Cape Town has an exciting mix of culinary flavours, both local and international. Wherever you have a favourite dish or hoping to try something new, you won’t be disappointed in the food haven that is Cosmopolitan Cape Town!
Check out 10 of our best finds for eating out in Cape Town:
1. Mama Africa
If you’re looking for an opportunity to try local South African food with the perfect atmosphere, then look no further. There is a great selection of game meats (crocodile, kudu, ostrich, warthog, venison & springbok); traditional Cape Malay dishes; and a variety of local sides, making this the perfect place to try something new. Whilst eating you’ll also be treated as an accompanying band give you a flavour of local music in a setting full of the beauty of African art.
How much? We paid around R600 for three people including drinks, mains and sides. We opted for a bit of everything and shared dishes.
Similar restaurants? Karibu at the V&A Waterfront serves a similar range of South African foods at similar prices. It’s best to book a table especially if you want to sit outside as it’s a popular place and can get very busy.
Best dish? If you’re a carnivore then try the Ostrich Fillet with a side of samp and a glass of the Pinotage red wine.
Eating a traditional local Braai in the townships was a highlight of our trip to Cape Town. It’s great if you can go as a group, put your money together and get a mixed bowl of different meats in a variety of spices. We paid only R40 each for all we could eat meat and in a group of around 20 this was a significant amount!! Whilst waiting for the meat to be cooked, you can visit nearby Lefe’s for drinks at prices so low you can see why even in the poorest townships alcoholism is a problem. Then head back into Mzoli’s to enjoy the party atmosphere that starts around midday and continues all day and night. With a local DJ, drummers (who’ll let you have a go for a small tip) and a crowd of people just wanting to dance, it’s the perfect atmosphere.
Optional add-on: Why not spend the morning doing a township tour to find out more about life in Langa or Gugulethu (one of the townships) before heading to party at Mzoli’s.
3. V&A Food Market
By far THE best place at the V&A Waterfront if you’re not sure what you fancy. There are food stalls from all over the world including Asian, European, African and many more. The prices are cheap by UK standards and if there are more than one in your group then you can all try different foods. There are also plenty of places to get drinks and desserts to accompany your meal choice.
Best dish? A favourite for us was the Tunisian food – something we had never had before. The man who runs the stall is also quite a character with a varied history that he’ll chat to you about as your food is being prepared.
Top tip: sit outside if the weather is nice and position yourself for breathtaking views of Table Mountain.
Similar restaurant? If you fancy a sit down meal with a menu then Vovo Telo is just round the corner. It’s a great little place that bakes it’s own bread and does awesome pizza-style meals.
4. Eastern Bazaar Food Court
If you like Eastern food, you’re in the city centre and you want food at low prices, then this is the perfect spot. On the ground floor of a large building in the centre of the city bowl opposite the Grand Parade, this food court has food from both North and South India, China, Istanbul and many more. You order at a central till and then wait at the correct stall for your food to be freshly prepared. The portions are huge so you might want to watch them being prepared and considering sharing if you’re not starving!
Best dish? This is actually impossible to answer as we loved everything we tried. Just go more than once and eat your way through the menu. If you can leave space for ice-cream after then it’s a bargain at R15 for a scoop!
Top tip: it’s usually packed downstairs but on the Grand Parade entrance there are stairs leading up to the first floor seating area which is a lot less busy.
5. Fish & Chips (Kalky’s) at Kalk Bay
Sign up to the Cape Point tour with Cape to Addo and this is where you’ll be eating lunch. Or why not buy the hop-on-hop-off train pass one Saturday and explore part of the route yourself at a fraction of the price? Either way, eat here and, if you like fish, opt for the Snoek and chips. It’s a local fish, quite meaty and contains huge bones that you won’t miss! It tastes delicious!
Optional add-on: if you’ve got a sweet tooth there is a great sweet stall just outside where the bags are only R10 each. If you want to be healthy they sell dried fruit too.
6. Empire Asia
This is the place to go if you like Chinese, Thai or Sushi and you’re looking for somewhere close to the volunteer house in Sea Point, just along the Main Road. Closer than the restaurant they use in the week (Cafe Sofia, which is fantastic) they serve all-you-can-eat sushi for R125 or an a la carte menu including Chinese and Thai.
Best dish? Although we enjoyed the sushi our favourite was the duck fried noodles and pad thai.
7. El Burro
On the Main Road opposite Cape Town Stadium in Greenpoint, this is the Mexican that’s not to be missed. Serving a range of authentic Mexican dishes including build-your-own and prepared foods, these are sure to tickle the palettes of all Mexican food lovers.
For starters, we tried the Esquites, a sweetcorn street snack and Taquitos, corn tortillas wrapped around a sweet potato and feta filling. Both were delicious.
For mains, we highly recommend the Chicken Mole Poblano whose dark couverture chocolate sauce is divine. Not to be overlooked, the Enchiladas Rojo was also delicious. At only R110 and R100 respectively, the prices are also very reasonable (although on the higher side of Cape Town prices).
Top tip: this is very popular during its Monday to Saturday opening hours so phone them up and reserve a table in advance (number available on TripAdvisor). If they’re fully booked, ask to be placed on the waiting list – you’re likely to get in anyway just a little later than you planned!
Located along Main Road heading away from the city centre towards Camp’s Bay, Kushi is a traditional Indian restaurant offering a range of dishes not dissimilar to those on offer at your local Balti house. Popular with locals – including Indian locals, a definite endorsement – this is well worth a visit for another taste of the East.
Top tip: ask the waitron for advice on the correct strength of curry to go for as they differ from those in the UK. We had a Madras which wasn’t as spicy as it would be back home, but still delicious nonetheless.
9. !Khwa ttu
Located at the !Khwa ttu San Cultural Centre off R27 about an hour from Cape Town, this restaurant is the perfect accompaniment to your cultural exploration of the indigenous San communities that reside in Southern Africa. We opted for an open beef sandwich and an Eland Burger, with the game meat provided from the Eland herd on the reserve area. Presented with a downtown style but at less than R70 a dish, the prices are great value too.
10. Eat with a local
Possibly a little more difficult as you’re a visitor and not a resident but if you get the opportunity (perhaps with a staff member at your volunteer placement), don’t let it pass you by. We were fortunate to be invited to one of our teacher’s homes for traditional Cape Malay curry which was rich and delicious.
Struggling to find a local? Don’t fear, there is an alternative! Go to Greenmarket Square any evening for 6 pm for the free 2-hour food tour which will lead you around some of the different flavour venues of central Cape Town where you can purchase as much or as little of the local cuisine as you like!
Looking for some ideas for accompanying drinks?
Why not try a wine or beer tasting experience? We opted for a trip to Groot Constantia whilst on a tour of Cape Point where we were able to sample 10 South African wines including both red and whites. This winery can also be accessed using the City Sightseeing Hop-On-Hop-Off bus. A great way to taste a selection of local beers is to visit Beer House on Long Street. They offer a R70 tasting palette allowing you to sample six different beers across the different types on sale (of which there are dozens). This is a great way to get an idea of the flavours on offer, even if you’re not normally a beer drinker.
Have you been fortunate to sample some of Cape Town’s cuisine? Do you have any culinary favourites of your own? Why not share them by commenting below so others can enjoy that experience too!