Street Wise: a Stop-by-Stop Guide to Bree Street, Cape Town

Find respite from the city up on the rooftop at Gorgeous George
Find respite from the city up on the rooftop at Gorgeous George | Courtesy of Gorgeous George / Expedia.com
Photo of Leon Beckenham
3 December 2021
View

Home to the best coffee in town, pizzerias with added pizzazz and underground drinking dens with long lists of whiskies – welcome to the Mother City’s foodie hub.

With the rise of Cape Town as one of the world’s coolest capitals, there’s been a bit of jostling in the Mother City between streets claiming the coveted title of the hippest. While Kloof and Long Street were once the main contenders, Bree Street quietly slipped in while no one was watching and snatched the crown. It’s all about food, here: with its on-point collection of artisan cafes, jazzy bars and top restaurants, it’s not hard to convince people to stop by. Join us on a journey through its highlights with some ace spots to stay nearby.

The General Store

Restaurant, Hole in the Wall, South African, Healthy, Authentic, $$$
Interior of The General Store, Cape Town; view of the wooden counter with a coffee machine and card reader, and refrigerated counter beyond. The walls are covered in shelving,
© The General Store
While little more than a hole-in-the-wall eatery, the General Store quickly cooked itself up a steaming reputation. Chef Colette Robert was inspired after a stint in London to open this cafe-cum-grocery store, and her health-leaning, weekly changing menu of pies, salads and bakes has taken the street by storm. There are mouthwatering handmade nibbles to take away, too, and some Capetonians even tip this place for serving the best coffee in town.

Heritage Square

Architectural Landmark
Once destined to be torn down for a car park, this cluster of 18th-century buildings was saved from that ignoble fate after a sizable outcry. The end result was the restoration of the site into a collection of excellent dining, retail and office spaces – even a working blacksmith. Its central courtyard is a pleasantly serene spot to relax with a drink in the sun, while the preserved stone-built complex provides an insight into Cape Town’s past.

Gorgeous George

Interior of Gorgeous George; a velvet sofa with a lamp and large potted plant beside it, with a coffee table in front on top of a decorative rug
Courtesy of Gorgeous George / Expedia.com
This curiously named hotel occupies an imposingly handsome building on a leafy pedestrianised lane, a few blocks south of Bree Street. It is five-star fabulousness all the way, mostly concentrated on its rooftop, featuring a fancy indoor-outdoor pool and swanky restaurant. Its 32 studios and suites all fuse industrial chic with a modern take on Victorian design to admittedly gorgeous effect.

I Love the Dough

Pizzeria, Italian
Neon interior of the bar at I Love the Dough, with a wall stacked with bottles and glasses and bar stools lined in front, a brown leather booth is off to one side
© I Love The Dough
With its name inspired by a Biggie Smalls track, you know this pizzeria is going to have a little more pizzazz than most. A pink-on-pink colour scheme bathed in neon certainly dials up the glam, while profanity-laced graffiti sets a tone of tongue-in-cheek irreverence. But most importantly, their authentic Italian-style pizzas are among the city’s finest. Regular DJ sessions and damn good cocktails turn it into a coveted nightspot, too.

Gate69

Theatre
This gloriously camp Cape Town cabaret theatre prides itself on guaranteeing the audience an experience quite unlike any other in the city. Shows range from stand-up and live music to burlesque comedy and ‘adult’ panto, performed in a very intimate theatre space. Interaction with the audience is part of the fun – be prepared for a roasting if you sit too near the front. Expect flamboyant drag acts, louche laughs and an atmosphere of unbridled entertainment.

Cartel House Hotel On Loop

Room interior at Cartel House Hotel On Loop, Cape Town, with a large bed, and a wall of sliding doors pulled back to reveal a private balcony with seating
Courtesy of Cartel House Hotel On Loop / Expedia.com
If you had to pick one word to describe the Cartel House Hotel it would be ‘plush’. There’s an unabashed opulence about the interior design, from padded velvet doors to bespoke furnishings and four-poster beds. With just six rooms, each is individually styled, some with wall-to-wall windows and others with spacious hammock-slung terraces. A rooftop pool offers space for cityscape cooling, while a digital concierge will help with your dining reservation in Bree Street, a few blocks away.

Hank's Olde Irish

Bar, Restaurant, Pub Grub, Irish, $$$
A combination of rough stone and exposed brick walls, moody lighting and low-beamed ceilings give this whiskey-focused bar the feel of a rustic underground drinking den. There’s a dizzying choice of whiskies on offer behind the bar, from bourbons and Scotches to Japanese and Taiwanese blends. Cocktails aren’t all whiskey-based and there are decent beers and wines, too. The atmosphere is relaxed with a friendly, unpretentious crowd, plus regular live jazz adds to the smooth vibes.

Clarke’s Bar and Dining Room

Bar, Cafe, Diner, Restaurant, North American, $$$
Person reading a newspaper inside the window of Clarkes Cape Town with a view out towards the street
Clarkes | Courtesy of Clarkes
A Bree Street mainstay for longer than most, this cute bar-cafe can pin its popularity on a laid-back hipster-tinged vibe that lasts from early breakfast to after-dark drinks. The day menu is brunching heaven, with everything from antiox-rich smoothies to eggs every way imaginable. A night menu offers up hearty treats like four-cheese mac ‘n’ cheese and grass-fed burgers, together with a heroic list of boozy refreshment.

Skinny laMinx

Shop
Hands down the place on Bree if you’re looking to spruce up your home, or indeed yourself. Owner Heather Moore is a Cape Town design pioneer and her shop has become a go-to for wonderfully bold printed fabrics on bags, scarves, pillows and lampshades. Just browsing all these colourful designs will lift your mood and perhaps inspire you to buy some fabric for your own upholstery project.

Cookies Policy

We and our partners use cookies to better understand your needs, improve performance and provide you with personalised content and advertisements. To allow us to provide a better and more tailored experience please click "OK"