30+ of The Best, Most Iconic Places to Eat And Drink in Cape Town
Updated: Sep 2
Photo by Sanju M Gurung
Make sure you don't leave before experiencing Cape Town's exciting food culture, influenced by every color of the Rainbow Nation. These are the best places to eat in Cape Town.
Food is an expression of everything we are. It's our grandmothers, it's our history, it's what we love, it's how we love, and unlike ourselves, nothing can be hidden in cooking. Cooking tells no lies. Food in South Africa is South Africa. It's skopo, it's samoosas, it's rotis, it's bobotie, it's gatsbys, it's a braai, it's biltong, and yes, it's even chicken feet and tripe. (If you leave before at least trying Cape Malay samoosas and bobotie, we can't be friends).
Cape Town is so much more than burgers and pasta, and yes, although those are on this list too, make sure you don't leave before experiencing Cape Town's exciting food culture, influenced by every color of the rainbow in this Rainbow Nation.
From someone who treats eating out like it's a hobby, these are my favorite places to eat in Cape Town, some of the best of the best restaurants, takeaways, desserts, coffee shops, wine, beer, and cocktails. These spots are reasons to visit in themselves.
Psst…Want more Cape Town, South Africa travel tips? Check out these other posts:
Guide to Visiting South Africa for the First Time
7 to 14 Days Itinerary for Cape Town
Read on for the best of eating out in Cape Town.
Or skip ahead to . . .
THE BEST RESTAURANTS AND TAKEAWAYS
the golden dish, gatesville
If you're coming to The Golden Dish, you're coming for a "gatsby." This "sandwich" is probably least deserving of the slam "sandwich" than any other. It would be better called Ubuntu because not only is it a food of the people, it's a food that makes Capetonians Capetonians, and they will defend it to the last. Don't wear your white clothes because you're ordering a long baguette stuffed with salty slap chips, crisp salad, fried egg, and polony, Cape Malay masala steak, or Vienna sausages.
jordan ways of cooking, langa
Okay, I might have a bias towards this place because I love Langa and believe in increasing tourism to the townships but hear me out. Jordan's is a whole vibe any day of the week with a live DJ, and parties at almost every table. The food is incredible. My partner and I love the Braai meat platter (Swoon!) loaded with beef chops, sausages, chicken wings, chakalaka, steamed bread, and fries. For R450, it's enough to feed both of us twice over.
KALKY'S, kalk bay
Looking for the best fish and chips in Cape Town? Stop looking! In Kalk Bay, Kalky’s is an institution. The sometimes-long queues are well worth the wait for the fish and chips they’ve been serving since the 1950's. At a price that hasn’t changed much with the ages, fish and chips will only cost you R75. Don’t forget to take cash, as they don’t take cards and the ATM inside often has a queue.
neighborgoods market, woodstock
This award-winning market features over 100 specialty traders every Saturday and now Sunday, creating a weekly space for farmers, bakers, growers, celebrated local chefs, and the like. The Neighborgoods Market is housed in an old sky-lit brick warehouse and courtyard in the Old Biscuit Mill in the industrial, Brooklyn-esque neighborhood of Woodstock. It’s as much a source of farm-fresh and organic foods as it is a hub of Cape Town’s trendiest, jazziest locals. Live music and the “it’s four-o-clock somewhere” mindset keeps this place vibing.
SUSHI BOX, (chain)
Sushi Box is a gourmet sushi restaurant serving fresh, innovative sushi all across Cape Town with branches in Newlands, Kloof Street, De Waterkant, Willowbridge Mall, and Constantia. My favorite of their locations is on Constantia Uitsig Wine Estate. Where else can you enjoy your crispy prawn rolls (tempura prawn and avo rolls topped with mayo, sweet chili, sesame seeds, and 7 spice) while you watch the sunset over Elephant's Eye Cave and Muizenberg Mountain?
JAMAICA ME CRAZY, woodstock
Jamaica Me Crazy may be a Caribbean place, but it’s not the sound of the islands full of the lull of palm trees swaying in the breeze that I love, it’s the pizza. You have to try this pizza. No, it’s not margherita, or grandma, or even mac and cheese. It’s BBQ chicken, mango slices, cream cheese, and red onion that will have you calling Aruba. My first trip to Cape Town, I ordered it twice in two days, and ate and loved all sixteen slices!
Willoughby and co, V&A waterfront
During my first trip to Cape Town, when I stopped to check out the menu at Willoughby and Co, a local told me, “This is the best seafood in Cape Town.” She was right to point me here. Not only is their seafood delicious, but there’s a wealth of oceanic options to choose from. What’s coming out of the kitchen the most? The Willoughby-only rice balls topped with prawn or salmon.
MOJO MARKEt, sea point
The Mojo Market features over 30 food vendors with everything from biltong to ramen to baklava. Every weeknight, they host live music at 7pm, as well as Saturday shows at 1pm, 6pm, and 8:30pm, and Sunday shows at 1pm and 7pm, making it the perfect place to hang out, grab a bite and pint any day of the week.
brass bell, kalk bay
One of the biggest reasons I love the Brass Bell is it's located right on the water above two tidal pools. While you're waiting for your food to arrive, you can take a quick dip just meters away from your table. I love their grilled fish and chips paired with a Rock Shandy or better yet, a Savannah, my favorite South African cider. There's no better way to refresh from the heat after a day of strolling and shopping in Kalk Bay.
Even if you’re a New Yorker, you’ll feel like you’re in Greenwich chowing down on the city’s best burger. If the Manhattan map on the wall or the Cosmopolitans don’t do it for you, the burgers will. Try one Hudsons' burgers with creamy avocado and onion relish.
mario's Italian restaurant, green point
Staying in Green Point? Mario’s Italian Restaurant is worth a visit, if only to see grandma throwing the pizzas or cutting pasta in the back kitchen. Mario’s is within walking distance from many Green Point stays. From the main road, stop in for a cup of coffee or one of their chocolatey cakes.
iron steak and bar, city centre
Iron Steak and Bar is one of my favorite new downtown discoveries. Not only are their steaks exceptional, but dining with them is an experience from start to finish. Beginning with when you sit down, you're treated to their delicious popcorn with Wagyu beef drippings. Whatever main you order will be a star even if it's not steak. I loved their Korean fried chicken burger. The best part? Anyone who orders a main leaves with a token for a sea-salt, caramel ice cream rolled in dark chocolate shavings, a perfect pairing. Enjoy it right then or bring your token back for a sweet fix.
the best dessertS
Many of the desserts in Cape Town are homages to Europe, love letters to Parisian macarons and Portuguese pasteis de nata, but those aren't the ones that thrill me. The ones that thrill me are the ones that are true to where they are from, who aren't ashamed of their food culture, and who want to share their love of home with the rest of the world. You'll find some of those here, as well as the Francophiles because they make damn good macarons, and where else can you try one of the world's best croissants?
Read on for the best of desserts in the Mother City.
TAPI TAPI, OBSERVATORY
Tapi Tapi tops this list for a reason. Their African-inspired flavors are ever-changing and ever-yummy. Tapi Tapi, created by Dr. Tapiwa Guzha from Zimbabwe, is true to and proud of where they come from. You’ll love their small batch ice cream thoughtfully created to celebrate the traditions and ingredients homegrown on the African continent. Pictured is a pilau masala-spiced puffed rice ice cream with burnt caramel celebrating East Africa.
A visit to Coco Safar is a visit to Paris with a sea breeze. Their croissants have been recognized as some of the best in the world by Food & Wine. Their "Black Croissant" is filled with maple cheesecake, dipped in caramel chocolate, and sprinkled with roasted pecan nuts. Get a luxury taste of the "Hermes of coffee, patisserie and café culture," before they expand to style capitals around the world, including New York, Paris, London, and Tokyo.
La belle, Constantia
La Belle would be top of the list of Francophiles. Visiting La Belle's sunny patio seating and lush Alpen Boutique Hotel lawns in the heart of Constantia, will make you feel like you didn't just take a flight to the bottom of Africa. Their dessert range includes lemon merengue, milktart, carrot drizzle cake, chocolate brownie square, scones, berry frangipane, salted caramel tart, and "la belle chocolate," chocolate fudge cake with chocolate ganache.
grumpy and runt,
Not only are Grumpy and Runt's donuts hand-rolled, hand-cut, and fried fresh each morning, but the flavors of their small batch donuts change every week. Each week, their "Flavor Drop" will keep you coming back to their sunny little courtyard in Gardens to try the latest from this female-run donut shop. Pictured is a lemon curd donut topped with a lemon biscuit.
honest chocolate, WALE STREET CBD
Between the bustling streets of Loop and Bree, sip your Coconut Dream dairy-free milkshake in a sunny courtyard (a standout from the original building), and think you’ve stumbled into summer in the Mediterranean. Don’t forget to pick up your Honest Chocolate truffles or “bunny chow,” banana bread with ice cream and chocolate ganache. All their cacao beans are sustainably sourced, and their chocolate is made by hand.
CHARLY'S BAKERY, DISTRIC SIX
Charly’s Bakery is one of the last colorfully painted buildings of District Six. Their playfully decorated cupcakes, sometimes with a unicorn horn, a whale tail, or a mermaid on top, will make you feel like a kid again.
Jason bakery, green point
You won't be ordering just once from Jason Bakery, not with their menu of fresh house-baked breads made with stone ground flour, pastries, and all-day breakfast. The sentiment "I love" is often overused, but there's no other way to describe how I feel for their croissants made with 100% pure butter over a three-day-long process. Try them almond, bacon (trust me!), or pain au chocolat. I once ordered every last pain au chocolat on a train from Fes to Casablanca, Morocco, in my best, laughably horrible French. For a sweet and savory breakfast at Jason's, think Spanish benedicts, bagels, brioche doughnuts, pasteis de nata, and blueberry cinnabun danish.
lexi's healthy eatery, (chain)
Sometimes you want something sweet but you want it to be sweet to you too. That's why I love Lexi's. The mostly-vegan, wholefood restaurant is my go-to stop to cure sugar cravings. Pictured is their flapjacks with coconut cream and vegan Notella (yum!). You can't go wrong ordering here, but my absolute fav is their salted-caramel smoothie made with bananas, dates, vanilla, and pink Himalayan salt.
Photo by Frederik Schweiger
the best COFFEE SHOPS
It’s hard to find a bad cup of coffee in Cape Town. Capetonians seem to care as much about their coffee as they do their surfing, their braais, and their rugby. You really can’t go wrong. But here's some coffee shops where you really can go right. These are the coolest and most unique coffee shops in Cape Town.
Read on for the best of filling your cup in the Mother City.
origin coffee roasting, de waterkant
Origin Coffee Roasting lies down a relaxing side street in the heart of Cape Town. Sit and watch the city go by while drinking their exceptional coffees roasted right in the city. Their seasonal espresso blends and 8-10 single origins change regularly, and their Barista Academy has trained over 3,000 of the finest baristas on the continent. Grab a seat at their Brew bar and try some alternative brew methods and new discoveries in the world of coffee.
truth coffee roasting, city centre
Coffee surrounded by steampunk décor in Africa's Mother City? No, you're not dreaming. The home of Truth Coffee Roasting is as eclectic as it is award winning. Their tagline is "Taste the Extraordinary," and with two wins from The Daily Telegraph for the world's best coffee shop, I can't disagree. Savor their five premium blends, two aptly named Black Honey and Resurrection, from their vintage Probat roaster, crafted to bring you the finest flavor of coffee possible.
siki's koffee kafe, khayelitsha and claremont
Siki's might be the coolest place to grab a cup of coffee. If you're lucky enough to visit their Khayelitsha location, you'll be warmly welcomed by their pro baristas, vintage coffee magazines, and stunning shots of Sikelela "Siki" Dibela on the walls. Siki had a passion to bring quality African coffee to Khayelitsha, and now Siki's is a one-name brand and a vibrant social hub in the community. They've even opened a shop in Claremont. Siki's roasts their beans, from Ethiopia, Kenya, and Burundi, right in the heart of Khayelitsha!
bootlegger coffee, (Chain)
Say what you will, but Bootleggers is a chain for a reason. I would have had a lot more Rand in my pocket if not for their Honey Nut Lattes. Any of their locations, whether it's Century City, Sea Point, or my favorite, Tokai, are fantastic places to work remotely with other Bootleggers locals. Their croissants and other pastries (banana bread, yum!) baked at Ou Meul are some of the best. Just try not to order an almond croissant more than once. Just try. Their fabulous selection of toasted artisanal bread topped with everything you could want from smashed avo to poached eggs to humus to salmon trout will keep you going all day long.
the archive, gardens
If you love cars or even if you know nothing about them (that's me!), The Archive is one of the coolest coffee shops you can visit in Cape Town. Feel like Tony Stark, as you sip a cappuccino while gazing out on their dazzling collection of Ferraris, Porsches, and superbikes. It just might be the sexiest place to grab a coffee ever.
THE BEST WINE, BEER, AND COCKTAILS
Some of the best wine in the world is homegrown right here in Cape Town, South Africa. From Stellenbosch to Franschhoek to Constantia, there are a bevy of beautiful wine farms to get your wine tasting on, walk through beautiful vineyards, or enjoy a meal at some of Cape Town's finest restaurants.
Whether you're looking for some of the best wine in the world or just the cheapest drinks for a night out on Long Street, Cape Town's got you covered.
Read on for the best of tipping your glass in Cape Town.
"Groot" means big in Afrikaans, and this estate is a big name in wine and dining. Groot Constantia is the oldest wine producing estate in the southern hemisphere. Dine at their beautiful Jonkershuis restaurant, looking out over the southern suburbs and their vineyard, first planted in 1685.
A tasting at Eagle’s Nest will only cost you about 5 USD, and if you’re hungry, try one of their bread platters with cheese, pickles, chutney, and cream cheese. Better yet, they're a stop on the City Sightseeing Red Bus.
beerhouse, long street
When I first visited Cape Town as a university student, Beerhouse was my favorite hangout on Long Street. They had one of the largest selections of international beers I’d ever seen, and the dance floor was almost always pumping thanks to a live DJ. Join international tourists in chilling out on the deck and watching the parade of partygoers stumble down Long Street, looking for lost phones and bags. You’ll never want to call it an early night here. Just make sure to keep your valuables close to you and don't come alone to Long Street. Need something to weight down your stomach? Devour some of the best fish and chips south of England.
the gin bar, wale street
The “secret” Gin Bar is one of South Africa's true speakeasys. Hidden behind the much-beloved Honest Chocolate Café and their Mediterranean courtyard, The Gin Bar comes alive at night. Inspired by the history and heritage of their building, medicinal gin, and Juniper (gin’s defining ingredient), “the gin bar offers elixirs, tinctures and potions to cure all manner of ills.”
cause | effect cocktail kitchen, V&A waterfront and camps bay
With their love of liquid nitrogen, you won't be sure whether your cocktail came from Cause | Effect's bar or a witch's cauldron. Cocktails at Cause Effect is as much about going out for drinks as it is about going out to be entertained. Imagine Wixworth gin, strawberry, orgeat, citrus, roasted pineapple, and wild dagga bitters in a unicorn mug with a cotton floss mane.