With its rich cultural background and cosmopolitan mix of people, Cape Town was always destined to become a culinary hotspot. Its many cultures, languages, religions and ethnic groups – which include Xhosa, Afrikaans, English Portuguese, German, among others – are ingredients that have contributed to the Mother City being touted as a global foodie destination.
In addition to boasting some internationally acclaimed restaurants, Cape Town is also home to a broad spectrum of African restaurants. We’ve handpicked our favourites. (As always, if we left out any that you think deserve a mention, tell us in the comments section.)
1. Gold Restaurant
What The rest of Africa comes to you at Gold Restaurant, which serves cuisine from across the continent. A typical evening starts off with a djembe drumming session, before guests get to choose which African setting they wish to dine in – Ashanti, Timbuktu, Kenya, Kente or the Moroccan courtyard.
On the menu Gold serves a 14-course tasting menu. Some of our favourite items are the Xhosa corn bread, Kenyan irio spinach patties (made with pap and spinach), Cape Malay samoosas, Tunisian harissa-spiced chicken wings and the Cameroon butternut with tomato and coconut milk. Your traditionally dressed waitron will explain each dish as it comes and where it’s from.
Open Monday – Sunday, 6pm – late
Contact 021 421 4653, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it Gold Restaurant
2. Mzoli’s Place
What Jamie Oliver rated one of the most popular braai spots in Cape Town as one of his must-visit places in the Mother City. Located in Cape Town’s Gugulethu township, the authenticity of this vibey experience is undeniable. Locals and international tourists gather for a day of meat, drinks, local music (deep house and kwaito) and laughter. It is a great outing for a bunch of friends and when you want to show out-of-towners a different type of tshisa nyama.
On the menu Visitors select their choice of meat from a selection of chicken, lamb, boerewors, beef and pork, stocked in the on-site butchery. Sides such as pap, steamed bread or traditional chakalaka come with your meal. The meat (marinated in a delicious secret sauce) is braaied for you and brought to you once ready. Mzoli’s is a BYOB venue and local bottle stores are open, so you can stock up before you arrive.
Open Monday – Sunday, 11am – late
Contact 021 638 1355
Where to find it Mzoli’s Place
3. Marco’s African Place
What Located in Bo-Kaap, Marco’s has been serving authentic Xhosa, Cape Malay and African cuisine since 1993. A marimba band, energetic dancers as well as a live band playing African music entertain diners every day of the week. (Established Afro-jazz musicians such as Jimmy Dludlu, Hugh Masekela, Sibongile Khumalo and Sylvia Mdunyelwa have performed at Marco’s in the past!)
On the menu Popular Xhosa dishes include ulwimi (steamed ox tongue in a mustard sauce) and umleqwa (chicken and onion stew). On the drinks menu is umqomboti, traditional beer, brewed according to the high standards of the Transkei. Also, you can order a traditional Zimbabwean beer served to you in a gourd-shaped cup.
Open Sunday & Monday, 3pm – 11pm
Tuesday – Thursday, 12pm – 11pm
Friday, 12pm – 12am
Saturday, 3pm – 12am
Contact 021 423 5412, email@example.com
Where to find it Marco’s African Place
4. Mama Afrika
What Lively marimba music, bold flavours and friendly staff are what have made Mama Africa a favourite among locals and tourists. The restaurant strives to serve comfort food and provide the warmth and hospitality of an African mother. Mama’s Art Gallery showcases curios and authentic African art for sale from 8pm from Monday to Saturday.
On the menu African game is the main event, including Mama’s Wild Game Mixed Grill of crocodile, ostrich, springbok, kudu and venison sausage. The popular Zimbabwean dovi chicken is also worth a try.
Open Tuesday – Friday, 12pm – 4pm
Monday – Saturday, 6.30pm – 10pm
Contact 021 426 1017, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it Mama Afrika
5. Addis in Cape
What As the name suggests, this restaurant is filled with the rich aromas of Ethiopian food. Located along trade routes for hundreds of years, Ethiopia adopted the herbs and spices brought by travellers to create unique dishes. The authentic dishes are served on a beautifully woven basket-like table called a mesob, while the restaurant’s decor features Ethiopian wall art and traditional furnishings. Celebrities such as musician J Cole, Ethiopian athlete Haile Gebrselassie and actor Hakeem Kae-Kazim have all had a taste of the delicious food Addis in Cape has on offer.
On the menu Main dishes come with traditionally made injera (a pancake-like sourdough bread). Vegetarians will love Defin Misir Kai Wot: whole brown lentils simmered in a berbere (dried chilies with several herbs and spices) sauce and Shimbera Asa Wot (homemade chickpea cakes simmered in a berbere sauce. Our picks include Fish Addis in Dar (fish stir-fried with onion, sweet pepper, cardamom and a dash of lemon) and Doro Wot (chicken marinated with fresh lime juice and simmered in a mixture of freshly chopped onions, garlic and ginger). Remember to request the Ethiopian coffee ceremony to round off your experience.
Open Monday – Friday, 12pm – 4.30pm (lunch)
Monday – Saturday, 4.30pm – 10.30pm (dinner)
Contact 021 424 5722, email@example.com
Where to find it Addis in Cape
6. Bo-Kaap Kombuis
Image credit: HG2 Cape Town
What Get a taste of authentic Cape Malay cuisine at this Bo-Kaap restaurant with majestic views of Table Mountain, Lion’s Head and the Bo-Kaap. Located in what was formerly the Malay Quarter, the area is home to a large portion of the Cape’s Muslim community (and has been since the 18th century). Steeped in tradition and history, Bo-Kaap is known for its hospitality and delicious cuisine.
On the menu If you love spicy food, then this is the perfect stop. Start your meal with samosas served with a super hot chilli dip, dhaltjies (chilli bites with spinach) and creamy patata warras (deep-fried mashed potato balls with mustard seeds). Then indulge in an aromatic Cape Malay curry (a choice of prawn, lamb, fish, sugar bean and chicken). The dessert menu also features Cape favourites such as malva pudding, as well as the intriguing traditional artepil porring (potato pudding served with stewed dried fruit).
Open Tuesday – Thursday, 8am – 10.30pm
Friday and Saturday, 8am – 11.30pm
Sunday, 9am – 3pm
Contact 021 422 5446, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it Bo-Kaap Kombuis
What With colourful African decor, traditional food, friendly staff and cheery ambience, Woza! is a fun night out.
On the menu The very affordable menu ranges from R5 to R50 for muriwo (leafy vegetables), green tripe and beef and chicken stews, to be enjoyed with sides such as samp, steamed bread, amagwinya (vetkoek) and pap. Then wash down your meal with Zimbabwean Chibuku African beer (one of the very few places that serves it in Cape Town).
Open Monday – Friday, 7am – 5pm
Contact 021 422 0053, email@example.com
Where to find it Woza! Restaurant
8. Timbuktu Café
What Located on the first floor of the Pan African Market, this Ethiopian restaurant in an old Victorian building is crammed with African artefacts and vintage collections (which are also on sale) to give it a charming “other-worldly” feel. The authenticity of the experience extends past the colourful African decor and includes eating your meal the traditional Ethiopian way – using your hands and scooping your food with your injera (traditional bread).
On the menu Dishes are served with injera and prepared with authentic Ethiopian spices such as berbere and mitmita (special Ethiopian chilli). Expect to see favourites such as Key Wot (beef stew), Doro Wot (succulent chicken served with a hard-boiled egg) and vegetarian Gomen (spinach and other greens). Portions are generous, so arrive hungry. And of course, no trip to an Ethiopian restaurant is complete without enjoying a cup of delicious traditionally prepared coffee.
Open Monday – Sunday, 10am – 11pm
Contact 072 378 9697
Where to find it Timbuktu Café
9. The Africa Café
What Established in 1992, this is a slice of Africa in Cape Town. With communal eating at the forefront of this restaurant, it’s the perfect place for a family get-together or special occasion with friends. Food is served in colourful ceramic bowls and there are seven themed rooms (from Moroccan to Ndebele) in the three-storey historic building.
On the menu Take a trip through Africa with the Communal Feast: 14 dishes for sharing. It includes Malawian Mbatata Cheese and Sim Sim Balls (sweet potato and cheese balls rolled in sesame seeds), Botswanan Seswaa Masala (spicy beef stew), East African Mchicha Wa Nazi Pies (crispy pastry filled with spinach, peanut and coconut cream), Congolese Salad and Jungle Dressing (fresh mixed salad with orange and palm oil dressing) and the ever-popular Tzaneen orange and nut cake.
Open Monday – Saturday, 6pm – 10pm
Contact 021 422 0221, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it The Africa Café
What Enjoy African hospitality, entertainment (live music and face painting) and, of course, good food at either the Blouberg or Kirstenbosch branch.
On the menu The extensive buffet table stretches from the north to the south of the continent. It includes the uShaka lamb bunny chow (Durban-style lamb curry in home-baked bunny chow bread), Cape Malay bobotie, legendary Mozambique peri-peri prawns, Cameroonian beef suya (slivers of beef on a skewer, marinated with paprika, cinnamon, ginger and ground peanuts), Casablanca chicken salad (made with Harissa grilled chicken) and much more.
Open Monday, Wednesday – Thursday, 11am – 6pm (Kirstenbosch)
Tuesday, 9am – 6pm (Kirstenbosch)
Friday, 11am – 11pm (Kirstenbosch)
Saturday – Sunday, 9am – 6pm (Kirstenbosch)
Lunch buffet: Sunday, 12pm – 4pm (Kirstenbosch)
Dinner buffet: Friday, 6pm – 10pm (Kirstenbosch)
Monday, 12pm – 10pm (Blouberg)
Tuesday – Thursday, 11am – 10pm (Blouberg)
Friday, 11am – 11pm (Blouberg)
Saturday, 8.30am – 11pm (Blouberg)
Sunday, 8.30am – 10pm (Blouberg)
Breakfast buffet: Saturday – Sunday, 8.30am – 11am (Blouberg)
Contact 021 762 9585, email@example.com (Kirstenbosch)
021 554 9671, firstname.lastname@example.org (Blouberg)
Where to find it Moyo, Blouberg
11. Lucy Ethiopian Restaurant
Lucy Ethiopian Restaurant is more an experience than a restaurant… From the warm greeting as you arrive, to the beautiful handwoven tables, the ceremonial washing of hands from an authentic silver teapot, and the display of Ethiopian art and artefacts on the walls.
And then there’s the food… messy, flavoursome, finger-licking fare to be mopped up with injera (a giant spongy pancake made from rice flour or teff) that comes in a seemingly limitless supply.
Wash it down with a range of soft drinks, beer or wine, and top off the evening with a mini coffee ceremony – incense, popcorn and strong, dark coffee.
But whatever you do, don’t rush through your meal. This is food to be savoured and enjoyed, as you lick sauce off your fingers and soak up the vibes.
Opening times Monday – Saturday, 12pm – 11pm
Contact 021422 1797, email@example.com
Where to find it 281 Long Street, Cape Town