.
Harbour House has a lofty aerial view over the Kalk Bay harbour and provides diners with a working harbour view. Crisp white tablecloths and interiors provide an opulent relaxed experience. Harbour House has a larger and more sophisticated menu than its more casual sister downstairs (Live Bait). You can’t fault either in terms of their location and they serve delicious seafood dishes at both. I love the beach house feeling that is quintessentially Cape Town and the harbour with waves crashing right against the side of the building is noteworthy.
Other things to do……
If you are in Kalk Bay in summer make sure you go for a swim in Dalebrook tidal pool
The space has been reinvented post covid and I haven’t been. The deli has moved over to the Foodbarn space which is now open for breakfast, lunch and supper. I’ll get an update soonest)
Housed in a modern barn on a farm village you can expect a rustic yet modern atmosphere with really good service. This is one of my personal favourites and I’m a big fan of the cooking of chef-owner Franck Dangereaux, who was at the helm of La Colombe for many years. He also does amazing cooking demonstration dinners and chef’s table Friday lunches where a menu is paired with a specific wine estate. Expect solid French cooking flair blended in with local ingredients in a stylish but casual bistro setting.
This is a family-friendly restaurant on the greens of Noordhoek Farm Village. A casual lunch under the oaks in a whitewashed cottage makes for a perfect leisurely afternoon and if you have children they have free reign. They frequently have very popular live music on weekends and evenings. Check the schedule for any line up that might coincide with your visit.
If you find yourself in Hout Bay I recommend eating at Cheyne’s. Charcoal walls highlight Asian décor notes in a cosy setting. Here you will experience Asian inspired dishes described as Pacific Rim cuisine that are super innovative and packed with exciting umami flavours and delicious textures.
I live in Sea Point and there are a lot of restaurants and casual eateries around here. I won’t put many of them in my must-visit places, but there certainly are a few great spots that I got to from time to time.
A small Asian streetfood inspired eatery where chef-patron Damian Dafel makes his own hand-pulled noodles. Expect vibrant flavours and lots of deliciousness. It only has 30 seats so booking is advisable.
This is my fave local deli and where I get my bagels. They do really good breakfasts too but space is small so there is often a queue on the weekend.
This is a new food emporium that has opened in Regent Road Sea Point and is a great place to visit if you want to taste a variety of dishes from small producers. They often have live music in the central seating area so there is a vibe. Nice views over the Sea Point pool too. I love the oysters and mussels from the Mussel Monger and the sushi from Manga. The Burgers from IYO are tasty but the chips terrible. The Poke bowls from Hokey Poke are my fave and the thin-based pizzas from Earthfire are delicious. Baskin Robbins has an ice cream shop there, so I don’t need any convincing to swing past for a scoop (or two)
Delicious Indian tapas dishes are served at this busy local restaurant. Their Pondicherry Kingklip curry is sublime. They don’t take reservations
This is a world-class espresso bar and couture patisserie spot where you can experience possibly the best coffee in Cape Town. Outstanding pastries and incredibly innovative Rooibos infused drinks in a luxurious setting.
Here you will find some of the best, if not the French pastries & bread in Cape Town.
Himitsu at Camps Bay Retreat is superb. Asian fusion small plates overlooking the Ocean in a glamourous old worl hotel.
I love Bertus Basson’s food and I love this restaurant on Hidden Valley Wine Estate. You can expect a few innovative uses of South African flavours and ingredients in his dishes. Great views and wine too. Just go.
Jordan – at Jordan Wine Estate
Another of my favourite restaurants and I ate one of the best meals of 2016 there. I love the cooking of George Jardine and the setting is absolutely beautiful with jaw-dropping views over the Overberg Mountains.
This is George Jardines more casual restaurant in a quaint heritage building in the heart of Stellenbosh town. You can expect the same type of innovative dishes as Jordan though and is highly recommended.
I like nothing more than to sit on this terrace under the oak trees and gaze at the spectacular views in summer. The food ranges from casual to more fine dining style dishes, and delicious. They have a lovely wine tasting room in an opulent setting so you always feel quite spoilt when you go there. You can read all about the restaurant here.
A simple 3-course set menu where all the ingredients are carefully sourced from top quality local producers. The menu changes weekly and reflects the seasons. Everything is brought to the table and served family-style. You sit outside in the shade or next to the vineyards and on wintery days they take a limited number of indoor tables. The restaurant is in its third iteration of owners, and Leigh and Brendan have maintained the excellent reputation this restaurant has always had. Expect delicious well cooked but simple fare adding with a few special touches. It’s been a favourite of mine for the longest time.
This country eatery on Joostenberg Wine Estate is only open on a Sunday and offers a superb weekly set menu. The food is served family-style in their outside courtyard. See the full review & details of how to book (essential) here.
The Tokara restaurant is now under the helm of Head chef Carolize Coetzee and the menu is produce-driven with ties to traditional South African cooking (recipes, ingredients, techniques). Tokara is a truly beautiful restaurant/wine estate with breathtaking views over Stellenbosch.
If you are looking for a lighter meal or breakfast in the Winelands this is a beautiful restaurant with a gorgeous view.
A reinvented restaurant under culinary consultant Nic van Wyk, you can expect an innovative small plate menu alongside a few classic dishes. I can highly recommend this and love the wine.
If you find yourself looking for a casual spot for lunch or supper in Stellenbosch town, Spek and Bone is another of Bertus Basson’s restaurants and offers a small plate menu in a wine bar environment. Tucked away in a historic building next to Oom Samie se Winkle it is very quaint and well worth a visit.
I am a fan of chef Michael Deg’s cooking and I really enjoyed Cavalli. It’s a very modern restaurant with a minimalist feel set on a beautiful stud farm. The wines are excellent too. They do a winter menu that is really good value. You can check out all my pics from this year (2019) winter menu.
Amongst my favourite fine dining restaurants in South Africa, this stunning spot in La Quartier Francaise is a must-visit for a top-end dining experience in Franschhoek. You can read all about their 2018 Winter menu here
I love this beautiful restaurant and the honest farm to fork food philosophy of chef Christiaan Campbell. Make sure you make time to take a wander through their lovely kitchen garden and around the estate. If you are looking for something more casual they have a lovely deli that also sells amazing produce from the farm. Their summer picnics are legendary too.
This is Liam Tomlins latest Chefs warehouse restaurant now in the old Kitchen at Maison space. Beautiful and edgy food in a lovely restored old house overlooking vineyards. Highly recommended.
I’m a fan of Chris Erasmus’s food and his utterly unique restaurant is superb and deserving of its place amongst the top 10 in SA.
I loved this restaurant when it was under the helm of Chef Eric Bulpitt. He has subsequently left and I have not experienced the new chef’s dishes.
I have eaten in the restaurant and it’s a totally unique and lovely dining experience but complicated to get into as a non-resident. They block book most of their tables for their hotel guests, but if you are prepared to take a chance you can put your name down and hope that from about 1.30pm onwards tables will become available. They do take bookings from 2 months in advance if you are planning ahead. A walk through their gardens is an absolute must either way for any visitor. I’ve put it under Paarl because it’s actually located in Paarl although it’s often classified as being in Franschhoek. It’s located on the way to Franschhoek from Cape Town.
Camphors at Vergelegen
I’m putting it on here even though I haven’t been. It’s in the top 10 and I really need to go soon. It’s located on Vergelegen Wine Estate, which is one of my favourite places to see the big trees.
A bit further afield but if you find yourself in Paternoster up the West Coast visit:
Hyper-local Strandveld dining experience by acclaimed chef Kobus van der Merwe.
This is another must-visit when in Paternoster. A convivial local eatery with amazing oysters.
Best places for fancy drinks
The Silo Rooftop bar (reservations required for non-hotel guests) or the Williston Bar at the Silo Hotel
The Planet Bar at the Mount Nelson
The Vista Lounge at the One & Only
Bascule Bar at the Cape Grace Hotel
Best place for casual drinks
Love Thy Neighbour in Bree Street
Hanks Old Irish – on Heritage Square Bree Street (next to Love Thy Neighbour)
The Power & The Glory – Kloof Nek Road
The Village Idiot – on Loop Street
The secret gin bar behind Honest Chocolate (Wale Street)
Outrage of Modesty cocktail bar in Shortmarket StreetLa Perla in Sea Point
Jason’s Bakery in Green Point
Coco Safar in the ARTEM centre Sea Point
Fave casual eateries for a burger, hot dog, drink etc
Clarkes on Bree
Jerry’s Burger joint
Free Bird (corner Reede & Kloof Street) – for the best chicken burgers
Best ice cream
Unframed on Kloof Street (totally amazing)
Favourite casual Asian and Dim Sum
South China Dim Sum Bar
He Sheng in Sea Point (great value dim sum in my hood)
Obi – Long Street
Dahlia on Regent
Kyoto Sushi Garden
Nobu – The One & Only
12A at the 12 Apostles Hotel
Willoughby & Co – V & A Waterfront
Four & Twenty (Wynberg)
The Loading Bay
The Foodbarn Deli
Tasha’s – V&A Waterfront
Best Food Markets
Oranjezicht City Farmers Market at Granger Bay – – every Saturday and Sunday 9am – 2pm. This is my preferred farmers market as its local and less busy than the Biscuit Mill which gets unbearably busy
Neighbourgoods Market at the Biscuit Mill – This market is the most famous Cape Town food market and definitely worth visiting if you haven’t been and for tourists visiting the city. They have some amazing food producers, it just gets unbearably busy especially over the holidays. To avoid the hectic rush, best to go really early.
Hout Bay Market This is a lively and popular lifestyle market in Hout Bay Harbour with a good vibe over the weekend.
Fave dive bar
Lefty’s on Harrington Street (the beetroot falafel is my favourite dish on the menu)
Col’caccio – in the Foreshore. I’m a fan of their vast menu and very thin-based pizzas. I love the Foreshore branch (also their first).
Massimo’s in Hout Bay- Haven’t been for ages because I don’t live anywhere nearby, but this used to be a fave.
Best fast food
If you are looking for fast food with higher-grade ingredients and free-range meat try (both in Gardens):
****NB I will not allow comments on this post from people trying to promote other restaurants. I am not looking for further suggestions to those that are mentioned here.
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