From hot new chefs and go-to favourites to hip tapas spots and ramen joints, the range of restaurants in Cape Town seem to grow year on year. To make it a little easier, here’s our guide of the best restaurants in the Mother City in every category.
This selection comprises all the Cape Town restaurants that made the cut for the 2018 Eat Out 500, the list of best restaurants in the country as rated and reviewed by our panel of critics for the 2018 edition of Eat Out magazine (on sale now). But we know the city is crammed with loads more more gems and mainstays that didn’t crack the nod. Please tell us about your favourites in the comments at the end!
4Roomed Ekasi Culture (Khayelitsha)
Former MasterChef South Africa contestant Abigail Mbalo is behind this unique restaurant. A starter of spiced lentil curry roll and smoked snoek is followed by a main course of slow-cooked mleqwa (‘run-away chicken’) served with creamy butternut mqa (pap) with truffle oil. For dessert, indulge in a slice of red-velvet cake with cream-cheese icing and a garnish of nasturtium.
Charango Grill & Bar (City Bowl)
The tapas-style dishes served here are perfect for shared eating. Dig into the likes of edamame and prawn tostadas with your drinks. Off the Peruvian charcoal grill, the churrasco lamb cutlets are cooked to perfection and served with baby potatoes, chimichurri and spring onions.
Clarke’s Bar & Dining Room (City Bowl)
This Cape Town haunt has an almost cult-like following and is deservedly revered for its burgers. For brunch, The Hash Eggs with cauliflower, Parmentier potatoes, poached eggs, asparagus and Hollandaise is a firm favourite.
El Burro (Green Point)
A fantastic bet for delicious Mexican food in the city. The classic ceviche is popular, spiked with lime, coriander, ginger and chilli, and served with crunchy corn chips. The build-your-own-tacos are highly recommended, with fillings like fried fish, pork and grilled chicken and lashings of sour cream, pickled red onions and guacamole. For dessert, churros are an absolute must.
El Burro Taqueria (Tamboerskloof)
This offshoot of the original El Burro has a concise menu loaded with Mexican flavours in small portions. Order several dishes and share the feast. Chunky guacamole and nacho chips bring the fiesta to the table. The steak quesadilla – free-range rib eye, roasted chilli salsa, queso fresco and fresh avocado – packs a punch. The fish taco is very popular.
Fuego (Sea Point) – 2017 Best Mexican Eatery
The short menu is Latin American in a broad sense – think ceviche, pico de gallo and chimichurri. The corn tacos are made on site. Try tasty pollo tacos with grilled chicken, pico de gallo and radishes. For dessert, aim for the glorious churros. They’re beautifully crisp on the outside, with a well of chocolate sauce inside.
Hudson’s – The Burger Joint (Gardens)
Seriously good hamburgers with all the trimmings have made this burger chain a benchmark. Burgers are made using free-range and grass-fed beef, brisket, free-range chicken, pulled pork and ostrich, with imaginative toppings. Do order sides of onion rings, sweet potato fries or coleslaw. Vegetarians are looked after.
Inside & You’re Out (IYO) (City Bowl)
Fun and full-of-flavour food. Choose between juicy beef, chicken, pulled pork
or mushroom patties, stuffed with a variety of cheeses, and served with trimmings like whisky barbecue dip, hoisin and miso, basil pesto and crème fraîche. Eating with your hands is a must. End on a quirky milkshake.
Jerry’s Burger Bar (Observatory)
Jerry’s Burger Bar serves bold burgers with a sinfully scrumptious twist. Take your pick from over 20 burgers, or opt for ribs, wings, tacos or dogs. The Sweet Baby Cheeses burger is divine: Dig into a perfectly cooked beef patty loaded with a trio of cheeses: cheddar, Swiss and a spicy cheese sauce, and all the trimmings.
Marrow (City Bowl)
A broth bar in the New York style, opened by the people from Honest Chocolate and the Secret Gin Bar. Choose your broth – clear, white, green or brown – in a cup or with toppings in a bowl. Trimmings might include neat slices of perfectly cooked venison, lentils, ribbons of courgette and cubes of apricot. If you’re feeling very hungry, bulk up your portion with sticky rice balls, soft-boiled eggs or chorizo.
Royale Eatery & Royale Kitchen (City Bowl) 2017 Savanna Best Burger Eatery
Royale Eatery was one of the pioneers of the gourmet burger trend and continues to deliver top-notch burgers. Alongside the Royale Classics there’s a range of inventive options: the Federale with chorizo, chilli and coriander is a long-running favourite. Vegetarians are also neatly taken care of.
1890 House Sushi and Grill (Observatory)
After so many years, 1890 still feels like home. Start with spring rolls or soup (miso, tom yum or wonton), but why not just dive straight into the sushi? It’s always excellent, with enough options to keep anyone happy. Spot what you like, laid out beautifully on colour-coded plates, and grab it straight away: veg rainbow rolls, prawn tempura Cali rolls, edamame, roses… Instead of dessert, just fill the gap with another plate of sushi.
Cheyne’s (Hout Bay)
Innovative and original dishes packed with umami. The menu is divided into sea, land, earth and happy endings. Pick a few dishes to share. Highlights include soft-shell crab, firecracker prawns, yellowtail ceviche, gochujang-spiced grilled lamb cutlets, crispy pork and quail’s eggs, beef sliders, and grilled chicken yakitori. The deep-fried milk with red-pepper caramel and ponzu gel is a textural delight. Finish off with yuzu cream catalana with candied orange and black sesame snap.
Kitima at The Kronendal (Hout Bay)
Start by sharing dumplings filled with minced prawns, bamboo shoots and water chestnuts, or the vegetable gau. The Kitima starter platter for two or chefs’ signature sashimi are also good options to get the meal rolling. For mains, the aromatic crispy duck served with pancakes is legendary, and Thai curries are packed with flavour. Inspired desserts include the likes of Valhrona chocolate fondant with miso-caramel ice cream. On offer is a range of set menus for R250–R485 for larger groups of 12 or more.
Nobu One & Only (V&A Waterfront)
Dinner is a lively and interactive experience. The menu is broken down into cold and warm, light and rich, old- and new-style, and the chef’s signature tasting menu. Share edamame beans and a few portions of new-style sashimi to start. A better eel California roll is impossible to find; umami-packed baby spinach salad with dried miso is an unexpected highlight; but the pièce de résistance has to be the much-hyped black cod den miso with its spectacularly pared-down presentation. Chocolate fiends are spoilt for choice with three chocolate desserts on offer. But it’s the chocolate bento box with a gooey lava fondant and a scoop of matcha ice cream that ends off the meal perfectly.
Authentic Asian fare. The large menu – predominantly Vietnamese – boasts a wide selection of dishes that extends to Japanese, Chinese and Thai foods. For starters, the duck spring rolls are magnificent. Mains are organised by beef, pork, vegetarian, poultry, seafood and rice and noodles. The famous ginger fish lives up to the hype: it’s fresh, fragrant and flavourful. The menu also stars fragrant soups, yellow, green and red curries.
SHIO (De Waterkant) – 2017 Best Asian Eatery
Named for the Japanese word for salt, this eatery delivers big savoury hits in big portions. The menu is divided into ocean, land, earth and sweet. Many appealing options include everything from poké and nori tuna tacos to yakitori chicken, crispy pork belly and firecracker prawns. Umami, the fifth taste, abounds in the duck-fat fries sprinkled with truffle salt and crushed nori. Beautifully cooked duck breast dumplings are a highlight.
South China Dim Sum Bar (City Bowl)
Situated in Long Street, this authentic restaurant is a taste of China in the heart of Cape Town. Everything is made to order and served hot and wonderfully fresh. Dumplings on offer include beef, lamb and chicken pot-stickers. For something a little more substantial, the slow-braised beef with jasmine rice is a delicious combination of succulent beef and sticky rice. Dessert options comprise home-made, seasonal ice creams, and individual chocolate truffles.
Three Wise Monkeys (Sea Point) – 2017 highly commended Asian eatery
There’s always a crowd of people here slurping ramen in rich, umami-laden broths. The beef brisket option has great depth of flavour and comes with a chicken-based broth, shoyu seasoning, miso, pickled cabbage, yaki corn, a five-minute marinated egg, spinach, leeks and wakame. Other choices include beef fillet – also delicious – chicken, duck and veg ramen. Finish with a chocolate-and-marshmallow s’more.
Tjing Tjing Torii (City Bowl)
Deliciously spicy kimchi pickle is a great accompaniment to all menu items. For crunchy, deep-fried nibbles, order the rice cubes with soy dressing. The bao buns are very popular; choose from sticky pork, shredded duck or deep-fried oyster.
The Foodbarn (Noordhoek)
The food is bold and rich, and portions generous. Starters include the likes of prawn fritters and beer-battered courgettes. The risotto is a bowl of decadence: rich and creamy, with a hearty umami punch from truffle jus and porcini. Onion shells add a lovely, sweet crunch. Other mains include duck à l’orange and Karoo lamb rack. Desserts are indulgent.
The Crazy Horse (City Bowl)
This Bree Street restaurant has changed ownership. The focus has shifted downstairs to a vibey pub atmosphere with live sport, live music for events, karaoke nights, and pub quiz nights. The menu now features jalapeño poppers, chicken wings, pork riblets, gourmet burgers, prego rolls and Philly cheese steak sandwiches and a host of salads. Upstairs in the cocktail emporium lounge expect more comfortable dining, DJ’s, ladies nights and cocktails.
The Granary Café (V&A Waterfront)
The Granary Café, located on the sixth floor of the spectacular Silo hotel, has a compact, classic menu with modern flair. Start with duck-liver parfait, prawn cocktail or tomato tart. Steak with Béarnaise sauce and chips is sure to please meat-eaters. Desserts are simple, comforting and well presented.
Kloof Street House (Gardens)
If you’re the sharing type, there are meze platters for vegetarians and carnivores alike. Starters like the roasted chilli and garlic prawns or gorgonzola and wild mushroom arancini with aioli are well executed. Mains are classic dishes with a twist: enjoy the slow-roasted lamb shoulder served with flatbread, roasted brinjal, tahini and sumac or grilled salmon with Béarnaise sauce. The Valrhona dark chocolate fondant with black cherry ice cream and cherry meringue is a chocolate lover’s dream.
La Boheme Wine Bar & Bistro (Sea Point)
The menu changes daily, but you’ll find light tapas items to kick things off, or bigger appetisers like risotto or pink prawns. The seared tuna in soya broth (with julienne vegetables and egg noodles) is jam-packed with umami-rich flavour. On the mains side, the pan-fried calamari and chorizo are well prepared and flavourful. Pulled lamb gnocchi is cloud-like and comes with a rich sauce of tomatoes, peas and artichokes.
La Tête (City Bowl) – nominee for the 2017 Top 10
The ever-changing menu by Giles Edwards is short and sweet with simply named dishes – ‘brains on toast’ needs no explanation. Just point to something and trust in the magic. If the nose-to-tail philosophy doesn’t appeal, you have plenty of options, from roasted baby quail to octopus to the famous eggy-mayo fish sandwich. The grilled green beans with Karoo cheese might be your salad of the season, if not year: simple, exquisitely dressed, tangy, textured. Utter perfection. End on warm madeleines or the floating island (or both).
Manna Epicure (Gardens)
This little café serves well-made breakfasts and bistro classics. Perfectly poached eggs are coated in glossy Hollandaise; neat crescents of avocado await smashing onto coconut bread, alongside little twirls of smoked salmon. For lunch or dinner, the spare ribs, served with fat, golden onion rings, are excellent, or opt for panko-crumbed calamari. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, the carrot cake is wonderfully moist.
Mink & Trout (City Bowl)
Each dish is beautifully crafted and presented on the most exquisite crockery. The chicken pie is the signature dish: flaky, buttery pastry encases a chunky chicken centre, which rests on top of a creamy truffle sauce. Accompanying side dishes such as triple-cooked chips and potatoes roasted in duck fat are a perfect addition to any of the dishes on offer. Dessert choices include chocolate torte and light-as-air panna cotta.
Open Door (Constantia)
Classic technique puts a gastronomic spin on a modern country menu focused on seasonality. Start with saffron-poached pear salad with toasted walnuts and gorgonzola, or West Coast mussels in prosciutto broth. The mains are meaty: think signature rib eye with chimichurri sauce or Chalmar beef sirloin with café de Paris butter. Vegetarians should opt for a trio of cauliflower, an arty composition of tastes and texture. Leave space for a classic desserts like Eton mess.
Reverie Social Table (Observatory)
Chef Julia Hattingh’s 18-seater restaurant serves a chef’s choice dinner where she displays her skills through intensely flavourful dishes. She draws heavily on local flavours: aged rib-eye steak, served with pap, chakalaka sauce and a boerewors crumble; angelfish with mussels and nasturtiums; or smoked impala with sweetcorn mash and plums. Dishes are paired with selected wines from boutique wineries.
The Stack (Gardens) – 2017 Best Bistro
The à la carte menu offers a range of consistently delicious French bistro fare. Start with silky French onion soup, gratinéed with gruyère croutons. The steak frites is a classic, the sirloin perfectly cooked, and the duck à l’orange is pull-apart tender. For the hungry, the Karoo lamb rump is the answer, with mushrooms, veal sweetbreads and celeriac purée. Dive into crème brûlée served with macerated berries with a hint of black pepper for a sweet ending.
Tiger’s Milk (Muizenberg)
The menu is dude-food centric, with starters like tempura prawns and bacon-and-jalapeño croquettes, ideal for sharing. The grill menu features prime cut steaks, barbecue pork ribs and half chicken peri-peri. Crispy pizzas are made in a wood-fired oven, and there’s a variety of burgers. The desserts are hearty and decadent, including the likes of New-York-style baked cheesecake, Jack Daniel’s chocolate mousse with ice cream and pecan nut pie.
The Company’s Garden Restaurant (City Bowl)
The lunch menu is straightforward and offers something for every taste. Celebrate local heritage with the likes of the bobotie roti, butter chicken curry or try the Cape Malay platter with beef samoosas, dhaaltjies and spicy vegetarian spring rolls. Good old fish and chips, a burger, and a chicken-and-mushroom pot pie hit the spot. End with a slice of home-made cake.
Culture Club Cheese (City Bowl)
For breakfast there are decadent options like three-cheese omelettes and eggs rancheros. Later on in the day the likes of bourbon-glazed pork belly, pan-seared tuna with lemon beurre blanc, and the best grilled cheese of your year vie for attention. For dinner, the tapas fare is generously flavoured, most featuring cheese. Either way, a cheese platter is a must.
The Creamery Café (Newlands)
While the star of the show is the ice cream, this dessert parlour also makes a mean Belgian waffle and a brûléed banana sundae. The Creamery is known for its hand-made ice cream made using sustainable ingredients – try the salted caramel or seasonal zingy lime chocolate chip or apple crumble. Sip on well-made coffee by Rosetta to round off the experience.
Four & Twenty Café & Pantry (Wynberg)
This cheerful local favourite offers creative dishes. Breakfast is served all day: try apple, bacon and pecan streusel flapjacks or porcini, poached egg and brie on brioche. For lunch, choose between mouthwatering sandwiches, inventive salads and mains like the Bangkok burger or fragrant fish cakes.
Giulio’s (City Bowl)
Start the day with Nonna’s eggs – a heavenly parmesan scramble on a croissant with cherry tomatoes and bacon. Come lunch, the pizzas, baked in the wood-fired oven and inspired by owner Giulio Loreggian’s mother, who hails from Naples, are a sure bet. Or try the comforting pastas, delicious meatballs, when available, generously portioned wraps, or a good Caprese salad.
Honest Chocolate Café (City Bowl)
Honest Chocolate, the brand of sugar-free, dairy-free, ethically sourced and raw chocolate, has a cool café to celebrate the bean. Enjoy baked chocolate treats, from brownies to decadent banana-bread ‘bunny chow’, tarts, cookies, bon-bons and dairy-free shakes. You won’t find any savouries here – it’s a before-, after- or between-meals niche café. Vegans and vegetarians will be charmed.
Jarryds Espresso Bar + Eatery (Sea Point)
The menu offers a sense of simplicity, with the sourcing of the best local and seasonal produce available. Breakfasts include coconut granola and a blackberry smoothie bowl, or build your own omelette. The French toast (served with white chocolate, cornflake crunch, lemon purée, winter berries and butterscotch) is simply divine. For lunch, the espresso brisket roll with horseradish cream is the business.
Jason Bakery (City Bowl)
Even if the famed bacon croissants don’t sink your sub, Jason Bakery is still a must-visit spot on the culinary street of Bree. Owner Jason Lilley is deeply passionate about baking and offers a wide variety of savoury and sweet treats. For brekkie, try the challah French toast with roast apple and mascarpone vanilla crème; for lunch the Killer Grilled Cheese with cheddar and boerenkaas is toastie heaven! The Cuban with pulled pork, emmenthaler, hickory ham and gherkins is perfect.
Kirstenbosch Tea Garden (Newlands)
This stalwart daytime spot serves all-day breakfasts, sandwiches, salads and burgers, as well as heartier mains such as fish and chips, bobotie and traditional Cape pickled fish. There are allergen-free options on the menu such as the gluten-free muffins, dairy-free tarts, and also some vegan options. For dessert, choose from the baked goods on display or from the menu. The Belgian waffles are light and crispy and served with ice cream or freshly whipped cream and chocolate and fudge sauce, fresh berry sauce, simple syrup or honey.
The Kitchen (Woodstock)
With her much-loved diner Karen Dudley has made the work lunch exciting. Go for the famous ‘love’ sandwiches or choose from the myriad healthy and delicious salads on display. Think roasted butternut with tahini and red onion, cauliflower with chilli, or buckwheat with parsley and cucumber. Proteins like honey-roasted pork bangers or chicken breast in ratatouille are full of flavour. Dishes are simple but stellar; the fresh ingredients really shine.
Kleinsky’s Delicatessen (Sea Point)
This tiny New-York-style deli is perpetually packed. Join them, preferably with a latke Benedict, for which poached eggs rest on pulled pastrami and crispy potato latkes. The delicious house pastrami also appears in the hash with eggs. For lunch, bagels are the way to go – try a Reuben with pastrami, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Russian dressing. Or have the chicken-and-matzo-ball soup.
The Lighthouse Café (Simon’s Town)
The menu is large and all bases are covered with a selection of pastas, seafood, burgers, salads and crispy-based pizzas with generous toppings. Meat lovers won’t be disappointed with these fillet and rump steaks, served with a selection of sauces. The carrot cake is not to be missed.
Lily’s (Mouille Point)
It’s café classics with a healthy twist at this pretty spot. The Alotta almond overnight oats delivers on its nutty promise. Come lunch and dinner, there’s a mix of healthy and less healthy options. Vegan coconut curry and grilled hake with cauliflower couscous both work well, or dig into a serious mac and cheese, burgers on brioche buns; or fried chicken with spicy aioli. Finish with an inventive pudding: skillet apple crisp or molten lava cake.
Loading Bay (De Waterkant)
The perfect spot for your morning fuel or a quick lunch bite. The menu is small, but offers enough to suit all tastes. The beef burger is highly recommended, with a charred patty and generous amount of cheese and jalapeños for some bite. Try the dish of slow-cooked short rib served on sourdough – it’s pull-apart tender and packed with flavour, topped with a perfect poached egg.
Olympia Café and Deli (Kalk Bay)
While this is basically a bakery, with great breads, pastries and cakes, it is also the home of down-to-earth food, often influenced by the sea. The menu itself is in a constant state of flux, but things to expect are fabulous mussels in a rich and creamy garlic-and-wine sauce, heavenly cold gazpacho, a hearty steak roll Portuguese style, and a mango, feta and pecan salad. Check out the blackboard for daily specials. Breakfast time is the holy hour here with superb croissants with various fillings, frittatas, and fantastic coffee.
Scheckter’s Raw Gourmet Health Food (Sea Point)
Scheckter’s is among the few spots in Cape Town where vegans, health nuts and foodies alike can find fare worthy of raving about. Sweet or savoury, the 100% vegan menu offers scrumptious items, from the raw organic cacao and activated mesquite granola jar, to the aptly named BVB (Best Vegan Burger), accompanied by smashed avocado, caramelised onions and a side of moreish sweet potato fries.
SMAK (City bowl)
The seasonal menu changes regularly and the daily special speaks to the fast-moving, fast-changing tastes of the restaurant’s Bree Street location. The breakfast menu features seven hearty selections: from the bangers and beans to the super bowl – a vegan dish with desiccated coconut, nuts, seeds and goji berries. The all-day menu is tempting, but few things speak to the heart like fresh, home-made pasta. The spicy meatballs in arrabiatta sauce are hearty. For dessert, order from Smak’s bakery and patisserie.
Solo (City Bowl)
An appealing mix of easy eats and some bistro classics made with care. In winter, the soup of the week is always interesting, paired with a cheese toastie in complementary flavours. Think blue cheese and broccoli with a tomato, ricotta and prosciutto sarmie, or chilli corn soup with southern fried chicken sarmie. The gnocchi (with pesto, ragù or cheese sauce) has deserving fans, and the burgers are served with some of the crunchiest sweet potato fries in town.
Starlings Café (Claremont)
A great spot for a laid-back lunch or breakfast. Simple, fresh and quality ingredients are key. Tuck into a brinjal bake – loaded with parmesan, tomatoes and crème fraîche. The selection of open sandwiches includes chicken with spicy harissa, balanced by a date dressing, and the lunch menu boasts a number of wraps and scrumptious salads – including a lentil salad starring avocado, caramelised onions, chevin and slow-roasted tomatoes. For breakfast, eggs are cooked to perfection.
Truth Coffee Roasting HQ (City Bowl)
There’s more to Truth than its coffee. A fairly extensive menu has you covered from early snacking to hearty lunches. Early on in the day, choose between the likes of shakshuka or avo on toast. For lunch, the classic Holy Mayo is a not your average chicken mayonnaise sarmie, and the wild-mushroom gnocchi is superb. There’s also steak tartare and burgers.
tashas Waterfront (V&A Waterfront)
Café classics are the strong suit here, and the extensive menu includes tapas and sandwiches, as well as heartier fare. Start your day with the vegetarian royale, poached eggs on asparagus or spinach with a lemony sauce. The harissa lamb sandwich features pulled roast lamb with harissa paste, hummus and roasted brinjal.
Aubergine Restaurant (Gardens)
Expect classic cuisine prepared by a master with a long-standing reputation. German-born Harald Bresselschmidt uses local truffles, sustainable fish and game meats in east-meets-west gastronomic fare. Expect dishes like hake with fresh turmeric and coriander; rabbit with liver and a tangy cherry guava sauce; ostrich fillet and sweetbreads; and a dessert called ‘a dialogue of rhubarb’.
Azure Restaurant (Camps Bay)
This fine-dining restaurant offers a diverse menu with themed tasting menus (including vegan and vegetarian). Smoked snoek is reinvented with the addition of a 75°C hen’s egg; the slow-cooked lamb shoulder with lamb shank tortellini is perfect meat-lover’s main. End the meal with key-lime pie.
This landmark restaurant rests on the reputation of Edgar Osojnik, the Austrian chef at the helm. Menus change frequently to showcase seasonal produce and South African meats, venison and fish. The menu is divided into the earthy flavours of ‘rustic affairs’ (say, pork belly with all the trimmings) and more complex compositions called ‘indulge’ (beef in bone-marrow crust with truffle potato). Springbok in port wine sauce and entrecôte in café de Paris butter are signatures. Vegetarians will find the Mediterranean antipasti platter big enough for two to share. Leave room for the chocolate dessert.
Chef Archie Maclean has a flair for using fresh ingredients imaginatively. For lunch, the prawn-and-smoked-salmon ravioli with a delicious dill crème sauce takes first prize. The pan-fried line fish is a knockout, served with smoked-paprika potato purée, as is the slow-roast pork belly with blue-cheese jus. The chocolate fondant with vanilla bavarois and white chocolate sorbet is an irresistible way to end.
Chefs Table at Belmond Mount Nelson (Gardens)
Quite the unique experience. Delve into a seasonal menu (with appealing items like a gourmet prawn-and-coconut curry and some boundary-pushing attempts) while seated at the back of the kitchen, with a view of the chefs at work. Arrive early and head to the Planet Bar before dinner for a great cocktail and some celeb spotting.
The Conservatory (Constantia)
A compact menu ticks a variety of boxes, from moreish burgers with all the trimmings to classic Caesar salads and the soufflé of aged Boland cheese. The grilled rib eye is packed with flavour thanks to a topping of bone marrow and forest mushrooms; there’s an Asian bent to the miso-glazed grilled tuna; and tourists will enjoy the modern bobotie.
De Grendel Restaurant (Panorama)
From the Delft-blue Mervyn Gers underplates bearing the Graaff family crest, to the delicate flourishes on every plate, nothing misses the keen eye of head chef Ian Bergh. There’s true authenticity in technique and ingredients. A starter of salmon, purple carrot and maple crème fraîche is unforgettable, matched only by pork fillet with apple and cider notes.
Homespun (Table View)
Expect rustic fine dining with a fusion twist. Try the delicately flavoured prawn dumplings or baked camembert with candied baby apples, roasted walnuts and a rooibos-and-cinnamon cremeux. The succulent lamb belly with pesto mash and bone-marrow chutney, and tempura duck with chipotle aioli, mushrooms and coriander foam are sublime. End on gooey Valrhona blonde fondant with fruit jellies and Valrhona dark chocolate gelato – a must.
Greenhouse at The Cellars-Hohenort (Constantia) – 2017 Top 10
Chef Peter Tempelhoff is quietly and elegantly producing pitch-perfect plates. The amuse-bouches impress: a seaweed daaltjie with smoked snoek dip, and Cape Malay pickled fish and Hermanus abalone with egg custard and sake. These are followed by the mushroom, sherry and chocolate King Cone and The Butcher Bird’s Pantry, a tribute to the fiscal shrike’s habit of impaling tasty tidbits on thorns to be savoured later. That might be followed by braaied gamefish with kelp salad and tempura dune spinach, pesto and sesame; Outeniqua springbok with boontjie salad, Niçoise vinaigrette, miso and bonito; and Szechuan barbecue Boran beef with wood fungus and turnip. Dessert comes in the form of chamomile sherbet, dehydrated yoghurt and clotted cream and a plate of deconstructed chocolate, blueberry and coffee.
La Colombe (Constantia) – 2017 Top 10
Chef Scot Kirton and his team are pulling out all the stops to wow diners with theatrical touches, but flavour remains top of the list of priorities. From picking a sphere of apple on arrival to a message that says ‘Food is our theatre. We hope you enjoy the show’, revealed beneath morsels of king crab and dollops of yuzu gel, the drama unfolds. The springbok dish is a triumph: rich flavours of miso and chestnut blend with the sweetness of orange and the most succulent morsels of springbok. The sweet option brings together subtle flavours of rose, strawberry, white chocolate and geranium.
La Mouette (Sea Point) – 2017 nominee for the Top 10
Settle in at a table in the courtyard or next to a fireplace and opt for the five-course set menu. Kick off with the likes of caramelised onion soup – a riff on the traditional French dish with a cheesy croquette (chef Henry Vigar’s speciality). Next up is a tomato jelly with roasted baby beetroot and crunchy puffed quinoa, then a tartiflette with crisp ham hock, charred Dalewood Superlatif cheese and artichoke truffle purée. For the next three courses, choose between the likes of rich lamb neck with black garlic paste and buffalo milk yoghurt, an earthy mushroom dish with hazelnut pasta and café au lait sauce, or beef fillet with smoked bordelaise (an umami bomb). For dessert, the melting ‘Ferrero Rocher’ is a gift for chocoholics, while the lemon meringue ends things on a fresh note.
Planet Restaurant (Gardens)
Chef Rudi Liebenberg has curated a safe menu that considers every palate with a classic approach. A starter of roast chicken tortellini with mushroom is al dente and delicious. Beef Wellington for two is a showstopper: the balance of a crisp exterior and pink beef is perfect; carved at the table and served with roast potatoes and Béarnaise. For dessert, the chocolate fondue will make you feel like a kid again.
Savoy Cabbage (City Bowl)
This is an institution, serving classic flavours with fine-dining charm. The menu is ever-changing with fresh and seasonal ingredients as the core focus. Try the famed tomato tart or the decadent twice-baked cheese soufflé with paprika oil. Artisanal craft is displayed in the perfectly creamy house-made labneh and house-smoked Norwegian salmon. The pan-fried veal sweetbreads is a rich dish. Opt for classics like cassoulet or Oak Valley farm beef sirloin. Home-made sorbets, ice creams or a cheese platter are perfect to finish a meal.
The Test Kitchen by luke (Woodstock) – 2017 Top 10
Dining here should be intimidating, but it feels like the easiest thing in the world, and that’s what makes The Test Kitchen the best. The ‘dark’ room delights with a culinary journey from Peru to Japan and back down to SA. Think ceviche with stinging-nettle granita; slivers of Wagyu speared by a cinnamon stick; and tandoori quail on a poppadom-like crisp. A knock at the brass portal admits you into the ‘light’ room, where the magic continues. Start with a sweet seared scallop before a tray of mushrooms steals the show, their pearly folds, ripples and gills on display. Good luck choosing between seared beef sweetbreads with porcini Hollandaise and pork belly with smoked chestnut and orange dashi. The pre-dessert is a standout, with berry caviar, meringue shards, rhubarb-butter- poached strawberries, amasi-and-lime snow, and dill ice cream. Update: From April 2018, the restaurant will transform into The Drought Kitchen, serving a six-course, low-water menu, at the reduced cost of R890 (without wine).
Bukhara (City Bowl)
The cuisine here is tagged as north Indian, with many of the flavours tailored to please the South African palate. The tandoor oven makes all the difference to many of the dishes like the tandoor dum aloo – potatoes stuffed with paneer and nuts. The chicken tikka with spicy garlic, ginger and yoghurt marinade and the slow-cooked leg of lamb are great for carnivores. Vegetarians are taken care of with many options including buttery dhal makhani. Finish with a refreshing mango ice cream.
The Indian Chapter with Prim Reddy (Bloubergstrand) – 2017 Best Indian Eatery
This restaurant owned by TV personality Prim Reddy is a winner. The imported tandoor oven makes one of the best garlic naans around. A starter platter of lamb, chicken and fish kebabs are all delicious, as are the onion bhaji. There are a variety of mains, served from mild to devilishly hot. The tender lamb madras is full of tomatoey slow-burn tastiness; the chicken biryani is a mountain of aromatic loveliness. End on an exotic dessert.
Maharajah South Indian Restaurant (Tamboerskloof)
The chilli bites here are perfectly crisp and the samoosas will ruin you for the ordinary takeaway variety. It’s imperative that you order the lamb curry on or off the bone: its rich tomato-based Madras sauce is redolent with spices, and beautifully balanced. The tomatoey butter chicken is also very good. Scoop it all up in flaky, buttery paratha. There’s a good page of vegetarian dishes; paneer options are great. If you find yourself breathing fire, cool things down with a cucumber raita.
Sundoo (Sea Point)
Chef and entrepreneur Seelan Sundoo has created a space to honour his south Indian roots. There are nods to Durban classics like bunny chow, braised fish roe, chops chutney, and duck curry. Tender lamb curry, kavrathi chicken and pineapple braised with black mustard seeds and coconut are firm favourites on the menu. For dessert, opt for the vermicelli in cardamom milk or buttery semolina soji.
Thali (Gardens) – 2017 nominee for Top 10
Opened by chef Liam Tomlin of Chefs Warehouse fame with chef John van Zyl heading up the kitchen, Thali presents diners with an Eastern voyage through a set tapas menu with curries being the jewel in the culinary crown. The cauliflower done three ways – puréed, grilled and raw – is an elegant twist on this humble vegetable. The tandoor oven churns out the most succulent and deeply smoky meats cooked to tender, aromatic perfection. Most dishes are subtle to maintain a lighter and more modern style, but the lamb curry, with hints of turmeric and saffron, and chicken curry in a fragrant green coriander sauce, are both elevated classics.
95 at Parks (Constantia)
Chef-patron Giorgio Nava shows attention to detail and authenticity in the rich, layered flavours on the plate. The signature beef ragù pasta and Karoo lamb ravioli are divine. Vegetarians will adore gnocchi in gorgonzola and pecan sauce, while carnivores should investigate the succulent grass-fed sirloin and hearty osso buco. Leave space for chocolate fondant.
A Tavola (Claremont)
Classic, hearty and delicious food can be expected at this neighbourhood favourite. The Caprese salad is dreamily perfect and unfussy; the gnocchi is freshly made and feather light. No pizzas here, but pastas are very good – a special with prawns, mussels and calamari in white-wine sauce really hits the spot. Look to the secondi section for steaks, fish and veal. The dolce section delivers plenty of sweet hits.
Kick things off by sharing piquant starters like asparagus with baked ricotta and mixed fried seafood. Pescatarians love the range of fish served with baby potatoes and salsa verde; while carnivores head for the signature balsamic beef tagliata and lamb ragù. Vegetarians are looked after with wild mushroom and goat’s cheese orzo and asparagus risotto. Thin-crust pizzas with gourmet toppings offer good value.
Bocca (City Bowl)
Acclaimed sommelier-turned-restaurateur Neil Grant has cornered the modern Italian sector in Cape Town. A giant pizza oven churns out irresistible Neapolitan-style pizzas with chewy bases. Highlights include the Di Mare with prawns, squid, garlic, coriander and chili aioli, and the Felino bianco with mozzarella, gorgonzola, olives, salami and mint pesto. End on a sweet note with a dessert jar.
Burrata boasts a traditional wood-fired oven imported from Naples to give pizzas a perfectly balanced chewy and crisp texture. The antipasti selection consists of a wide variety of Italian favourites such as arancini, as well as the restaurant’s namesake burrata cheese. It comes as no surprise that the pizza selection is vast. Alternatively, risottos are perfectly cooked and creamy. Choose panna cotta or zabaglione for dessert.
Cucina Labia (Muizenberg)
There’s a nod to both Italian heritage and the restaurant’s location in many dishes. The pork rollatini with grilled fruit, chimichurri, radish, tomato and walnut is a good introduction. Fish of the day could be kingklip with Malay seafood crust, snoek, spek and apricot. For mains, the braised, deboned beef rib pulls apart beautifully and is served with bone marrow jus, broccoli, cherry-smoked ox tongue, cubed pear and gorgonzola pommes purée – delicious. For dessert, order a deconstructed tiramisu or a granadilla Champagne mousse with pineapple, dulce de leche, chilli white-chocolate soil, macadamia and mint.
The new menu at this pizza favourite is loaded with tempting options. Start with a generous antipasti platter, then look to the deservedly famous pizzas, whether you like a traditional topping of fresh basil and fior di latte or unorthodox jerk chicken with corn, caramelised onions and mint. The pasta section is short but covers all the bases, with very big portions. If you have room for dessert, try Italian kisses, profiteroles or tiramisu.
Hail Pizza (City Bowl)
You’ll find this hip pizza spot hidden behind Clarke’s. A neat paper menu comprises just five pizza options, a couple of salads and West Coast oysters to start. If you want to try something more adventurous than a margherita, option #5 packs a punch, topped with anchovies and a generous scattering of mushrooms and green and black olives.
Il Leone Mastrantonio (Green Point)
Il Leone is a perennial favourite and it’s easy to see why. Carpaccio starters are generally excellent, as are the bruschetta, fried calamari and Caprese. There’s a lengthy selection of pastas, with the linguini Portofino – prawns, cherry tomatoes, rocket and pine nuts – a favourite. There is also a bounteous selection of fish, chicken and meat mains, with the veal dishes exciting particular approval. End on house-made tiramisu and crème caramel.
Magica Roma (Pinelands)
This space is steeped in tradition and nostalgia. Chefs and owners Ezio de Baiggi and Franco Zezia have run a solid ship over three decades and have received recognition from Italy for their authentic cuisine. The Caprese salad is a lovely, summery start and the antipasti platter is a great way to kick things off. While pizzas and pastas are popular choices, there’s a large traditional mains menu. Try the rich saltimbocca, the house speciality made with ham, mozzarella and mushroom sauce, or simple veal scallops simmered in a sage butter sauce. End with the house’s famous tiramisu or semifreddo.
Massimo’s (Hout Bay)
Quality imported ingredients, sublime home-made delicacies and Piedmontese passion in Massimo’s kitchen are a winning formula. Thirty kinds of wood-fired pizza made from stoneground flour are the heroes of the menu. But it would be a mistake not to taste the wonderful Mediterranean flavours of the antipasti platters of spuntini: tuna carpaccio, bruschetta, polenta bites and seafood fritto misto. An authentic pasta menu tempts, while vegetarians are spoiled with choices like artichoke or butternut-and-sage ravioli. Leave room for boozy desserts: a limoncello bomb or chocolate liqueur volcano.
Osteria Tarantino (De Waterkant)
Refreshingly unpretentious food packed with traditional, comforting flavours make this one of the city’s best-kept secrets. Start off with burrata on a bed of rocket with sundried and fresh tomatoes, olives and Parma ham. For mains, there are hearty meatballs and gorgonzola gnocchi, but fresh, home-made pasta is the highlight. The signature 4 Ps pasta comes with silky pappardelle, porcini, pancetta, parmesan and a rich tomato base made with veal mince. Simply sublime. Alternatively, go for the pillowy spinach-and-ricotta ravioli, with a magical sauce of truffle and olive oil. End on ricotta cannoli or ice cream- stuffed cornetti bites.
Pierino Penati (City Bowl)
Michelin-starred chef Theo Penati puts a contemporary twist on Lombardian cuisine here, which is traditionally very mild and subtle in flavour. Follow antipasti of octopus and sea bass tartare with spaghetti turanici with smoked beef tartare, pea ravioli, oyster tagliolini or the highlight of deliciously al dente risotto Milanese with delicate saffron and flakes of baked parmesan. For dessert, try hazelnut mousse with passion-fruit sorbet.
Ristorante Posticino (Sea Point)
This classic Italian restaurant offers authentic, no-frills Italian classics. The signature dish of Italian meatballs – four plump and tender beef meatballs smothered in a rich tomato sauce – is so comforting. If it’s available, try the vongole sauce, made from cooked clams and traditionally served with spaghetti. Chicken or veal is served with a side of veg. The pizzas are cooked in an authentic wood-fired oven, giving the dough a perfectly crisp base. For an option with a difference, try the Strega topped with chicken livers cooked in a wine sauce. End with tiramisu, cassata or Peppermint Crisp tart for good measure.
True Italic (City Bowl)
True Italic offers authentic Italian cuisine from Emilia Romagna and Sicily. Chef Luca prides himself on using quality fresh seasonal produce to showcase his passion for authentic Italian food. The boards showcase the best cured meats and hand-crafted cheeses. The home-made gnocchi osso buco ragù contains light and fluffy clouds of pasta coated in a rich and robust meat sauce. If pasta is not your thing, try the grilled beef sirlion tagliata. The flourless dark chocolate cake or panna cotta will satisfy your sweet tooth.
Maria’s Greek Restaurant (Gardens)
Maria’s serves hearty, flavour-packed Greek food, with meze as the real highlight. Calamari in tomato sauce bursts with flavour while the mucver (courgette-and-feta balls) are a crowd pleaser. For mains, lamb with artichokes is a stand-out. End with kataifi: strands of phyllo in lemon syrup with custard.
Laid back and unpretentious dining is what you’ll find here. Marika is in the kitchen creating dishes like the superb yemista: baked tomatoes stuffed with mince and rice. The extensive meze menu includes garlic rich skordalia, fabulous tzatziki, kefthedes, fried calamari and battered brinjal. Mains feature pork rib, excellent moussaka, a lamb burger, prawns baked with tomato and feta and grilled chicken.
Anatoli Turkish Restaurant (Green Point)
Anatoli offers tasty food with flavours of Istanbul. The starter options for the night are brought on a tray to the table and explained by the waiter. The baba ganoush and dolmades are exquisitely prepared and tasty; the phyllo pastry cigars refreshingly non-oily and filled with a redolent mix of spinach and feta; and the lamb liver scrumptious. The mains options are offered buffet-style – a variety of lamb, chicken and vegetarian stews and lamb and chicken kebabs – served off the skewer. The chocolate pot is the favourite dessert, but the poached quince with creamy yoghurt and the baklava have their devoted adherents.
ASH Restaurant (City Bowl)
Chef Ash Heeger has turned plenty of heads at this charcoal-fired eatery. The menu is compact, but let the waiters talk you through it. They’ll recommend the Pig Head Scrumpet: a crispy crust reveals slow-braised pig’s head and shoulder. The raw beef is a tartare-lover’s dream: dry-aged flank roughly chopped and seasoned with capers, cornichons and topped with a lustrous egg yolk. You won’t go wrong with anything meaty; choose the succulent prime rib aged for 30 days. End with doughnuts in smoked sugar.
Bistro Sixteen82 (Tokai)
A perfect spot for wine-farm dining. Friends and families linger over breakfast of mushrooms on rösti with gorgonzola cream or the eggs Benedict. Chef Kerry Kilpin draws on her love for local produce and her time in Thailand, so look forward to the likes of tempura prawns with miso mayo and line fish with kimchi. Enjoy tapas early evening like sticky lamb ribs with harissa or prawns with lemongrass. There’s a good dessert selection, from zingy lemon posset to luxurious bread-and-butter pudding.
Black Sheep (Tamboerskloof)
The blackboard menu changes daily at this popular spot. Opt for a starter on the lighter side: the rainbow trout gravadlax with pickled beetroot and a dill mustard salad is tart and refreshing. For mains, expect a choice of vegetarian options (whole roasted mushrooms or lentil coconut curry), a range of fish dishes (seared rainbow trout and seared tuna) and a number of slow roasts, such as sticky Asian black bean beef short rib and spiced beef brisket. End with local artisanal cheeses.
Bouchon Bistro (City Bowl)
Sister restaurant to La Bohème in Sea Point, this tapas spot offers hearty flavours in smaller portions. Think rounds of melting camembert, encased in golden phyllo pastry, bacon-wrapped pork fillet, or chorizo and chickpeas. An artichoke-and-pea risotto is silken and perfectly al dente. The pulled oxtail with gnocchi is a highlight, too, the meat wonderfully rich and unctuous.
Chalk & Cork (Gardens)
If you love sharing small plates, this is the spot. The truffle-buttered popcorn is a must try, as is the salt-and-pepper calamari, and the piperade salad with celery and parsley is simply delicious. If you’re feeling bold, the braised pig cheek with sweet-potato purée, pickled carrot and beetroot is the thing to try. The menu also offers a selection of pizzas. There’s a small choice of appealing desserts.
You can’t book a table; simply arrive on the day from noon and take a look at what’s on offer – the dishes are all displayed and explained on iPads on the counter. There are only three options: meat, fish or vegetarian. Everything is free-range and most of it is cooked in the wood-fired oven. Options could include bourbon-basted barbeque Karoo lamb, hand-chopped yellowtail tartare with a parsley-herb mayonnaise, or roasted brinjal marinated in Malay spices.
Chefs Warehouse & Canteen (City Bowl) – 2017 nominee for the Top 10
It’s simply not fair that anyone is blessed with the culinary imagination that Chef of the Year Liam Tomlin possesses. The format remains the same here: fish-based tapas to start, a perfect risotto, then some meatier tapas towards the end. The seeming simplicity of the dishes – beef brisket with polenta, for example – belies the fertility of the conception and the highly skilled execution in the kitchen. Some memories linger: the Cape Malay dressing that accompanies the kingklip and pickled saffron onions; the avo mayo and spicy flavours of the Vietnamese dressing with the yellowtail sashimi. Sublime. Both the lemon posset and the crème brûlée offer a perfect ending.
Chefs Warehouse at Beau Constantia (Constantia) – 2017 Top 10
Liam Tomlin’s award-winning tapas restaurant has extended its reach to the southern suburbs with Ivor Jones at the helm. Each dish is a layered delight with big flavours and little flourishes. The smoked trout with burrata, beetroot and saffron is a bright start, pairing well with its mate of tender tuna with ginger-and-citrus dressing and lime-cured cream cheese. The carrot risotto is a triumph, with crispy sage and roasted walnuts. For dessert, the floral lavender crème is tempered by earthy honey, slightly bitter honeycomb shards and smoked cassia bark ice cream. Heaven.
Davy Croquettes (Gardens)
It should come as no surprise that the menu at this one-dish spot is tempting: anything deep-fried and oozy is hard to resist. There are familiar options like the candied jalapeño and feta, which remains a firm favourite. Then there are croquettes filled with dates, goat’s cheese and bacon, braised ox tongue with salsa verde, or biltong-and-dried fruit – all sure to please. The chorizo, almond and harissa croquette as well as the eight-hour roasted pork belly-and-sage croquette deliver comforting flavours.
De Oude Manor at Devil’s Peak (Bellville)
Situated at the restored heritage building of De Oude Welgemoed, the complex boasts three different spaces, each offering unique menus. At De Oude Manor the menu features the likes of West coast oysters; spiced lamb riblets with cumin yoghurt; slow-cooked pork croquettes; and a selection of items from the smoker, from snoek with braaibroodjies to roast chicken with slaw. The sweet ending of old-fashioned milk tart with Amarula and coffee ice cream is a perfect way to finish. Kids are looked after with pizzas.
The Foodbarn Deli & Tapas (Noordhoek)
Locals flock to acclaimed chef Franck Dangereux’s comfort zone to enjoy feel-good fare. Fresh locally sourced ingredients from the open kitchen are the backbone of the flavours on the plate. Early birds go for a hearty country breakfast. Vegetarians are spoiled with generous portions of gourmet salads and quiches. Tapas rules in the evenings – don’t miss the lip-smacking arancini, barbecue pulled-pork enchilada, garlic prawns, gorgonzola fritters and beef tataki. Leave space for dessert of churros or profiteroles.
Foxcroft (Constantia) – 2017 nominee for the Top 10
Chef Glen Williams’s philosophy of treating ingredients with care, attention and respect comes across in a menu with a broad range of flavours, from tempura veg with fermented chilli mayo to lamb rib with harissa, smoked garlic and brinjal. The tuna crudo with green olive, chicory, roasted pork-fat dressing and preserved lemon, and mussels with crispy bacon and soubise, are magnificent. For mains, choose from the likes of pan-seared line fish with salsa verde and Chalmar beef with duck-fat chips. The rose-and-coconut panna cotta is pretty in pastel pink.
Hemelhuijs (City Bowl)
Breakfast has never been this decadent: vanilla-baked guavas with double-cream yoghurt; mieliepap with honey and salted butter; and perfect eggs Benedict. Unusual combinations of flavour and texture beguile and delight in starters of cauliflower and black truffle soup, and seared scallops with quince brown butter. Mains include the likes of bobotie frikkadelle or calamari with fennel, ginger and orange. Complimentary bread is a nice touch.
Homage 1862 (City Bowl)
This spot caters to everyone but is sure to appeal to vegans and vegetarians looking for something different, delicious and seasonal. Each component of a dish lovingly named ‘Fresh from the Earth’ receives a spotlight, from braaied mielie to smoked brinjal with roasted garlic tahini. The house slaw is customised to suit the main dish you order: with chicken, it’s mixed with sesame seeds and crowned with pomegranate arils. For a more meaty bite, the rib eye is seasoned with rosemary and thyme.
Mulberry & Prince (City Bowl) – 2017 nominee for the Top 10
Capetonian Cornel Mostert and New Yorker Cynthia Rivera met while they were studying at the Culinary Institute of America. The seasonal ‘New American’ menu is designed to be shared, and features dishes like roasted oyster with horseradish emulsion. Locally sourced creamy burrata with deep umami flavours of black garlic and seeded toast is like the most luxurious Marmite and cheese toast. The simple pasta dish of tagliolini alla cacio (cheese and pepper) is an example of simplicity executed with perfection. A crowning glory of a rib eye steak with an anchovy crumb is designed for an adventurous palate in mind. They also do a mean Sunday brunch.
The Mess Restaurant (De Waterkant)– 2017 highly commended tapas eatery
The menu here is geared towards sharing, with tapas and small plates forming a large section of the menu. The roti-like flatbreads are the perfect flaky companion to meze with dips and starters. The tuna ceviche is the signature dish, served on a crisp wonton. The braised lamb neck is rich, sticky and decadent. End with Eton mess reimagined in panna cotta, meringue, fresh fruit and sorbet.
Myoga Restaurant (Newlands)
Chef Mike Bassett continues to impress with his deft fusion cuisine. Start with the likes of Bosman’s ham with creamy burrata, truffled white peach and preserved tomato. For mains, choose between chimichurri beef with white mushroom ‘mac and cheese’ sauce, bone marrow and oxtail jus, or Vietnamese lamb with Asian-pear dipping sauce and red cabbage purée. Desserts change often, but are deliciously inventive.
The Pot Luck Club (Woodstock) – 2017 Top 10
Tapas-style dishes created by Luke Dale-Roberts and his right-hand man Frederico Dias are organised according to salty, sweet, umami, sour and bitter. Start with iconic fish tacos and the must-try beef fillet with truffle café au lait sauce. Fish sliders are battered in amasi and maize meal for a crisp, flaky result. Other highlights are shredded confit duck leg (with fabulous fresh plums) and springbok rump with earthy, ash-baked beets and tomato XO dressing. For a sweet ending, you can’t go wrong with the famed s’mores: roasted marshmallow with peanut- butter ice cream. In one bite you’re transported to a happy campfire in your childhood.
The Shortmarket Club (City Bowl) – 2017 Top 10
From plates to platters and the elevation of seemingly simple dishes, stylishly lofty The Shortmarket Club takes you on a decadent spin. Considering it’s backed by Luke Dale-Roberts and run by chef Wes Randles (formerly of The Pot Luck Club), it was bound to hit the high notes. Start with beef tartare and crispy pig cheek with endive and quinoa with XO sauce. The pasta with grass-fed oxtail ragu, fennel, burnt butter and parmesan is both visually exciting and a gustatory deep dive. If you don’t go for one of the great-looking cuts of meat, opt for the rich and earthy roasted artichoke with celeriac and goat’s cheese. Dessert might be a surprisingly delicate lavender crème brûlée or choc fondant with popcorn ice cream and peanut butter cookie dough.
The Yard (V&A Waterfront)
You’ll find this stylish new drinks-and-dinner spot in the shadow of Zeitz MOCAA in Cape Town’s coolest harbour-side precinct. Mediterranean, Indian, Oriental, and Middle Eastern antipasti platters for two to 12 set the tone for the menu’s broad influences. For the main course, mutton rogan josh sits alongside kingklip en papillotte, Thai curry and Tuscan summer gnocchi. Try the subtly-spiced masala chai brûlée to end.
Castella Amare (Melkbosstrand)
The owner is Portuguese, so expect items like cheesy beef croquetas, served with a delicious spicy sauce, and peri-peri chicken livers served either hot – and they mean it – or mild. Traditional meat dishes like excellent espetada, burgers and hot peri-peri chicken will satisfy any carnivore. Pizzas with imaginative toppings like beef mince trinchado and chorizo are a mainstay. End with cheesecake with caramel and lemon meringue.
Dias Tavern (City Bowl)
If you’re after a selection of authentic Portuguese dishes doused in peri-peri sauce, then you’ve come to the right place. Starters include chicken livers, chorizo slices and deep-fried calamari rings. The Portuguese fillet steak, fried with white wine and garlic, is the real deal, as is the espetada. The desserts on offer include malva pudding and Italian kisses.
Baia Seafood Restaurant (V&A Waterfront)
This perennial favourite offers upmarket fish and Portuguese options. The chicken livers in spicy lemon-and-garlic dressing or venison carpaccio with a tart caper-and-citrus vinaigrette are great to start. Main courses feature prawns in a beer, garlic and chilli sauce, or baked line fish with a lobster tail. Rump Bordelaise-style with bone marrow is excellent.
Café Orca (Melkbosstrand)
It’s seafood all the way here. Start with local mussels, served in a creamy garlic-and-white-wine sauce. Oysters are served with an Asian dipping sauce and horseradish cream. The Moroccan line fish is a favourite: creamy harissa sauce topped with rosa tomatoes and capers. The fisherman’s platter is also a good option.
Catch 22 Beachside Grill (Table View)
Guests are spoilt for choice in the long list of dishes, which includes good vegetarian options. Prawns served in garlic-cream sauce and baked with mozzarella come with bread to dunk into the sauce. If you don’t fancy sushi or shellfish, the meat selection is good too. The spice route on the menu offers some lovely seafood curry selections. For chocolate lovers, the Hawaiian mudslide is just perfect.
Harbour House (Kalk Bay)
Renowned for its picturesque location and dining rooms on the edge of the rocks, Harbour House impresses with lavish seafood and a price tag to match. The menu kicks things off with plump West Coast mussels or tian of prawns. Share a platter with calamari, mussels, prawns, crayfish and line fish or opt for the well-executed sushi. Don’t miss the specials board listing the catch of the day and sometimes old classics like avo ritz and sole Florentine. Meat-eaters can enjoy beef carpaccio, steak tartare, prime cuts of beef, as well as rack of lamb.
Harbour House (V&A Waterfront)
As the name indicates, the speciality here is seafood. On the menu that adheres to SASSI’s list of sustainable options, the yellowtail with a smooth beurre blanc is a popular option. Sushi is served upstairs and a new small-plates concept (think game-fish crudo, crispy prawns and white-fish goujons) has been introduced. Splurge on a lavish seafood platter. Desserts include panna cotta with berries and crème brûlée.
Hokey Poke (City Bowl)
Hokey Poke is all about the trendy Hawaiian dish of poké (raw fish with toppings). Choose between six house dishes or build your own. You can substitute the sticky rice for slaw, baby leaves or gluten-free nachos. The #5 bowl is a fabulous assortment of sticky rice, salmon, salmon crackling, edamame beans, pickled beetroot, radish, avo and pomegranate-and-ponzu sauce. ‘Hot 4’ features hot tuna, pineapple, avo, jalapeños, coriander, spring onions and Santa Anna nacho chips. This is as fresh as it gets, and the combination of flavours is fantastic.
Kyoto Garden Sushi Japanese Restaurant (Tamboerskloof)
At this Japanese oasis, seafood shines bright with minimalist flavours and perfect technique in both raw and cooked dishes. Start with sashimi: delicate pieces of tuna, salmon and Cape salmon are elegantly served with shaved daikon radish, freshly grated wasabi root and pickled ginger. End with a scoop of moreish black sesame-seed ice cream.
Live Bait (Muizenberg)
Lunching at Live Bait is like enjoying a meal inside a seashell. As waves crash metres away, enjoy mouthfuls of fresh seafood. Start with black West Coast mussels, served in a creamy garlic-and-white-wine sauce, or sushi. Mains could be grilled calamari with olive oil, garlic, aioli, chilli salsa verde and chips, or charred sardines off the coals. For dessert, spoil yourself with a trio of sorbets (lemon, orange and passion fruit), served on pineapple carpaccio.
Pesce Azzuro (Woodstock)
The menu at this cosy neighbourhood eatery includes options like sirloin, lamb and gnocchi di ricotta, but eschew those and dive into the ocean. Start with a plate of tapas selected by the chef, such as octopus-and-potato salad and smoky brinjal caponata. The spaghetti scoglio is a house favourite: a mound of al dente spaghetti groans under the weight of a maritime mélange of calamari, mussels, clams and prawns in a tomato sauce with just the right hint of chili. Tiramisu and panna cotta are reliable ways of ending the meal.
SeaBreeze Fish & Shell (City Bowl)
The menu starts with oysters from three different venues: Knysna, Saldanha and Luderitz. The small plates section is ideal for tapas-loving diners. Wild langoustines are beautifully cooked and served with avo purée and garlicky chilli mayo. The squid-ink pasta with prawns packs a punch, but the real winner is the classic hake and chips.
Willoughby & Co. (V&A Waterfront)
The legendary sushi has a fanbase of its own and is often the reason for the queue of people waiting for a table. For something warmer, try the tom yum soup or Boston clam chowder, or the simply scrumptious calamari with your choice of either Sicilian, Cape Malay or green Thai curry sauce, or have it Cajun-style. The tuna kebabs come hot off the coals – tender and tasty.
The Butcher Shop & Grill (Mouille Point)
The name of the game is meat. Starters include superb steak tartare, lamb boerewors and lamb kidneys on a skewer. There are 15 different steak dishes done any way you would like them. Don’t miss the sticky ribs.
Carne SA (City Bowl)
This Italian-inspired steakhouse still draws a loyal crowd. Steaks arrive with little more than a dressing of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt. The perfectly grilled 1.2kg La Fiorentina T-bone is the star. The ravioli of slow-braised lamb shoulder is memorable, as is the chocolate fondant.
Don Armando (Green Point)
This Argentinian parilla (steakhouse) pays tribute to owner Daniel Toledo’s father. If available, try delicious mollejas (sweetbreads) and morcilla (pork blood sausage) with piquant salsa criolla. The star is beef asado: well-aged, tender and grilled to perfection. The big meaty menu tempts with every possible succulent cut on and off the bone, from short rib to T-bone and a signature sirloin with chimichurri. It’s a little gem to enjoy on a night out on the town.
The Eatery Wood Fired Grill (Claremont)
A rare restaurant beacon in suburbia. Pork belly ribs are a sure bet: they’re slow-roasted in sweet, tangy barbecue sauce. The lamb rump espetada is juicy and flavourful, as are the burgers. Finish with the delicious New York cheesecake.
Hoghouse Brewing Company (Ndabeni)
Head out for an evening of good meat and beer at this industrial hotspot. Start with snacks: sweet and sticky pig’s tails and barbecue chicken wings doused in home-made sriracha. The main event is barbecue. Chef PJ Vadas smokes his meat the old-fashioned way, low and slow, before cuts are fired up on the wood-burning grill. You’ll find everything from brisket to pork spare ribs to pulled lamb shoulder.
The Hussar Grill (Mouille Point)
This long-running steakhouse is all about prime cuts of beef. There is a wide selection of dressed-up steak dishes if you don’t feel like the perfect 300g rump. The brandy-flambéed Chateubriand is popular, as is the adventurous oyster-stuffed Carpetbagger. If you really don’t want steak (why not?), you’ll find slow-cooked lamb shanks, burgers, salads and seafood, too.
The Hussar Grill (Rondebosch)
The flame-grilled meat does not disappoint. From sweet and succulent spare ribs in the signature basting sauce to a generous portion of tender grilled lamb, the selection is tempting. The signature dessert is a chocolate vodka martini.
Primal Eatery (Gardens) 2017 Tramontina Best Steakhouse
For purists who love meat. The dramatic entrance of the flaming saganaki starter sets the tone. For mains, opt for the butcher’s cuts of the day. The meat is accompanied by textures of onion (onion purée, flame-grilled pickled baby onions and burnt onion) and truffle mustard. Dessert is a difficult choice: deep-fried oreos or rose-geranium cheesecake?
Rare Grill (Kenilworth)
A little-known gem, with a menu that’s small and to the point. Steak is the mainstay. Choose between superb cuts of sirloin, rump or fillet that have been wet-aged for up to four weeks. The succulent fillet is tender and tasty, sporting beautiful grill marks. If you’re not up for steak, tuck into calamari or a whole peri-peri baby chicken. End with malva pud or a chocolate bomb.
This selection comprises all the Cape Town restaurants that made the cut for the 2018 Eat Out 500, the list of best restaurants in the country as rated and reviewed by our panel of critics for the 2018 edition of Eat Out magazine (on sale now). But we know the city is crammed with loads more more gems and mainstays that didn’t crack the nod. Please tell us about your favourites in the comments below.