Cape Town’s Best Eats
Cape Town’s chefs have made their mark on the culinary map, elevating regional ingredients—seafood, braai, game—to showcase the best of South Africa’s "rainbow cuisine." Here, 10 hot restaurants worth signing the check for.
Chef Jacques Erasmus’ Hemelhuijs, near Bree Street, is a stunner—walls, painted a different color every year (midnight black, terracotta), are punctuated by shelves lined with black vases, while blue-and-white dishware make every plate Instagram-worthy. But the food is what will keep you coming back--locals swear by the breakfast (think poached farm eggs with buttery hollandaise and zesty artichoke, house-made potato rösti with salmon gravidlax, and open burgers with tomato relish and rocket). Pair whatever you order with their white hot chocolate or freshly squeezed fruit juices served in tall jars.
Don’t let its location inside the Taj Cape Town deter you—this hotel restaurant could very well stand on its own as one of the city's best Indian restaurants. It’s the second outpost of the London classic, but uses its own digs to full advantage, artfully combining the decadence of the old Reserve Bank building with flashes of contemporary design (turquoise chandeliers, intricately embroidered arm chairs). The tasting menu and à la carte options all come courtesy of Delhi-born chef Shyam Longani—and despite the hefty price tag, you won’t soon forget his saffron curry with Karoo lamb and tandoori crayfish tails.
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In the exclusive Camps Bay suburb, The Codfather is one of the first--and best--sushi restaurants in Cape Town. In lieu of menus, staff guide you according to preference and appetite (you’re charged by weight) as you choose from an impressive display on ice—or pick from the conveyor belt of rotating sushi platters) Grab a casual table by the open fireplace (lit during colder months) or head to the terrace to tuck into regional specialties like linefish, kabeljou, Mozambican langoustines, or Falkland’s calamari. Reservations are a must.
The Gonçalves brothers, behind one of Cape Town’s most celebrated restaurants, Pigalle, recently opened this throwback grillhouse in beachy Sea Point as an homage to their 30 years in the biz. Inside, it’s very 1970s South Africa (palm trees, Windsor chairs, a palette of lemon and teal, bespoke pattered wallpaper) but the food’s flavor combination are as innovative as it gets—chorizo and red wine shallot dressing oysters, wild mushroom linguine, peri-peri baby chicken. The views of Lion’s Head don’t hurt either, especially when knocking back a cocktail from the chic central bar.
The Shortmarket Club
The masterminds behind Cape Town’s crazy popular Pot Luck Club and Test Kitchen have done it again. The Shortmarket Club, which opened in June in a heritage building off buzzy Bree Street, is gearing up to be the hottest reservation ticket of 2017. Leather-topped tables, deco glass lampshades, and antique stained glass sliding doors imported from Argentina set the tone for head chef Wesley Randles’ perfected classics like Scotch eggs with truffle and kingklip with tamarind, prepared in the braai barbecue section of the open kitchen.
Belthazar Restaurant & Wine Bar
This V&A Waterfront steakhouse is often lauded as the best in South Africa, and you won’t go wrong with any of the premium cuts, be it Karoo lamb, grain- or grass-fed beef, or local game like kudu, ostrich, and crocodile—not to mention the wide selection of fresh Mozambican shellfish. Choose between seats inside the wharf warehouse (dressed up in brass and dark wood) or beneath romantic heat lamps on the outdoor terrace, which looks out over the bay and Table Mountain beyond. Having trouble navigating the 250+ glass or 600+ bottle menu? Your sommelier can help—though we recommend starting with a pinotage, South Africa’s signature glass.
Kloof Street House
Some might say dining at Kloof Street House is like stepping into a colonial fairytale. You first pass a courtyard à la The Secret Garden, littered with wrought-iron tables, wicker chairs, twinkling string lights, and an elaborate water fountain, before entering the charming Victorian house, where Chesterfield sofas, velvet settes, overstocked bookshelves, and candelabras set the mood for a cozy rendezvous for two. Come on a Sunday afternoon to see a jazz band play on the veranda, then chow down on Mediterranean-inspired dishes like pan-fried Halloumi cheese and Moroccan-spiced lamb.
On Saturday mornings, you'll find stylish Capetonians and in-the-know outsiders at Neighbourgoods Market, a collection of high-end food stalls in the suburb of Woodstock. Join them on a communal wooden table to people-watch and eat small bites like artisan breads, pastries, oysters, open-faced sandwiches, paella, and charcuterie. JS Tip: Check out the schedule of upcoming culinary events (past festivals have spotlighted coffee and beer).
The Test Kitchen
This buttoned-up classic beats out its more casual younger sibling Pot Luck Club by just a hair for its sophisticated, ambitious take on fine dining. Exposed brick walls and an open kitchen in an otherwise spare industrial room set the stage for Chef-owner Dale-Robert’s experimental tasting menu, famous for its surprising flavor combos like liquorice-cured Wagyu biltong, smoked seabass with frozen turnip and lime compressed apple, and chamomile ice cream. This may be the hardest reservation to come by in Cape Town, so book early.
The Pot Luck Club
Following the smash sensation that was The Test Kitchen, Luke Dale-Roberts opened this decidedly more laid-back (and decidedly more affordable) tapas joint just an elevator ride away, in the glass-and-steel, loft-like space on the Silo's top floor. Come for the mouthwatering, Asian-inspired renditions of springbok carpaccio, beef tatatki, and braaied (barbecued) banana risotto—and stay for those 360-degree Cape Town views.
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