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EEating out in Cape Town will quickly teach you why this city is known as one of the world’s culinary capitals. Sample the freshest seafood with views of the ocean, try township specialities and groove to the beat, or get introduced to Cape Malay cuisine and go back for more.
The city’s natural abundance of land and sea combined with cultural diversity ensures that there are menus to suit all palates and price ranges, and Cape Town offers wide variety of eateries – including those featuring ethnic cuisines from around the globe, plus a few choices you won’t find anywhere else in the world.
Cape Malay cuisine, for example, is the unique culinary inheritance of residents whose Malay, Javanese and Indonesian ancestors arrived as slaves in the 17th and 18th centuries. They have since created an intriguing sweet, aromatic and utterly South African food genre. Cape Malay people historically lived in the Bo-Kaap district, and it is still home to many of their most authentic restaurants.
Cape Town is also famed for its fine dining, so should you wish to celebrate in style and your budget allows, you will be spoilt for choice. You can savour molecular gastronomy at The Test Kitchen in Woodstock or gourmet French 5-course tasting menus at La Mouette in Sea Point, just for starters.
If you struggle to decide on a dining destination, simply wander along the restaurant strips of the CBD, Kloof Street, Gardens or the beachfront at Camps Bay.
TTravel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
The Test Kitchen
The Old Biscuit Mill, 375 Albert Road, Woodstock
Tel: +27 (0)21 447 2337
78 Regent Road, Sea Point
Tel: +27 (0)21 433 0856
How to get here
Domestic and international airlines fly in daily to Cape Town International Airport, and the city is easily accessible by car, bus or train from other parts of South Africa.
Best time to visit
Cape Town’s winter weather – cold, wet and windy – is at its least pleasant from June to August. From October to April, however, the city is usually blessed with blue skies and balmy days – just remember that peak season from December to February can get very crowded.
If you’re staying in the city centre, you can get around on foot. Alternatively, you can hire a metered taxi or Uber to get to your chosen restaurant, and there are also several municipal bus routes.
Around the area
There’s lots to experience in and around Cape Town. There are numerous restaurants both in the city centre (around Long and Loop Streets) and at the V&A Waterfront. If you like fresh fish, then try Hout Bay Harbour or Kalky’s in Kalk Bay.
Tours to do
If you’re a serious food-lover, then you must spend a day or two in Franschhoek, the food capital of South Africa. You can also dine at the various wine estates in the area.
What will it cost?
Restaurant prices range from a moderate R120 to R180 per person – for a decent 1 or 2 course meal – to R1 000 or R2 000 a head (and beyond, with gourmet wine pairings) at high-end restaurants, with plenty of excellent dining priced somewhere between those extremes. Note that seafood, especially crayfish, is generally quite expensive, so it is best to enquire about an exact price if you see ‘SQ’ on a menu.
Length of stay
You won’t do justice to all the attractions Cape Town has to offer in less than a week – stay for a fortnight, if you can.
What to pack
Elegant dining wear, if you plan to visit the city’s more upmarket restaurants.
Where to stay
The city is packed with visitor accommodation, from budget backpackers to 5-star hotels and everything in between. An interesting choice for B&B or guesthouse options is the old Malay area of Bo-Kaap.
What to eat
Seafood, Cape Malay cuisine (the 2 come together deliciously in the local pickled fish), and a global variety of ethnic foods, especially those from other African countries.
Local Cape Malay spices, if you’re self-catering, so you can experiment with curries.