Perched on the southern tip of South Africa, Cape Town, also known as South Africa’s Mother City, is described as one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Home to the iconic Table Mountain, stunning white sandy beaches, rich fauna and flora, world-class vineyards, and much more, it is no wonder that Cape Town’s beauty and diversity extends to its culinary offering. Here are ten of the best cultural restaurants in the city.
Located at the trendy Old Biscuit Mill, The Test Kitchen is a renowned world-class dining destination, and the winner of the Cacao Barry One to Watch Award in 2013. Run by Chef Luke Dale-Roberts, the Test Kitchen serves an evolving menu of innovative, artful and delightful dishes accompanied by a spot-on wine selection. The industrial-style interior consisting of brick walls, roof pipes and metal tables enhances the Test Kitchen’s experimental allure. The restaurant’s open-plan kitchen invites customers to catch a glimpse of the gastronomic magic at work, adding to the overall ambiance of adventurous fine dining. Saturday lunch at the Test Kitchen is particularly exciting, as the Old Biscuit Mill is abuzz with its dynamic weekend markets offering the best of local foods and craft.
Situated in the heart of the Gugulethu Township on the outskirts of Cape Town, Mzoli’s Place offers the ultimate braai (Afrikaans word for barbecue), welcoming all meat-lovers. Running on a self-service policy, the meat is individually selected from Mzoli’s on-site butchery, dipped in a heavenly secret marinade, and then sizzled to perfection on an open fire grill. Favorite meat options include the mouth-watering T-bone steak, succulent pork chops and juicy boerewors (seasoned South African sausage). With a side plate of pap (popular dish made from ground maize) and chakalaka (vegetable relish), and a cold lager beer, find a spot on the communal plastic tables and dig in. With animated discussions, laughter and dancing to Kwaito and other local music amidst the eating and drinking, Mzoli’s Place is a typical South African experience.
A much-loved fine-dining restaurant nestled in Cape Town’s leading vineyard area, Constantia, La Colombe has received a number of awards, including a coveted place in the San Pellegrino 50 Best Restaurants of the World Awards in 2010. The restaurant’s cuisine presents a fusion of contemporary and classic French and Asian influences, using only the freshest local produce in season. The wine list is impeccable, featuring the Constantia’s finest wines. No palate is left wanting as the elegantly presented dishes cater for a variety of tastes, with a range of specialties from smoked springbok and champagne-poached oysters to heavenly vegetarian green-pea risotto. With comfortable yet classy indoor and outdoor seating, a charming garden and scenic views, a visit to La Colombe is a truly unforgettable culinary experience.
Opened in 2001, the Baia Seafood Restaurant serves some of the finest seafood and rare local vintage wines in Cape Town. From sautéed prawns and black mussels to grilled calamari and line-fish bathed in garlic butter sauce, Baia’s menu presents a large selection of tantalizing seafood dishes. The exquisite cuisine is matched by the restaurant’s immaculate service and an upmarket, spacious interior. Ideally situated at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, Cape Town’s most popular tourist destination, Baia offers a spectacular view of the city’s bustling harbor and the magnificent flat-topped Table Mountain as its backdrop. Baia’s name originates from the Portuguese word for ‘bay’, reflecting both the restaurant’s Portuguese-inspired cuisine and harbor-side location.
Offering a unique culinary journey from Cape Town to Timbuktu, the Gold Restaurant takes pride in serving a variety of opulent African dishes. More than just a restaurant, the evening begins with an interactive Djembe drumming session, followed by a customary hand-washing ceremony. The restaurant is divided into different African-themed areas, while ethnically clad waiters explain every dish as they set out the entire menu on each table. The menu includes Cape Malay specialties such as bobotie (spicy minced ostrich with a savory custard topping) and lentil dhal with roasted butternut, portraying the city’s rich cultural blend which includes influences from Africa and South East Asia. With up to 14 traditional dishes to taste, diners are also treated to live entertainment by a medley of singers, drummers and a Malian puppet theater.
A visit to Cape Town for anyone with a sweet tooth is incomplete without an afternoon tea at the prestigious Mount Nelson Hotel. Situated within lush gardens, the Mount Nelson is one of Cape Town’s oldest and most esteemed hotels. The hotel restaurant’s colonial-style terrace leads out into a flourishing garden, with tables and chairs set out on a perfectly manicured lawn. Every afternoon, the restaurant serves a British-inspired high tea with a South African twist. Enjoy the lavish buffet of delicious cakes, milk tarts, freshly baked scones, dainty sandwiches, and other delectable treats, whilst indulging in a fruit infusion, French champagne or Mount Nelson’s signature tea, an expert blend of six teas and rose petals.
Tucked away in the creative inner-city suburb of Gardens, The Dog’s Bollocks is a trendy and original haunt serving the best hamburgers in Cape Town. Originally a modest driveway with wire garden furniture and shabby lampshades, the Dog’s Bollocks has since become a highly popular no-frill diner of outstanding quality, attracting burger enthusiasts both young and old. With burger toppings such as garlic black pepper sauce, light blue cheese sauce with sliced pepper-dews and homemade pickled jalapenos, it is hard to stay away. Every afternoon, an eager queue gathers outside the Dog’s Bollocks, which opens its doors at 5pm sharp and closes immediately after the 50th burger has been ordered.
Situated at the foot of the majestic Table Mountain in the famous Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, Moyo is a charming and reputable restaurant serving an original assortment of pan-African platters. One of the house specialties is the Sunday lunch buffet, made up of fresh salads, homemade breads, Moyo’s famous potjies (traditional stews) and chicken and vegetable tagines, alongside other irresistible delights. Moyo’s trademark face painting and live traditional dancing and singing during the meals add to its exceptional ambiance. After a hearty meal, take a relaxed stroll through Africa’s most beautiful botanical gardens or stay till sunset and catch a live weekend concert.
Situated at the top of Long Street, Cape Town’s most vibrant and artsy street, Café Mojito is the ideal place to stop by for a cocktail after a sun-kissed day on the beach. Enjoy Mojito’s legendary happy hour cocktail menu that runs daily from 4pm to 7pm serving a fantastic selection of cocktails such as Strawberry Daiquiris, Green Iguanas and different spins on the Cuban Mojito. A Cuban-style bar with a tropical feel, Mojito’s also serves great Carribean-style dishes including nachos, house salads and jerk chicken. Find a spot next to the window or outside on the sidewalk, sip on a cool cocktail, and observe the start of Long Street’s night adventures, as crowds of local residents and tourists stream onto the popular street.
A local favorite in the suburb of Sea Point, La Boheme Wine Bar & Bistro offers an affordable gourmet experience in a cozy and friendly environment, and is within walking distance to the Atlantic seaboard. La Boheme’s eclectic menu changes daily and features hearty, elegantly served meat, fish and vegetable dishes, accompanied by home-made pasta and bread. The restaurant also has an impressive wine list of more than 60 carefully selected wines, available by the glass, and a tapas menu, perfect for sharing or as a light snack option.