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 Test Kitchen
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 five of his exceptional Cape Town venues, you’ll find intelligent, seasonal cooking that’s, most importantly, incredibly tasty.
At TTK (as it’s known among insiders), your dinner starts in the Dark Room for an array of inventive tapas with innovative twists, and then moves to the Light Room, where you get to experience more of Luke’s bold, experimental and contemporary dishes.
Once you’ve eaten here, you’ll understand why it’s the only (South) African restaurant to be featured in the The World’s Best Restaurant Awards.
Good to know The waiting list is long, you’ll need to book well in advance.
Opening times Tuesday – Saturday, 6.30pm – 8.30pm
Contact 021 447 2337, email@example.com
Location The Old Biscuit Mill, 375 Albert Road, Woodstock, Cape Town
2. Chefs Warehouse 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 Bree Street, which now has three sister restaurants, namely Thali, Chefs Warehouse at Maison (in Franschhoek), and Chefs Warehouse Beau Constantia – bringing chef Liam’s tally of eateries to four. And, we are delighted to hear, that plans are afoot for a fifth restaurant – at Spice Route!
Chef Ivor Jones, who co-owns Beau Constantia with Liam, has concocted a delectable array of imaginative global tapas whose flavours will remain in your mind long after you’ve taken your last bite. Coupled with the stunning setting, chic interiors and panoramic vistas at the Constantia Valley, this is a dining experience you won’t soon forget.
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
It’s been 22 years in the making, and it shows! Not a stone has been left unturned at Peter Tempelhoff’s brand-new 60-seater urban eatery, which he co-owns with Jennifer Hugé (general manager) and Ashley Moss (executive chef) – a dynamic and assured threesome.
FYN’s menu (and decor) is African-inspired, with an overarching Japanese aesthetic, making for an utterly seductive (and delicious) combination of tastes, flavours, textures and styles.
The restaurant’s fast-paced innercity location informs the menu – a condensed five-course kaiseki–style experience – with some of the most original wine pairings, courtesy of Jennifer (who spent 17 years at La Colombe as sommelier and manager). Bravo! I hope this signals an end to long, drawn-out menus everywhere.
As for the setting, the restaurant perches on the fifth floor, boasting sky-high views of Table Mountain and Lion’s Head. The interiors are sophisticated, warm, up-to-the-minute, with the kitchen in the centre of the space.
One of the many highlights of my meal was sipping bubbly from a coupe. So chic! So now!
Opening times Tuesday – Saturday, 12pm – 2pm; 6pm – 8.30pm
Contact 021 286 2733, email@example.com
Location 37 Parliament Street, Speakers Corner, Church Square, Cape Town
4. Janse & Co
After six delicious years at Maison in the Franschhoek Valley, chef Arno Janse van Rensburg opened his own restaurant – Janse & Co on Kloof Street – 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).
Diners can still expect Arno’s 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.
Opening times Tuesday – Saturday, 6pm – 9pm
Wednesday – Saturday, 12pm – 2pm
Contact 021 422 0384, firstname.lastname@example.org
Location 75 Kloof Street, Cape Town
5. 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
6. Grub & Vine
“So, this is Grub & Vine,” says chef Matt Manning as he welcomes us into his brand-new bistro on Bree Street. “Small, vibey, honest, unpretentious,” he adds in his signature Essex accent – a description, we soon discover to be a gross understatement, when we take the first mouthful of our starters: heritage tomato, fig and burrata salad, and chargrilled broccoli, pear and cheese salad.
Thirty-year-old Matt has certainly hit a culinary sweet spot – and filled a gap in the discerning-foodie market: beautifully prepared and executed dishes that taste heavenly – with none of the pomp and ponceyness that often accompany upscale dining experiences.
The characterful interiors – distressed concrete floors, avian prints, rattan chairs, atmospheric hanging lights and pot plants everywhere – enhance the buzzy vibe in the compact 40-seater. That, and the fact that the galley is on show, so diners can watch Matt and his busy team while they wait for their meal.
X factor The restaurant is housed in the same building as Frogitt & Vonkel, an elegant wine bar that stocks some of the best small-batch and boutique wines we have ever tasted. Passionate and knowledgeable owner John Woodward will tantalise your taste buds with some rare and exceptional gems – before or after your meal.
Do not leave without trying the blackberry almond cake with fig, honey custard and honeycomb – cloying and comforting!
Opened December 2018
Opening times Tuesday – Friday, 12pm – 2:30 pm; 6pm – 9.45pm
Saturday, 4.30pm – 9.45pm
Location 103 Bree Street, Cape Town
7. Belly of the Beast
This online-booking-only fine-dining restaurant sprang up rather sneakily on Harrington Street in August 2018. Owner-chef Neil Swart sold his wildly popular Arugula Bistro in Welgemoed to pursue dreams of unhindered culinary creativity, which he has done with co-owner and Anouchka Horn. The industrio-mod eatery serves a maximum of 20 guests per service, which Neil explains: “Cooking dishes on a smaller scale enhances the depth of flavour of each element” – something all home cooks can relate to.
An exposed kitchen lines one side of the small space, with a street-facing window on the other.
And, as for the food, it’s exceptional! For R499, you’re treated to five excellent courses, as well as bread service, a (life-changing) palette cleanser and an after-dessert delight (“a last hoorah”, as Neil calls it). You won’t find value like this anywhere else on the precinct.
Opening times Tuesday – Saturday, 7pm – 10pm
Contact 021 461 0335, email@example.com
Location 110 Harrington Street, Cape Town
8. 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, Japanese street food.
The first floor is home to the low-slung, reservations-only Momiji Lounge and Bar, and the cool and composed Momiji restaurant, where diners can enjoy multi-course kaiseki and haute cuisine menus that pay 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 Japan: “Kanpai!” (Cheers!)
Opening times Tuesday – Saturday, 10am – late
Contact 021 422 4374, firstname.lastname@example.org
Location it 165 Longmarket Street, Cape Town
9. The Commissary
From the international-award-winning team behind The Shortmarket Club, comes this no-fuss casual eatery where gourmet street food is the order of the evening.
Under the mentorship of Luke Dale Roberts, talented chef Wesley Randles of The Shortmarket Club heads the kitchen, with seasoned restaurateur Simon Widdison overseeing the front of house.
Located in the loft area of the space next to The Shortmarket Club, the colourful, contemporary restaurant hosts just 45 diners at a time, and its busy, convivial atmosphere is well-suited to modern diners who have things to do and places to be.
On the menu, expect casual, flavour-packed dishes such as wedge salad, fig-leaf baked ricotta, an octopus slider, beef tartare, Korean-fried chicken, Massaman lamb-curry roti, pork katsu slider, and panna cotta with peaches.
Opening times Monday – Saturday, 5pm – 10.30pm
Contact 021 422 2902, email@example.com
Location 88 Shortmarket Street, Cape Town City Centre, 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.
Glen’s heavily inked forearm bears the word soigné – “prepared with great attention to detail; showing sophisticated elegance; carefully or elegantly done” – a principle that underpins every single dish that comes out of his open kitchen. Though the vibe at Foxcroft is more laidback than its buttoned-up La Colombe sisters, the food is equally exceptional.
Opening times Daily: 12pm – 2.30pm; 6pm – 8pm
Contact 021 202 3304, firstname.lastname@example.org
Location Shop 8, High Constantia, Corner of Groot Constantia Road and Constantia Main Road, Constantia, Cape Town
11. 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.
If sushi’s not your thing, opt for a piece of fish, flash-grilled the Japanese way, over coals, at your table!
Stick around late enough, Scott 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 11 Lower Kloof Nek Road, Gardens, Cape Town
12. 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
Sunday, 11am – 5pm
Contact 021 286 0187, email@example.com
Location Leinster Hall, 7 Weltevreden Street, Cape Town
13. 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
14. The Pot Luck Club
Another top-drawer eatery from Luke Dale Roberts, The Pot Luck Club is headed by chef Freddie Dias, whose exciting menu is designed to showcase all five flavour profiles (salty, sour, bitter, sweet, and umami). Plate-sharing is encouraged, so that diners can experience a gastronomical gamut of tastes. 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
15. Seabreeze Fish & Shell
Fresh and exciting versions of traditional seafood offerings are the order of the day at SeaBreeze. Think grilled king prawns on couscous with prawn bisque; fresh line-caught tuna burger with crispy onions, or kingklip with sautéed mushrooms, baby marrow, butternut purée and potato ribbons for example… Its British 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 shop for a glass o’ grog!
Opening times Daily, 12pm – 9.30pm
Contact 074 793 9349, firstname.lastname@example.org
Location 213 Bree Street, Cape Town
16. South China Dim Sum
The term “hole in the wall” has been used to describe this Long Street haunt that’s imbued with flavour and feel of an 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, email@example.com
Location 289 Long Street, Cape Town City Central, Cape Town
17. 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 executive chef James Gaag. The stylish restaurant’s pared-down interior is the perfect canvas for James and his team to conjure creative French-Asian dishes using foraged ingredients that they magically finesse into immaculately plated dishes.
Good to know Scot recently added Protégé to his group of restaurants, which also includes La Petite Colombe and Foxcroft.
Opening times Monday – Sunday, 12pm – 1.30pm; 6.30pm – 8.30pm
Contact 021 794 2390, firstname.lastname@example.org
Location Silvermist Wine Estate, Main Road, Constantia Nek, Cape Town
18. Table Seven
Situated in Salt River’s most-recently gentrified artisan hub, Table Seven is the love child of chef Luke Wonnacott and his wife (and former chef) Katie, who come with lorry loads of international culinary experience.
The venture finds, perhaps, its greatest utility in its versatility – it’s just as suited to a convivial Sunday lunch for the extended family as it is to a business dinner or special celebration. Playing subtly in the background is a menu that ticks all of the au courant boxes: seasonal, local and consciously sourced produce of the highest quality; techniques and applications under the influence – but free of the excessive burdens – of modernist gastronomy.
Good to know Table Seven is open weekdays for lunch. On the menu are two dishes of the day – which change daily – that diners can enjoy around the kitchen counter. There are also plans to open a deli. Subscribe to our newsletter and we’ll keep you posted.
Contact 079 286 1811, email@example.com
Location Salt Orchard, Unit C5, Corner Briar and Yew Streets, Salt River, Cape Town
Yet another gem from master chef George Jardine, whose impressive repertoire includes highly acclaimed Stellenbosch restaurants Jardine and Jordan restaurants. This establishment – a collaboration with his wife Louise – is his seventh restaurant, and is situated at Shop Seven (the name is starting to make sense now) at the Avenue Centre in Somerset West. Guests can enjoy delicate plates for lunch and dinner, in casual surroundings, with a selection of graphic seven-themed posters – decking the wall above the pass.
Opening times Tuesday – Saturday; 12pm – 2.30pm; 6pm – 8.30pm
Contact 021 851 3146, firstname.lastname@example.org
Location Shop 7, The Avenues, 1 Drama Street, Somerset West
20. Riverine Rabbit
From chef Ash Heeger, star of Netflix’s The Final Table, comes Riverine Rabbit – a warm and sophisticated restaurant just off the tourist track. Many might recognise Ash’s name from her eponymous debut eatery, Ash, whose meat-heavy menu and charcoal-style cooking earned her demi-cult status among Capetonians during its two-year tenure.
At her new restaurant, named after the nearly extinct Karoo animal, the 28-year-old chef has developed “a refined, minimal, thoughtful menu – with a lot less focus on meat”, and guests have the option of a three-course meal, five-course reduced tasting menu, or a beautifully curated seven-course degustation menu, paired with carefully selected wines.
Like its predecessor, the vibe – though polished – is straight up! You won’t find pompous place settings and stiff upper lips here, just great food prepared with passion, superb service, an off-the-charts playlist, enjoyed in chic, comfortable surrounds.
Opening times Monday – Saturday, 6pm – 9pm
Contact 021 424 7204, email@example.com
Location 81 Church Street, Cape Town City Centre, Cape Town
Owner Jacques Erasmus’ passion for travel is evident in the ever-changing, thoroughly modern and whimsical decor of this oasis in the CBD. The highly creative seasonal menu is bursting with options, one more delicious than the next. Whet your appetite with a freshly squeezed juice – we recommend the apple, celery, and ginger. Then, settle in for a comforting homemade potato rösti with lightly smoked trout, soft whipped herb cheese and a soft poached egg, or old-fashioned grilled farm-style sausage in a rich tomato “smoor” with buttered toast.
Opening times Monday – Friday, 9am – 4pm; Saturday, 9am – 3pm
Contact 021 418 2042, firstname.lastname@example.org
Location 71 Waterkant Street, CBD
From feted local chef Luke Dale Roberts comes Salsify (pronounced sal-suh-fee) in Camps Bay, bringing the tally of restaurants in his award-winning stable to five! At this beautifully styled sea-facing eatery, Luke has handed the reins to one of his trusty protégés, Ryan Cole, whom he describes as “a quick-minded natural talent; one of the best technical chefs I’ve ever worked with”.
Fish features prominently on the 29-year-old’s à la carte menu (a nod to the setting, and Ryan’s father who was a professional fisherman), exquisitely prepared and plated, as do the seasons – or what Ryan calls “the micro seasons”, which yield produce that’s only available for a few weeks at a time.
Opening times Tuesday – Saturday; 12.30pm – 2pm; 6.30pm – 9.30pm
Contact 021 010 6444, email@example.com
Please note The restaurant does not take reservations via email
Location Roundhouse Road, Camps Bay
From Liam Tomlin (head honcho of the Chefs Warehouse group of restaurants) and Dimo Papachristodoulou (Fat Cactus and Long Street Café), this exciting Indian tapas-style eatery is a case of the more (dishes you share), the merrier. The popular Tapas for Two comprises eight dishes, including sambals, poppadoms and tandoor, culminating in the most heavenly curries that, combined with the exotic interior decor and lighting, will transport you to the fragrant streets of India.
Opening times Monday – Saturday, 5pm – 9.30pm; Tuesday – Saturday, 12pm – 2.30pm
Contact 021 286 2110, firstname.lastname@example.org
Location 3 Park Road, Gardens, Cape Town
24. 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 manger Simon Widdison, Luke Dale Roberts and design director Sandalene Dale Roberts. Open for 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, The Pot Luck Club, Salsify and The Commissary), the service is superb.
Good to know The popular Prix Fixe lunch menu is now a permanent offering at The Shortmarket Club (R320 per person).
Opening times Monday – Saturday, 12.30pm – 2pm, 7pm – 10pm
Contact 021 447 2874, email@example.com
Location 88 Shortmarket Street, 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 garden setting, with glass panels overhead creating the illusion of being outside. At the assured helm is head chef Farrel Hirsch and executive chef Peter Tempelhoff, who 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
The Eaten Track
Slightly out of Cape Town, but definitely worth the drive:
- Waterkloof Estate in Somerset West
- Overture at Hidden Valley
- Wolfgat in Paternoster
We also rate
Got more time on your hands? Then add these other cool spots to your must-do list:
- The Foodbarn Restaurant
- The Moveable Feast
- The Gin Bar
- Chefs Warehouse at Maison
- Homage 1862
- El Burro in Green Point
- The Silo
- Mulberry & Prince
- Three Wise Monkeys
- Mulberry & Prince
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