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Cape Town

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I'm spending a week in Cape Town in the Greenpoint and Seapoint neighborhoods.

Can anyone recommend good reasonable lunch and dinner places in these areas as well as the Waterfront? I won't have a car but am willing to travel a bit by taxi.

By reasonable I mean less than 200 ZAR for dinner and 125 ZAR for lunch.

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  1. South Africa has excellent seafood. Try the Codfather in Camps Bay. It is a pretty unusual place, in that you are seated and then taken to the fish counter where you decide how much (if any) by weight you want of 10-15 varieties of fish which is then cooked to order on a flat top griddle. Not the cheapest place but not the most expensive either - depends on how much and what variety of fish you choose.

    To get there, simply stand on Main Road in Seapoint/Greenpoint standing on the side of the road furthest from the sea and hail a Kombi (mini-bus taxi). To make sure that you get one going to Camps Bay (or the Clifton beaches) make a sign in the air pointing skyward, don't be surprised if many pass you by as more than half are only going to the end of Seapoint (if you merely want to go to the end of Seapoint then point downward and circle your finger as if stirring a glass of water). This is the way most people get around. The Kombis are dirt cheap, it was R3 to get to Camps Bay in 1999, ask the passengers or driver for the fare price. Either pay the driver or the "Tout", if no tout just pass your fare up via the other passengers and call out where you are going

    Whatever you do make sure to try Nando's. This is a fast food chain that started in South Africa selling Portugese style grilled chicken. The place is amazing and I have been waiting for years for them to enter the US market. Best to order a quarter chicken and a roll. The chicken comes in different degrees of spice, and the extra hot IS extra hot. Peri-Peri is how spiciness is referred to in SA (e.g. Peri Peri Sauce). There is one in Seapoint if my memory serves correctly.

    The other thing to make sure to try is Biltong and Droewoers (pronounced dryvorse). The first is airdried meat and the latter airdried sausage. These are true South African delicacies and put American Jerky to shame. Ask around for a good butchery to find who has the best.

    NY Bagel on Main Road is reliable and inexpensive

    Finally, check out Mr. Pickwicks on Longstreet. Amazing sandwiches and lighter fare. Very reasonably priced and open late. Catch a Kombi going the other way (hail from the seaward side of Main Street and call out "Longstreet" when the Kombi slows)

    Enjoy Kaapstaad

    1 Reply
    1. re: deepyarn

      I second the biltong, Deepyarn.

      But to the OP, it is never as simple a delicacy as 'biltong' - how moist do you want it, what 'type' would you like - droewors, snapsticks, slices - and what type of meat? Every South African you ask will defend a different style. So it's best to try them all! I'm a fan of beef, either snapsticks or thin, moist slices, personally, but ostrich, kudu, springbok - if it's meat, they'll dip it in coriander seeds, salt and pepper, dry it out and eat it.

      NY Bagel is reliable and cheap, but I'd respectfully argue that there's better food to be had for a visitor. That said, I do love their veal sausage...

      Are you an expat, Deepyarn? You sound as knowledgeable about the taxis as a gaatjie... :)

    2. Hello, RBCal.

      I'd avoid the waterfront for food, if I were you. There's better food to be had on Kloof Street, the CBD (City Business District) and yes, in Green Point and Sea Point.

      GREEN POINT AND SEA POINT

      Good deli culture going on here. Carlucci's, on Main Rd Greenpoint, is extremely popular. Hard to get a seat at their cafe. Newport Deli, which is more in Sea Point, IIRC, has lovely baked goods, South African chocolates and sweets to pick up (my mother, a nougat queen, insists the Masse (sp?) is the best, although tourists love the Sally Hanson, too), and it overlooks the sea.

      Zero932 on Green Point Main Rd is a Belgian-style restaurant, which showcases some great local ingredients. Mussel bowls are their specialty, but I enjoy their ostrichburgers and hamburgers. You can eat on their stoep (verandah) if it's warmer. This place is pricier, but still within the price limits you gave.

      If you want to splurge on a lovely, lovely breakfast, go to the Radisson Hotel for brunch/breakfast. Expensive buffet, but really well done. They have their own pier, and on nice days, you can sit outside and watch the waves.

      Make sure you walk along the Sea Point promenade. The smell of the sea there is, to my nose, unique - a particular salty-kelp tang which takes me back to my childhood. Eating a gelato cone (from Sea Point Main Rd, place is next to a petrol station, called something like Milan - not the best I've had, but very pleasing) at the same time is reccommended, but not compulsory.

      CBD
      It's not a far walk from where you are staying, and you'll probably go in to see the Castle, or Green Market Square, or the Slave Lodge, or the art gallery in the company gardens, or the Jewish Musuem or Holocaust Museum. One way or another, tourists end up there!

      Minato
      4 Buiten Street
      Perhaps sushi isn't the first cuisine that comes to mind when thinking of Cape Town, but it is a lovely way to sample the city's wonderful seafood. This is a hole-in-the-wall, mom 'n pops joint. They serve only 35 people a night, and booking is essential.When booking, also reserve the local sushi sampler (can't remember exact name - the sampler for about R120 which gives a taste of all the local fish). I think this could feed two people with perhaps some small a la carte sampling, too. Very reasonably priced, lovely fresh sushi.
      Somewhat hard to find, Buiten Street is the turn off between Spaghetti Mafia and Teazers on Loop Street.

      Royale's at the top of Long Street is the best for burgers, and creative milkshakes. Young, student crowd. Affordable by anyone's standards. Also try Deepyarn's suggestion of Mr Pickwick's, further down Kloof (down=downhill, up=uphill towards mountain, easy)for other great milkshakes. They're open late, relatively cheap, and useful for post-clubbing noshing.

      Bukhara, 33 Church Street
      OK, so you probably didn't come to Cape Town for Indian food, but I've had enough visitors cite this as their favourite meal to mention it here. Slightly pricier (you will be able to eat within your limits, but it's also easy not to!), and it can be a bit noisy, but I like the atmosphere, and the food is marvellous.

      And of course, everyone asks about Cape Malay food. The difficulty with finding really authentic Malay/Indian food in Cape Town is that since it's not treated as haut cuisine, it's hard to find in restaurants. Your best bet is to go into the centre of town and look at little cafes and stalls where office workers buy food during the day. Bunny chow (curry in a hollowed out loaf of bread), gatsbies (footlong sandwiches with meat and sometimes chips), will feed a family - or hockey team), samoosas (pronounced saMOOOAsas in South Africa; different from the ones you find in the UK or USA) and salomies (curry in a roti flatbread) will be on offer. Another South African idiosyncrasy are slap chips (pronouced slup chips), which are our version of french fries. They are an acquired taste- thick french fries which are soft rather than crispy, usually drenched in vinegar and tomato sauce (South African for 'ketchup'). You can also find boerewors rolls at stands on the street as well as informal cafes. Boerewors is probably the ultimate gastronomic symbol of South Africa. Meaning 'farmer's sausage' in Afrikaans, it is a spicy mottled sausage that we braai (i.e. barbeque). A quintessential South African experience! Look out for South African desserts too; malva pudding, milk tart/melktert, koeksusters and the like.

      If you go higher than the company gardens, towards the mountain, you will hit Kloof Street and the Mount Nelson (pricy but highly civilized colonial high teas).

      Kloof Street: Lots of independently owned places. Yindee's famous for vegetarian Thai food. Also look out for the South African chains:

      Kuaui - I long for their magma wrap, princess sandwich on wholewheat and gem smoothies. A healthy choice, they offer sandwiches, wraps and some breakfast choices which I have not tried (egg burritos?) to complement their extensive smoothie menu. Smoothies are R20 or under, sandwiches are R35 and under. Save on lunch, and spend the extra money in the evening on a pricier dinner.

      Nando's chicken (concur with Deepyarn on this one) - now invading the UK and other countries, their flame-grilled chicken with lemon-and-herb or peri-peri (chili sauce) dressing is a national institution. Really affordable. My favourite wrap is maybe R21. The chicken pieces are affordable too.

      Melissa's - revolutionized the deli industry. Their nutella hot chocolate is awe-inspiring. Aside from the stuff you can buy off the shelves, they do light sandwiches and breakfast items, and have a simple lunch buffet. Pricier fare, but still way under the budget you gave.

      Vida e Caffe - portuguese-style coffee (the crema - the foam - is amazing) and great pastei di nata sum up this prime people-watching cafe.

      Woolworth's - all foodies should stop by and pay homage to their food hall. Larger ones also have great buffet lunches based on the food they sell. There's a smallish one on Kloof.

      Ocean Basket - seafood platters in a casual environment, unfortunately not overlooking the sea. The one on Kloof St has a walled garden you can eat in though. Good value seafood platters, often served in pig pans. You could spend more than your budget (think: crayfish, crayfish and more crayfish), but easily get away under, and have a yummy time.

      OK, that's all I can think of for now. Let me know if you need suggestions for other regions and suburbs. To get a sense of how much deliciousness is available, consider that I have never lived in the Sea Point/Green Point/CBD area, or even spent that much time there - I would consider myself relatively ignorant of it, in fact, but I still managed to come up with the list above!

      I assume you will go beyond that side of the mountain at some point, if only to visit Cape Point or Kirstenbosch. The latter is compulsory for all visitors, in my mind. Choose a non-rainy day, if you can. And don't go to the restaurants there. They are an embarrassment to all Capetonians. If you HAVE to eat there, go to the cafe/restaurant by the old entrance. Anyone you ask should know what I mean. It's next to the nursery, where they sell plants. It's not bad, but not particularly wonderful. I'd rather take a picnic from any of the places mentioned above, and eat on the grass, overlooking the wondrous mountains.

      And then return home, report back to us here on Chowhound on what you ate, which places you enjoyed (and didn't) and admit that you've never seen a city as beautiful as my magnificent home town.

      6 Replies
      1. re: Gooseberry

        Gooseberry, thanks so much for a great post. I've spent some time in Cape Town and have eaten at some of the places you mention, but you've given me some great ideas for future trips.

        Do you know if Savoy Cabbage has re-opened, and if so, what's your opinion of it? I tried to go there last time I was in town, but it seemed to be closed for remodeling.

        1. re: travelmad478

          Hello, Travelmad.

          Food trends intrigue me: most people posting here refer extensively to Savoy Cabbage, Five Flies and One.Waterfront. I've never been to the latter, and I'm afraid it has literally been seven years since I was at either of the first two. But the amount of coverage it gets here makes me want to try it when I go home! So that will have to wait until I'm back in the Cape. I'm moving back permanently in October :)

          I'm always happy when talk turns to Cape Town; I truly believe South Africa offers some of the best food in the world. ESPECIALLY when you take cost into account. And yet, so few 'hounds have been! So I'm delighted to meet a repeat visitor here in Chowland. I'll make an effort to go to SC when I'm home, and I'll be sure to post about it here.

          1. re: Gooseberry

            There are a lot of restaurants that get repeat press coverage in the US, and One.Waterfront is one of them. I haven't been, but visits to other similar places in the V&A Waterfront (e.g. Baia) have kind of turned me off--most are not worth the major money you'll spend. There are a lot of places in Cape Town where the buzz, the hipness quotient, and the prices far exceed the quality of the food. (I had the same opinion a few years ago about Blues in Camps Bay, for instance). A big "eh" from me, particularly with regard to the service. I can't even remember what I ate there, which says to me that it wasn't very thrilling!

            I haven't been to Savoy Cabbage, but I've been reading about it for 6 years, so I keep looking to eat there! Probably I am years behind the times, but I don't get to Cape Town nearly often enough. :-)

            PS, regarding the cost issue, I regret to say that South Africa is not anything like cheap anymore, esp. for Americans. I have been traveling there since 2000, and in 2001-2002, I felt like a millionaire. These days we poor Americans can't buy a stick of gum over there. The combination of SA inflation rates and the relentless strengthening of the rand during 2002-2005 have really made the country but downright expensive at times. It's a shame. I had one of the best meals at my life at Haute Cabriere in Franschhoek in 2000 for something like $12. No way would I get that chance again!

            1. re: travelmad478

              You're right about the relative rand-dollar strength. Suits me as a South African in America, but I can see how the other way round would be painful! There's been a lot of press at home on how tourism pushes prices even further up. I think you see that a lot at the areas frequented by tourists. Such as Campsbay, where I might go for a drink overlooking the sea once in a while, but otherwise leave to the tourists and Beautiful People. I think South Africa is still affordable to visitors, but not across the board. Which is what makes resources like this board so useful!

              Let us know when you're next heading to SA; I'm sure I'll have some new reccs by then.

              1. re: travelmad478

                Hi there- Just wanted to throw in my 2 cents. (From the viewpoint of a US based foodie)

                Travelmad: I agree with you. Baia and another waterfront restaurant I went to were really quite mediocre and expensive for what you get, though I suppose you are paying for the view.

                One Waterfront was a refreshing change however. I liked it and the price, thought slightly more expensive, was worthwhile for the quality and ambience. I have some photos on my blog:

                http://travelingchomps.blogspot.com/2...

                I also reviewed several others including Le Petite Ferme, Reubens, Manna Epicure etc. Hope this helps someone!

                http://travelingchomps.blogspot.com/2...

              2. re: Gooseberry

                Savoy Cabbage is still the same as ever and despite mis-reports under the same origional ownership. In the winter it closes for a few weeks every year for staff holidays, painting, servicing equipment etc! Chef Peter Pankhurst is going to Washington in July 07 to do 4 stages in the top Washington establishments.

          2. Gooseberry

            I spent two years in Africa. Predominantly in Vic Falls, but spent four months in Cape Town living in Greenpoint. Kombis were my method of getting around town, particulary to my bartending gig in Camps Bay which is how I know those routes so well. OP, check out the Brass Bell in Muizenburg, makes a good stop if you head out to Boulders Beach to check out the Penguins

            1. Hi RBCal

              Here's a good site to look for Cape Town restaurants: http://www.dining-out.co.za/ - gives you the menus and prices.

              Some other suggestions:
              Col'cacchio - great pizza - walking distance from the Waterfront (behind The Holida Inn at the bottom of Buitengracht).
              Nona Lina - in an area called Gardens (you'd have to get a taxi). Nice neighbourhood Italian.
              Five Flies - well worth it. And they often run winter specials (www.fiveflies.co.za
              )Dunes - in Hout Bay. Quite a bit out of your way, but great sea views and relaxed atmosphere. Have the mussels.
              Willoughby's - at the V&A Waterfront. Seafood and sushi - really good.
              Bukhara - in the CBD, Church Street. Have to agree 100% with previous postings. Brilliant North Indian food, and I've been to India.
              Ginja - international fusion, I suppose. In Castle Street of CBD, which is close to Green Point.
              Madam Zingara - eclectic. In the CBD, Loop Street.
              Also visit the Cape Quarter in Green Point - various restaurants, nice out-door vibe if the weather is good.

              Hope that all helps

              1. I need to wholeheartedly agree on the Nando's suggestion. It might seem weird because it's just chicken, but it's so good and the peri peri sauce is great.

                Also, get out and see other parts of Cape Town. Obs is pretty cool. There's really only one strip (lower Main Road), but there's a great pizza place there called Diva's http://www.sexbyfood.co.za/diva/ They have a great selection of pizzas-try the one with the marinaded eggplant. Yum.