In a city like Cape Town where new restaurants open faster than you can knock back a tequila, it’s easy to get caught up in the hot-right-now hype. But, actually, there’s a lot more depth to Cape Town’s food scene than the chaotic maze of where to eat now. These are our tried-and-tested picks…
1. The Pot Luck Club
Cape Town has been on the tourist radar for decades, but it was arguably Luke Dale Roberts who put her on the international fine-dining map back in 2010. In all three of his exceptional Cape Town restaurants, you’ll find intelligent, seasonal cooking that’s, most importantly, incredibly tasty. At The Pot Luck Club, the focus is on five flavour profiles (salty, sour, bitter, sweet, and umami), and plate-sharing is encouraged, so you get to savour them all. Situated on the top floor of the Silo at The Old Biscuit Mill, the ambient eatery boasts killer city views, especially at night.
Opening times Monday – Saturday, 12.30 – 2pm; 6pm – 10pm; Sunday, 11am – 12.30pm
Contact 021 447 0804, email@example.com
Location Silo Top Floor, The Old Biscuit Mill, 373 – 375 Albert Road, Woodstock, Cape Town
2. Chefs Warehouse at Beau Constantia
When seven of the country’s top chefs rate a restaurant among the best in Cape Town, you pretty much know it’s the real deal. The eatery in question is Liam Tomlin’s Chefs Warehouse & Canteen on burgeoning Bree Street. The good news is that Liam has added three restaurants to his stable in the short space of a year – namely Thali, Chefs Warehouse at Maison (in Franschhoek), and Chefs Warehouse Beau Constantia – bringing his tally of eateries to four.
All feature Liam’s signature global tapas, but it is the setting, chic interiors and panoramic vistas at the Constantia branch that take the dining experience to the next level.
Chef Ivor Jones (former head chef at The Test Kitchen) is in charge of things and, with his able team, concocts imaginative dishes, whose flavours will stick in your mind long after you’ve taken your last bite.
Opening times Tuesday – Saturday, 12pm – 2:30pm; 4:40pm – 8pm; Sunday, 12pm – 2:30pm
Contact 021 794 8632, firstname.lastname@example.org
Location Beau Constantia, 1043 Constantia Main Road, Cape Town
3. La Tête
Ever since it swung open its monochromatic doors in November 2016, La Tête has been wowing local gourmands (and the international foodie set) with its fresh, original and utterly delicious French-bistro fare. Chef Giles Edwards’ quiet emphasis on doing things right rather than trying to show off comes across in all his honest, unpretentious dishes and, even though the restaurant has become famous for its staunch nose-to-tail stance (where no part of the animal goes to waste), it is his vegetable dishes that keep blowing us away (specifically the fresh, finely chopped kohlrabi salad; broccoli vinaigrette and the wonderfully retro celeriac salad).
The ascetic aesthetic – if you will – is all part of the charm: the all-white walls bear no art, and the wooden chairs could have come straight out of a monastery. Service is knowledgeable, professional and enthusiastic, and the winelist discerning and superb.
Opening times Tuesday – Friday, 12pm – 2.30pm (lunch), 6pm –11pm (dinner); Saturday, 6pm – 11pm
Contact 021 418 1299, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Location 17 Bree Street, Cape Town
4. Tjing Tjing
The brand-new, reimagined Tjing Tjing swung open its doors in July 2018. At street level, you’ll find Torii, where the pulsating pace, ultra-cool electro-indie beats, Harajuku-inspired decor and on-the-ball service are the perfect backdrop for flavour-popping, designed-to-share Japanese street food.
The first floor is home to the low-slung, reservations-only Momiji Bar, and the cool and composed Momiji restaurant, where diners can enjoy a 12-course kaiseki (multi-course haute cuisine) menu that pays homage to the seasons.
And, the cherry on top, is the perennial rooftop bar where top-drawer tipples, a selection of Japanese snacks and ice-cool beats are the order of the night.
As they say in Osaka: “Kanpai!” (Cheers!)
Opening times Tuesday – Saturday, 10am – late
Contact 021 422 4374, email@example.com
Where to find it 165 Longmarket Street, Cape Town
It’s one of the most talked-about restaurants in Cape Town – and deservedly so. The food at Glen Foxcroft Williams’ laidback fine-dining restaurant that he co-owns with feted La Colombe chef, Scot Kirton, is inspired and utterly sensational. Scot is known for his rigorous attention to detail, immaculate plating and boundary-pushing dishes, while Glen – who is behind the restaurant’s name and inspiration – is a patisserie whiz. Foxcroft is an inviting mix of modern design and warm furnishings that add to the ambiance of the whole experience.
Opening times Bakery: 8am – 4pm
Lunch: 12pm – 2.30pm
Dinner: 6pm – 8pm
Contact 021 202 3304
Location Foxcroft Restaurant, Shop 8, High Constantia, Corner of Groot Constantia Road and Constantia Main Road, Constantia, Cape Town
Reached by a long winding road set against the eastern slope of Table Mountain, the Cellars-Hohenort Hotel is home to one of Cape Town’s timeless gems. As its name implies, Greenhouse is enclosed in a glass box to maximise its magnificent setting, with glass panels overhead creating the illusion of being outside. At the helm is executive chef Peter Tempelhoff (one of two Relais & Châteaux Grand Chefs in South Africa) and head chef Ashley Moss. Peter has been at Greenhouse for more than 10 years and, along with his devoted team, consistently elevates the benchmark of modern South African cuisine.
Opening times Tuesday – Saturday, 6pm – 9.30pm; Friday & Saturday, 12pm – 2pm
Contact 021 795 6226, firstname.lastname@example.org
Location The Cellars-Hohenort Hotel, 93 Brommersvlei Road, Constantia
7. Janse & Co
City slickers (who resent having to schlep to the winelands for haute cuisine), you’re in for the mother of all treats! Chef Arno Janse van Rensburg (of Maison in Franschhoek fame) has opened a new spot – on Kloof Street, no less – with his partner Liezl Odendaal (who also sports an impressive culinary CV, having worked with Franck Dangereux and Luke Dale-Roberts, to name a few).
As he did for six delicious years at Maison, Arno has created a menu of boundary-pushing yet perfectly pared-down dishes, but instead of a relaxed farm setting, diners can now enjoy these palate-popping dishes in a super-stylish innercity environment. His starting point, as always: the best ingredients, prepared with passion, with a strong focus on provenance and seasonality, of course.
As Janse & Co’s delightfully affable restaurant manager, Ronel Smidt, says: “Don’t get too attached to anything on the menu (there are 20 in total, three of which are desserts), because he changes them regularly!”
Opening times Tuesday – Saturday, 6pm – 9pm
Wednesday – Saturday, 12pm – 2pm
Contact 021 422 0384, email@example.com
Location Janse & Co, 75 Kloof Street, Cape Town
8. The Test Kitchen
Bold, experimental, contemporary, TTK (as it’s known among insiders) is where buzzed-about chef Luke Dale Roberts creates judiciously well-balanced dinners for a new age. Serving haute cuisine, with wonderfully innovative twists, this exceptional restaurant was ranked 22 in The World’s Best Restaurant Awards in 2016, as well as Best Restaurant in Africa at The World’s Best Restaurant Awards. Step into the Dark Room first for an array of inventive globally inspired tapas, and finish your meal in the Light Room, where beautifully plated mains are served.
Good to know The waiting list is long, so you’ll need to book well in advance.
Opening times Tuesday – Saturday, 6.30pm – 8.30pm
Contact 021 447 2337, firstname.lastname@example.org
Location The Test Kitchen, The Old Biscuit Mill, 375 Albert Road, Woodstock, Cape Town
This sophisticated farm restaurant is just one of the gazillion reasons to visit Babylonstoren. The simple menu, that changes seasonally to maximise what’s on offer in the farm’s 3.5-hectare garden, is sheer genius. Expect simple, fresh and beautifully orchestrated mains, colour-coded salads with heady mixes of freshly picked fruit and vegetables, and a creative array of desserts.
Opening times Monday – Sunday, 8am – 9.30am
Wednesday – Sunday, 12pm –3.30pm; 7pm – 10pm
Contact 021 863 3852, email@example.com
Location Babylonstoren, Simondium Road, Klapmuts
10. Kyoto Garden Sushi
Sitting cheek by jowl with some of the city’s hippest watering holes and street-food joints, this serene gem on Kloof Nek Road is consistently ranked among the best by some of Cape Town’s top chefs and connoisseurs (Franck Dangereux, Peter Tempelhoff and John Maytham, to name a few). Here, beautifully crafted, non-fussy sushi, is served in a warm, minimally decorated space, with hands-on owner, Pennsylvania-born Scott Wood ensuring diners are treated to the ultimate guest experience. Kyoto is just as suited to a special-occasion dinner as it is for a spontaneous pop-in. The menu might appear pricey, but you are assured of the very best quality, as Scott is forensic about the authenticity of the ingredients used. Stick around late enough, and he might just pour you a glass of Hibiki Harmony Blended Whiskey…
Opening times Monday – Saturday, 5.30pm – 11pm
Contact 021 422 2001, kyotogardensushict.com
Location Kyoto Garden Sushi, 11 Lower Kloof Nek Road, Gardens, Cape Town
11. Upper Bloem
From the team behind Sea Point’s famed La Mouette comes Upper Bloem, a thoroughly modern fine-dining eatery on the Green Point strip. The menu – inspired by head chef André Hill’s childhood memories (growing up on Upper Bloem Street in the Bo Kaap) – is a journey of “flavours, spices, textures, colours, inspiration and nostalgia” says co-owner and chef Henry Vigar, who helped André achieve his vision.
Echoing the menu, the curry-coloured 40-seater restaurant – dressed in shades of brown, rust and mustard – were designed by Cape Town maestro Liam Mooney, and are as delicious and inspiring as the food.
Opening times Wednesday – Saturday (lunch and dinner); Tuesday (dinner)
Contact 021 433 1442, firstname.lastname@example.org
Location Shop 1, Winston Place, 65 Main Road, Green Point
12. Villa 47
Housed in a heritage building on Bree Street, this three-in-one Italian emporium has a little something for everyone. Locanda at street level does delicious traditional Italian dishes; Seta on the first floor is a sexy cocktail bar that’s perfect for a pre- or post-dinner tipple (and a whirl around the dancefloor); while Pierino Penati on the top floor is headed by a Michelin-starred chef whose painstaking creations are, ironically, simply delicious. Coupled with that, his attention to the guest experience makes dining here a pleasure.
Locanda: Monday – Friday, 7am – 10pm; Saturday, 8.30 – 10pm
Seta: Tuesday – Saturday, 5pm – 11pm
Pierino Penati: Tuesday – Saturday, 6.30pm – 11.30pm
Contact 021 418 2740, email@example.com
Location Villa 47, 47 Bree Street, Cape Town City Centre
13. The Stack
Part private-members’ club and part public brasserie and bar, The Stack in Gardens pokes fun at the hideously stuffy gentlemen’s clubs of yore where cigar-smoking, social-climbing corporate types used to congregate. Housed in the iconic Leinster Hall in Gardens that simply drips with character and history, it’s the go-to spot for the city’s creatives, who congregate on the deep verandah – or in the ritzy bar – to exchange ideas and shoot the breeze.
Opening times Monday – Friday, 9am – 11pm; Saturday, 10:30am – 11pm
Contact 021 286 0187, firstname.lastname@example.org
Location Leinster Hall, 7 Weltevreden Street, Cape Town
14. The Gin Bar
Tucked neatly behind Honest Chocolate Café in the CBD, this dedicated gin bar is all about quality rather than quantity. The menu comprises five cocktails (Hope, Head, Ambition, Heart, and Soul) and, of course, G&Ts for the purists – where you get to choose the tonic water of your choice (the owners believe that the accompanying tonic is just as essential to the mix as the spirit is). There’s a charming courtyard out back, and an upstairs bar that’s perfect for special occasions.
Good to know Each week, a selected Gin of the Week is used to create four drinks: negroni, martini, and two different G&Ts.
Insider info The Botanical Bar, brought to you by the same owners, opened in November 2017 and is also worth a visit.
Opening times Monday – Thursday, 5pm – late; Friday– Saturday, 4pm – late
Contact 071 241 2277, email@example.com
Location 64A Wale Street, Cape Town
15. La Colombe
High up on the slopes of the Constantiaberg mountains, Silvermist Wine Estate is a veritable jewel in the Constantia Wine Valley’s crown. And it is here, on this farm, that you’ll find La Colombe, headed by multi-award-winning chef-proprietor Scot Kirton and head chef James Gaag. The stylish restaurant’s pared-down interior is the perfect canvas for Scot and his team to conjure creative French-Asian dishes using foraged-for ingredients that they magically finesse into immaculately plated dishes.
Opening times Monday – Sunday, 12pm – 1.45pm; 7pm – 8.30pm
Contact 021 794 2390, firstname.lastname@example.org
Location Silvermist Wine Estate, Main Road, Constantia Nek, Cape Town
16. Outrage of Modesty
Just off the tourist track, in an old frame theatre, this off-the-radar mixology bar does cool, creative, cutting-edge cocktails in a super-cool Scandi-Jap space. You won’t find cloying cosmos or Kir Royals here; instead patrons can expect a considered menu of eight carefully curated cocktails, concocted by an international mixologist (Singapore-based Noreen Dunzo is responsible for the Spring/Summer 2017/2018 menu). The 28-seater speak-easy has a theatre-like feel, with tiered seating, providing a birds’ eye view of the bar.
Opening times Tuesday – Saturday, 6pm – late
Contact 021 422 2902, email@example.com
Location Outrage of Modesty, 88 Shortmarket Street, Cape Town
17. The ShortMarket Club
“Modern interpretations of the classics” is how head chef Wesley Randles describes the food at The Shortmarket Club, which he co-owns with Luke Dale-Roberts (and two others). Open lunch and dinner, the stylish space has the look and feel of a members-only private club (leather-covered tables, moody lighting and stained-glass accents) without any of the stuffiness (or sleaze). As with Luke’s other wildly popular restaurants (The Test Kitchen and The Pot Luck Club), the service, under the leadership of the fourth co-owner Simon Widdison, is efficient and personable.
Opening times Lunch & Dinner: Monday – Saturday, 12.30pm – 2pm, 7pm – 10pm
Contact 021 447 2874, firstname.lastname@example.org
Location 88 Shortmarket Street, Cape Town
18. Three Wise Monkeys
You’ll find this izakaya (informal Japanese gastropub) on Sea Point’s burgeoning Regent Road. From Monday to Saturday evenings, it’s bursting at the seams with Atlantic Seaboard locals, popping in for a bowl of ramen after a promenade stroll, as well as work colleagues coming to let off steam after a hard day at the office. The menu is small but offers variety: ramen (noodles) with chicken, beef or vegetables; kushiyaki (from the grill), which changes daily; poke (sliced raw-fish salad) and sushi.
Opening times Monday, 3pm – 11pm; Tuesday – Sunday, 12pm – 11pm (no bookings; walk-ins only)
Contact 021 433 1837, email@example.com
Location Shop 1, 77 Regent Road, Sea Point, Cape Town
19. Seabreeze Fish & Shell
Fresh and exciting versions of traditional seafood offerings are the order of the day at SeaBreeze. Think hake ceviche with cream cheese and squid ink mayo; silverfish with braaied corn and salsa verde; and a fresh line-caught tuna burger with crispy onions, for example… Its Scottish owners Alex and Ruth Grahame left the icy climes of Aberdeen, where they owned a seafood restaurant, to open shop in Cape Town.
After dinner, step into the rum bar at the back of the shopfor a glass o’ grog!
Opening times Monday – Saturday, 12pm – 9.30pm
Contact 073 058 0164
Location 213 Bree Street, Cape Town
20. South China Dim Sum Bar
The term “hole in the wall” has been used to describe this Long Street haunt that’s imbued with flavour and feel of the old Cantonese Tea House. Here, the key word is simplicity: from the wooden benches and closely set tables to the authentic, mouth-popping flavours in every single dish that comes out of owner-chef Edmund Hung’s kitchen. Tradition practiced to perfection.
Opening times Tuesday – Saturday, 12pm – 2.30pm; 6.30pm – 9.30pm
Closed on Sunday and Monday
Contact 078 846 3656, firstname.lastname@example.org
Location South China Dim Sum Bar, 289 Long Street, Cape Town City Central, Cape Town
WE ALSO RATE
Got more time on your hands? Then add these other cool spots to your must-do list:
- The Foodbarn Restaurant
- Chefs Warehouse at Maison
- Homage 1862
- Waterkloof Estate
- Downtown Ramen
- House of H
- Hokey Poké
- Schechter’s Raw
- El Burro in Green Point
- The Silo
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