South Africans make no excuses about their love for meat. Given that a traditional braai (barbecue) is a regular occurrence in many local homes, and many South Africans consume meat at least three times a day, it may come as a surprise that there’s a burgeoning vegetarian scene throughout the country. Although exclusively vegetarian or vegan restaurants are a difficult find, most establishments these days have several tasty meat-free options from which to choose.
The Hungry Herbivore is now an established fixture on the Cape Town vegan scene. It’s been a popular restaurant for both meat-eaters and vegans alike, almost since day one. That’s because this vibrant, 100% vegan eatery gained traction as a small food stand at a nearby market, and grew to honour all of its original ideals. It’s now located on Orphan Street in the Cape Town CBD, just a few feet away from the trendy Bree Street. Owners Amy Scott and Brent Borman effortlessly break down the vegan meal stereotype with a menu that is diverse and full of delicious surprises.
The original Cape Town gourmet burger venue serves up some of the best vegetarian and vegan meals in the city. If you have a hankering for some vegetarian fast food in a trendy location, look no further than this. The casual but quirky Long Street restaurant is an institution, and they now offer more than 50 burger options to choose from – all of which are available meat-free.
With a simple yet stunning interior with colourful Bollywood ornamentation, Masala Dosa brings all the spice of Southern Indian cuisine to the streets of Cape Town. Although the food has more of a subtle kick to it than most Capetonians are used to from their curries, the intense flavour of each dish is anything but bland. If you like choice in your meal, try their Thali, which is a small selection of various curries served with rice, poppadum and puri. Masala Dosa has a keen focus on healthy, vegan-friendly dishes that never compromise taste or freshness. If you’re interested in the art of blending spices and creating the ultimate curry, then Masala Dosa’s curry classes are also worth considering.
Maharajah is a well-loved Indian restaurant for veggies all over the cape. Their goal is to ‘create happiness through food’, and transform the face of fast food into something that provides healthy and flavourful meals. There are a number of meals to decide over, from lighter bites such as a butterbean curry wrap or something more filling, such as their heavenly Palak paneer. If these don’t fill you up, order an extra round of samosas or round off the whole feast with a vegan muffin (or three).
Plant was one of the first gourmet vegan restaurants in Cape Town, and they’ve barely skipped a beat since their humble beginnings as a small Bo-Kaap café in 2013. Plant is a relaxed and diverse eatery just off Cape Town’s Long Street and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They serve ethical vegan meals that’ll sway even the strictest meat eaters, and they take special care to accommodate those with food allergies and intolerances without compromising on taste.
Chefs may only have one vegetarian item on the menu, but then again, this novel establishment in Gardens has made its name on limited options and exceptional quality. Patrons pick from the small but exceptional selection from the iPad menu updated daily, which always includes one vegetarian option. They then take a seat in the intriguingly styled dining area with a direct view of the spotless kitchen. Though the impressively prompt service and décor may resemble a quirky cafeteria, that comparison ends as soon as you sample the meal placed down in front of you.
This Sea Point vegan restaurant is one of the trendiest on the Atlantic Seaboard. Though they tend towards the expensive side of vegetarian eating, they offer a variety of healthy and delicious breakfast and lunch options that’ll leave even the pickiest vegetarian happy. If you’re in a rush or simply want to enjoy your meal on the nearby Sea Point Promenade, you can also get most options to go.
One of the city’s most respected Mexican restaurants, El Burro, may not be entirely vegetarian, but their established Green Point branch and newer Taqueria on Kloof Nek serve up several quality meat-free Mexican dishes. Though a little on the costly side, particularly for big appetites, it’s become a perfect middle ground for veggies and non-veggies to unite.