Cape Town might be the foodie capital of South Africa, but these days, eating out in the city doesn’t always come cheap. Cheap eats in Cape Town might be hard to seek out, but if you’re prepared to eat on the fly, or venture a little out of town, these options are tasty and will barely leave a dent in your back pocket.
Eastern Food Bazaar
Canteen, Halal, South African, Asian, Indian, $$$
Cape Town’s Eastern Food Bazaar is the bastion of cheap eats in the city. This long, thin canteen-style eatery running between two busy inner city streets serves up everything from tasty curries to decent ice cream, and all at rock bottom prices. Portions are generous, and quality is satisfactory. Crowds swell at midday during the week, owing to the nearby office workers, and although there is some seating at the venue, most choose to pick up their favourites and then return to devour the budget lunch in the comfort of their office.
Kalky’s is a fish and chips institution in the quaint seaside suburb of Kalk Bay. If the mood takes you, you can go all out with a large seafood platter, but a traditional plate of fish and chips, washed down with a large bottle of soda, is enough to satisfy most hungers. Though not exactly the healthiest meal you’ll find in Cape Town, it represents good value set in a unique environment.
Food Lover’s Market is another popular inner-city lunchtime option that serves up good-quality food at very competitive prices. You won’t find the finest dining options in its various branches, but it offers ready-made meals, snacks and fresh fruit available to take away or eat-in at its informal food-court-style benches. The flagship store in the CBD, which spans the ground floor of an entire block, also includes a sushi restaurant that is among the cheapest in the city. It also has strategically located branches located close to offices and office parks for busy workers.
Food Inn runs similar to Eastern Food Bazaar, with a wide range of Eastern dishes served up canteen style. Although the standard here is not quite that of its bigger cousin a few blocks away, you’ll still find everything from readymade curries to samosas and wraps. Located on busy Long Street, and open until the early hours, it’s hardly going to win any culinary awards, but if it’s a budget lunch or a sobering midnight snack that costs less than your last craft beer that you’re looking for, then this might be the best possible option.
Restaurant, Fast Food, Halal, South African, Soul Food, $$$
The Golden Dish is a cheap dining institution in Cape Town, thanks in large part to its famous gatsbys. This staple Capetonian dish is essentially a steak sandwich of sorts, though any loyal fan of gatsbys will suggest that it’s a whole lot more. Although Golden Dish is located some way from the Cape Town CBD, in the suburb of Rylands, many swear by this popular spot for its sheer value and authenticity.
Mariams Kitchen, in the Cape Town foreshore region, is a staple lunch venue for many people who live and work in the lower reaches of the inner city. There appears to be nothing that the fast-food-style eatery doesn’t serve, and you’ll find everything from steak sandwiches to pitas and wraps. But it’s their famous gatsby, available as a full or half portion, that’s not only one of the better versions in the city, but also impressively cheap, given that its sufficient to feed an army, or at least an entire department.
Aneesa’s calls itself the ‘Home of the Vienna and chip parcel’, and if you’re looking for a cheap and filling – if not particularly healthy – meal, then this is the one to go for. It’s three, five or seven Vienna sausages served on a parcel of hot chips and lathered in special sauce. That’s not all this budget eatery offers – you’ll also find vegetarian sandwiches, gatsbys, burgers and curries. There are venues located in four Cape Town suburbs, and when you consider that it has been in business since 1976, it’s hardly surprising that it’s one of the city’s best budget eats.
Cosy Corner Take Away is packed full of nostalgia, both in its food and venues. They’ve been in business since 1973, and have been on the same corner in the suburb of Wynberg since day one. The restaurant has seen a lot of change in South Africa, though unlike restaurants in the inner city, prices aren’t really one of them. Though the price has obviously gone up markedly in the last 45 years, you’ll still struggle to find a cheaper burger, gatsby or vienna combo than this.
If you’ve got a hankering for a solid slice of New York-style pizza and only a few coins in your back pocket, NY Slice should have you covered. Now with several venues throughout the city, NY Slice offers reasonably priced slices of quality pizza. Though like any good New York-style pizza, these slices aren’t exactly guilt-free, but they’re the perfect way to line the stomach before a night out on the town.
Another Cape Town fish and chips institution is Fish on the Rocks, located in the sleepy suburb of Hout Bay. There, you’ll find a menu that hasn’t changed much, and although the prices have climbed over the years, it still represents good value. Combos are the go-to menu item at Fish on the Rocks, and if you’re feeling particularly thrifty you can pick up a decent portion of calamari and chips for little over R50, or £3.