Friendly Cape Town Tours

Restaurants

Friendly Cape Town Tours

Restaurants

With its diverse cultural and culinary influences and buzzing creative energy, Cape Town is a flourishing gourmet centre.

More and more people of all ages, especially the young and hip, are seeing it as a centre for lifestyle, food and wine, art and culture, and entertainment, and are making a beeline here for these reasons, instead of just seeing it as an extension to their safari holiday as was more typical a few years ago.

Settings for restaurants range from 18th Century vaults, to contemporary urban spaces, ocean and beaches, and vineyards in the mountains (in Constantia).

There are so many great restaurants that any list of recommendations risks being “random” in a way. But what’s not random about this one, is that it doesn’t include the award-winning fine dining restaurants and the latest hip hotspots; rather, it’s a list of some personal favourites which are high quality, mostly owner-run, local neighbourhood eateries, many of which have stood the test of time. The focus is on central Cape Town.

For those award winners, including in a variety of different categories (including bars), check out the links at the bottom of this page.

If you are booking tours with me, let me know what kind of food, setting and ambience you enjoy, and I’ll see if I can assist with recommendations and reservations. The best restaurants can get booked up several weeks or months in advance (though most of those are in the award-winning category), and in high season it can be tricky to find space in even the most ordinary restaurant in popular parts of town without a reservation.

If you’re a dedicated foodie, or looking for something quirky, let me know, and perhaps I can point you in the right direction for finding something special.

All descriptions are entirely my own. If you have any good (or any other) feedback to share, feel free to let me know!

Whoever you are and whatever you’re looking for, have fun, bon appetite, and if you’re bowled over, spread the word!

If you’re up for an authentic local experience in MAKING besides eating good food, click here to go to the “Cook Cape Malay” experience listed under Food & Wine!

Bring Your own Wine

BYOB = You can bring your own bottle of wine.
Perfect to enjoy something special you bought on a Winelands tour!

BYOB X = Sorry, you can’t bring your own bottle.

Downtown & City Bowl

Zanne’s Fare
A largely undiscovered gem in the downtown area, located in the light, bright, airy space of the beautiful Youngblood Gallery one block down from Heritage Square in Bree Street, Zanne’s Fare is owned and run hands on by its passionate owner Zanne who makes it feel like you’re visiting your favourite aunt or friend who happens to be a talented home cook!

For delicious, nourishing breakfasts, brunches & lunches, including some classic South African heritage fare like curries and bobotie, quiches, a scrumptious Harvest Table laden with beautiful salads and other vegetarian / vegan options all bursting with flavour, and equally scrumptious cakes and tarts to finish off or just enjoy with a tea or coffee!

Open Mon to Sun 7:30 am to 11 pm
The Honeybadger, 91 Loop Street (corner of Longmarket St)
071 – 790 1763
https://zannes-fare.business.site

Bouchon Bistro & Wine Bar
Cosy & atmospheric tapas bistro & wine bar forming part of the French-owned Dorrance inner city wine cellar in historic Heritage Square.

Open Mon to Sat 4 pm to 11 pm
95 Hout Street
021 – 422 0695
https://www.bouchon.co.za

BYOB X

BoKaap Deli
This cute, friendly local cafe mostly open for breakfast & lunch is in the heart of the BoKaap.

You’ll find some delicious pastries and other small treats on display in the counter, but there’s a lot more available on the menu. They serve contemporary food with a traditional Cape Malay flair, though not the Cape Malay classics for which other places are better known.

Open Sun to Thurs 8 am to 4:30 pm,
Fri & Sat 8 am to 10 pm
114 Church Street
064 – 518 4231

https://www.facebook.com/bokaapdeli

BoKaap Kombuis
The website says: “Yusuf And Nazli welcome you to “The Kombuis” (meaning kitchen), a restaurant serving traditional Cape Malay cuisine with a majestic view of Table Mountain and the beautiful Mother City” – And it’s true!

Hence best for lunch, especially as the décor isn’t as exciting as the daytime view.
Also please note that it is Halaal, so no alcohol is served or permitted.

To read more about Cape Malay cuisine, click here.

Open Tues to Thurs 12 noon to 10:30 pm,
Fri 2 pm to 10:30 pm, Sat 12 noon to 10:30 pm,
Sun 11:30 am to 4 pm
7 August Street (extension of Wale Street), BoKaap
021 – 422 5446
http://www.bokaapkombuis.co.za

Gigi Rooftop Restaurant & Bar at the Gorgeous George Hotel
Beautiful both inside and out, it’s worth trying to book on the 6th floor outdoor terrace if you can, more for the general set up than the views per se, but the whole combination is great – including the beautiful food and outstanding, friendly service!

Open Mon to Sun 7:30 am to 10:30 am,
Mon to Sun 12 noon till late
Level 6 Rooftop, Gorgeous George Hotel, 118 St George’s Mall
021 – 612 0999
https://www.gigirooftop.com

Plant
Vegan restaurant and café serving beautiful, healthy, delicious food with a conscience.

Open Mon 9 am to 5pm,
Tues to Sat 9 am to 10 pm
8 Buiten Street
021 – 422 2737
https://plantcafe.co.za

BYOB Corkage = R50

Sea Breeze Fish & Shell
Brings a contemporary take on traditional seafood to the heart of the Bree Street foodie zone, with a great vibe, surrounded by other restaurants & bars.

Celebrating our rich seafood heritage, the focus is on sourcing local, sustainable seafood presented creatively, with a light touch. Choose between dining indoors, out on the terrace or at the oyster & MCC (South African “Champagne”) bar.

Open Mon to Sat 12 noon to 9:30 pm
211 – 213 Bree Street
073 – 058 0164
https://www.seabreezecapetown.co.za

BYOB Corkage = R50

Nelson’s Eye Steak House
This local institution, which has been around since the early 60’s, is still as popular, and its food as excellent, as ever! Old school décor & vibes, and friendly, well informed service.

Open Sat to Tues 6 pm till late,
Wed to Fri 12 noon to 3pm,
Wed to Fri 6 pm till late
9 Hof Street, Gardens
021 – 423 2601
https://www.nelsons-eye.co.za


BYOB Corkage = R60 per bottle

If ordering from regular a la carte menu, R150 per bottle if ordering from specials menu.

Kloof Street

Moving up into bustling Kloof Street in the Gardens neighbourhood…

There are so many restaurants up here that it’s a great place if you haven’t made a booking, to just stroll and see what you can find … though you might prefer going DOWN the very steep hill rather than continue the uphill trend I’ve already started here!

The next few are all in Kloof Street:

Kloof Street House
Set in a large Victorian house with a collection of rooms bursting with character, and three fireplaces. A touch colonial, a touch Arabian nights, colourful, cosy & romantic. Also a leafy terrace out the front for summer. Come early to enoy a drink in one of the cosiest bars in town!

Also listed under Live Entertainment for Jazz on Sundays from 1 pm – 3 pm

Open Mon 12 noon till late,
Tues to Sun 10 am till late
30 Kloof Street, Gardens

021 – 423 4413

https://www.kloofstreethouse.co.za

BYOB X

Miller’s Thumb
This old favourite, serving quality fish and seafood in a friendly, unpretentious space in a colourful house, opened in 1995 and is run by cheerful owners Solly at the grill and Jane assisting at front of house and the tables.

One of the main features is that each evening, the various types of fish available can be ordered according to several different methods of preparation and seasoning, opening a wide array of options, and the staff are very good at recommending which methods best match which type of fish.

Open Mon 6:30 pm to 10 pm,
Tues to Fri 12:30 pm to 2pm,
Tues to Fri 6:30 pm to 10 pm,
Sat 6:30 pm to 10 pm
10B Kloof Nek Road, Tamboerskloof
(Accessible on foot from Kloof Street)
021 – 424 3838
https://www.millersthumb.co.za

BYOB Corkage = R40

Rick’s Cafe Americain
Situated on 3 levels of a charming 135 year old Victorian building with a variety of different spaces, inside & out, including a rooftop level with fabulous views, and cosy balconies on the middle & rooftop levels. Decorated in a style reminiscent of the 1942 movie classic “Casablanca” from where its name is derived, the theme extends to the food with several dishes featuring Meditteranean & Moroccan flavours, most notably the tagines, bursting with flavour. Vegeterians & vegans are well catered to. The bar has one of the biggest varieties of drinks & cocktails in the country.

Open Mon to Sun 11 am till late,
Kitchen closes at 10 pm.

103 Kloof Street, Gardens
021 – 822 1100 or 021 – 424 1100
https://rickscafe.co.za
BYOB X


Asoka
Sexy cocktail bar & lounge as much as restaurant, in fact a local favourite for cocktails, combined in a sensual interior complete with a central fireplace. The menu has shared plates with bold flavours but there’s also a 3-course Dinner Special – choose one out of 3 options for each course.

Chilled vibes with ambient/lounge music warming up as the evening progresses, and the kitchen is open till midnight.

Also listed under Live Entertainment for Jazz on Tuesdays from 8 pm

Open Mon to Sun 6 pm till late
68 Kloof Street, Gardens
021 – 422 0909

https://asoka.za.com

BYOB X

Black Sheep
Choose from a small set menu of comfort fare or the more adventurous blackboard specials which change daily at this laid-back eatery.

But take note: Once items are scratched off the blackboard, they’re done for the day! The intimate space features three dining levels, including an upstairs lounge area, the main floor, and a vibey street-side bar.

Sister venue The Dark Horse, across the road, is a funky bar with a rooftop level, and a perfect spot for pre-dinner drinks.

Open Mon 5 pm till late,
Tues to Sat 12 noon till late,
Last orders at 9:30 pm
104 Kloof Street, Gardens
021 – 426 2661

https://blacksheeprestaurant.co.za

BYOB IF it’s not on their wine list! Corkage = R70.

Cafe Paradiso
Cosy & casual Italian & Mediterranean inspired eatery in a large Victorian house with a front garden offering views of Table Mountain, this local institution is equally perfect for lunch or dinner.

Children and pets are not only welcome, they are specially invited. So much so that interactive kiddies’ “projects” are listed on the menu – they can go behind the scenes to make cupcakes, gingerbread men, pizzas or choc chip cookies, while Mom & Dad enjoy a glass of wine and place their food orders!

Open Mon to Sat 9 am to 10 pm,
Sun 10 am to 3 pm,
Public Holidays 10 am to 10 pm
110 Kloof St, Gardens

021 – 422 0403
https://www.cafeparadiso.co.za

BYOB Corkage = R50

V&A Waterfront

The heart of touristy Cape Town, dismissed by some for being too “commercial”, a large share of its patrons are actually locals, there for shopping, eating and drinking, going to the movies, or doing their grocery shopping and other daily chores.

Prices can be on the steep side – no surprises there – but you can’t beat it for convenience, the views across the harbour to Table Mountain are epic, and every place is open for lunch and dinner, 7 days a week.

General rule of thumb: BYOB X

Ocean Basket
Possibly the most unlikely recommendation for visitors from abroad, this ubiquitous and ever-popular local franchise, with branches throughout every South African town and city, offers the best value for money at the V&A Waterfront, for good quality seafood.

No fuss, no frills, no reservations, but everything else is there, including great quality seafood and views.

021 – 425 2596
https://oceanbasket.co.za

Karibu
Specialising in local and traditional South African dishes. Even in the heart of the most touristy part of town, you can enjoy an authentic sample not only of Cape Malay cuisine (Bobotie, Curries, Bredies, Denningvleis) but many other South African favourites (even for those not wanting anything too “exotic”) including a braai (BBQ) meal, various game / venison offerings, many other meat options, Potjiekos, Snoek Braai, Putu and Chakalaka, and Koeksisters!

021 – 421 7005 / 6
https://www.kariburestaurant.co.za

Den Anker
Belgian restaurant right on the water’s edge with views across the harbour to Table Mountain, and a roaring fireplace inside for chilly nights and winter.

Specialities range from generous pots of mussels and frites to other seafood favourites. South African specialities change weekly. To avert a riot by regulars, best-sellers remain constant. A variety of Belgian beers are available too.

021 – 419 0249
https://www.denanker.co.za

Willoughby & Co
Seafood, sushi and other Japanese dishes. So popular with the locals for its great food, that it doesn’t seem to matter that it’s located on the ground floor inside the Victoria Wharf shopping mall, with no view to the outside.

Try and get seating at a counter inside, where you feel more connected to the bustle of the open-plan kitchen. No reservations – you might have to stand in line at peak times in the evening, but the queue moves swiftly, and wine is served while you wait!

021 – 418 6115
https://www.willoughbyandco.co.za

Grand Café & Beach
Sexy venue with its own private beach, on the other side of the car park & breakwater behind the V&A Waterfront. Seafood & pizzas are the main focus. Chilled beach vibes, sometimes with DJ playing, best enjoyed on sunny days & warm evenings.

Mon to Sun 12 noon till late Granger Bay Road (off Beach Road), Granger Bay

021 – 425 0551

https://grandafrica.com/grand-africa-cafe-beach

De Waterkant

This picturesque old neighbourhood sweeping up the hill not far above the V&A Waterfront has a great deal of character with its charming pastel houses and steep narrow streets.

It also has an interesting mix of restaurants and shops including the Cape Quarter shopping precinct with a focus on craft, design, décor and fashion.

Utopia Dining Elevated
Taking swanky to new heights! You might expect that a restaurant here could get away with less than outstanding food and service given the setting and views, but they actually complement the excellent cuisine perfectly!

Enjoy the most panoramic views of the city and ocean from any restaurant in Cape Town, through huge windows, or from the outdoor terrace, weather permitting.

Open Mon to Sat 12:00 noon to 11 pm
15th Floor, Capital Mirage Hotel, 40 Chiappini Street, De Waterkant (between Strand & Waterkant Streets)
021 – 418 3065

https://www.utopiacapetown.co.za

BYOB X

Osteria Tarantino
The tiniest Italian restaurant in the city, seating just 40, whose owner Enrico Tarantino works hands-on running the business and working in the kitchen, assisted by his son as one of the waiting staff. Order from blackboards on the wall.

Open Mon to Sat 1 pm to 4 pm,
Mon to Sat 6 pm to 9 pm
125A Waterkant Street, De Waterkant
(across the road from Manhattan)
076 – 505 1771

https://www.facebook.com/OsteriaTarantino

BYOB Corkage = R55

The Piano Bar
A trendy New York-inspired music revue bar and eatery with modern Mediterranean tapas cuisine, in the heart of the cute De Waterkant village, with a wraparound terrace and views of the neighbourhood, Signal Hill and the bay.

The musical line-up is shown in advance on the website, with genres leaning towards jazz, soul and blues.

Open Tues to Sat 3 pm till late
47 Napier Street (corner of Jarvis), De Waterkant
021 – 007 5212
https://thepianobar.co.za

Riva Italian Fish Restaurant
Childhood friends Nicoló Rovarini & Federico Rocca grew up on the shores of Lake Maggiore in Italy.

Their resulting love of seafood is now the driving force behind this wonderful cosy spot serving seafood, Italian style, where you will find some classics and some unusual innovations.

Open Mon to Sat 6 pm to 10 pm
24/4 Napier Street, De Waterkant
(below Somerset Road)
021 – 418 0657
https://www.facebook.com/rivacapetown

BYOB Corkage = R50

Mouille Point

Lunch or dinner here can be combined with a stroll on the Mouille Point Promenade along the ocean-front which links the V&A Waterfront area with the Sea Point Promenade extending all the way to Bantry Bay, Clifton and Camp’s Bay.

One of Cape Town’s favourite outdoor spaces where locals enjoy walking, jogging, walking their dogs and watching the sunset.

Sotano
The Mediterranean-styled menu at this casual eatery is complemented by the light and breezy ocean-side setting and views of the Mouille Point Lighthouse and the Atlantic Ocean across the road, with the Green Point Park just behind the building. An awesome breakfast spot too!

Open Mon to Sun 7 am to 11 pm
121 Beach Road, Mouille Point
021 – 433 1757

https://www.sotano.co.za

BYOB X

Butcher Shop & Grill
A serious steak restaurant, sister to Joburg’s famous original Butcher Shop & Grill on Sandton Square, owned by a family who have owned and worked in butcheries and steak restaurants all their life.

You can walk up to the butchery counter to select your type, cut and size of meat if you prefer that to ordering from the menu! Also known for its excellent wine list. Across the road from the Mouille Point Lighthouse and the Atlantic Ocean, with the Green Park just behind the building.

Open Mon to Sun 11am to 11 pm
125 Beach Road, Mouille Point
021 – 434 0813

https://www.thebutchershop.co.za

BYOB X

Hussar Grill
Popular franchise steakhouse just around the corner from its more posh & pricey counterpart! Across the road from the Mouille Point promenade and the ocean, with an entrance to the Green Point Park just behind the building.

Open Mon to Sun 12 noon to 10 pm
163 Beach Road, Mouille Point
021 – 433 2081

https://www.hussargrill.co.za

BYOB No corkage fee!

Sea Point

Cape Town’s most densely built up seaside neighbourhood.

Most restaurants are on Main Road rather than Beach Road where the promenade runs along the ocean-front.

There are some gems among them, as well plenty of franchises and fast-food outlets, and a fair share of delightful (or not!) local dives in between, in this bustling cosmopolitan space.

La Boheme
A popular local neighbourhood bistro on bustling Main Road offering hearty meals & good wine, many available by the glass, and exceptional value for money.

Open Mon to Sat 12 noon to 10 pm
341 Main Road, Sea Point
021 – 434 8797

https://www.labohemebistro.co.za

BYOB X

Camps Bay

I’ve been reluctant, over the years, to recommend specific restaurants in Camp’s Bay, where I’ve always considered the beach and mountain views, and sunsets, to be the main feature.

With so many options, it’s usually easy enough to stroll along and find something that catches your eye, except in the craziness of high season (mid December to mid January)

I’m also not a fan of restaurants owned by corporate hospitality groups, as most of these are.

Having said that, here is one spot which has been here for years, offering something different.

The Codfather
Not typical in an area known for fashions that come and go, this seafood and sushi restaurant has been around since 1998 – that’s on par with a century old anywhere else!

It’s not across the road from the beach, it doesn’t have direct ocean views, and most interestingly, there are no menus. Instead, the staff will guide you through the extensive array of fresh seafood on display in the counter and help you to select an individual plate or platter for the table, and discuss the price.

Open Mon to Sun 12 noon till late
37 The Drive, Camps Bay
021 – 438 0782 / 3

https://www.codfather.co.za

BYOB Corkage = R50

Observatory

Reverie Social Table
And now for something completely different!

A table d’hote style eatery with a focus on social dining. Chef patron Julia Hattingh welcomes guests to her 18-seater table to enjoy a five-course meal exclusively created for them, accompanied by carefully selected wines. Guests are encouraged to engage with one another.

Chef Julia’s contemporary style is influenced by the chefs who have mentored her, her respect for the food she works with, her travels, and her home town of Cape Town with its myriad of cultures and culinary heritage.
Book and pay online.

Open Tues to Sat for dinner
226A Lower Main Road, Observatory
021 447 3219
https://www.reverie.capetown

BYOB X

Links

Best In Cape Town

30 Best New, including the Winelands & Hermanus, 2023. Includes far more local, quirky spots than the next 3 “best of” lists which focus on fine dining.
https://insideguide.co.za/cape-town/new-restaurants

20 Best, including the Winelands, 2023
https://insideguide.co.za/cape-town/best-restaurants

21 Best, 2023
https://www.timeout.com/cape-town/restaurants/best-restaurants-in-cape-town

Annual Eat Out Awards, National, 2023
https://www.eatout.co.za/article/winners-2023-eat-woolworths-restaurant-awards

22 Best restaurants AND BARS, 2023
https://www.theworlds50best.com/discovery/sitemap/south%20africa/cape%20town

18 Best, 2021
https://www.theroyalportfolio.com/blog/the-top-restaurants-in-cape-town

10 Best in the WInelands, 2021
https://www.theroyalportfolio.com/blog/the-top-10-restaurants-in-the-cape-winelands