SA’s Top Chefs Name Their Best Restaurants in Cape Town 2020

We asked 64 of SA's top chefs where they eat when they're not whipping up feasts in their own kitchens.

For the fourth consecutive year, we called on SA’s top chefs to vote for their best restaurants in Cape Town (that is, of course, when they’re not conjuring culinary magic in their own kitchens). Now, as Cape Town’s thriving restaurant scene continues to accrue accolades, and a new year dawns with more exciting developments on the horizon, we asked our counsel of gastronomic wizards to once again provide their hallowed insight.

We divided the questions into categories, to ensure we covered the gamut of experiences (and price ranges).

Do you agree with their picks? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Meet our panel of chefs

We’d like to thank all the chefs who participated in 2020 (arranged below in alphabetical order). We appreciate you taking time from your busy schedules to provide your much-valued input.
Important note We excluded votes from chefs who nominated their own restaurant(s).

The Best Restaurant Categories

1. Best casual eatery
Because you’re not always in the mood for fine dining, and restaurants that offer good food and service in a casual atmosphere deserve recognition.

2. Best fine-dining restaurant
On the other hand, when you’re looking to treat that special someone, you want a restaurant with the elegance to match the occasion.

3. Best new restaurant
There’s no shortage of exciting new eateries in Cape Town!

4. Best restaurant that’s stood the test of time
Grand old institutions that consistently deliver.

5. Best wine farm restaurant
Where the food and service match the spectacular scenery.

6. Best spot to indulge your guilty pleasure
When only some fast food, a takeout, or a really decadent dessert will do the trick.

7. Best restaurant for speciality cuisine
A restaurant that specialises in a particular type of cuisine – whether Indian, Japanese, South African or even American – and executes it to perfection.

8. Best hole-in-the-wall
The kind of place you might miss as a passerby, but once in the know, you’ll return and spread the word.

9. Best overall restaurant experience
The restaurant that ticks all the boxes. Great food, great service, great experience.

So, without further ado, here are our top restaurants in Cape Town (and surrounds), as voted for by 64 of the top chefs in the land.

The Best Casual Eatery

WINNER: Bao Down

Bao Down Chefs Best Restaurants 2020 Marcus Fink

Former head chef of Chefs Warehouse & Canteen, Graham Oldfield, devises dishes that are small in size but big on flavour at this popular Asian-American eatery (characterfully decorated by his wife Philippa). Bao buns, fresh sashimi and an unmissable squid-ink lobster roll are just a few of the items on offer at Bao Down, artfully plated on crockery from Chinese supermarkets across Cape Town.

Contact 066 022 1165, restaurantbaodown@gmail.com
Location 3 Vredehoek Avenue, Oranjezicht, Cape Town

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RUNNER-UP: Clarke’s Bar & Dining Room

Clarkes Chefs Best Restaurants 2020

Going strong since 2011, this Bree Street diner is the go-to spot for breakfasts, burgers and brewskies. Somewhat of a Capetonian institution, Clarke’s is famed for its cheese burger served on a buttery brioche bun and its classic grilled cheese.

Contact 087 470 0165, info@manfood.co.za
Location 133 Bree Street, Cape Town

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“Best toasties in Cape Town.”
Hilde-Lee Olivier (Jardine Restaurant)

RUNNER-UP: Joostenberg Bistro

Joostenberg Bistro: Chefs Best Restaurants

Traditional bistro cuisine, excellent organic wines and a rustic country atmosphere hit the spot when it comes to kicking back and relaxing with friends and family in a Winelands setting. Bright and breezy in summer – and cosy and warm during winter – it’s no wonder Joostenberg Bistro is a perennial favourite among food and wine lovers.

Contact 021 884 4208, bistro@joostenberg.co.za
Location Klein Joostenberg Farm, R304, Muldersvlei, Stellenbosch

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“Classic French cuisine in a relaxed, unpretentious environment with very reasonable prices. South Africa can do with more places like this gem.”
Gustaaf Boshoff (The Green Goose Eatery)

The Best Fine-Dining Restaurant

WINNER: The Test Kitchen

The Test Kitchen Chefs Best Restaurants 2020 Andy Lund

Clever cooking that’s unbelievably tasty – in an immersive atmosphere – have garnered this world-famous restaurant a best-in-class reputation when it comes to fine-dining in Cape Town. Consistently ranked as one of the best restaurants in the country, The Test Kitchen has cemented itself as the place to go for haute cuisine with innovative twists.

Contact 021 447 2337, reservations@thetestkitchen.co.za
Location The Old Biscuit Mill, 375 Albert Road, Woodstock

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RUNNER-UP: FYN

Fyn Chefs Best Restaurants 2020 Brian Tuck

Peter Tempelhoff’s urban eatery – which he co-owns with Jennifer Hugé (general manager) and Ashley Moss (executive chef) – has positioned itself as one of the best fine-dining experiences in Cape Town in just a year since its opening. Perched on the fifth floor of an innercity building, with sky-high views of Table Mountain and Lion’s Head, is a sophisticated and warm space, with its kitchen in the centre of the restaurant. The African-inspired menu (with an overarching Japanese aesthetic) makes for a delicious combination of tastes, flavours, textures and styles.

Contact 021 286 2733, info@fynrestaurant.com
Location 37 Parliament Street, Speakers Corner, Church Square, Cape Town

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RUNNER-UP: La Colombe

La Colombe Chefs Best Restaurants 2020

A veritable jewel in the Constantia Valley’s crown, this internationally acclaimed institution, currently helmed by head chef James Gaag and chef-proprietor Scot Kirton, has been delivering a first-class dining experience for years. The majestic setting above Silvermist Wine Estate certainly enhances the La Colombe experience.

Contact 021 795 0125, reservations@lacolombe.co.za
Location Silvermist Wine Estate, Main Road, Constantia Nek

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“La Colombe has always been at the top of its game. James and his team are better than they have ever been before.“
Jess van Dyk (Protégé)

RUNNER-UP: La Petite Colombe

La Petite Colombe Chefs Best Restaurants 2020

Sleek, slick and flawlessly five-star – La Colombe’s sister restaurant is no shrinking violet. Rather, La Petite Colombe presents some of the best cuisine Franschhoek, and the Cape, has to offer – in a luxuriously sophisticated setting.

Please note La Petite Colombe is relocating to a larger space on Leeu Estates in April 2020.

Contact 021 202 3395, reservations@lapetitecolombe.com
Location Huguenot Road, Franschhoek

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“My wife and I ate there recently and we couldn’t fault a single thing – from the food (world-class) to the service (flawless).”
Matt Manning (Grub & Vine)

The Best New Restaurant

WINNER: Jewells

Jewells Chefs Best Restaurants 2020

A joint venture between Chefs Warehouse maestro Liam Tomlin and charcuterie whizz Neil Jewell and his wife Tina Jewell, this farm-to-table eatery in the Paarl Winelands has loads going for it: three talented chefs at the helm, a beautiful Winelands location and expertly prepared dishes. We’ve no doubt Jewells will continue to shine bright like a diamond.

Contact 021 204 4875, jewellspiceroute@gmail.com
Location Spice Route Destination, Suid Agter Paarl Road, Suider Paarl

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“Neil and Tina’s take on bread and charcuterie is absolutely out of this world. When you’ve got a powerhouse like them and Liam Tomlim together, you can only expect great things.”
Jean-Pierre van der Haar (Thali)

RUNNER-UP: Epice

Epice Chefs Best Restaurants 2020

Named after the French word Epicé (meaning spice), this intimate eatery is the brainchild of La Colombe’s chef-proprietor Scot Kirton and executive chef James Gaag. Serving an array of delectably curated dishes, the fine-dining restaurant is headed by chef Charné Sampson (previously sous chef at La Colombe), and features a flavour-packed menu inspired by the team’s culinary expedition to India, as well as memories of travels through Spain, Japan, Mexico, Denmark and the US.

Contact 021 492 4044, reservations@epice.co.za
Location 9 Huguenot Road, Franschhoek

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RUNNER-UP: Gigi at Gorgeous George

Gigi at Gorgeous George Chefs Best Restaurants 2020

Opened in May 2019, just off the bustling St Georges Mall precinct, this gorgeous designer café gets top marks for style and flavour. The up-to-the-minute design, top-notch tipples, excellent service and great food have made Gigi a firm favourite among chefs and non-chefs alike.

Contact 087 898 6000, gigi@gorgeousgeorge.co.za
Location 18 St Georges Mall, Cape Town City Centre

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The Best Restaurant That’s Stood The Test of Time

WINNER: Aubergine

Aubergine Chefs Best Restaurants 2020

A stalwart on the restaurant scene, this fine-dining establishment – housed in a characterful old building in the heart of Cape Town – has been serving creative dishes and meticulously planned wine pairings since 1996. German-born chef-owner Harald Bresselschmidt is held in high regard by top chefs in South Africa, for his culinary achievements. His passion for food – cultivated during his pastoral childhood on a dairy farm on the border of Belgium – shines through in his food philosophy, which emphasises fresh produce sourced directly from farmers and trusted suppliers.

Contact 021 465 0000, info@aubergine.co.za
Location 39 Barnet Street, Gardens, Cape Town

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RUNNER-UP: The Foodbarn

Foodbarn Chefs Best Restaurants 2020

French-born Franck Dangereux is widely recognised as one of the forerunners of the fine-dining scene in Cape Town, having established the original La Colombe restaurant on Uitsig farm over 20 years ago. In 2006 he opened this country-style restaurant in Noordhoek that started out as a humble sandwich stall, and grew to become a Cape Town institution. More than a decade later, The Foodbarn is still consistently delivering good service and delicious breakfasts, lunches and tapas, in a relaxed, family-friendly setting.

Contact 021 789 1390, info@thefoodbarn.co.za
Location The Noordhoek Farm Village, Corner of Village Lane and Noordhoek Main Road, Noordhoek

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“Franck is a legend.”
Hilde-Lee Olivier (Jardine Restaurant)

RUNNER-UP: Overture

Overture Chefs Best Restaurants 2020

Situated on the foothills of the magnificent Helderberg Mountains on Hidden Valley Wine Farm, Bertus Basson’s Overture is a foodie destination loved for its modern South African cuisine, and beautiful views.

Contact 021 880 2721, info@dineatoverture.co.za
Location Hidden Valley Wines, T4 Route off Annandale Road, R44, Stellenbosch

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RUNNER-UP: La Colombe

La Colombe Cape Town Chefs Best Restaurants 2020

On the slopes of the Constantiaberg mountains at Silvermist Wine Estate, La Colombe quietly draws diners into its lair. Founded on the historic Constantia Uitsig wine estate in 1996 and relocated to Silvermist under chef-proprietor Scot Kirton in 2014, the internationally acclaimed two-decade-old institution continues to put forward some of the best fine dining in the country.

Contact 021 795 0125, reservations@lacolombe.co.za
Location Silvermist Wine Estate, Main Road, Constantia Nek

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The Best Wine Farm Restaurant

WINNER: Chefs Warehouse at Beau Constantia

Chefs Warehouse at Beau Constantia Chefs Best Restaurants 2020 Claire Gunn

Voted the best restaurant overall in our 2018 and 2019 editions (keep reading to find out if it takes the top spot in 2020), the Constantia branch of Liam Tomlin’s Chefs Warehouse, in collaboration with co-owner and head chef Ivor Jones, is still one of the hottest venues in Cape Town, four years after its opening. With panoramic views of the Constantia Valley, and the top-class cuisine you’d expect of a Liam Tomlin establishment with Ivor Jones, this Beau Constantia restaurant, quite literally, elevates the wine-farm dining experience.

Contact 021 794 8632, cw@beauconstantia.com
Location Beau Constantia, Constantia Main Road, Glen Alpine, Constantia

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RUNNER-UP: Overture

Overture Chefs Best Restaurants 2020

Bertus Basson’s Winelands institution continues to rank as a prime destination for delicious South African-inspired cuisine with picturesque mountain and vineyard views. Overture is a favourite among chefs for leisurely weekend lunches.

Contact 021 880 2721,  info@dineatoverture.co.za
Location Hidden Valley Wines, T4 Route off Annandale Road, R44, Stellenbosch

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RUNNER-UP: Jordan Restaurant

Jordan Chefs Best Restaurants 2020

No list of great Winelands restaurants would be complete without this Stellenbosch stalwart, founded by the legendary George Jardine, whose meticulous dishes are accompanied by great wines and spectacular views of the Stellenbosch mountains – a true knockout Winelands destination.

Contact 021 881 3612, restaurant@jordanwines.com
Location Jordan Wine Estate, Stellenbosch Kloof Road, Stellenbosch

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“I love everything from setup, to service and food. Best view for sundowners.”
Lanri Marais (The Kraal at Joostenberg)

The Best Spot to Indulge Your Guilty Pleasure

WINNER: Jason Bakery

Jason Bakery Chefs Best Restaurants 2020 On The Grid

This corner bakery on Bree Street (and there’s a branch in Green Point, too) is the go-to spot for city slickers and office workers looking to indulge their cravings for artisanal bread, buttery croissants, out-of-this-world pies, zingy sandwiches and a mean single-origin Nicaraguan coffee – not to mention the legendary doughssant, a croissant-doughnut hybrid pastry available in new flavours every Saturday.

Contact 021 424 5644 (Bree Street); 021 433 0538 (Green Point), orders@jasonbakery.com
Location 185 Bree Street, Cape Town; 83 Main Road, Green Point; 37 Buitenkant Street (Take-Away Hatch)

RUNNER-UP: Vadas Smokehouse

Vadas Smokehouse Chefs Best Restaurants 2020

Formerly Hoghouse BBQ & Bakery, this restaurant was relaunched in 2018 as Vadas Smokehouse, where head chef PJ Vadas (previously of The Roundhouse Restaurant and Camphors at Vergelegen) serves hearty meat dishes, farm-fresh bread and an old Hoghouse favourite, the pastéis de nata (Portuguese custard tart).

Contact 021 809 1137, info@vadas.co.za
Location Spier Farm, Baden Powell Drive, Stellenbosch

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RUNNER-UP: My Sugar

My Sugar Chefs Best Restaurants 2020 The Kate Tin

In a health-obsessed city, where sugar and carbs are frowned upon, it’s kind of brave to open a shop that specialises in chocolates and decadent sweet treats. But taking risks pays off, as My Sugar has been rated a favourite among chefs with a sweet tooth. Even if you’re a health nut, take a step inside and all resistance will crumble when you see the s’more doughnuts and skull-shaped chocolates.

Contact 021 433 2335, yoursugar@mysugar.co.za
Location 3 La Rhone Building, 77 Regent Road, Sea Point

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The Best Restaurant for Speciality Cuisine

WINNER: Thali

Thali Chefs Best Restaurants 2020 Claire Gunn

Liam Tomlin’s Indian tapas restaurant, now helmed by head chef Jean-Pierre van der Haar, continues to reign supreme in this category. Exotic Indian flavours, matched by the vibrant colour of the restaurant’s decor, makes Thali a favourite among top chefs for experiencing one of the world’s most popular cuisines.

Contact 021 286 2110, info@thalitapas.co.za
Location 3 Park Road, Gardens, Cape Town

“Some of the best Indian food I’ve eaten outside India and the UK.”
Rikku Marais-Ó’Donnchü (Exhibit A)

“The experience starts at the scents that draw you in – before the doors even open.”
Nanda Cardoso (Chefs Warehouse & Canteen)

RUNNER-UP: South China Dim Sum Bar

South China Dim Sum Bar Chefs Best Restaurants 2020

According to diehard dumpling devotees, South China Dim Sum Bar on Long Street serves some of the best dim sum outside of China. In addition to palate-popping pockets of deliciousness, the Cantonese wonton noodle soup is a must-try favourite at this eatery where sharing is caring!

Contact 078 846 3656, southchinadimsumbar@gmail.com
Location 289 Long Street, Cape Town

RUNNER-UP: HeSheng Chinese Restaurant

HeSheng Chinese Chefs Best Restaurants 2020 @capetownfoodiemission

Authentic with a capital A, HeSheng prides itself on lip-smacking food that has, among many returning locals and Chinese patrons, a few of Cape Town’s top chefs coming back for more. The no-frills attitude, evident in the cheap-and-cheerful decor and honest-to-goodness food, makes this a first choice for those seeking vibrant Chinese dishes that you won’t find on any other menu in the city!

Contact 021 433 0739 or 082 830 8118
Location 269 Main Road, Sea Point

“This small Chinese restaurant will definitely leave you quite surprised. If you ever wanted to know what tradition tasted like, this is a must-try.”
Jean-Pierre van der Haar (Thali)

RUNNER-UP: Genki

Genki Chefs Best Restaurants 2020

Situated in the heart of Stellenbosch’s historic town centre, Genki serves some of the best sushi and Japanese tapas around, made using the fresh sustainable fish and seafood.  One of the few authentic Asian restaurants in the Winelands, Genki is a top pick among chefs in the area.

Contact 021 887 5699, info@genki.co.za.
Location Shop 2, De Wet Centre Courtyard, Church Street, Stellenbosch

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The Best Hole In The Wall

WINNER: The Commissary

The Commissary Chefs Best Restaurants 2020

Located in the loft area of the space next to The Shortmarket Club, this colourful restaurant hosts just 45 diners at a time, and its busy, convivial atmosphere is perfect for diners seeking no-frills food with a fine-dining edge. Sadly, The Commissary is closing at the end of March 2020 – so get your bookings in now.

Contact 072 449 3697, info@thecommissary.co.za
Location 86 Shortmarket Street, Cape Town

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“Always reminds me of NYC’s hidden gems.”
Matt Manning (Grub & Vine)

RUNNER-UP: South China Dim Sum Bar

South China Dim Sum Bar Chefs Best Restaurants 2020 @gengenvv

This hidden gem consistently ranks as a favourite for the most authentic dim sum – the Cantonese term for small but hearty bites that are fried, steamed, stewed or baked and made for sharing. The cosy atmosphere and down-to-earth vibe make South China Dim Sum Bar a staple for a relaxed dining experience in Cape Town.

Contact  078 846 3656, southchinadimsumbar@gmail.com
Location 289 Long Street, Cape Town

RUNNER-UP: De Vrije Burger

De Vrije Burger Chefs Best Restaurants 2020

After the success of The Deck at Hidden Valley, Bertus and Mareli Basson decided that such a great burger recipe needed to be celebrated. So they opened De Vrije Burger – where simple, amazing burgers are the order of the day.

Contact info@devrijeburger.com
Location 24 Simonsplein, 61 Plein Street, Stellenbosch

“Still the best fast-casual burger in the Winelands.”
Gustaaf Boshoff (The Green Goose Eatery)

RUNNER-UP: Jason Bakery

Jason Bakery Chefs Best Restaurants 2020

A not-so-hidden icon, Jason Bakery in Bree Street (with branches in Green Point and Zonnebloem) is the kind of place you’d like to keep to yourself, but end up telling everyone about because the baked treats are just that good.

Contact 021 424 5644 (Bree Street); 021 433 0538 (Green Point), orders@jasonbakery.com
Location 185 Bree Street, Cape Town; 83 Main Road, Green Point; 37 Buitenkant Street (Take-Away Hatch)

The Best Overall Restaurant Experience

WINNER: Chefs Warehouse at Beau Constantia

Chefs Warehouse at Beau Constantia Chefs Best Restaurants 2020 Claire Gunn

It has the views, it has the food, it has the service and, clearly, it has the consistency… the Constantia branch of Liam Tomlin’s unstoppable Chefs Warehouse collection takes our top spot for the third year running. Top-class tapas courtesy of chef Ivor Jones (Luke Dale-Roberts’ right hand man at The Test Kitchen) and his team, combined with a spectacular setting and professional service, make this the complete dining package. But don’t take it from us, take it from the top chefs!

Contact 021 794 8632, cw@beauconstantia.com
Location Beau Constantia, 1043 Constantia Main Road, Glen Alpine, Constantia

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“Ivor is not from this planet, and neither is the food or experience at Beau Constantia.”
Jean-Pierre van der Haar (Thali)

“I don’t think people ever go here without getting their minds blown with the flavours and textures. Spectacular!”
Jess van Dyk (Protégé)

RUNNER-UP: FYN

FYN Chefs Best Restaurants 2020 Brian Tuck

In less than two years, this innercity marvel has made it onto the list as the Best New Restaurant, runner-up for Best Fine-Dining Restaurant, and now, FYN is pulling it all together as a brand-new entry in the Best Overall Restaurant category. An impressive feat for a new restaurant in the heavily saturated Cape Town market!

Contact 021 286 2733, info@fynrestaurant.co.za
Location 37 Parliament Street, Speakers Corner, Church Square, Cape Town

“Extraordinary experience – fantastic food, excellent service and very well-put-together winelist.”
Jomo Salani (A Tavola)

RUNNER-UP: La Colombe

La Colombe Chefs Best Restaurants 2020 Andrea van der Spuy

An unsurprising runner-up in this category, La Colombe has been rated as one of the best overall restaurant experiences in Cape Town by top chefs for four years running. Consistently serving immaculate fine-dining in a sublime Winelands setting, La Colombe shows no signs of letting up.

Contact 021 795 0125, reservations@lacolombe.co.za
Location Silvermist Wine Estate, Main Road, Constantia Nek

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RUNNER-UP: Wolfgat

Wolfgat Chefs Best Restaurants 2020 Sam Linsell

Named the Best Restaurant in the World at The World Restaurant Awards in Paris in February 2019, this pocket-sized gem in Paternoster, founded by chef Kobus van der Merwe, specialises in Strandveld cuisine – centred around hyperlocal, foraged ingredients.

Contact diewolfgat@gmail.com
Location 10 Sampson Street, Paternoster

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