As universal as they are, we all have unique preferences when it comes to burgers. Purists advocate the joys of beef on a bun with tomato, lettuce and onion, while modern gourmands are all about experimenting with toppings – from fried egg and bacon rashers to avo and beetroot. If your mouths are watering, you might want to try some of our favourites…
1. Clarke’s Bar and Dining Room
What we love The diner decor and street-scene vibe (if you’re not a fan of hipsters and skater kids, steer clear); the side order of twice fried fries served with aioli.
We recommend Clarke’s Cheese Burger: A special blend of grass-fed cuts (from Bill Riley Family Butchers) topped with Underberger cheese and served on a buttery brioche, with your choice of fries or salad.
X-factor The brioche bun, whose slightly sweet flavour complements the meat perfectly.
Contact 021 424 7648, firstname.lastname@example.org
Location Clarke’s Bar & Dining Room, 133 Bree Street, Cape Town
2. The Butcher Shop & Grill
The Cape Town branch of this South African favourite is one for the meat connoisseurs. Famous for its steaks, the restaurant does fine, juicy burgers, too, made from the same mature-aged meat.
Why we love it Its prime location on the Mouille Point strip, as well as the prime beef cuts used to make the patties! Add to that the views of the sea crashing against the railings of the Sea Point Promenade, friendly and professional service that starts with a warm welcome as soon as you enter through the front door, and it’s an all-round good experience.
X-Factor The restaurant includes an adjoining butchery and deli, where fresh, good-quality produce is available for purchase. Customers are welcome to approach the butcher’s counter and choose their preferred size and cut, just like people used to do in the old days. It helps that the butchery keeps the same opening hours as the restaurant.
Good to know The Butcher Shop & Grill’s impressive array of vintage wines means you need not bring your own. The restaurant’s drinks menu also includes blended whiskies, single malts, cognacs and liqueurs.
Contact 021 434 0813, email@example.com
Location 125 Beach Road, Mouille Point, Cape Town
3. Mount Nelson Planet Bar
What we love The Planet Bar’s stylish galaxy-themed decor with quirky touches and comfy couches is perfect for a late-night, after theatre/movie, bite – and if the weather’s good, sit out on lovely terrace and watch the celestial or mortal stars passing by – you never know who you might spot. This is a wonderful venue for people-watching and although the hotel won’t admit it, we know that Sean Penn and Charlize Theron were regulars on their recent trip to Cape Town, while they were filming in and around the city.
We recommend Chef Rudi’s “Rolls-Royce” burger: a 200gm 100% pure beef burger patty specially prepared from a secret mix of various beef cuts combined with chopped parsley, Dijon mustard and salt and basted with Chef Rudi’s own secret basting sauce. The hotel is renowned for its bread-making and the in-house toasted sesame bun is the perfect vehicle for the burger, which is topped with mature cheddar, pickled cucumber, tomato, lettuce, tomato chutney and sautéed onion. This is accompanied by a choice of deliciously crisp fries or potato wedges and a side salad or coleslaw. At R135, it’s pricey, but you’d have to travel far to find a top-class, luxury burger that compares.
X-factor On occasion, Chef Rudi can be persuaded to make extra large burgers, as he did for the 10 members of the Burger Boys Club who meet regularly – and all raved about the giant burgers they were served – at around R150 each!
Contact 021 483 1000
Location The Mount Nelson Hotel, 76 Orange Street, Gardens, Cape Town
4. Royale Eatery
What we love The vibe. You have to order a shake to go with your burger – they range from the more conventional flavours (like Choc Brownie), to those with a bit more edge (the Jack Daniels and Peanut Butter, and you can definitely taste the Jack)
We recommend Classic Royale: 160g pure beef patty basted in Royale’s special sauce, topped with aioli, lettuce, tomato, caramelised onion and gherkins, and served with salad, potato or sweet-potato fries.
X-factor Royale’s sauces are tang-tastic: have your burger with the house basting sauce or a go for the delicious homemade tomato relish.
Contact 021 422 4536
Location Royale Eatery, 273 Long Street, Cape Town
5. Redemption Burgers
What we love The unpretentious and friendly vibe, which is reflected in the homegrown ingredients used to craft the tasty burgers. It’s got a premium location too, tucked away in a corner of the increasingly fashionable Old Biscuit Mill, making it a refreshingly laid-back locale, considering some of the high-minded establishments it shares space with. The place gets especially buzzy on Saturdays, when the Old Biscuit Mill hosts the Neighbourgoods Market. The wood-floored outdoor seating area provides some respite from the crowds, and with a beer in hand, it’s tempting to just sit there all day, watching people pile up around the various stalls.
We recommend The Straight Ace: a 200g handmade beef patty, topped with organic cheddar, homemade tomato relish, gherkins, and sweet mustard mayo. Simple, yet effective. More exotic options include the Flimsy Gypsy (an ostrich burger topped with creamy brie cheese, marinated tomatoes and fresh roasted garlic mayo) and the El Borracho Mexicano (dressed with homemade jalapeño mayo and topped with organic cheddar, chilli salsa and guacamole). They also make a damn fine veggie burger.
X-factor The crispy fries come with additional flavour thanks to Redemption Burgers’ special seasoning, made in-house. Whatever it is, it works. They also stock a range of authentic craft beers, including Fokof Lager (product of Afrikaans rock band Fokofpolisiekar)
Good to know Though burgers are their passion, the restaurant also offers breakfast options (up until 12pm), coffee and sandwiches; and they stock liquor.
Contact 079 476 3648, firstname.lastname@example.org
Location Block B, The Old Biscuit Mill, 375 Albert Road, Woodstock
6. Loading Bay
What we love The truffle-salted fries (and, are we allowed to say this, owner JP Bolus’s smile).
We recommend The Classic Burger: 100% grass-fed pasture-reared beef, served with truffle-salted fries or fresh greens.
X-factor The first-grade meat from Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants.
Contact 021 425 6321, email@example.com
Location Loading Bay, De Waterkant, Cape Town
7. Dog’s Bollocks
What we love The make-shift vibe (it’s in a driveway-cum-garage); proprietor Nigel Wood’s dry humour and no-frills approach (no waitrons, no cutlery) and, of course, the limited-edition burgers. Only 50 burgers are made each night and once they’ve been snapped up, that’s it. However, you can order ribs, chicken wings and nachos off the menu.
We recommend Old School 1950s Mega Slider: a beef patty topped with melted cheddar, caramelised onion, fresh lettuce, slice of tomato and a selection of sauces. Fries are included
X-factor It’s a real hidden gem.
Contact 082 885 5719 (Megan), 083 440 7843 (Nigel), firstname.lastname@example.org
Location Dog’s Bollocks, 6 Roodehek Street, Gardens
What we love The juiciness of the extra-thick patties.
We recommend Classic American Burger: a 200g handmade patty topped with mature cheddar, chipotle mayo, thick-cut gherkins and onion rings. Served with skinny fries.
X-factor Its unashamed go-big-or-go-home presentation (it’s American, after all); the spicy kick of the chipotle mayo.
Contact 021 701 3272, email@example.com
Location Jakes on Summerley, 5 Summerley Road, Upper Kenilworth
What we love With its new location at the V&A Waterfront overlooking the working harbour, Gibson’s now has more space and better views, along with the usual diverse array of burger choices. The Mexican-inspired toppings ensure this burger is full of flavour (and big enough to get past any Donald Trump-erected wall).
We recommend The Ultimare Mex-Tex: a sizeable burger topped with cheddar cheese, jalapeño and guacamole, served with nachos, salsa and sour cream.
X-factor The handspun thick milkshakes make a fine accompaniment, with a range of flavours including blueberry and cinnamon doughnut.
Contact 087 357 3465, firstname.lastname@example.org
Location Gibsons Gourmet Burger & Ribs, V&A Waterfront
What we love The patties are made according to a secret mince recipe, with no eggs or bread crumbs. And contrary to many other burger joints, the price includes a generous portion of fries: thin, shoe-stringy perfection.
We recommend The Jack D: A 100-percent pure beef burger basted in a sticky Jack Daniels sauce with caramelised onions and crisp bacon. (The B.A.F – bacon, avo and feta – came in a close second.)
X-factor The mouthwatering patties are served on gorgeous brioche buns. Tangy sauces such as chipotle mayo and mustard mayo are made in-house from scratch.
Contact 021 447 8554, email@example.com
Location Jerry’s Burger Bar, 123 Lower Main Road, Observatory
11. Café Caprice
What we love The setting – in the thick of the Camps Bay Strip. Although it attracts the glam squad, its beach-facing location make it quite chilled.
We recommend Caprice Burger: 100% pure beef basted in barbeque sauce, topped with beer-battered onion rings and served with fries.
X-factor The onion rings – a mini meal in themselves – add texture, crunch and flavour.
Contact 021 438 8315, firstname.lastname@example.org
Location Cafe Caprice, 37 Victoria Road, Camps Bay
12. The Slug & Lettuce Durbanville
What we love The generous amount of melting cheese and bacon – you’ll leave satisfied.
We recommend Bacon and Melting-Cheese Burger: A 200g hand-pressed South African beef patty garnished with tomato, onion, greens, finished off with onion rings and served with fries.
Contact 021 976 8705, email@example.com
Location The Slug & Lettuce, Heritage Square, Vrede Street, Durbanville
What we love Burgers start at R25 and there are nine to choose from – all available in either a hand-pressed pure ground-beef patty or chicken fillet. Plus, everything on the menu is halaal.
We recommend The Colossus: A burger so big, it has its own hashtag! Four 100g beef patties (or two chicken fillets) with mozzarella, cheddar, lettuce, onions, tomato and gherkins. Hashtag: yum!
X-factor The Woodies experience is not what you might expect at the V&A. You’ll find it upstairs at the V&A Market on the Wharf. Grab a seat at one of the tables in the food court and wait for your name to be called to collect your order. If it’s a nice day, take your food and sit at one of the outdoor tables. Your traditional hand-cut chips (R15 extra) come in a styrofoam cup, the biggest burger you’ve ever seen on a paper plate and, finally, expect to use the heap of napkins provided – it’s hard to keep things together!
Contact 079 125 7228, firstname.lastname@example.org
Location Woodies, V&A Food Market on the Wharf (upstairs)
14. The Butcher Man
What we love The all-in-one butchery-and-burger joint. Customers get to choose their own cut of beef from the cooler, which can be taken home, or eaten on site at one of the street-facing tables overlooking Green Point’s main drag.
We recommend Wagyu Burger: 200g of prime-cut wagyu beef, imported from Gauteng and aged in-house, topped with pickled cucumbers and house-made mayo, and served with French fries and coleslaw.
X-factor It’s a carnivore’s paradise down here, so leave your vegetarian friends at the door. The deli and biltong bar is the pepper sauce on the top (for want of a better metaphor).
Contact 021 434 1111, email@example.com
Location The Butcher Man, 105 Main Road, Greenpoint, Cape Town
Find out what else there is to do in Cape Town besides chowing on burgers.