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Photograph: Biesmiellah

The 11 best restaurants in Cape Town

South African meat feast? Or a 12-course tasting menu? Both? Here’s our pick of the best restaurants in Cape Town

Written by
Ashleigh Arnott
Rebecca Weber

Eating is one of the great joys of travel. Every new city is a fresh opportunity to devour delicious dishes of different origins, and Cape Town is a city that demands a position at the top table of culinary cities in the modern age. How could it not? Fresh, local ingredients dominate the menus and recipes, and South Africa’s cultural melting pot pours all of its influences into its meals. The best restaurants in Cape Town are a delight from start to finish, whether you’re picking up informal street eats or sitting down for some gourmet goodness. There are lots of great things to do here, and eating until you can eat no more is right up there. 

Best restaurants in Cape Town

What is it? Yes, we know, meat-based burgers are kinda over. Cape Town knows that too. That’s why this local stalwart has totally moved with the times – as well as a full page of vegan and veggie burger options in the menu (think black beans, pumpkin, butternut squash, soya, lentils and falafel), there are also dairy-free shakes. We like the chocolate and coconut. For a meat feast with a South African twist try the Big Bird, a 160g ostrich patty with homemade beetroot relish.

Why go? The restaurant that set the standard for Cape Town burgers. 

Price: Average

What is it? This homely, slightly out-of-town restaurant is so good at what it does that you might need a return visit because what it does is super-fresh fish and incredible steaks. And the portions are way too big to have both. The place is always buzzing but the staff will be happy to help you decide what to eat. You can thank them later.

Why go? An unbeatable protein hit served with zero pretences.

Price: Average


What is it? Far more affordable than its even showier forerunner La Colombe, and there’s an à la carte for those whose budget can’t stretch to the tasting menu.

Why go? Up in fancy pants suburb Constantia, this French-leaning restaurant is turning local and seasonal produce into fancy-pants dishes and doing a very fine job of it.

Price: Pricey

What is it? Beautiful Camps Bay is the city’s celeb hangout, but the Codfather has little of its district’s showy nature. Choose from a wide array of fish on the chilled counter or pick from the sushi belt. And make sure to bag a table near the windows to catch the sunset views. 

Why Go? The pun. But also the superlative seafood.

Price: Pricey 


What is it? Get a taste of Cape Malay cuisine at this Bo-Kaap restaurant with unassuming furnishings and keen prices. The extensive menu swerves from grilled cheese to "Biesmiellah spice pasta" (their quotes), but stick to the traditional chicken curry and maybe some samosas and you’ll be laughing.

Why go? Sample the best of the Bo-Kaap Muslim community’s cuisine.

Price: Bargain

Photograph: Donna Lewis

6. Chefs

What is it? An open-plan, minimalist (think haute cafeteria) lunch spot with three rotating daily options – including one that’s vegetarian – all cooked in a wood-fired oven.

Why go? Simplicity reigns, with fresh local ingredients the starting point for each meal. You’ll be reminiscing about these mouth-watering dishes long after you leave.

Price: Pricey


What is it? Celebrated for its authenticity as well as its cheery disposition, this dinky dim sum joint’s changing menu generally offers potstickers, wontons and bao plus a few heartier favourites such as spicy prawn laksa. Its Long Street location makes it ideal pre- (or post-) drinking food, but order plenty as the portions can be on the slight side.

Why go? Fresh, light dumplings that prove it’s not only red meat on the menu in this town.

Price: Average

What is it? Can’t function without your flat white? Got a craving that only kimchi can fix? The menu at Clarke’s could be straight outta Shoreditch or Williamsburg, but sometimes things are cliched because they’re great. Order the avo on toast and feel no shame.

Why go? Familiar, Insta-friendly dishes, with a dangly houseplant collection to match.

Price: Average


What is it? Round off your day of window shopping in Kalk Bay with fish and chips from Cape Town’s favourite fryers. Bring cash, but not much – the prices are small fry. You may have to queue but the people-watching opportunities are ample, and the fish here is well worth the wait.

Why go? A reminder that fish and chips can be good (or even better) outside the British Isles.

Price: Bargain

Africa Café
Photograph: Moheen Reeyad / Wikimedia Commons

10. Africa Café

What is it? Don’t expect to rub shoulders with the locals here – it’s strictly for tourists. But the family-style, pan-African ‘Communal Feast’ spread offers a winning array of dishes from across the continent.

Why go? Even the most well-travelled will be surprised (and delighted) by dishes like cassava flatbread, Tanzanian chicken sesame kebabs and Kenyan channa fish.

Price: Pricey


Temporarily closed

What is it? Capetonians are serious about brunch, and this chic café has all the croissants, muesli, muffins and eggs to prove it. Their menu also features a rare appearance from bunny chow, a Durban speciality that’s a must-eat if you enjoy curry and bread – because it’s curry served in bread.

Why go? Sometimes your caffeine obsession needs extra attention.

Price: Average

After more solid recommendations?

  • Things to do

There are few better places to saunter aimlessly – and get a thrill out of it – than Cape Town. A fascinating blend of African, European and Malay influences, this wonderful city has emerged over the past two decades not just as one of the world’s great capitals, but also as South Africa’s thriving, diverse, exhilarating heart.

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