A guide to the best restaurants and bars in Cape Town

South Africa is probably best known for its beaches, mountains and safari parks. But, did you know, it has one of the most incredible emerging food scenes? You might immediately think of game meats cooked on a braai but, while this is a delicious food experience, Cape Town has so much more to offer its hungry visitors. The coastal location lends itself to some of the best seafood your heart could desire, while the Cape-Malay influence brings the most delectable subtle curry flavours. Local restaurants experiment with a multitude of international flavours and married with the quality of the local ingredients, you are always in for a treat. 

Despite the long flight, the time difference is just one to two hours ahead of the UK so it’s a fantastic base to work remotely if you’re lucky enough to have the option. Here is our pick of the best spots to eat and drink in and around Cape Town from someone who was lucky enough to experience them all first-hand. 

City Centre Culinary Bites

The Central Business District (CBD) can suffer a bad wrap in comparison to the neighbouring beach areas of Sea Point and Camps Bay but it is here that you’ll find some of the most immense local flavours and varying cuisines all at affordable prices. 

Bouchon Bistro

A quaint and stylish joint that’s ideal for a date night or a casual catch-up with friends. Here you’ll find a delicious tapas-style menu bundled with seafood, meat and fresh vegetable dishes. The prawns were a particular highlight. They have an extensive wine menu so be sure to ask for a local recommendation. 

Pilcrow & Cleaver. Credit: Ella Davis

Pilcrow & Cleaver

You’ll be greeted with the biggest of smiles at this fun, cosy and welcoming joint run by talented local chefs in training. The small restaurant seats a maximum of twenty patrons, so if it’s peak season, be sure to book ahead. The restaurant has an open kitchen where you can watch the friendly chefs prepare your small plates of seasonal produce. The menu changes weekly (yes, weekly) so it’s almost impossible to recommend one stand-out dish, but the duck was memorably yummy. 

Sea Breeze

Hands down, the best seafood restaurant in the city centre! This modern and bright restaurant champions local fish and shellfish on its seasonal menu. Start with half a dozen oysters to whet your appetite, then try the Cape-Malay mussels to start which are served in a subtly spiced broth infused with coconut. There are plenty of choices when it comes to the main event, but we recommend the Kingklip fish (or whatever is seasonal), the enormous grilled prawns with salsa verde or the seafood curry. Wash it down with a bottle of local Sauvignon or Chenin Blanc and you’ll be one satisfied customer. 

Woodstock – The Pot Luck Club

Just outside the city approximately fifteen minutes by taxi, you’ll find the art and design-led area of Woodstock. There are a few breweries and local bars to choose from if you want to head there earlier in the day to mooch around and browse. When it comes to evening eats, everyone will tell you to visit The Pot Luck Club. Situated at the top of The Old Biscuit Mill, you access the restaurant via a small, somewhat concealed lift. Once you arrive, you might think you’ve entered one of New York’s newest and trendiest eateries. Serving tapas-style dishes, the restaurant recommends picking four to five per person, or there’s a set-menu option to give you a chance to try the most popular dishes. They also boast a sublime cocktail menu – give the Thai green curry margarita a go, it’s one of the whackiest and yet most tongue-tinglingly great tipples you’ll try. 

Credit: Kloof Street House

Kloof Street House 

This up-market bar is situated on the buzzy Kloof Street which is the go-to place for nights out in the city. The cocktails are truly sublime and the Whisky Sour might just be the best we’ve ever tried.

Eastern Food Bazaar

If you’re looking for some real rustic cheap eats, then this place is a hidden gem! The covered market stalls offer a variety of Asian and Middle-Eastern street eats that are perfect for a quick bite. The queues speak for themselves as it’s a popular spot for locals. Highly recommend trying the shawarma (also great if you’ve had a big night out and need a late-night bite). 

Butter

Looking for a carb-heavy breakfast post-night-out? Look no further than Butter. This charming little cafe serves all the brunch favourites including pancakes, poached eggs and avo and sweet Vietnamese-style iced coffees that will perk you up before a day of sightseeing. 

South China Dim Sum Bar

The perfect night out for a group of friends. This small cafe-style diner is currently bookings only but once you arrive you’ll get a friendly and warm greeting. The small menu offers a few varieties of dim sum but these perfectly pinched and stuffed parcels are so incredibly morish you’ll probably end up ordering everything on the menu twice over. 

Outside the city

If you have a car and will be venturing out of the city (and we highly recommend you do), then you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to gastronomical delights. 

Credit: Live Bait

Live Bait, Kalk Bay

This place is an actual gem! The location of this restaurant couldn’t be more scenic if it tried. Right on the edge of False Bay, you have the ocean waves lapping on one side and the charming pier with snoozing wild sealions on the other. Book the table in the window at sunset and you’ll think you’re on a movie set. The location and ambience are not all that this restaurant has to offer as the seafood menu is sublime. Be sure to start with a couple of oysters (they’re divine) and then take your pick from the myriad of delectable dishes including kingklip, seared tuna and fresh seafood linguine. The service is also top-notch – you’ll be sure to leave a very happy customer. 

Wineries

No trip to Cape Town would be complete without a visit to the local Winelands. Stellenbosh and Franshoek are around an hour’s drive, whereas Constantia is accessible easily from the city. An open-top city bus tour ticket from Long Street includes a wine tasting at Groot Constantia, a stunning vineyard with views of the city and Table Mountain. It’s a beautiful spot for some lunch while you sip on their delicious vintages. 

Wineries outside Root 44. Credit: Ella Davis

If you’re spending the day in and around Stellenboch then you must make a pit stop at Root 44. This covered food market is a lively place to while away some time in the sun tasting some delicious grub. Situated in outstanding scenery, you have near on unlimited choice when it comes to food. You can pick anything from sushi to barbecue and bring it back to your picnic table for a smorgasbord of tasty nibbles. The well-stocked bar serves cocktails, beer and of course, local wine – all of which you can enjoy surrounded by rolling hills and perfectly placed vines. It’s very child-friendly, so great for a fun day out for all. 

Credit: Fat Butcher

Fat Butcher

If you’re after a top-notch glass of red and a seriously succulent steak then Fat Butcher needs to be on your list. Order from the extensive menu, or if you want the full experience ask the chef to show you their special cuts. You’ll be given a proper meat show-and-tell by an in-house expert who explains the different cuts, how they should be cooked and what they think will suit your taste. You might think this is out of your price range, but the steaks are all very affordable. I opted for the picana sharing steak and let me tell you, it was flavourful, juicy and perfectly cooked!

Sea Point

If you find yourself in this part of the city then be sure to make your way to Mojo Market; a fun and characterful local indoor market with live music. There’s a big screen to catch international sports and plenty of choice when it comes to food options. 

View from Silo Hotel. Credit: Ella Davis

Rooftop bars

If you simply fancy a cocktail and a nice view then you can’t go wrong with a rooftop bar. Gorgeous George Hotel in the city centre is great for a chilled vibe, while the rooftop bar at the Silo Hotel at the V&A Waterfront offers a spectacular view at sunset. 

Homespun. Credit: Ella Davis

Fine dining experience

An hour north of the city is one of the best restaurants I’ve ever visited. Homespun in Blouberg offers a tasting menu that would rival even the top-rated restaurants and it’s no surprise since the head chef, Matt Schreuder has years of experience at top Michelin star places across the globe. At Homespun by Matt, you’ll enjoy a unique tasting menu influenced by Asian, local and worldly flavours alongside carefully crafted and theatrical cocktails. Seasonality means the menu can change but a sample of dishes might include Pork Belly Pancake with Miso Salsa Verde, Angus Tartare Bioche With Chimichurri, Prawn Dumplings with Dashi Togarashi Katsuobushi, Duck with Butternut Egg Yolk Pearl Barley Kimchi Jus and Crispy Gammon Pecorino Orange Sweet Potato. Opt for the wine pairing and you’ll be delivered a perfectly poured glass to accompany every dish. The food here is simply sublime and some of the best I’ve ever tasted – it’s a must-visit when you’re in Cape Town.