Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   Africa & the Middle East (
-   -   Best Restaurants in Capetown? (

enlehman76 Jul 13th, 2008 06:39 PM

Best Restaurants in Capetown?
My husband and I, both 32 years old, are going to Capetown in three weeks for the first time. Any advice on the best restaurants there and why?

Also, we are going to be staying at the V&A Waterfront and will not have a car, when giving the name of the restaurant you recommend, please give the location as well.

Should I be making reservations in advance of our trip date for any of these restaurants? Thanks!

ca_vol Jul 13th, 2008 06:45 PM

We loved Societi Bistro so much that we ate there twice. We did that because all the other restaurants in the waterfront were not very good. A local referred us to Societi Bistro on trip

I heard they had a fire but are back up and running. It was in the waterfront but I don't know if their location changed. You could Google it.

Reservations a must for dinner in the high season.

kimac Jul 13th, 2008 10:48 PM

We also liked society bistro for a casual meal.
However for fine dining Aubergine had a great degustaion menu with matching wines and good service. Jardine also had innovative food.The showroom, again excellent food and service. Look on their websites for ideas.
Our best meal by far was just outside Cape town at Constantia uitsig winery at La Colombe resturant. The food here is superb.We are foodies and this place is amongst the best anywhere.
We reserved the day before or sometimes just phoned prior to going

Mohammed Jul 14th, 2008 12:00 AM

We were in Cape Town recently and really enjoyed the wining and dining. Great selection of places near waterfront. We enjoyed dining at San Marco's and The Greek Fisherman. You will find an information counter inside the V&A Shopping Center and they have an excellent free guide to restaurants and bars, suggest you to pick one up.

A short Taxi ride away is the famed Savoy Cabbage, but we were a bit dissapointed by this place because it serves mostly a wide variety of exotic game meats. If your ijto that kind of stuff it is worth going to. The day we went they did not have anything in chicken!

Mohammed Jul 14th, 2008 12:05 AM

Another pace we really really liked was Mariners Wharf at Hout Bay, however that is a bit of a ride away. Suggest you try to go there in the morning for a boat ride to seal island and follow it with a lesuirely lunch at Mariners Wharf restaurant (on the upper deck), fabulous sea food. Hout Bay is about 20 minutes drive by taxi. I had hired a private guide who took us in his car, waited for us and also brought us back, works out cheaper and much more relaxing. I you need a contact for the guide I will be happy to give you.

Selwyn_Davidowitz Jul 14th, 2008 03:40 AM


I hate the term "best restaurants" as visiting places of eating is such a personal choice where one mans meat could well be another mans posion, thus moving away from "the best" type categorising here are some interesting tips about Cape Town restaurants where I believe mainly locals hang out.

If you are looking for a fish restaurant my suggestions would be:

Willoughby's in the Waterfront is absolutely outstanding No pre-booking at this restaurant which is predominantly frequented by locals

Panama Jacks in the harbour is worth going to but I would not run too quickly to eat at this venue as there are much better in town when it comes to fish.

Baia in the Waterfront. (021 421 0935) Reasonable fish restaurant however on the expensive side (by local standards) and most certainly a touristy place.

The big hidden secret fish place in Cape Town is Tangos (021 712 6631) This is a venue that locals seem to have kept to themselves. You will hardly ever see tourists at this local family type fish venue. It is rather far out of the city center (25 minutes away in Kendall Road) but imho this is the very best fish restaurant in Cape Town. When you are in this restaurant you soon realize that fresh fish is being brought through the door minutes after being caught in the local Kalk Bay harbour. Furthermore if you want to find great varieties of local fish Tangos is the place to eat.

If you have a lunchtime restaurant opportunity may I suggest that you stop at Kalkies in the Kalk Bay harbour. Now here’s a real typical Cape Town experience to want to savor with fresh fish being served that was caught on the day in the Kalk Bay harbour. Furthermore you wont find tourists at this venue as it seems to be too down market from the outside so what you finds is that all the locals eat there because it is such a treasure. Try and experience this great culinary experience when in our city.

Btw when it comes to eating fish most establishments will serve you local fish in the form of Cob (Kabeljou), Kingklip (Local to Cape Town), Cape salmon, Yellowtail and if you are lucky stumpnose. When it comes to the shelled variety of fish you will be able
to find crayfish (smaller than American lobster but definitely more substance to the meat and sweeter), prawns (Shrimp in the USA) and maybe giant prawns (prawns in the USA). All in all when it comes to shelled fish I say again be forewarned against being ripped off and DONT think in Dollar terms when ordering, think in Rand terms relative to what you will have already learnt as far a local values are concerned. I am telling you all of the above so as to help you when it comes to eating fish in our city but also because amongst others a couple of restaurants have been found horrifically guilty with overcharging and ripping visitors off by some local newspapers in Cape Town

Spicy foods in Cape Town could land you up in many places:

Biesmiellah is a great Cape curry restaurant 021 423-0850

Wangthai is a Thai restaurant that serves very spicy foods. 021 439 6164

Zorinas Cafe (021 424 9301) at 172 Loop Street is a little hidden gem. It is actually a take-out venue with a little hidden restaurant behind it. No bookings, just arrive. Unquestionably the best samoosas and curry in town. Only open at lunchtimes and certainly worth the visit.

If you are looking for a high quality dining type restaurant take a look at 95 Keerom Street. (021 422 0765) I also like the Savoy Cabbage (021 424 2626). Uitkyk is a fine restaurant but oh my will you be ripped off when it comes to the final cost relative to similar meals that could be found in other restaurants in Cape Town. Hate to say this but I do not like Jardines or Societe Bistro as they just don’t fall into the type of restaurant food and atmosphere that I enjoy. I have also found that many visitors to Cape Town feel similarly about these two venues. The Showroom is good BUT pricey by local standards.

A relatively new restaurant in Cape Town is Geisha. The restaurant serves a predominantly Asian / Western fusion type of foods. The establishment is very hip and the cuisine is excellent however very expensive by Cape Town standards. Very much a place where the “to be seen crowd” go and proving to be very popular in this regard so bookings are essential.

There are two new places in Cape Town that I would highly recommend. The first place is called the Roundhouse. This establishment has only been going for 3 weeks although close onto 2 years of planning have gone into this venue. The service is very attentive while the food is different and amazing. Highly recommended new member the Cape Town restaurant society where from what I believe from the very passionate about food management much else is still to happen such as the opening of an open air bistro and a very special and different picnic terrain.

Salero is the second of the great new places I have found in my city. Thus is a fabulous tapas style restaurant in the Waterfront. Excellent value, wonderful service and a fantastic scenic setting VERY HIGHLY recommended.

Talking about the Waterfront I don’t believe this is the best place to eat in Cape Town with the exceptions being Willoughbys and Salero.

Make no error there are many other wonderful restaurants in Cape Town that are well worth visiting however the restaurants mentioned in the above list are the ones that locals tend to frequent and my advice always remains "when in Cape Town eat what Capetonians eat".

Enjoy our great city when you visit us.

Very proudly part of the wonderful ((r))nation of South Africa

ArthurSA Jul 14th, 2008 04:59 AM

Selwyn, I'm very pleased to hear about The Roundhouse. For me that was a very special place for a romantic sundowner dinner in I think the 70's?

Selwyn_Davidowitz Jul 14th, 2008 08:53 AM


Yes you are correct. The Roundhouse was a wonderful place for sundowners and now that there is a very progressive group in management they once again have wonderful ideas for sundowners and picnics which will be in action within two months. I also have to commend the management because they maintained all the historical factors that The Roundhouse holds ranging from the first owner right down to when Lord Charles Somerset used the building as a hunting lodge. The standards of all elements of quality are exceptional. The young management team found unemployed people at places like the cape Town station and taught them all the expertise they now have from scratch. Believe me their service now stands up to any service you can attain in the smartest restaurants in the world. It has taken months of hard work on everyone's part to attain this high standard. The restaurant is priced in the medium to high category however when it comes to value for money based on local trends, the restaurant comes out with a strong high mark.

When the bistro is opened in a couple of weeks time sundonmers are going to be a real treat with wonderful Camps Bay views shadowed by the 12 Apostles in the distance. Its going to be a real mindblow.

Very proudly part of the wonderful ((r))nation of South Africa

enlehman76 Jul 14th, 2008 05:18 PM

Hi All-
Thank you so much for your replies. I know it is hard to differentiate what we may think is a best restaurant vs someone else. My husband and I like trendy/hip places, but also want some great food as well. We do not have to eat only at the waterfront. We can take taxis to the other restaurants from our hotel (Table Bay Hotel). Quick question though---is it safe to just get a taxi at the restaurant back to the hotel? Thanks!

enlehman76 Jul 14th, 2008 05:20 PM

Was it really chaper to hire a guide to wait for you at the restaurant vs just taking a taxi to and from the hotel/restuarant? If so, who was your guide? Thanks!

Selwyn_Davidowitz Jul 14th, 2008 10:03 PM


Taxis in Cape Town are safe, well priced, efficient and very reliable. To travel from the Table Bay to restaurants. be they close or far, is a perfect form of travel for this purpose. There are always taxis available at the hotel and to return all you need to do is ask the restaurant to call a cab and they will oblige accordingly with the taxi arriving 5 miutes after the restaurants call.

Hope this helps.

Very proudly part of the wonderful ((r))nation of South Africa

Mohammed Jul 15th, 2008 12:31 AM

For the better part of two days of our stay in CT which covered the main touring of the region covering the full Peninsula circuit, Table Mountain, Stellenbosch and the Winelands plus an interactive township visit we had booked comprehensive full day tours with non other than Selwyn himself who is a fabulous private guide. Really he is much more than a typical tour guide. An engineer and former businessman himself I found Selwyn to be more like a walking and talking encyclopedia, a stimulating and vibrant person who was able to challenge me intellectually as well as keep my two children aged 13 and 11 quite entertained plus he was able to deftly juggle the tug of war between my wife’s shopping sprees and my obsessive passion for more sightseeing, views vistas, and African/Cape lore. Selwyn is a “foodie” and I would listen very carefully to his advice on CT’s hidden restaurants. He also effortlessly arranged for me to buy and ship some cases of fine wines back home. To put it in a nutshell Selwyn will show you the parts of CT that you will probably miss otherwise…. Selwyn’s email is [email protected]om and you would need to book his services several weeks in advance.

However, for the short time we spent going to Hout Bay we hired a driver by the name of Ernest who was also a licensed tour guide with his own private car. You could contact him by phone:- 074 17 17 074 or email:- [email protected] . We found Ernest to be very polite and helpful person and just felt much more relaxed and with this arrangement rather than using a regular metered taxi, and we also struck a fixed price deal which I felt was cheaper too. He picked us up from our apartment at Greenpoint (near the waterfront), took us to the jetty at Hout Bay where we parted and went off on our boat ride/Seal Island tour, and agreed with him to meet us near the Mariners Wharf restaurant, which is walking distance from the jetty, a couple of hours later. After the boat trip, and lunch we met up with Ernest again who was parked and waiting for us in the parking lot, and we drove up to Chapmans Peak which has some splendid vistas, after that we did a leisurely drive back to Cape Town stopping by a several nice shops etc along the way and finally ended up in Cape Town’s downtown area (I think it was Long St) where we did more shopping, finally dropped back to our apartment. We also used Ernest one morning to take us to Kirstenbosch where he waited for us for about 2 hours while we toured the gardens.

Another reliable metered Taxi service in the vicinity of the Waterfront is Marine Taxis, phone +27 21 434 0 434. To go to restaurants in CT and other impromptu short rides including restaurants for dinner etc we used this service.

Please do have a look at my trip photos at where you will see the Cape town shots from IMG 8865 onwards….

divine54 Jul 15th, 2008 09:05 AM

i like ONE WATERFRONT/cape grace and baia.
furthermore i also love mariner's wharf right by the sea in hout bay for a casual fishy lunch or dinner.


tripgirl Jul 15th, 2008 01:12 PM

You know Divine 54 that One Waterfront no longer has Bruce Robertson as the top chef; he moved on long ago to his fun place called the Showroom. How recent was your visit to One Waterfront?
We only had our breakfast in the restaurant space as we were guests of the Cape Grace.

Guests we met and made friends while staying at Cape Grace said they ate at One the night they arrived to Cape Grace and they said it was awful, they arrived late, tired and therefore had their meal there.

I do trust their taste as we compared notes for throughout the trip and they were dining in some very great places.

But I could be mistaken and the current One is good according to you.

divine54 Jul 15th, 2008 01:46 PM

we visited in oct. 2006 and i am very sad that it's niot as good as it used to be.
it's a shame as soon as the head chef leaves it might come down. the same with a manager at a camp who really might make a difference!

good to get your information. THX!

we might have booked there next time and you now have saved us a disappointment.

so rather drive out to LQF and m.h. dishes.

but you know what:
she was on leave when we were staying there in 2005 and we ordered her "signature dish" which was salmon on a salmon fritter bed. we knew that dish from several visits before. and we immediately realised she wasn't there - without knowing she was on leave at that time. but we realised the difference and were told she was vacationing. strong the impact can be


annhig Jul 15th, 2008 02:35 PM

hi enlehman,

how long will you be in CPT? it's a fabulous place to visit, and we really wished that we'd had longer than our 3 days there.

a couple of restaurants we really enjoyed were the Begian brasserie on the waterfront [they have wine suggestions to match the dishes, if you don't want the Belgian beer] and the two oceans at the cape itself - a long way from the normal tourist trap fare that we might get in the UK.

have a great trip,

regards, ann

safarichuck Jul 15th, 2008 07:30 PM

Thank you Selwyn,
Contributions such as yours make this forum a truely valuable resource.

ekscrunchy Jul 17th, 2008 04:39 AM

I have quite a bit of restaurant info in this report, from fall of 2007:;tid=35088021

ShellCat Jul 17th, 2008 06:48 AM

The bar at the Cape Grace-have a cocktail referred to as "Call a Cab" and the Kingslip fish and chips. Best in the world. Also, we enjoyed the African Cafe

enlehman76 Jul 26th, 2008 06:52 PM

Hi Mohammed--I looked at your pictures. You and your family look as if you had a great time. The pics are beautiful!

Selwyn-Thank you for your advice on the restaurants. I have some friends who frequent Capetown (from the USA) often who also gave me some advice.

My husband and I only have 4 nights to eat out for dinner in Capetown. We are going to be there Monday, August 4th through Friday, August 8th.

My friends recommended 95 Keerom, Haiku, Wakame, and Olympia Cafe when we are in Cape Point for lunch. They also recommended 12 Apostles for sundowners. The Savoy Cabbage was mentioned as being good for sundowners and/or dinner.

I have also read about Ginja---how is that?

Your newer restaurant suggestions are ones that they may not be familiar with----Geisha and Roundhouse---any thoughts on how to compare these to the ones mentioned above?

My husband and I are younger, both 32, and like trendy type places with great food. I also like the idea of getting sundowners at one place and then going to another for dinner so not to miss any restaurant.

From the pictures I have seen of Capetown, it looks as if there are many restaurants/bars that have beautiful views of the ocean. I would love to go to some of these places for sundowners before dinner. Any suggestions?

Also, we are going to be doing a day tour through the Winelands with a private guide. Any suggestions on the best wine farms to do tastings at? What about lunch----my friends mentioned Terroir, Reuben's, and La Quartier Francais.

Thank You!

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 05:23 AM.