A Seafood Lover's Guide to Cape Town

Seafood platter with fish, prawns, mussels and chips
Seafood platter with fish, prawns, mussels and chips | © Ben Sutherland/Flickr
Lee-Shay Collison

Being surrounded by miles and miles of coastline, Cape Town makes it easy to find delicious seafood. On almost every corner, you’ll find a bustling fish and chips shop, a buzzing seafood franchise, or a trendy restaurant offering Cape favorites such as hake, snoek or crayfish. We take a look at the best places to find the freshest and tastiest seafood in the Mother City.

Central Cape Town and surrounds

If you’re staying in the CBD, you won’t have to go far to find some of the best seafood Cape Town has to offer. The V&A Waterfront is a case in point. For a great fine-dining experience, try Harbour House, Baia Restaurant or Willoughby & Co for their chef-prepared seafood dishes, excellent local wines and contemporary cuisine.

All three establishments’ menus span the full spectrum of seafood available — from juicy prawns and rock lobster (crayfish) to mussels and fresh oysters. Mains range from ZAR129 to ZAR350 (US$10–US$27). Willoughby & Co are also famous for their sushi and boast an extensive menu, so if you’re a sushi lover be sure to pay them a visit.

West Coast prawns made South African style

Situated outside the V&A Waterfront, but still within the harbor area, lies one of Cape Town’s best seafood institutions, Panama Jacks. This unassuming restaurant is not aesthetically pleasing, but they are renowned for their superb seafood and great service. Although a bit pricey for casual dining, their platters are winners and can be shared if you’re on a tight budget. Bookings here are essential.

In the city center, Miller’s Thumb also serves some of the best seafood in town. A daily chalkboard menu offers flavorful portions of grilled kingklip, marlin and other line-fish prepared in different styles (Moroccan, Malay or Cajun). You can also opt for favorites like fresh mussels cooked in a creamy sauce, melt-in-your-mouth tiger prawns, and calamari grilled in lemon butter. The restaurant is run by husband-and-wife team, Soli and Jane, who are always welcoming, and the ambiance is relaxed and inviting. Tables are hard to come by, thus reservations are advisable.

Seafood platter with fish, prawns, mussels and chips

Hout Bay

The charming fishing town of Hout Bay, separated from the rest of Cape Town by the Table Mountain Range, is a must-visit for its scenic views, quaint harbor and of course, fresh fish. As locals know, a Hout Bay visit is not complete without dining at legendary Snoekies or Mariner’s Wharf in the harbor, both of which have been around for decades.

The two restaurants/take-aways offer simple yet delicious hake and chips, snoek, calamari, fish combos and family feasts at low prices. At Snoekies a single fillet hake and chips parcel will set you back ZAR64.90 (US$5), while a Fisherman’s Basket for two consisting of hake, snoek, calamari, chips and bread rolls costs ZAR109.90 ($US8.50).

Both restaurants have wooden picnic tables for customers to sit and enjoy their meals outside, with the only difference being that Mariner’s Wharf serves alcoholic drinks.

Mariner’s Wharf, Hout Bay

False Bay

On the other side of the Cape Town, this time at Kalk Bay Harbour, you’ll find Kalky’s, arguably the best seafood restaurant in False Bay. This laidback restaurant is situated right on the pier so diners can enjoy wonderful views of the sea and harbor while they enjoy their fresh fish and chips with an ice-cold beer or cider. Meal portions are generous and great value for money.

Out in Gordon’s Bay and Somerset West, Trawler’s Seafood Take-Away and Blue Waters Seafood & Sushi Restaurant are highly recommended.

Kalk Bay Harbour with Kalky’s in the background

West Coast

Situated in the coastal town of Langebaan, Die Strandloper is renowned for their 10-course seafood feasts served on the beach. A delicious array of seafood cuisine, from seafood curry to smoked angelfish, is served in a rustic beach setting, while patrons enjoy the sea, sun and fresh air.

Where to buy fresh fish

South Africans love to braai and fish is a popular replacement for meat on certain special occasions like Easter. Of course, only the freshest fish will do, so many Capetonians prefer to buy the catch-of-the-day fresh off the fishing boats. Fresh fish can be bought daily at both Kalk Bay and Hout Bay harbors.

Fresh fish being prepared for a customer at Kalk Bay Harbour, Cape Town

Fish 4 Africa, a fresh seafood supplier located in Hout Bay Harbour, is a great place to buy fresh yellowtail, kingklip, Cape salmon and hake on most days. If you’re lucky you might even find some fresh tuna or mackerel. There are also numerous branches around the city.

Another reliable seafood supplier, Ocean Jewels offer fresh seafood and light meals every weekday at the Woodstock Exchange, and on Saturdays at the Neighbourgoods Market. They also deliver once a week for a small fee.

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