The 12 Best Things to Do (and Eat) on Bree Street, Cape Town

| Matthew R. Dix / Unsplash

Freelance Writer - instagram.com/andrewthompsonsa

Cape Town’s Bree Street has cemented its reputation as the culinary heart of the city. Long Street may be its hedonistic neighbour, and Kloof Street its closest rival, but Bree has comfortably established itself as one of the city’s coolest streets.

Although it’s a destination that’s built its reputation for its various restaurants – including Cape Town’s top bakery, along with award-winning and casual eateries – Bree Street also home to boutiques, stores and various bars, which keep the drinks flowing until the early hours, albeit with a more mature twist than nearby Long Street.

As an established marketer, prolific photographer, and passionate Capetonian, Emma Jude Jackson is well-placed to pick the best that Bree Street has to offer.

Although she lives to travel, she’s also an expert at looking at her hometown through her a discerning traveller’s lens – and anyone who’s going to spend some time on Bree Street should take her suggestions seriously.

1. 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
Courtesy of Clarkes

Another dining and general hangout institution in Cape Town is Clarke’s Bar & Dining Room. It’s a popular remote-working destination, but transforms as the day goes on to become an ideal casual dinner and drinks venue later in the evening. “Clarke’s is one of my favourite places in the city to work from and have breakfast with coffee in the morning,” says Jackson. “They also have a sensational burger which comes on their unique croissant-like burger bun. Must add fries!”

2. Chefs Warehouse

Restaurant, Contemporary, Tapas

The restaurant has a laid back atmosphere but the food is world class
Courtesy of Chef's Warehouse

High-end street food doesn’t get better than what’s available at Chefs Warehouse. And in spite of its impeccable food, usually ordered as a tapas feast for two, the celebrated restaurant still represents amazing value for money. “Going to any Liam Tomlin restaurant is a real treat and Chefs Warehouse on Bree Street is no exception,” says Jackson. “I love a food experience that involves trying many different dishes and not having to settle on one. It’s an experience as opposed to just being a meal.” Unlike many of the city’s top restaurants, Chefs Warehouse on Bree Street operates on a first-come, first-served basis, with the option to wait for a table in its new wine bar until one becomes available, making it a great last-minute culinary treat to consider.

3. Villa 47

Bistro, Restaurant, Mediterranean, Asian, Italian, European

Cheese and cold meat platters at Villa 47
© Courtesy of Villa 47
Cape Town isn’t short of Italian restaurants – and there are more than one on Bree Street alone. But for a modern take on Italian café-style food, Jackson recommends Villa 47. The restaurant is a three-floor establishment that celebrates both Italian and broader Mediterranean cuisine. “It’s also a good option for dinners with friends as the atmosphere, acoustics and decent service suit a group dynamic.

4. Skinny laMinx

Shop

Couch upholstered in Skinny laMinx fabric
Courtesy of Skinny laMinx
Boutiques on Bree Street have come and gone, but those that have stuck around are always worth a look. One that Jackson rates highly for its locally produced fabrics and decor accessories is Skinny laMinx. “It’s stood the test of time, and is another nice one for browsing or buying when walking down Bree,” she says.

5. Hank's Olde Irish

Bar, Restaurant, Pub Grub, Irish

When looking for a nightcap on Bree Street, in a truly unique setting, there’s only one destination to head for – Hank’s Olde Irish. It’s a dimly lit bar located in the bowels of an actual church, and its original stone walls, labyrinthine layout and wide selection of whiskies and other high-end liquors make it the perfect destination for a late-night drink. “Hank’s helped me develop my love for Japanese Whisky, thanks to their always faithful supply of Nikka!” says Jackson.

6. 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
I Love the Dough is a relatively new addition to the Bree Street culinary scene, but one that garnered almost immediate praise from those who have visited. “I’ve only been once, but the pizza was so good that it deserves to be on every Bree Street list!” says Jackson. Its popularity has turned it into equal parts eatery and party destination, which might be too much for some diners, but Jackson suggests getting there early if the focus is on the food. “The pizza is what the experience is all about and you can get out before all the cool kids arrive,” she says.

7. First Thursdays

Art Gallery

Bree Street has also established itself as one of the main gathering points for the popular monthly event of First Thursdays, but as Jackson points out, more for its bars and restaurants than its galleries. If you’re starting your First Thursday night on Bree Street, though, she recommends taking a short walk away to one of her top gallery picks.“My favourite gallery is SMITH Studio, just a few blocks down from Bree,” she says. There’s also Youngblood Africa, an arts and culture development programme that offers a platform for artists from all genres to showcase their work and become self-sustainable. The three-storey gallery regularly hosts music and theatre performances, art exhibitions and dance classes, from swing to tango – and it’s always thriving on First Thursday nights.

8. Burger & Lobster

Restaurant, South African, Seafood, Wine, Beer

Burger & Lobster offers just three main dishes — gourmet burgers, lobster rolls and whole lobster, fresh from the tank. With a limited menu, the restaurant owners are able to focus on excellence, and excellent food is exactly what you get at this rustic, New York-inspired restaurant. Recommended by Lee-Shay Collison.

9. Arcade

Bar, Pub, Cocktails, Beer, South African, Fast Food, Wine

Arcade
© Courtesy of Arcade Cafe
You’ll likely find a large crowd of Cape Town’s movers and shakers at this trendy Bree Street resto-bar. With a menu featuring burgers, prego rolls, and pizzas with names like McQueen and Pablo, and a bar with enticing cocktails and craft beers, it’s not hard to see why. Recommended by Lee-Shay Collison.

10. Youngblood Africa

Art Gallery

© Lee-Shay Collison
Youngblood Africa is an arts and culture development program that offers a platform for artists from all genres to showcase their work and become self-sustainable. The three-storey gallery regularly hosts music and theater performances, art exhibitions and dance classes, from swing to tango. Recommended by Lee-Shay Collison.

11. 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. Recommended by Leon Beckenham.

12. 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. Recommended by Leon Beckenham.

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