Where To Try Traditional South African Food In Cape Town

A staff member at Mzoli's Place braais meat for patrons in Gugulethu township © Jonathan Khoo/Flickr
A staff member at Mzoli's Place braais meat for patrons in Gugulethu township © Jonathan Khoo/Flickr
Photo of Lee-Shay Collison
6 November 2016

Trying a city or country’s traditional food is one of the best cultural experiences you could ask for. In Cape Town, there are plenty of African-themed restaurants offering delicious Cape Malay and South African dishes, from braai meat to curry. Many of them also offer excellent African music and entertainment for you to party the night away. Here are the best African restaurants to visit in the Mother City.

Bo-Kaap Kombuis

For a taste of authentic Cape Malay cuisine, visit the Bo-Kaap Kombuis nestled on the slopes of Signal Hill in the former Cape Malay quarter. The restaurant is lovingly run by residents, Yusuf and Nazli Larney, who warmly invite locals and tourists to experience not only their delicious food, but the culture, heritage and beauty of the area. Taste the exotic flavors and wholesome goodness of Cape Malay cuisine in an array of traditional dishes such as bobotie, butter chicken, lamb penang curry and denning vleis, to name a few. The restaurant is situated at the top of the neighborhood and offers breathtaking views of the city and Table Mountain.

7 August St, Cape Town, South Africa, +27 21 422 5446

A dish from Bo-Kaap Kombuis © Meraj Chhaya/Flickr

A dish from Bo-Kaap Kombuis © Meraj Chhaya/Flickr

Gold Restaurant

Restaurant, African, $$$
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Gold Restaurant, Cape Town
Gold Restaurant, Cape Town | © Gold Restaurant
Gold Restaurant offers a one-of-a-kind African experience through a diverse 14-course set menu accompanied by traditional entertainment. Diners can expect a cornucopia of taste sensations with dishes ranging from South African tomato bredie and Tanzanian fried fish, to Mozambican chili chicken wings and Xhosa pot bread. A range of performances by traditional dancers, Mali puppets, drummers and singers ensure guests are thoroughly entertained throughout the evening.

The Africa Café

Cafe, Restaurant, African, $$$
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The family-run Africa Caféwas one of the first African-inspired restaurants to open in South Africa. The eatery offers a journey of culinary delights from across the African continent, accompanied by unique traditional entertainment in the form of dancing, singing and drumming. The restaurant is beautifully decorated with colorful African murals and artefacts, and the staff are friendly and welcoming in their traditional African dress. Their seasonal menu offers a variety of delicious traditional food. Stand out dishes include Ethiopian Sik Sik Wat, beef in bere-bere paprika sauce, and African vegetable stew consisting of aubergine, red pepper and marrow stewed in thick tomato gravy.

Mzoli’s Place

For the ultimate South African experience, a visit to Mzoli’s is a must when in Cape Town. Every Saturday and Sunday, locals and people from all over the world descend on the vibrant outdoor shisa nyama (braai) in the township of Gugulethu. You’re offered a choice between beef, pork, chicken and sausage which you purchase raw from the on-site butchery, and then take your meat to the braai area where it’s grilled to perfection. Drinks are bought from a nearby liquor store, or you can bring your own. Once your meat is cooked, you head over to the outdoor seating area and eat with your hands (no cutlery here!). The atmosphere is energetic and festive, with music blaring and people eating, mingling and dancing. However, don’t expect five-star treatment; here anything goes so it may be a cultural shock for most, but it’s one experience you’ll never forget! We recommend going in a group and arriving early to avoid the long queues. Also, bring your own side dishes.

Ny 115, Gugulethu, Cape Town, South Africa, +27 21 638 1355

Mzoli's Place © Wayne Taylor/Flickr

Mzoli’s Place © Wayne Taylor/Flickr

aMadoda Braai and Restaurant

Bar, Restaurant, Pub Grub
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Patrons at aMadoda Braai and Restaurant, Cape Town
Patrons at aMadoda Braai and Restaurant, Cape Town | © Courtesy of aMadoda Braai
aMadoda Braai and Restaurant is a township-inspired shisa nyama based in the bohemian neighborhood of Woodstock. The ambiance is vibey, loud and laidback attracting people of all nationalities and walks of life. Sit inside or outside while the resident DJ warms up the dancefloor with kwaito beats and house music. Food wise, platters of delicious braai meat are served with Xhosa bread or pap and chakalaka, and a variety of beers and hard liquor can be ordered at the bar. You eat with your hands, chat, dance, drink and have fun!

Mama Africa

Mama Africa offers diners a unique African experience in a rustic, laidback setting. The staff are friendly and attentive while entertainment in the form of live African music will have you tapping your feet. For starters, try a platter of Mozambican chicken livers, game kebabs, East Coast mussels and homemade veggie samoosas. For mains, the lamb curry, Moroccan lamb pot roast and the game potjie are popular choices. If you’re an adventurous eater, try Mama’s Wild Game Mixed Grill which consists of ostrich, crocodile, springbok, kudu and venison, and don’t forget to sample their delicious vetkoek and sweetcorn bread. At 8pm each evening, a live Marimba band takes to the stage to perform a variety of music until late.

178 Long St, Cape Town, South Africa, +27 21 426 1017

Mama Africa, Cape Town © Marco Zanferrari/Flickr

Mama Africa, Cape Town © Marco Zanferrari/Flickr

Marco’s African Place

Bar, Restaurant, African, $$$
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Situated in the Bo-Kaap, Marco’s African Place is a large restaurant and bar that offers indigenous African cuisine and live music. From 8pm each evening, the restaurant plays host to live bands from around Africa. Marco’s offers a variety of fragrant African and Cape dishes from their à la carte, buffet and set menus. For mains, try one of chef Marco Radebe’s specialties such as the Pan African platter consisting of pan-grilled fillets of springbok, kudu and ostrich, or the oxtail curry cooked in a thick, delicious sauce.

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