Cape Town is the undisputed gourmet capital of the continent. The Mother City boasts everything from indigenous local food to world-class fusion cuisine, with many of the top ten restaurants in South Africa calling the City home.
Long, Kloof and Bree Streets in the CBD are great places to find both trendy bars and excellent eateries, and coastal neighbourhoods such as Sea Point, Blouberg and Kalk Bay offer diners the chance to soak up spectacular sea views over a gourmet meal.
For visitors wanting the local experience, there are a few proudly home-grown dishes that should not be missed. Golden koesisters, koeksisters and vetkoek are all musthave dough-based sweet or savoury treats. Bobotie, with its egg-baked crust and curried mince filling, is delicious and the gatsby, a baguette-type loaf filled with meat, spicy fries (Capetonians call them hot chips) and barbeque sauce is best shared – it’s that big.
Chesa nyama or braai is the equivalent of a barbeque – an activity that is deeply entrenched in South African food culture and is more than just a food experience. Have your meat with pap (cooked maize meal) and you will be one of the locals.
Yes, South Africans are notorious carnivores, and in the past it’s been difficult for those with alternative dietary choices to get by. Thankfully, Cape Town has been at the forefront of the trend toward raw, vegan and organic lifestyles, and it’s now the easiest it’s ever been for those following a plant-based diet to find truly excellent food. Travellers who are vegan, vegetarian, have food intolerances or are just looking for a different culinary spin on things will find dozens of options that are worth a visit.
Halal food is also definitely on the menu and Cape Town has a variety of certified halal eateries. Many of them are casual, family-friendly establishments but there are also a few fine-dining options and some wonderful coffee shops. Major supermarket chains and fast-food outlets are all halal-certified. Food markets in Cape Town are a big thing, with markets of all types in virtually every neighbourhood across the city’s metro area. No matter what day of the week, there will be a market serving up some of the freshest, most delicious food the City has to offer.
No trip to Cape Town is complete without sampling the wines. There are six main wine routes, each with something unique to offer: Constantia, Durbanville, Helderberg, Franschhoek, Paarl, and Stellenbosch. We recommend picking one route and visiting 3 to 4 estates.
Not to be outdone by the grape, the grain has also made its mark and there are several tap rooms to sample the city’s craft beer. The last 10 years have seen an explosion of new and innovative breweries. It’s no accident that Woodstock, the heart of the Cape Town artisan food movement, is also the heart of craft beer. Some restaurants and bars also offer a variety of local beers and visitors should keep a lookout for local beer festivals where the brew is celebrated and enjoyed. Cape Town has not escaped the gin revolution either and boutique gin distilleries are producing unique and exciting flavours.
It’s not only gin distilleries that are to be found in the region. For those who prefer spirits over beer and wine, there is plenty on offer. Deep South Distillery, the southernmost distillery in the South Peninsula, offers a range of hand-crafted spirits. Africa’s only commercial whisky distillery is to be found in the Cape, as well as distilleries that make vodka, brandy and even absinthe. Some distilleries also take advantage of the fact that South Africa is one of the world’s largest sugarcane producers and create artisan rum.