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Jan 6, 2009 11:25 AM

Cape Town what to eat?

I brought up an old post from 2007, but did not get a response.
We will be leaving this weekend, and would love an updated list.
Simple to fancy, just good food, and suggestions for Cape Town specialities.
Local food.
Thanks in advance

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  1. Hi Bev

    Cape Malay cuisine is the distinctive local cuisine (

    "With the rise of the middle class and the shift in wealth in South Africa, this has meant an elevation of the cultures of that middle class, and in Cape Town that means coloured culture(s). In addition to Cape Malay cuisine, we're seeing an interest in Cape Jazz, in the Cape Minstrel musical traditions, and in preserving the complex slave history of coloured ancestors. Like great port cities of the world, there is a wonderful, powerful, distinctive and heady mix of cultures and pleasures to be discovered! Think of New Orleans -- Cajun and Creole, Jazz, Mardi Gras, history, mystery and a dash of hedonism (port cities take their R&R seriously!)."

    Authentic local restaurants and cafes include Zorina's (lunch only) and The Noon Gun, and Biesmiellah has many local supporters, though it's not as nice a venue. None have or allow alcohol. Higher end restaurants specialising in Cape Malay cuisine include the Cape Colony at the Mount Nelson Hotel and the Cape Malay restaurant at Cellars-Hohenort. Note that you can also take cooking lessons...(


    Other exceptional foodie places include Olympia Cafe in Kalk Bay (very casual), Jardine on Bree, Aubergine and a new star, the Round House above Camps Bay. Have fish and chips at Fish on the Rock in Hout Bay. Sip cocktails with the beautiful people at Cafe Caprice in Camps Bay. Enjoy a braai Xhosa style at Mzoli's (go with a guide). Sip a glass of local bubbly while the sun sets at the Table Mountain Cableway restaurant (on top of Table Mountain). Lots of eating to do!

    The original Bukhara restaurant on Church Street has come back to form and is exceptional northern Indian, but Chandani on Roodebloem in Woodstock is my recommendation. A good lunch spot is Masala Dosa on Long Street.

    Consider Addis in Cape on Long and Church for Ethiopian - but go early to avoid excessive delays in the kitchen. If you're keen for game, then Khaya Nyama is a good choice. I don't rate any of the other 'African' restaurants aimed at the tourist trade, although Marimba in the convention centre may be an exception if you're with a group and get their 'feast.'

    I also don't rate the restaurants at the V&A Waterfront very highly, though many people enjoy them. Den Anker for a beer and moules frites is fun, however, and Willoughby's is a good choice for sushi.

    There are some exceptional places in the Cape Winelands as well, several in Franschhoek (but some are overrated, IMHO). Depending on your movements, different restaurants will be appropriate, but De Leuwen Jagt restauraunt on the Seidelberg wine estate in Paarl is first-class Cape Malay by celeb chef Cass Abrahams, done in a relaxed wine estate style...lovely!

    Enjoy your visit to the Mother City!

    4 Replies
    1. re: kurt_a

      I appreciate your response, and will take your list with me.
      I requested the same info., re; local foods from friends who have been to Capetown five times, and they told me that all that they have ever been served there was French and Continental.
      They are obviously not Chowhounds.

      1. re: kurt_a

        Kurt_A, thanks for your thorough notes. I'm headed to CT in February and appreciate your guidance.

        1. re: kurt_a

          Does anyone have feedback on Bizerca Bistro? Thanks

          1. re: gcm57

            It is a great place! Interior is rather stark and industrial, but the food is always very good.

        2. There is such a variety of foods available in Cape Town, from Cape Malay (a must try) to the Boerekos. You'll obviously be able to get Italian, Ethiopian, French, continental and the like.

          If you like fish, I suggest a visit to Kalk Bay or Hout Bay harbours and enjoy fish, chips, calamari (etc) sitting overlooking the harbour. You'll see the fisherman coming in with their catches in the boats. You can even buy just caught fish directly from the boats. The Cape Town Fish Market is also worth a visit for a great meal.

          The Black Marlin on Main Road in Millers Point, Simonstown ( serve wonderful seafood as well as some great game. When in SA you've got to try some venison (game) pie.

          For great Malay food, give Gold Restaurant, Gold of Africa Museum, 96 Strand Street ( a try - and while you there take a moment to look at the Gold Museum.

          Enjoy your visit. Let us know what you thought - especially of the food.

          1. Thank you for starting this thread again. I am going next month (Feb. 09) and would love any input on exploring the food/wine of Cape Town.

            7 Replies
            1. re: dpnpt

              I was going to write a full report upon my return, but will give you a report on the two best meals we have had here.
              Harbour House Kalks Bay.
              It is Crayfish season, so we might have been lucky.
              DH ordered the Seafood Platter, and I ordered the Crayfish.
              The Crayfish were well over a foot long and very thick .
              Could barely finish the two, but managed.
              Best that I have ever eaten.
              Dh also received a gigantic Crayfish, as well as two perfect Lagostines, some shrimp, fish, and literally dozens of baby squid.
              I tasted the Squid, as well, and they were perfectly grilled.
              This was on a bed of rice salad.
              Great meal.
              Riboville Capetown
              This restaurant is in an old Bank Vault.
              Lovely setting.
              I started with Duck Spring Rolls, with three sauces.
              DH had Oysters, and we shared some surprisingly good Sushi.
              We then shared one order of the Seafood Platter,
              Lagostines, one lovely Crayfish (although not the size of Harbour House).
              Giant Tiger Shrimp, and another type, but smaller shrinp.
              This was served with a rice pilaf.
              The desserts looked fantastic, but alas, there was no room.

              1. re: erly

                Thanks for the update. It's always great to know - even for us in SA. I will be visiting Cape Town during this week and hopefully will have a chance to visit the Harbour House! Sounds great!

                dpnpt: let us know where you eat and what you think! Enjoy visiting!

                1. re: PieDesigns

                  Thanks for the update erly. I'll report back PieDesigns, thanks for your note!

                  1. re: dpnpt

                    Our next most enjoyable meal was a surprise, as after a very long day we decided to eat at the Waterfront.
                    as we were staying there at the Cape Grace Hotel.
                    The Hotel recommended Biai.
                    The first impression was giant cafeteria with tablecloths.
                    Too large, and and too many rooms.
                    However our meal was excellent.
                    I ordered the abalone and scallop app.
                    Good portion of Abalone and one perfect scallop on a broccoli puree
                    DH ordered the oysters, decent, not the finest.
                    Curried prawns, excellent dish as the prawns were obviously added just before serving so they were perfectly cooked.
                    (No heat in the curry, but I found this wherever we went in South Africa).
                    DH had two nicely steamed Crayfish. (He was on a real Crayfish kick)
                    Someone at the next table was eating Rack of Lamb, and I have never seen such a large portion.
                    It looked like the entire rack.
                    The Gentleman said that it was quite good.

                    We wanted to try the Cape Malay food, so we decided to try
                    Biesmiellah, as suggested by Kurt (thank you).
                    Our Taxi driver told us that he eats there and enjoys it, so we invited him to come with us (He told us he was going off duty).
                    Glad we did, as the restaurant is a bit unappealing, an on our own we might not have stayed.
                    Nothing stood out, and it reminded me very much of Indian food without the heat.
                    Everything was tasty, including the Biryani, which they spell differently.
                    The portions are huge.
                    We enjoyed the curried mutton, and had a nice selection of appetizers.
                    Interesting and fun experience.

                    The new Signal restaurant at our Hotel served the most delicious breakfast, and I highly recommend it.
                    Things like poached eggs on Rosti, with fresh asparagus.
                    I gained most weight at breakfast during our stay there..
                    Our impression of dinner was mixed.
                    DH had a wild mushroom soup, and finished it to the last drop.
                    I ordered the squid...don't...
                    It was dreadful slices of squid, with equal amounts of bacon swimming in oil.
                    My Poisson in Curry Sauce was quite tasty, as everywhere, quite bland, but the Chicken was tender.
                    DH had a tasty Steak, but not as tender as I would have thought, but he enjoyed it..

                    For our final night in Capetown we went to the much touted restaurant, The Showroom.
                    It was our only disappointment.
                    DH started with a dozen oysters, which were the best he had been served on our trip.
                    Everything went downhill from there.
                    I ordered the Abalone spring rolls, and I am certain they contained some specks of Abalone, but I could not taste them.
                    DH ordered the Seafood platter ($55) the most expensive of the trip.
                    The Crayfish was seriously overcooked and dry, and the shrimps and prawns were O.K.
                    I ordered the Prawns with fettucini.
                    Tiny portion.
                    Two swirls of the fork could have scooped up all of the portion of the seriously undercooked pasta.
                    I kid you not, I could still taste the raw flour, pity, as it looked homemade.
                    The prawns also small portion were tasty and properly cooked.
                    We opted to share a Tart Tatin (my favorite).
                    What were they thinking.
                    A plate arrived with a tiny tart with a sparkler in the middle, and a ball of chocolate on the bottom of the sparkler.
                    The server lit the sparkler, and it was supposed to melt the chocolate.
                    It didn't, so the server put the lighter to the chocolate ball a couple of times.
                    There were two different types of spun sugar masking the tart, and when we finally tasted it there was almost no apple, but lots of raisins.
                    We didn't eat it.

                    I am not sure if you are going along the Garden Route, but if you are, one of the best meals we have ever had...anywhere was the tasting menu at our hotel in Knysna, the Pezula. Resort.
                    The restaurant is Zachary's
                    It was approx. $55 p.p with wine pairing.
                    We were served several lovely amuse.
                    Each was tasty and innovative.
                    Next course was a giant white prawn, with the body only in a light tempura served with a mango, papaya & lime salad, and a coriander pesto.
                    A Risotto with tuna confrit, zucchini Blossoms and whole roasted Garlic Cloves.
                    I ordered the organic duck breast with fresh black truffles, fresh figs, pomegranate, and rosti.
                    DH substituted the lamb which was perfectly cooked med-rare, and I was served with mash, and fresh veggies.
                    Coconut plum sorbet.
                    72% Felchlin chocolate Souffle with Basil Ice Cream, and peppadew coulis.
                    I have never managed to finish a Chocolate Souffle, but this one was too good to leave without emptying the pot.
                    The presentation of each dish was very special. an a feast for the eyes.
                    A few days later we had the tasting menu (weekdays, and much cheaper
                    It too was delicious, but not as spectacular as their weekend menu.
                    Anyway, dpnpt, enjoy your trip.
                    Food was excellent even at our Safari Lodge and on the Rovos Train.
                    We loved South Africa, our first visit, but it won't be our last.

                    1. re: erly

                      Hi erly - thanks for the detailed report. One note on curries in South Africa is that they are based on Malay curries, not Indian. Many have no chillies in them at all. They are milder, more aromatic and sweeter in general. They are, in fact, quite delicate when done properly and can easily be overwhelmed by a heavy wine or a too-potent side dish.

                      Also, Biesmiellah is authentic local food - like a good diner in New Jersey or proper pub fare in an English village. The cultural experience is half of the joy of eating there. Glad you had company and felt comfortable!



                      1. re: kurt_a

                        Hi Piedesigns,
                        Thank you for your input.
                        You must think that we went crazy with the Crayfish, but we have great Lobster in Toronto, but the only Crayfish available are frozen tasteless and small.
                        Enjoy the Crayfish, and think of us.

                        1. re: kurt_a

                          Biesmiellah was closed when we tried to go, so we ended up at Bo-Kaap Kombuis. So glad we did! The food was quite good, and the views amazing. The servers and owners were so welcoming and friendly. We felt like a part of their family. I don't know how the food compares to Biesmiellah, but I would definitely recommend eating at Bo-Kaap Kombuis.

              2. So Beve where did you try in Cape Town, Lots of the posts are very predictable so its always good to see if you experimented and what you thought

                8 Replies
                1. re: Caroline B

                  We so loved Capetown and the Cape Grace Hotel, that we are returning in January for six days before leaving for Botswana.
                  Any new suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
                  Great food.. any type
                  Thanks in advance.

                  1. re: erly

                    Hi Erly,

                    I can suggest two Restaurants:
                    The Olympia Cafe & Deli in Kalk Bay is my absolute favorite! Don't expect a fancy Restaurant - it's a small place, always crowded and loud - but the food is delicious! You might need to queue for a while to catch a table but the food is great.
                    In town I would recommend The Hussar Grill ( ) - they are in Rondebosch, Greenpoint and Camps Bay. It's a steak house with 45 years history. Go for the spareribs, they are awesome!

                    1. re: hussar

                      Sorry I forgot to list The Roundhouse (Camps Bay)

                    2. re: erly

                      Erly, given that you seem to enjoy the best, I suggest you visit Rust en Vrede (south of Stellenbosch) IMO the very best dining experience this area has to offer. Next up would be La Colombe (Constantia). After that there is Jardine, Bizerca Bistro, Aubergine, Opal Lounge, Carne (meat only) 95 Keerom Street all in the city.

                      1. re: macsym

                        I'm in Cape Town for work and am here with another female colleague. We're staying near the Waterfront and have walked down there twice for dinner as it's close and safe for us to get to on foot after dark. The first day we ate at Willoughby & Co. in the Mall at the V&A Waterfront. They do have massive sushi portions, but we both got grilled fish. I had the kingklip, a white fish I had never eaten before. My colleague had another white fish. Both were grilled with fresh herbs and were delicious and very well cooked. The prices were reasonable and the service friendly and quick.
                        We went back to the Waterfront for dinner at Emily's, which serves nouveau South African. The food was good, but I don't think it was great. From what I've heard from the locals, if you're going to the Waterfront, the Baia is quite good as was noted above. We may try that on Thursday night.
                        Tomorrow night our hosts are taking us to La Colombe. I'll post a review when we get back.

                        1. re: jsweetkind

                          Hope you enjoyed La Colombe - I think it is the best in Cape Town at the moment. I also like Willoughby - always reliable and consistent. Emilys is disappointing and very over priced. Visitors always seem to enjoy Baia, but personally think it too is rather pricey and sort of 'expense account' dining. If you enjoy fish try Millers Thumb, great neighbourhood restaurant. You should also try to get to Bizerca Bistro, Jardine, Carne, 95 Keerom and Opal Lounge. The best restaurants are not at the Waterfront!

                          1. re: macsym

                            We have reservations at Rust En Vrede for to-morrow.
                            Of the three what would you recommend the most,?
                            Also where to eat the best Crayfish in town.

                            1. re: erly

                              Hope you enjoyed RenV - I think THE very best experience here.

                              Very difficult about your other 3 - I like them all.

                              Bizerca is bistro but with very good food. Jardine is another of my favourites and I have been many times but not since chef George left to open the restaurant at Jordan. Jardine is now open for very good value lunch Wednesday to Friday

                              Have not been to Aubergine for some time but my last visit was perhaps less good.

                  2. you might like to go to my little restaurant review site: