Cape Town is buzzing with amazing restaurants. In fact, there are so many fantastic places to try, it can sometimes be impossible to choose. Here’s our list of the best restaurants in the Mother City in every category from bistros to Italian, fine dining to steakhouses. The below includes four of the country’s Top 10 restaurants as judged by our panel of judges, several of the winners of the 2015 Best Everyday Eateries (voted for by you), and the Cape Town restaurants who made it into the 2016 Eat Out 500. Nominated by the public and then rated and reviewed by our team of panellists, the full Eat Out 500 list appears in the 2016 Eat Out magazine (on sale now). On your marks, get set, eat!
Addis in Cape (City Bowl) – Best African Eatery – highly commended
Meals are served on one central platter for communal eating and showcase exciting flavours of Ethiopia. Use the giant sourdough pancakes (injera) to mop up the array of saucy stews. This is a use-your-hands feast with plenty of subtle spice flavours.
Gold Restaurant (Green Point)
A 14-course menu takes your taste buds on a whirlwind tour of Africa. Sample Zambian kandolo balls made of sweet potato; Congolese spinach and a moreish Ghanaian groundnut chicken stew. A drumming showpiece and attendant drama makes it popular with tourists.
Clarke’s Bar and Dining Room (City Bowl)
Magnificent all-day breakfasts compliment their famous brioche bun burgers, made with grass-fed beef and Underberger cheese. One of Bree Street’s original trendy spots, Clarke’s offers a relaxed and hip atmosphere.
Del Mar (Camps Bay)
This is Mexican dining for special occasions and big budgets, but the quality is undeniably excellent. Try one of the delicate, fragrant ceviches, or the Tamal camarones – steamed masa parcels with prawns and a fantastic tomatillo sauce. Book ahead for a table facing the beach.
El Burro Taqueria (Tamboerskloof)
El Burro has branched out with this counter-service taco restaurant. A ceviche starter explodes with fresh, zingy flavour of limes, coriander and tender fish. Tacos are small, but affordably priced. Don’t leave without trying the churros. Perfect for hipster-spotting.
El Burro (Green Point)
They aim to serve authentic Mexican cuisine; no Tex-Mex or Mexican comfort food here. The build-your-own tortillas are legendary. The braised lamb tacos, fish tacos and pork carnitas are other very popular choices. The restaurant can get loud, so it’s best suited to an evening with friends.
Gibson’s Gourmet Burgers and Ribs (V&A Waterfront)
This narrow sliver of Waterfront real estate offers excellent burgers and some of the best ribs in town. Burgers might feature smoky barbecue sauce, cheddar and mustard or chutney, gruyère and guac.
The Hoghouse Brewing Company (Ndabeni)
Famed chef PJ Vadas has gone all Country and Western with this spot. Think beef brisket, lamb belly, buttermilk fried chicken, and pulled pork. Set in a courtyard in an industrial setting in Ndabeni, it’s trendy, with no frills.
Hudson’s The Burger Joint (Gardens)
This buzzing Kloof Street restaurant is famous for its burgers and double-thick milkshakes. Don’t miss the deep-fried Oreos or the disco fries, either.
Inside & You’re Out (City Bowl) – Best Burger Eatery – winner
This laid back city eatery serves up cooked-to-perfection burgers that are stuffed with cheesy goodness and are made with locally sourced and sustainable ingredients. Look forward to glorious creations such as the Whisky Braai-BQ burger, which conceals crispy bacon bits in a sweet, whisky–barbecue with guacamole and smoky cheese.
Jerry’s Burger Bar (Gardens) – Best Burger Eatery – highly commended
Damn delicious burgers including some with decadent stuffed patties. All are served on a brioche bun. There are also branches in Obs and Blouberg, with more planned.
Lefty’s Dive Bar (East City)
This popular hangout serves affordable, surprisingly good food – especially considering its self-consciously seedy bar vibe. Famous dishes include the fried chicken waffles, and the home-smoked pulled pork sandwich on a brioche bun.
Ragafellows (Hout Bay)
Laid out over a series of rooms, this rambling restaurant is a little reminiscent of grandma’s house. Foodwise, expect innovation. You might receive home-pickled veg instead of bread, and calamari comes with an absinthe aioli. The burgers are the stars of the show, though.
Royale Eatery & Royale Kitchen (City Bowl)
Long Street’s famous burger joint has been going since 2003, and the burgers are still fabulous. There are more than 50 options – in every incarnation from beef, chicken, lamb and fish, to pork, ostrich and vegetarian. The sweet potato fries with ketchup, sweet chilli, and sour cream have their own following.
Three Feathers Diner (Woodstock)
Tucked in what looks like a refurbished garage, a street down from Woodstock’s popular Albert Road, Three Feathers offers well-made burgers topped with bacon, cheese, egg, jalapeño, mushroom, in an American-diner themed setting. Tackle a game of pool while you swig your craft beer, and admire the Americana.
1890 House Sushi and Grill (Observatory)
There are well-made Thai and Chinese options available, but most regulars, and there are many of them, return for the fresh, good quality sushi. Décor is basic, but there’s a happy buzz from satisfied customers.
Active Sushi (Hudson Street) – Best Asian Eatery – highly commended
Fresh, creative sushi combinations are complemented by happy and helpful service. Value for money and well-made sushi is what keeps diners coming back for more.
Beijing Opera (De Waterkant)
Cape Town’s version of a chic, upmarket and authentic Chinese eatery. Owner Yang and her team turn out robust, flavour-rich broths, soft dim sum, and fragrant, zingy noodle dishes. Shared seating makes Beijing a great spot for single diners at lunch, and large groups at dinner.
Beluga (Green Point)
One of the stalwarts of the sushi scene, Beluga offers an extensive sushi and dim sum menu – but hot plates are on point too. The courtyard is a popular option on the after-work drinks circuit.
Chai Yo (Mowbray)
The eatery has the feel of a relaxed indoor Thai street café. Think spring rolls; dim sum and ‘make your own’ spinach cones; crispy sweetcorn cakes and a sublime prawn and calamari salad.
Chef Pon’s Asian Kitchen (Gardens)
Favourites at this neighbourhood restaurant include aromatic crispy duck with pancakes, tender Szechuan beef with orange and cinnamon or the sizzling Mongolian lamb. It’s a large, slightly cavernous restaurant.
Cheyne’s (Hout Bay)
Cheyne Morrisby turns out fun, bold food inspired by the cuisine of the Pacific Rim in this smart, dark and edgy space. A beef slider with Szechuan pepper and king oyster cream is topped with mini tempura onion rings and the famous ‘deep-fried milk’ features fragrant coconut cream cubes, battered and fried, with green chilli caramel.
Downtown Ramen (East City)
Located above Lefty’s, this gem of a spot serves outstanding ramen and some dim sum. The menu is very brief, and its stars are the char siu pork belly ramen and the tofu and bok choi versions in umami-rich broths.
This cosy neighbourhood restaurant will take your taste buds on an exotic journey. An inventive menu offers tea-smoked duck; nose-to-tail pork; golden homemade bean curd; wonton dumpling broth with “dancing seaweed” and crawling ant’s nest. Leave room for deep-fried ice cream.
Haiku (City Bowl)
It’s been around since 1995 and is still serving dim sum, robata, sushi and wok dishes. The duck in pillow-y bao buns and the Peking duck with pancakes remain favourites. The dark but glamorous interior can get a little loud, so opt for a table by the bar at the front if you want more privacy.
This tiny Asian hole-in-the-wall offers flavour-packed small plates. Think grilled prawns on steamed buns with coriander and lime sauce, or 12-hour duck on soft ramen tacos with almond ginger hummus and fresh orange. Embossed flamingo wallpaper encapsulates the fun, quirky atmosphere.
Izakaya Matsuri (Green Point)
Somewhat hidden down the pedestrian alley alongside The Rockwell, you’ll find some of the best sushi rice in Cape Town. Don’t miss the small plates either. Red paper lanterns, shoji screens and woodblock print warm up the space.
Kitima at the Kronendal (Hout Bay)
This cosy Cape Dutch building offers a delightful setting to enjoy an evening attempting to sample some of the vast Asian menu. Seasonal set menus make choosing a little easier.
Kyoto Garden Sushi Japanese Restaurant (Tamboerskloof)
It’s not cheap, but this is easily the finest Japanese food in the city. Sushi is superb, but don’t miss the other Japanese dishes. Flavours are clean and elegant – don’t expect sweet chilli sauce or deep-fried California rolls here. Bamboo and blonde wood make for a serene dining experience.
Nobu at One&Only (V&A Waterfront)
Famed international chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s local outpost combines the tastes and textures of classic Japanese, Peruvian and South African ingredients. This is Japanese cuisine on the cutting-edge – and it doesn’t come cheap. The cathedral-esque venue is grand for a special night out.
Saigon Vietnamese Restaurant (Gardens)
Vietnamese cuisine mingles with Thai, Chinese and Japanese options as well as sushi. Highlights include crisp prawn toasts; grilled beef fillet shiitake skewers with a ginger dipping sauce; caramelised pepper pork; and the tender pork ribs in honey with sour tamarind sauce. Dark wood and accents of red create drama inside.
Salathai (Green Point)
This casual Thai spot serves up excellent Penang and Massaman curries. Chef Tookta hails from the Ubon Ratchathani province in Thailand, and her flavours are on the money. Buffalo wings fried in panko crumbs with translucent fried basil, are also outstanding.
South China Dim Sum Bar (City Bowl)
An energetic buzz emanates from this Long Street restaurant. The short menu nevertheless contains some winners. Don’t miss fluffy pork buns and braised beef short ribs with sticky jasmine rice.
Tjing Tjing Torii (City Bowl) – Best Asian Eatery – winner
This stylish restaurant serves up modern Asian tapas paired with a brilliant wine selection. The cosy and trendy interior make for a great spot for that after-work drink and dinner with the cool crowd.
Wang Thai (Milnerton)
The beautiful sea views and tasty Thai food have many fans. Standouts include phad medmamuang – wok-fried cashew nuts infused with chilli paste and your choice of either duck, chicken, prawn or tofu filling; and phad kra tha rong, wok-fried vegetables in a special red sauce with your choice of protein.
Bistro Sixteen82 (Tokai)
Chef Kerry Kilpin (formerly of La Colombe), serves bistro food and tapas dishes with flair at this Steenberg restaurant. Think open steak sandwiches with béarnaise sauce, onion rings and triple-cooked handcut chips; hand-chopped beef tartare; angelfish springrolls; and Asian sticky pork belly. A chic interior and poolside terrace with fabulous vineyard and mountain views set the tone for sophisticated dining.
Bistrot Bizerca (City Bowl)
This restaurant remains one of the more exciting bistro-chic options in the city. A chalkboard menu offers moreish dishes like Asian cabbage salad with crisp cubes of pork belly and prawns; and tender confit duck leg with Savoy cabbage. By day the charming Heritage Square courtyard is first prize for seating, come evening the courtyard takes on a magical candlelit feel.
Bombay Bicycle Club (Tamboerskloof)
This perennially busy restaurant is run by the Madame Zingara team, so expect an outlandish space and off-the-wall service. Flavours are big, with standouts including Bombay ribs and prawns in garlic-herb butter.
Borage Bistro (Foreshore)
Namibian German Chef Frank Marks did time at Heston’s Fat Duck and with Luke Dale-Roberts – and it shows. The constantly changing menu might include a silken cauliflower soup with a dash of truffle oil or a masterful chicken pie, with gravy. The stylish, semi-industrial interior faces onto an outside deck shielded from busy Hertzog Boulevard by a handful of trees.
The Brasserie (Tokai)
The twin restaurant of Societi Bistro in the city, the Brasserie offers robust flavours of garlic, red wine, herbs and the highest quality ingredients in dishes such as butternut risotto, gnocchi alla romana with burnt sage butter and parmesan, and crispy squid. A warm and welcoming option in the suburbs.
Frères Bistro (Foreshore)
The food is about as French as it can get. Think Coq au Vin made with chicken breasts with baby onions, rich red wine sauce, and crisp bacon slices piercing the parmesan mash – irresistible. Located in a quiet corner shop with windows looking out onto busy Hans Strijdom Avenue, it’s at its best in the evening.
Hemelhuijs (City Bowl)
An ode to chef/designer Jacques Erasmus’ love of modern, rich and interesting design, and the Afrikaner food of his childhood. You’ll find warming marrowbone soups in winter and zingy salads such as shaved coleslaw with prawns, golden sultanas, chilli and fresh ginger in summer. It’s small but very stylish.
La Belle (Constantia)
Sit on the terrace and soak up the famous Alphen ambience, while you tuck into generous portions of garlic mussels with white wine, cream and crusty bread, or meatballs and tagliatelle with parmesan and a rustic chunky tomato sauce.
La Boheme Wine Bar & Bistro (Sea Point)
This longstanding neighbourhood bistro continues to serve moreish mains like pork belly and mash and ostrich meatballs. Windows overlook Sea Point Main Road.
Mano’s (Green Point)
Simple, tasty fare is what you’ll find at this family-friendly neighbourhood spot. Standout dishes include fillet medallions with pepper sauce, Mozambican style prawn curry and the rich, creamy chicken limone. Large art-deco windows open to a pared down interior.
This Parisian bistro is full of flair. Try escargot in parsley coulis or French onion soup. Dogs are welcome on the patio.
Societi Bistro (Gardens)
Based in a restored Georgian-style home, the restaurant strikes a perfect balance between classy and low key. The menu fuses French and Italian cuisine in a series of hearty, comforting mains.
Tiger’s Milk (Muizenberg)
Expect simply cooked, generous pub grub with fair prices at this quirky, laid-back restaurant. Pork ribs and calamari come recommended. There’s also gluten-free pizza – and beer!
The Woodlands Eatery (Vredehoek)
This popular neighbourhood eatery is best known for pizzas, including the signature Tuscan-style slow roasted lamb with crème fraîche. The interior is quirky and ever-so charming, with twinkly fairy lights.
Birds Café (City bowl)
This cosy restaurant serves up thoughtful breakfasts, lunches (and dinners on Thursdays and Fridays). Dishes might include homemade pork sausages with truffle mash and chicken pie with triple-cooked chips. Exposed brickwork and wood mirror the country-style food.
Bootlegger Coffee Company (Sea Point)
Bootlegger is certainly serious about coffee, but the food offering holds its own, too. Breakfasts are made with free-range eggs and artisan bread and lunches and dinners comprise well-executed burgers, open and hot-pressed sandwiches, and inventive salads. Dark grey walls, golden light fittings and vintage type, make this popular with freelancers and Macbook owners.
Cafeen (Harfield Village)
Warm, cluttered and comfortable, this neighbourhood café offers extravagant breakfasts and lunches. Think French toast with bacon, maple syrup, lemon curd and caramelised bananas or avo on toast with fresh tomatoes and sprigs of rocket.
Chardonnay Deli (Constantia)
An historic building on Constantia Main Road has been transformed into a country-style café and deli offering simple breakfast and lunch options, most of them utilising the bakery’s excellent breads. The deli stocks top-drawer produce, including Richard Bosman’s cured meats; Oude Raapkraal Honey; and Eureka Mills stoneground flour.
The Company’s Garden Restaurant (City Bowl)
Madame Zingara has breathed new life into this historical restaurant. Outdoor tables beneath the trees are like gold dust. Main meals arrive in generous portions and range from tasty beer-battered hake and chips to farmhouse cheese platters, and sticky mustard and marmalade spatchcocked chicken. They also do a great salmon Benedict.
Four & Twenty Café & Pantry (Wynberg)
This French-style café and bakery has been winning the hearts of Southern Suburbs foodies since the day it opened. All-day breakfasts are inventive and studded with prized local ingredients. Banting devotees will be happy to know they offer low-carb bread courtesy of Knead. Non-banters will appreciate the excellent almond croissants.
Jason Bakery (City Bowl)
The captain of all things decadent creates new wonders daily in his Bree Street lair. They might include broekies (the world’s most delicious brownie cookies), peanut butter maple bacon croissants or crayfish and mac and cheese pies. Gun-metal grey, chalkboards, golden vinyl croissants – and invariably queues – mark the spot. He recently opened a new restaurant on Loop, called Bar Dough.
The Kitchen (Woodstock)
This bustling little eatery is always crammed with regulars who come for the generous portions, fresh and colourful salads and the great vibe, as set by amiable owner Karen Dudley. An eclectic mix of antique crockery adds to the feeling of visiting a beloved aunt’s house.
The Lighthouse Café (Simon’s Town)
This is a real locals’ local, offering big plates of well-cooked, good food at affordable prices. Pizzas are crisp and the beer-battered fish is fresh and beautifully crisp. Décor is classic beach-chic with a touch of France.
Olympia Cafe and Deli (Kalk Bay)
This much-loved institution churns out freshly baked breads and pastries along with a daily chalkboard offering dishes such as omelette with sweet chilli, camembert and rocket; and croissants baked with changing fillings.
Plant (City Bowl)
This easy-going restaurant is a real treat for vegans and vegetarians, with a multitude of strictly vegan options. Try a tofu scramble or a breakfast wrap, which combines tempeh bacon, tofu scramble, caramelized onion and rocket in a flour tortilla with a ‘cream cheese’ spread.
Starlings Café (Claremont)
This neighbourhood gem set in an old house has been a firm favourite for many years for its fresh, ethically sourced ingredients. Eggs are free-range and bread is homemade and includes whole wheat, 70% rye, sourdough and zero carb bread made with linseed and olive oil.
Tamboers Winkel (Tamboerskloof)
This charming hole-in-the-wall spot offers charcuterie and cheese platters, lovely colourful salads, gourmet sandwiches, chicken pie (one of four chicken dishes), and gorgeous soft scrambled eggs for breakfast.
In addition to the classic menu, this branch offers a range of innovative dishes like a quinoa salad, banting friendly breakfasts and a decidedly un-banting waffle house. It’s always busy, but quality is consistently good.
Tribe 112 (City Bowl) – Best Coffee Shop - winner
This ultra cool city eatery combines motorcycles, café-style cuisine, and great coffee. The edgy urban interior with views of the buzzing Buitengracht Street make for the perfect pit-stop for city dwellers. The quiches and sandwiches come highly recommended.
Truth Coffee Roasting HQ (East City) – Best Coffee Shop – highly commended
With its exposed ducts, pipes, and detailed machinery, this steampunk spot draws the crowds partly for its hip identity, and partly for its coffee – some of the best in the city. Well-executed breakfasts include a French toast croissant.
Café Roux (Noordhoek)
Affordable, home-cooked food is what you’ll find at this family-friendly café. Think generous burgers and hearty wraps. The outdoor area is paradise in summer – especially if you’ve got kids. There’s an impressive calendar of live music.
5 Rooms Restaurant (Constantia)
Made up of five different rooms, this is a warm but sophisticated spot for high-end food. Think rib eye steak accompanied by duck-fat fried chips; duck leg shepherd’s pie served with butternut; and chocolate peanut butter fondant.
Celebrating twenty years at the helm in 2016, chef patron Harald Bresselschmidt continues to transform local ingredients, with French technique and an Asian spin into something magnificent. Think duck ham with savoury grape strudel, a trio of Karoo lamb and aubergine soufflés. Set in an 1830’s townhouse with sash windows, it’s intimate and chic.
Azure at The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa (Camps Bay)
Book a spot on the terrace overlooking the glittering Atlantic ocean and settle down for delicious food that doesn’t rely on tricks to be fabulous. Dishes include a great retro crayfish and prawn cocktail with avocado and Marie Rose sauce, prawn dahl with creamed cauliflower, green mango chutney and cumin yoghurt and superb prawns Stroganoff.
This wine farm restaurant has a gastronomic reputation for its slightly retro menu. The chocolate variation – with its miniature chocolate grand piano – is still just as good as it’s always been.
The Conservatory at Cellars-Hohenort (Constantia)
The menu is fairly safe, but excellently executed. The Underberg cheese soufflé and an excellent burger served with top-quality bacon and some of the best onion rings ever are highlights. Full-height windows overlook the lush gardens.
De Grendel Restaurant (Panorama)
Chef Ian Bergh uses the freshest local ingredients, some from the farm’s own gardens, to create sublime dishes like sous vide pork belly, with pork medallions and bacon served on potato puree, sundried tomato paste and slivers of orange zest. The views across the estate are spectacular.
Greenhouse at Cellars Hohenort (Constantia) – TOP 10
Peter Tempelhoff’s dramatic fine dining food scored the number four spot in this year’s Top 10. Made with Dalewood’s Huguenot, the Four Degrees of cheese –featuring a soufflé, cheese ice cream, panna cotta and shavings of cheese – is unmissable. The recently refurbished restaurant is also the recipient of the 2015 Boschendal Style Award, for its understated charcoal walls, bare wooden tables and leather chairs.
La Colombe (Constantia) – TOP 10
2015 Eat Out S. Pellegrino Chef of the Year Scot Kirton is a master at plating pretty food, and at his new venue in the Silvermist Wine Estate, came in at number two in this year’s Top 10. Lift the lid of a tin to find a Lilliputian seared tuna tataki, or savour the Asian-style pork with scallops, kimchi, lemongrass and ginger.
The food may lean towards fine dining but the prices are affordable. In the elegant Tudor house, chef Henry Vigar turns out fine dishes like an artichoke granola with wood sorrel, or a classic Bouillabaisse with kabeljou, crispy prawns and mussels. The six-course tasting menus are extremely popular.
Planet Restaurant (Gardens)
This year saw chef Rudi Liebenberg breathing life into old classics like seafood cocktail, beef tartare and traditional Caesar salad. It’s a sophisticated space with a galactic theme.
The Pot Luck Club (Woodstock) – TOP 10
Tapas turns fine dining under the direction of Luke Dale-Roberts and Wesley Randles, with the restaurant cracking the Top 10 for the first time this year. It’s accessible – but sensational. Think smoked beef fillet with truffle-café-au-lait sauce or ash-baked celeriac with tahini, lentils, mint, goat’s cheese and a 25-year-old balsamic vinegar. The industrial but warm location offers 360-degree views of Cape Town.
Savoy Cabbage Restaurant and Champagne Bar (City Bowl)
Fine dining without the formality. The chef demonstrates flair and mastery of technique in sublime reductions, mousse, purees and sauces – while unusual venison dishes tempt visitors with warthog, gemsbok, kudu and springbok in season. It’s set in an elegant, historic brick townhouse.
Signal Restaurant (V&A Waterfront)
The Cape Grace’s restaurant offers imaginative food with some traditional Cape flavours, as in the delicious smoked snoek paté served with fig and cardamom chutney and crisp ciabatta. Thick pile carpets, polished wood, and huge crystal chandeliers make for a luxuriously serene space.
The Test Kitchen (Woodstock) – TOP 10
There’s no denying the brilliance of The Test Kitchen, now winner of Restaurant of the Year for the fourth consecutive year. Every dish is a layered, balanced triumph of subtle flavours, textures and colours. Dishes might include springbok liver, chestnuts, beetroot and cocoa nib, or shiitake in squid-ink chawanmushi. It’s an eclectic mix of east and west, at the forefront of innovation.
Baps Shayona (Rylands)
Traditional Indian dishes are subtly spiced at this local gem. Try the buttery, rich paneer curry or a wonderfully spiced bean curry. Walls are bare and the tables covered with plastic, but the affordably priced food more than makes up for any lack in ambience.
Bukhara (City Bowl)
Serving predominately North Indian dishes adapted for South African palates, this long-running restaurant is popular with the business crowd. Sample North Indian-style lamb biryani and paneer in a spinach (palak) sauce and a rich tomato gravy (shahi). Situated off pedestrianized Church Street, the restaurant itself is all deep emerald marble floors and dark wood furniture.
Maharajah South Indian Restaurant (Tamboerskloof) – Best Indian Eatery – highly commended
The Maharajah has been serving up authentic curries for the last 35 years. The lamb off the bone curry, prawn curry, chilli bites, and cardamom-spiced vermicelli pudding are outstanding. It’s located in a converted house with two rooms of tables.
Maharajah Pure Vegetarian Foods (Rondebosch)
Tucked away in Fountain Square, this little gem is an oasis for anyone looking for a wide selection of authentic Indian vegetarian and vegan food. With most of the curries costing R55, and even less for the bunny chows and the wraps, it’s undeniably excellent value for money.
Punjab Express (Westlake)
There isn’t a better expression of northern Indian/Punjabi cooking anywhere in the country than this wonderful family-run eatery. A lamb biryani is alive with fresh cardamom, fennel, cinnamon and ginger. Mop up the remaining sauces with lentil flour-based missi rotis. It’s a stylish eclectic space, with exposed brick and cleverly curated bric-a-brac.
95 Keerom (Gardens)
Classic, impeccably turned out Italian keeps regulars coming back to Giorgio Nava’s swish Milanese restaurant. The small plate of cavatelli, broccoli cream, anchovies and oregano flowers won at the World Pasta Championship competition in 2013 and is a must, and the ossobuco is one of the best in the city. Excellent for a romantic night out – or a meeting with fellow lawyers.
A Tavola (Claremont)
The word hearty springs to mind when describing this food – starter of richly cheesy melanzane alla parmigiana should be shared if you intend on eating a main course. Décor is the traditional red walls and spotless white tablecloths, but crowd-pleasing food means there’s always a healthy buzz.
This tried and tested Italian favourite has come to roost in the popular Steenberg Village and is already proving to be a hit with the locals. Try crispy, thin-based pizzas with seasonal fresh toppings or one of the comforting pastas.
Bocca Restaurant (City Bowl)
As with its bigger sister, Burrata, the Neapolitan-style pizzas are a highlight here: the thin, chewy crust ever-so-slightly blackened by the striking 450° oven that dominates the kitchen space. Crisp zucchini fries and beef carpaccio are worth pausing over on the tapas side. It’s a sleek and stylish space with Nordic wood.
Winner of our Best Italian Restaurant award in 2013, Burrata continues to wow with its famous pizzas baked in just 90 seconds in the fire-engine-red oven. There are some outstanding pasta and meat dishes too. The glass-fronted kitchen offers some theatre in an edgy, modern space.
This founding branch of the now-nationwide chain was established in 1992 and still has that original spark. Try the La Zizou – with stewed lamb, balsamic cherry tomatoes, basil, spring onion, garlic and basil pesto mayonnaise or one of the above-average salads. There’s a selection of Banting meals too.
La Frasca (Gardens)
Authentic wood-fired pizzas and handmade pasta will vie for your affections. The narrow dining room might feel either cramped or intimate – depending on your mood. Finish with a limoncello.
Il Leone Mastrantonio (Green Point) – Best Italian Eatery – winner
Italian food the way it’s meant to be – simple, fresh and tasty – is what you’ll find at this popular Green Point spot. Those in the know will aim straight for the carpaccio di pesca (fish carpaccio) and the gnocchi. It’s simple but stylish, with a warm buzz inside.
Massimo’s (Hout Bay) – Best Italian Eatery – highly commended
The famous pizza is probably why you’re here. Thin bases have just the right amount of chew, and are slightly blackened at the bottom by the wood-fired oven. If you’re avoiding gluten, try their homemade chickpea base, or the one made with Glutagon flour. Owners are hands-on and friendly.
Meloncino (V&A Waterfront)
Expect fresh, carefully prepared Italian cuisine at this Waterfront restaurant. The Fagottini di Pollo – chicken paillard stuffed with asparagus, smoked scamorza and prosciutto is memorable. A stylish and relaxed space that’s ideal for a grown-up get together.
Nonna Lina (Gardens)
Expect Italian cuisine with a Sardinian lilt at this neighbourhood favourite. Pizzas are baked in the wood-fired oven and come out thin bases bubbling, piping hot and generally looking like something you’d propose to. Pastas too, are comforting and moreish.
Posticino (Sea Point)
Popular pizzas and pastas form the bulk of the menu at this long-standing restaurant. The cosy interleading rooms seem to expand as more folk arrive – but do book. Prices are reasonable and portions generous.
Volaré Ristorante at Peddlars & Co. (Constantia)
Chef Brad Ball is finding his stride with stylish, Italian-style food at this warm, elegant spot. Think ricotta gnocchi with cauliflower and rosemary, grilled baby squid with chickpeas and sustainable sea bass.
Endless ocean views and perfect sunsets from the large outside seating area make this a fantastic place to take tourists and visitors. An approachable if pricey menu offers well-made seafood dishes, salads, burgers and sushi.
Chalk & Cork (Gardens)
This tapas restaurant on bustling Kloof Street offers inspired bar snacks (truffle butter popcorn, marinated olives, and divine pork “scratchings”) and larger tapas options are equally good. Pizzas come wood-fired – and are also available on cauliflower bases.
The Greek Fisherman (V&A Waterfront)
A fairly large menu offers something for everyone, but the Greek dishes take the prizes. Try the whole grilled sardines and the Biftekia – mince patties stuffed with feta cheese, and cooked on the coals. Satisfy your sweet tooth with loukoumades, baklava and sweet mezedes (a selection of mini Greek desserts). The large outside seating area offers views of the harbour and Table Mountain.
Maria’s Greek Restaurant (City Bowl)
Nab a table under the trees and fairy lights and tuck into a mezze feast before moving onto knockout lamb, slow-roasted and served with aubergine and creamy ouzo sauce. Unpretentious, and popular with good reason.
Whitewashed walls and cheerful staff serve up authentic and delicious Greek food at this no-frills neighbourhood restaurant. Don’t miss the outstanding Arni Sto Fourno, lamb neck baked for hours in lemon and herbs until it peels away from the bone with the back of a spoon.
tashas (V&A Waterfront)
The quality and breadth of the menu makes ordering tricky. Delve into peri-peri chicken livers served with fresh baked bread, order the ever-popular beef burger with fries or polenta chips and tzatziki or satisfy your sweet tooth with a strawberry cheesecake. As with all the branches, bright breezy bespoke café décor makes this a stylish place to dine.
Anatoli Turkish Restaurant (Green Point)
This gem of a Turkish restaurant is still going strong, serving up the kind of soul-warming food that will restore your faith in dining out. Order a range of starters to share, but save room for the outstanding rolled deboned lamb. Dark red walls, low lighting and traditional Turkish trinkets make for a cosy space.
Black Sheep Restaurant (Gardens)
A magnificent cosy but airy atmosphere makes this spot perennially popular. Chef Jonathan Japha’s blackboard menu changes frequently according to what is fresh and in season, but tends towards bistro-style mains.
Catharina’s at Steenberg (Constantia)
Chef Garth Almazan has been at the helm of Catharina’s for over 15 years, and continues to turn out modern country cuisine in a relaxed fine-dining setting. Think beef bourguignon and fantastic risotto.
Chefs Warehouse & Canteen (City Bowl) – NOMINEE
Chef Liam Tomlin produces consistently flavourful, memorable food. Tapas-for-two might feature perfect risotto; buttery salmon and oysters dressed with sweet-savoury flavours; nori and lime. Communal tables create a casual atmosphere and outside tables overlook bustling Bree Street.
The Dining Room (Woodstock)
Karen Dudley’s nighttime space is only open for its three-course dinners on Tuesday and Thursday nights. Dishes run the gamut of Middle Eastern, Turkish, Greek, French and occasionally Asian cuisine. There might be Tom Yum soup or aubergine with walnuts and date labneh, or lamb, in all its melting, unctuous glory. The space resembles a hip grandma’s dining room.
The Foodbarn (Noordhoek)
With his French roots and years spent in various kitchens of reputable local restaurants, chef Franck Dangereux has perfected the art of combining fine-dining expertise with South African flavours and ingredients. The thatched cottage has the feel of a stylish country house.
The Foodbarn Deli and Tapas (Noordhoek)
Franck Dangereux’s other venue is deli by day and Tapas Bar by night. It’s vibey, warm and welcoming, whether you’re enjoying a magnificent brunch or an evening of innovative tapas.
Emily’s Bar and Bistro (Gardens)
This famous restaurant, now on trendy Kloof Street, offers generous burgers and other non-threatening dishes by day, and more haute options by night. The interior is stylish (they’re members of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs) but dining outside is heavenly on balmy nights.
Homespun Restaurant (Table View)
One of the best restaurants in the area, Homespun may not have a sea view, but its spectacular bistro food would give some of the trendy city bowl bistros a run for their money. Think fragrant juicy pulled lamb or vanilla and honey cheesecake.
Kloof Street House (City Bowl)
Set in an old Victorian house, this intimate spot is great for date nights. Dinners are pricier, but there’s also brunch and lighter lunch options like a Morrocan-spiced lamb rump on flatbread.
Manna Epicure (Gardens)
This light, bright Kloof Street restaurant is famous for their coconut bread breakfasts, but they also do excellent moules frites and some of the best sticky pork spare ribs in the city. There’s a great early bird dinner deal.
Try Mike Bassett’s superb seven-course tasting menu. Think unctuous caramel soy pork belly and hake in fried butter, with XO sauce and a tart lemon apple gel. There are more thrilling tasting menus in town, but there are none that give anything close to the value for money that this one does.
Open Door (Constantia)
The dream team behind Bocca and Burrata opened its third restaurant in 2015 in the space formerly occupied by the River Café at Constantia Uitsig. There is a promisingly short à la carte menu, with highlights including lamb neck and tasty pan-roasted line fish with oyster velouté.
Reuben’s at One&Only Cape Town (V&A Waterfront)
A tasty tapas menu makes a nice addition to this hotel restaurant’s offering. The room is cavernous and grand, but outside tables with views of the marina are gorgeous in summer.
Rick’s Cafe Americain (Gardens)
Part bar, part Moroccan restaurant, this convivial spot consists of a maze of different rooms, making it a favourite for dates. Burgers jostle for space with bistro-style dishes like smoked pork belly and Moroccan tagines on the menu.
Shimmy Beach Club (V&A Waterfront)
Complete with a bespoke, private beach, Shimmy is spectacular for cocktails overlooking the ocean. The well-executed if pricy menu offers everything from confit duck leg to sesame encrusted salmon, sushi and dim sum.
It’s easy to miss this small Mozambican restaurant – but do seek it out. LM prawns and piri piri are legendary. The décor is 70’s and 80’s retro, thrown together wildly. Take cash.
Cafe Orca Seafood Restaurant (Melkbosstrand)
The atmosphere is warm and welcoming at this seafood spot. Sit outside and order spicy shrimps with Cajun butter, peri-peri chicken livers and a West Coast platter with creamy garlic mussels.
Cape Town Fishmarket (V&A Waterfront)
This vast restaurant is split into discrete sections. There’s a sushi bar, a formal seating area, an outdoor section overlooking the harbour and a section designed to replicate the experience of dining on the beach on the West Coast – complete with sand underfoot.
Catch 22 Beachside Grill & Bar (Table View)
Offering stunning views, this casual seafood restaurant delivers both the sea and its best produce. Try the Saldanha Bay mussels, drenched in creamy garlic white wine sauce, go retro with a fillet and prawns, or share a platter. There’s also sushi.
The Deckhouse Crab Shack and BBQ (Gardens) – Best Seafood Eatery – winner
Head to this candlelit deck for a beachy atmosphere and a taste of the Gulf Coast. Think crispy battered squid, shrimp popcorn, and buckets of soft shell crabs.
Harbour House (Kalk Bay)
Drink in the views of the waves crashing on rocks metres below. Harbour House really does know how to serve top-notch seafood. Meat eaters can opt for the grilled prime cut of beef with Bordelaise sauce or the grilled rack of lamb.
Kalky’s (Kalk Bay) – Best Seafood Eatery – highly commended
It’s all seafood all the time at this beloved fish and chips spot. From golden-battered hake and chips to tender calamari, this is as popular with the tourists as it is with the locals.
Pesce Azzurro (Woodstock)
Andrea is from Tuscany and Giuseppe is from Sicily – and seafood is the focus of their above-average neighbourhood spot. Think mussels in a fragrant broth of white wine, garlic and chilli, or a robust spinach fettuccini with fish ragu. A merry blue exterior with blonde wood furniture makes for a welcoming space.
Willoughby & Co. (V&A Waterfront)
With tables located in the thoroughfare of a mall, you might be surprised to see people queuing for one. But some of the best sushi in Cape Town resides here. The 4 x 4, Rainbow Reloaded and Creamy Rock Shrimp have an extremely loyal following.
Belthazar (V&A Waterfront)
The vast menu features the best cuts – either wet or dry-aged – along with classic sides and starters like chicken livers and steak tartare. First prize is dining outside with a mountain backdrop. It’s pricy, so save it for a special occasion.
The Butcher Shop and Grill (Mouille Point)
The smart Cape Town outpost of this longstanding Joburg institution offers the same smorgasbord of choice, from proudly South African beef, lamb and game to Argentinian rib eye and Kobe-style Wagyu. Visit the adjoining butchery and deli to take home the premium cuts.
Carne Constantia (Constantia)
All the cuts from the (Romagnola) beef, (Dorper) lamb and venison dishes are sourced from proprietor Giorgio Nava’s Karoo farm. The lamb shoulder ravioli and the Osso Buco Al Griglia (roasted marrow bones) are outstanding, as is the chocolate fondant. This southern suburbs outpost is situated in a converted Victorian house with modern, dramatic décor (which sometimes leads to difficult acoustics).
Carne on Kloof (Gardens)
Giorgio Nava’s Kloof Street venue is intimate and relaxed with two elegant dining rooms in the front of an old Victorian house. Select your cut of spectacular aged meat from a tray and rest assured it’ll be magnificent. It’s not cheap, but this is super special meat.
Carne SA (City Bowl)
The original venue of Giorgio Nava’s little empire of outstanding steak restaurants is sleek and stylish and right in the heart of the city’s legal district. The 1.2 kg La Fiorentina T-bone is a signature dish designed to share. A bar upstairs is a stylish place for a pre-dinner drink. The restaurant can get noisy when it’s full.
Cattle Baron (Bellville)
Expect great food in generous portions. Signature dishes include the Chateubriand – a fillet served with béarnaise, flamed in brandy at the table. The atmosphere is cosy and relaxed – a good all-rounder.
Dale’s Black Angus (Milnerton)
Expect good quality, value-for-money steaks. Their signature steak dish is the Special Reserve “21”, a seared fillet steak served with their own herb butter, but there’s also a good range of venison. Accents of dark wood and the crisp white tablecloths make the large venue feel warm.
Don Armando (Green Point)
Serving up Argentinian asado (barbeque), all the meats at Don Armando are grilled on charcoal and accompanied by chimichurri. Sirloin is juicy, and short rib is smoky and moreish. It’s an extremely stylish and somewhat masculine space, with lots of wood, blackened steel and plush but muted furnishings.
The Eatery Wood Fired Grill (Claremont) – Best Steakhouse – highly commended
This warm and welcoming restaurant offers diners a hearty melt-in-your-mouth grills and has become a Southern Suburbs favourite. Tuck in to juicy burgers, ribs, and of course, flavoursome steaks. Don’t forget to try one of their gourmet milkshakes.
The Hussar Grill (Camps Bay)
This branch of the chain is a comfortable space with wood partitioning to create intimacy, and a few prized tables near windows looking down over the distant sea. Classic old-fashioned dishes like deep-fried camembert and prawns in a Marie Rose sauce still reign.
The Hussar Grill (Mouille Point)
Try Klein Karoo lamb cutlets or hog ribs with fries, rice, mash or baby potatoes. It’s a classy, welcoming space.
The Hussar Grill (Rondebosch)
This original branch of the chain opened in 1964, and is still going strong. Even on a rainy winter night, you’ll struggle to get a table without a reservation. Succulent, well-cooked steak is what you came for, and what you should order.
The Hussar Grill (Steenberg)
Dark wood, leatherette booths and a happy harmonious buzz from diners make this a cosy spot to find good steak. Try fall-off-the-bone ribs or tender fillet with a nice caramelised crust.
Pirates Pub & Grill (Plumstead) – Best Steakhouse – winner
An institution in the Southern Suburbs, Pirates draws its regulars back with succulent, generous steaks and a seventies roadhouse vibe. The kitchen is open late – so you may well see some chefs letting off steam here after service.
The list above includes four of the country’s Top 10 restaurants as judged by our panel of judges, several of the winners of the 2015 Best Everyday Eateries (voted for by you), and the Cape Town restaurants who made it into the 2016 Eat Out 500. Nominated by the public and then rated and reviewed by our team of panellists, the full Eat Out 500 list appears in the 2016 Eat Out magazine (on sale now).