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Where to eat in 2019: The 144 best restaurants in Cape Town

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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 serving up every food type.

This selection comprises all the Cape Town restaurants that made the cut for the 2019 Eat Out 500, the list of best restaurants in the country as rated and reviewed by our panel of critics for the 2019 edition of Eat Out magazine (on sale now). But we know the city is crammed with loads more gems and mainstays that didn’t crack the nod. Please tell us about your favourites in the comments section at the end!

 

African

Ons Huisie (Blouberg) – 2018 Best Country-style Eatery

Winner of Best Country Style at the 2018 Best Everyday Eateries. While it’s tempting to stick to seafood at this seaside setting, there’s a very good chicken pie rich with mushrooms and a generous burger. Then there’s traditional bobotie or lamb bredie done with a green-bean sauce. The shcakes and the mussel pot make for delicious starters and will having you coming back for more. Opt for Cajun-style calamari for something with a bite or go for the prawn-and- sh combo. The house dessert is traditional souskluitjies: home- made steamed dumplings sprinkled with cinnamon and slathered with custard.

The Americas

Clarke’s Bar & Dining Room (City Bowl)

It’s evident that each menu item is well thought-out at this trendy diner. The croissant French toast stuffed with Nutella and boozy bourbon bananas is a winner. At 11am the lunch menu becomes available, featuring a superb selection of sandwiches like the Reuben with grain-fed beef brisket that’s cooked slowly for 12 hours. It comes served with braised cabbage, blue-cheese dressing and is finished with emmenthaler cheese. Clarke’s has a superb burger selection – the buttermilk-fried chicken option is highly recommended – as well as vegan and gluten-free options. Try the Sabich: hummus with re-roasted brinjal, cumin carrots, beetroot, salted cucumber, tomato, cabbage and yoghurt.

 

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The Deckhouse Crab Shack & BBQ (Gardens)

The Deckhouse Crabshack offers a dining experience inspired by the cuisine of the southern coast of the States. Namibian golden crab comes lightly steamed and tossed in a sweet, spicy and sticky Indonesian sauce. Other standout dishes include the moreish popcorn shrimp served with a spicy mayo and the chicken wings, served in a home-made Jim Bean basting sauce. If you have space for it, end with a Mississippi mud pie comprising a cookie layer topped with a chocolate cake-like batter and whipped cream.

The Dog’s Bollocks at Yard (Gardens)

Expect a slightly unorthodox dining experience here: write your name on a blackboard and collect your order from the kitchen. Drinks are delivered to your table, with waitrons shouting orders to the bar, adding to the exuberant atmosphere. On offer are burgers with options for patties (including a vegetarian one), toppings and sauces, served with either a side salad or chips. The burgers are huge and extremely satisfying.

One of the enormous burgers from Dogs Bollocks. Photo supplied.

El Burro (Green Point)

The food here is delicately spiced, fresh and flavourful. For starters, try the rellenos (stuffed jalapeños) or the ceviche. The esquites – sweetcorn dressed with parmesan cheese, lime juice, coriander and butter – are truly moreish. For mains, choose from a selection of tacos filled with pulled pork, lamb or vegetables. The line fish tacos have large pieces of delicately battered fried fish cooked to a tender flake, served with guacamole, tomato salsa and pickled onions. There is also a choice of quesadillas, as well as chicken mole and baked enchiladas. Dessert choice is limited but you can’t go wrong with churros.

El Burro (Newlands)

This is the ideal spot for Mexican feasts with mates. The smoked jalapeños, stuffed with queso fresco, are a good way to kick off your experience. The classic El Burro ceviche is also a favourite, made with sustainably sourced white fish. Build-your-own tacos is a fun experience, with fillings including fried fish, falafel, steak and chilorio pork. They’re served with traditional accompaniments of sour cream, lightly pickled red onions and guacamole. Pork carnitas are on the menu too. Vegans and vegetarians are well catered for. A frozen Las Paletas pop or churros and chocolate sauce provide the perfect ending.

 

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El Burro Taqueria (Tamboerskloof)

This is fast but delicious food. The chilli rellenos at this taqueria live up to their reputation: smoky, cheesy and hot! For mains, the concept is simple: choose from single-serving quesadillas or tacos. The fish taco is a must, filled with Baja-style fish coated in spices, pink pickled onions, smoked jalapeño mayo and avo. The chilorio pork taco is twice-cooked and served with chilli and garlic. When they say ‘hot’, they mean it. The crispy duck taco is another great option; the crispy sweet duck is balanced with a hot chilli salsa. Vegan options include wild mushroom quesadillas and cauliflower-and-chickpea tacos served with a spicy peanut salsa. For dessert, the options are simple: Las Paletas ice cream lollies or churros.

House of H (City Bowl)

Run by chef Heinrich Koen and his wife, Christina, House of H takes a very barbecue-forward approach: there is a slow-cooked brisket sandwich alongside simply grilled sirloin and rump steaks, as well as burgers and winning wings, which are deep-fried and served with a sweet and spicy dipping sauce. The dish everyone talks about, though, is the oyster mushroom burger. A hefty mushroom is thrown on the open ames and brushed with a herby basting sauce before being topped with halloumi and sandwiched on a ciabatta roll. If there’s space for dessert, they offer brownies and waffles.

 

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Hudson’s – The Burger Joint (Claremont)

This is a burger joint, pure and simple. There are more than 20 different burgers on o er, with some seriously creative flavour combinations. Of course there’s nothing wrong with the classic bacon-and-cheese combo in The Original Royale, but tossing bacon jam and dusted onions (The Bacon Jam) or BBQ sauce and brisket (Jack the Pickle) on top adds a new level of texture and flavour. While most burgers are made from veld-fed, free-roaming beef, you’ll also find ostrich, chicken and vegetarian options. If you just can’t decide, there’s a decent selection of sliders. Burgers aside, you’ll find grilled pork ribs, salads and pizzas on o er.

Jerry’s Burger Bar (Observatory)

It’s handmade burgers all the way here. Look out for the Jack D burger with a touch of Jack Daniels basting sauce and caramelised onions. Vegetarians will be happy with the Whoop Whoop burger made with a 100% chickpea patty with cheddar cheese topped with mushroom or pepper sauce. The FAB (feta, avo and bacon) burger does the trick nicely. If you must be different, try the BBQ ribs or an American- style corndog. To snack on, the Killer Kimchi with cheddar, mozzarella and Mexican pickle, fried and served with gochijang mayo sparks the interest. End with a huge waffle smothered in sauce. There’s a kids’ menu too.

 

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Lefty’s (City Bowl)

You know it’s good when the menu is concise, yet you’re torn on what to order. Order the chicken and waffles because it’s Lefty’s and you have to. Portions are generous, and the bacon and lightly yeasted waffle perfectly complement the syrup, while the tender chicken crunches wonderfully. The tender smoked pulled-pork sandwich with a tangy slaw is worth returning for, but it’s hard to imagine going wrong with either the Texas brisket sandwich or the sticky pork ribs. There’s also a selection of pizzas with classic toppings. Dessert is clearly not a priority here. Have another waffle – this time with ice cream.

Marrow (City Bowl)

Blink and you could miss this beautiful culinary gem that’s spooning up some of the best broths in Cape Town. The signature clear broth packs a punch: crunchy julienned carrot, smoky paprika chorizo, tender chicken and the sweet, light sting of spring onion. The brown broth with venison, lentils, flaked almonds, zucchini and Turkish apricots is brilliant. If you’re vegan (or even if you’re not), the white broth is wonderful, with a vegetable base made with coconut milk, miso and lemongrass, and it’s served with roasted aubergine, tofu, turnip and basil dressing.

 

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Royale Eatery & Royale Kitchen (City Bowl)

This legendary burger spot offers choices of beef, chicken, sh, lamb, ostrich, vegetarian or vegan patties. The El Burro burger is a 160g beef patty made with chorizo, chillies and coriander. It’s topped with mozzarella cheese, roast tomato salsa and guacamole. The patty, perfectly cooked to medium, is fantastic with their basting. Vegetarians and vegans have plenty of options, with patties made of soya mince, lentils, roasted veg, beans, chickpeas, tofu and more. The upper floor’s menu also features pizzas. There are two desserts on the menu: a Lindt chocolate brownie and malva pudding, both served with ice cream.

Asian-Inspired

Active Sushi (City Bowl)

This sushi spot is popular for its all-you-can-eat specials and platters. Kick things o with a tasty miso soup with chunks of tofu, seaweed and spring onion. For budget sushi, it’s decently put together and tasty. Begin with classics like salmon roses and progress to some of the wackier signature dishes, which feature everything from strawberry and cream cheese to beetroot and even cognac. The deep-fried calamari roll is a pleasant fusion of a classic seafood dish and crunchy sushi roll. There’s also a selection of ramen dishes, salads, banting sushi and poke bowls. End with deep-fried ice cream

 

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Cheyne’s (Hout Bay)

This popular Hout Bay eatery offers fantastic Asian-inspired tapas. The food abounds with flavour and originality. The menu is divided into four sections: sea, earth, land and happy endings. Oceanic highlights include the soft-shell crab with roasted fennel, miso and lime aïoli, while a hot and sour risotto with prawn ‘popcorn’ totally knocks it out of the park. The baby back pork ribs with sweet yakiniku glaze and toasted sesame will have you licking your fingers, while croquettes of duck, lime leaf and miso are served on squares of fresh watermelon. It’s a revelation.

Haru (Rondebosch)

Expect a mix of Japanese and Korean specialities. Kick things off with the rich but tasty crispy salmon skin, and a double order of gyoza – the delicate and well-executed pork or chicken dumplings are a highlight. Sushi is popular: try one of the specials, like the dragon rolls with tempura prawns or flaming salmon rolls with velvety torched salmon and teriyaki sauce. Ramen is delicately flavoured and filling. Try the ton-kotsu ramen with pork bone broth, pork belly chashu, spring onion, bean sprouts, nori, and a toffee-like seven-minute egg. The donburi – Japanese rice bowls – come with beautifully crisp-crumbed chicken katsu (a panko- crumbed schnitzel).

Ramen at Haru

Ramen at Haru. Photo supplied.

Hesheng Chinese Restaurant (Sea Point)

The menu is extensive at this Sea Point gem, so it’s advisable to order a range of dishes to share, family-style. Begin with the feather-light dumplings – fried potsticker-style or steamed in bamboo baskets. The beef dumplings are glorious, dipped in a combo of vinegar and soy. Another highlight is the leek pancakes: golden, flaky dough conceals a layer of sweet leeks. Tuck into melt-in-the-mouth eggplant in oyster sauce or nibble on the rm jellied pig’s ear salad laced with chilli. Finish with a glorious bowl of Szechuan beef: it arrives steaming, the broth brimming with chilli, and the beef is scrumptious. There are no desserts on offer.

Korean Soju (Sea Point)

This hole-in-the-wall spot serves up absolutely authentic Korean fare. The umami mushrooms have extraordinary depth of flavour, full of hints of anchovy, soya and dashi. There is great satisfaction in assembling the bulgogi, which is pork and beef basted with a sweet soy sauce with chilli and other condiments in a crisp lettuce envelope. The bibimpap is a feast of aroma and texture: beef strips cooked on a hot stone plate at the table and served with rice, vegetables from the owner’s garden and topped with an egg.

Nobu One & Only (V&A Waterfront) – NOMINEE

Start with salted edamame beans to whet your appetite. A selection of Nobu’s superb sushi should follow. Want to break from tradition? The new-style salmon sashimi never fails to impress. Then, move on to the tempura or the succulent kushiyaki (grilled skewers) of scallops, langoustine or salmon. A side dish of Nobu’s spinach salad with yuzu truffle and dried miso wouldn’t hurt. The extensive dessert menu adds a Japanese twist to a range of classic sweets. Always dreamed of tofu tiramisu or matcha fondant? You’ve come to the right place. There is also a range of set menus on offer, including the seven-course omakase tasting menu.

A Nobu spread

A Nobu spread. Photo supplied.

Saigon (Gardens)

The vast menu can be daunting, but start with crisp golden spring rolls served with rice noodles, lettuce cups, cucumber and mint and juicy lamb pot stickers. Interesting sushi options include a hearty tuna crunch sushi roll topped with mayo and sweet chilli. For mains the pork ribs are literally finger-licking good: sweet and sticky, topped with crispy fried garlic and fresh spring onion. The colony beef fillet is pan- fried to a perfectly succulent medium rare then topped with a soy dressing and served on a bed of crunchy broccoli and green beans. End with coconut an or deep-fried bananas.

SHIO (De Waterkant) – 2018 Best Asian-inspired Eatery

It’s all about sharing here. Nibble on edamame beans with a tangy dipping sauce and glorious golden duck-fat fries with truffle salt as you peruse the extensive Japanese-inspired tapas menu. Order at least one portion of the forbidden black rice risotto with fragrant tom yum coconut cream and topped with cray sh popcorn. The pork belly roast with red miso and nashi pear sauce is predictably good, as is the beef fillet tataki with miso aïoli and coconut cream. The tempura butternut with pickled butternut and ponzu mayo is a triumph. Finish with a Kyoto coffee with Nikka black whiskey, coconut cream and a cinnamon doughnut.

South China Dim Sum Bar (City Bowl)

Championing fuss-free dining well ahead of the craze, this tiny spot serves up the finest dim sum dumplings and pot stickers in the city. The steamed har gao of translucent wheat-and-tapioca dumplings stuffed with prawns, water chestnuts and spring onions is delicious. Along with vegetarian options, more substantial dishes such as noodles or steamed buns are available. The braised beef short rib boasts tender meat smothered in hoisin, chilli and star anise served on a mound of fragrant jasmine rice. Leave room for a scoop or two of ice cream.

A meal at Tomo Japanese Restaurant

A meal at Tomo Japanese Restaurant. Photo by Linda Scarborough.

Tomo Japanese Restaurant (City Bowl)

This new Japanese restaurant’s menu has a sushi section that boasts popular options such as California rolls and tempura crunch rolls. Starters include miso soup, a satisfying bowl of tofu, seaweed and finely chopped spring onions. Other options to kick o the meal include beef tataki and rice-paper rolls. Mains include a teppanyaki selection, dumplings (the steamed lamb dumplings are particularly delicious), tempura, and robata (Japanese braai) section. The tempura udon bowl comes with two giant prawns, silky noodles, rich broth and a scattering of chilli flakes. Finish with green-tea ice cream or black sesame ice cream.

Bistros

Cape Point Vineyards Restaurant (Cape Point)

Chef Jonathan Galgan has created tempting food-and-wine pairing menus built around the estate’s wines – namely sauvignon blanc, chardonnay and the flagship white blend. All dishes on the set menus come in tapas, starter and main portions, or on an à la carte menu. Hand-caught Cape Point tuna in a fragrant Thai coconut, lime, lemongrass, chilli and ginger sauce is enhanced by an aromatic, zesty sauvignon blanc. Weiss-beer braised pork belly with ham hock pea foam and walnut beurre noisette is perfectly complemented by the richly oaked reserve sauvignon blanc. Don’t miss the signature Silvermine Forest dessert:, a study of dark and milk chocolate cremeux, marquise and frozen truffle.

The Foodbarn (Noordhoek)

Chef Franck Dangereux’s menu showcases everything from classic techniques to modern twists that create an exciting yet comforting experience. Starters might include bouillabaisse – the rich yet delicate fish soup comes served with grilled fish, prawn, mussels, a saffron-and-garlic potato mousseline, rouille and croutons. There’s also always more than one vegetarian option, like the silken ravioli stuffed with wild mushrooms and ricotta, and enrobed in a truffle-and-fontina cream. Move on to mains like perfect risotto with porcini, parmesan and asiago with a dollop of mustard-seed mascarpone. Meat-eaters will be utterly satis ed with the perfectly cooked pasture-reared beef sirloin. For dessert, the strawberries and milk is a nostalgic dish.

La Boheme Wine Bar & Bistro (Sea Point)

Dishes change according to what’s fresh and abundant at the market. This means braised pork belly could be served as pulled pork and goat’s cheese ravioli with wilted greens, or with roasted butternut, tomato and beetroot chutney. Ditto the rabbit served with accompaniments, such as potato gnocchi, edamame beans and roast cherry tomatoes, or a hefty helping of aubergine and potato purée. The springbok carpaccio with roast garlic, crème fraîche and horseradish is sublime. Vegetarians will typically find a single option each among the starters and mains, which is fine when you land the coconut lentil curry with salted pears. There’s a Mediterranean-inspired tapas menu and crowd-pleasers such as sticky toffee pudding and apple tart for dessert.

 

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A spread at La Tête

A spread at La Tête. Photo by Claire Gunn.

La Tête (City Bowl) – NOMINEE

The menu changes daily, adapting to the seasons. Anything with seafood will be a winner, whether it’s the mussels, leeks and bacon; salted hake with jammy eggs on sourdough; famous fish sandwich; or a tangle of octopus salad. Heavier options might include ox heart, a beautiful roasted quail, or rich brains on toast with a bright, acidic vinaigrette. Do also order sides like zingy cauliflower cheese or various salads of tossed and dressed greens or beans. For dessert, it’s impossible to resist the madeleines once their aroma wafts your way, but you would be equally satis ed by lemony tarts, panna cotta or fresh profiteroles.

Manna Epicure (Gardens)

Breakfast is served all day, which is great news because their coconut bread is what breakfast dreams are made of. It comes with eggs, done to your liking, sliced avocado and smoked salmon. There are plenty of other breakfast classics: eggs Benedict, waffles, omelettes and muesli. For lunch, the roasted cauliflower salad with fennel and crisp fried halloumi is sublime. Heartier eats include burgers, fish and pasta dishes. Sides include truffle mash, polenta and sautéed spinach. End with cake, crème brûlée or malva pudding.

Mink & Trout (City Bowl)

Tapas are popular here, and the list features arancini with mushrooms and cauliflower; crumbed pork and grilled calamari with a tonkatsu sauce; ham hock terrine with a kohlrabi-and-apple remoulade; and whitebait with dill-and-lemon mayo. Mains include grilled sh with corn-and-bacon chowder and mussels au gratin, gnocchi with mushrooms, baby spinach and a poached egg; Elgin pork belly with butternut, braised red cabbage and sage; and the signature chicken pie with truffle-and-mushroom sauce. Classic desserts on o er are yoghurt panna cotta, crème brulée and a flourless chocolate cake.

 

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Reverie Social Table (Observatory)

This small city eatery packs a big punch, offering sophisticated and exciting dining at one long table. Chef Julia Hattingh’s food is fresh and interesting. The small lunch menu changes daily. Sunny days might find diners munching on a piquant strawberry, fennel and goat’s cheese salad, or a salad of peaches, coppa, mint and rocket. Both are delectable. Those looking for an immersive experience should take note of Julia’s acclaimed dinners – these multi-course meals are designed to pair with a local winery and have become known for their exciting flavours and innovative techniques. The suppers would make a great birthday bash, if you book the whole table.

Skotnes (Tokai)

Among the starters are soup, duck biltong salad, calamari with sweetcorn, mielie pap and chakalaka, and heirloom beetroot with almond milk espuma and smoked grapes. The trendy jaffle has an entire section devoted to it. These crowd-pleasers are each served with tomato smoor and sambal. There’s one filled with Cape Malay braised brisket and peach chutney. The bobotie, made with succulent slow-cooked lamb shoulder, doesn’t disappoint. Desserts include banana bread with granadilla ‘glass’ and banana ice cream, a chocolate lamington with smoked chocolate ice cream, and lightly brûléed lemon tart served with Cremora tart sorbet and raspberries.

Upper Bloem (Green Point)

The set menu is divided into three parts. Start with smoked snoek croquettes and lightly cured kabeljou on a crunchy sago crisp and Cape Malay-style onions. Then there are delicately spiced carrots with goat’s cheese; plump mussels in a flavourful broth studded with samphire and a quail ‘Kabaab’ – a take on the Scotch egg – soft-boiled and surrounded by shredded beef on a bed of beetroot. The hearty third part boasts duck breast with quince and samosa crisp, beef short rib with crisp sweetbreads and thinly sliced pickled tongue with fresh green apple. For dessert try ‘After school’, a play on tinned fruit with evaporated milk.

A selection of dishes at Upper Bloem

A selection of dishes at Upper Bloem. Photo supplied.

Cafés

Between Us (City Bowl)

The breakfast menu is divided into four. ‘Grains’ is a selection of cereal, pancakes and porridges. I recommend the honeycomb, cashew butter and fruit compote combo. The egg section comprises scrambled and cooked full breakfasts. If you love mushrooms, try the double mushroom butter scramble. The ploughman’s cheese, fruit and charcuterie boards are perfect for sharing. The menu ends with a selection of scones and the signature rum banana bread. Try the Niçoise, smoked trout or burrata and braised leek versions, for lunch. For something more substantial, there’s oxtail ragu pasta or the cavolo Nero black rice. For meat lovers: Chalmar beef fillet or chargrilled chicken. Finish off with gelato or cheesecake.

 

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Bootlegger Coffee Company (Muizenberg)

A simple menu and an uncomplicated drinks offering encourages diners to briskly order their pastry and beverage then enjoy their hand-held fare while watching the waves crash onto the shore. Dig into banana loaf, a quattro cheese muffin with cream cheese, cheddar cheese, mozzarella and feta, or decadent pain au chocolat. Kids will love the soft-serve ice creams; adults will enjoy the addition of a Belgian chocolate flake or salted caramel bits as optional extras.

Boston Coffee (Bellville)

Start the day with a Sourdough Scramble: toast topped with bacon, perfectly scrambled eggs and a smattering of feta cheese and baby tomatoes. Sandwiches are impressive, each made with toasted sourdough and home-made mustard. They come elegantly stacked and perfectly crisp, with fillings ranging from chicken and mayo to mince, feta and garlic. If it’s available, grab a slice of the life-changing chocolate cake.

Café Blouberg (Blouberg)

Start your day with the Blouberg: a poached egg with grilled polenta, crispy bacon, mushroom-and-thyme sauce and toast. Traditional eggs Benedict with bacon or smoked trout come with poached eggs and delicious home-made Hollandaise sauce. There’s also a health option with muesli and yoghurt, goji berries and honey. Their baked goodies are legendary: fantastic little cakes, freshly baked scones with preserves and cream, lemon meringue pie and baked cheesecakes. All are fabulous to look at and even better to eat. The meat pies are the best on the West Coast.

The Chicken Shop (Sea Point)

This stylish takeaway prides itself on sourcing the nest ingredients and serving the best-tasting chicken in town. Choose perfectly cooked rotisserie chicken – traditional or Portuguese spatchcock with basting sauces of peri-peri, lemon and herb, Thai or barbecue. Then there’s southern fried chicken or buttermilk chicken – or leg of lamb if you want to stray from the crowd. If you feel like a nibble, chicken popcorn, cauliflower popcorn, chilli cheese bites, potato croquettes and corn on the cob do nicely. Sides include a char-grilled butternut, creamy Danish feta and macadamia salad, while the mac and cheese is superb. No desserts are on offer.

 

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Cushty (Green Point)

Breakfast options include light home-made granola with seasonal fruits and Greek yoghurt from Gay’s Dairy, and cherry tomato toast with mushrooms, rocket, feta and pecans. If you’re an eggs Benny fan, you can’t go wrong here. Come lunchtime, the deli counter is filled with salads, sides and proteins such as pork sausages, free-range chicken or lamb kebabs and chicken phyllo pies. Pair with colourful veg platters, or go for pasta dishes like Aglio spinach-and-ricotta ravioli with crumbled feta. For something sweet, grab a gluten-free brownie or chocolate croissant on your way out.

Dinkel Bakery (Tamboerskloof)

This family-run spot is the place for traditional German dishes and baked goods made with spelt and rye – great if you’re trying to eat less gluten. From the breakfast menu, try the Dresden with a spelt croissant: you’ll receive a glorious plate of jam, butter and fruit, decorated with tiny violets and mint, and what might be the most buttery, flakiest croissant. Lunches include a range of sandwiches and hearty soups: think mince and leek or German potato soup with a Vienna sausage. The pretty bakery counter offers some slightly stodgy cakes, those stellar spelt croissants, and great Florentines, as well as seasonal bakes during Easter and Christmas.

 

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Four & Twenty Café & Pantry (Wynberg)

Breakfast is served all day and includes a vast range of banting-friendly options – try the green eggs and ham Benedict with a basil Hollandaise. For lunch, a favourite is the cheeky chicken burger: a marinated chicken breast topped with caramelised onions, fresh avo and a drizzle of mustard mayo. Another signature dish is the home-made chicken pie. Seasonal salads o er interesting combinations. To satisfy your sweet tooth, there are heavenly home-made cakes and pastries that include gluten-free options.

Giovanni’s Deli World (Green Point)

Endless baskets of fresh bread – of every kind, with enough cold meats, condiments and cheeses to match – enables Giovanni’s diners to build the perfect sandwich. Pesto, an assortment of hummus, tzatziki and other spreads are stacked next to a variety of fresh vegetables and salads. From shiny green beans cooked in olive oil to mouth-watering potato salad, vegetarians are well catered for. A wide selection of meat dishes is available, from tikka chicken to schnitzels.

 

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Honest Chocolate Café (City Bowl)

The café takes chocolate and celebrates the wonders of this beautiful ingredient. The banana bread bunny chow offers a whimsical spin on a savoury classic: a banana bread mini loaf is filled with a silky dark chocolate spread, topped with creamy ice cream and a generous sprinkling of spiced nuts. An offering of St Anna’s lightly salted nachos is available, accompanied by an indulgent chocolate and finished o with chilli on the side. The nachos are gluten-free and vegan. The ultra-moist dark chocolate ganache cake and the gooey nut-loaded chocolate brownie have what it takes to capture the attention in this chocolate wonderland.

Jarryds Espresso Bar + Eatery (Sea Point)

Breakfasts include sweeter options like milk and honey panna cotta, overnight oats with apple and cinnamon, smoothie bowls, waffles and pancakes. Order eggs any which way with a choice of sides, or try eggs Benedict with smoked salmon, sautéed artichokes and mushrooms, or brisket. For something different, go for a summer quinoa breakfast bowl. Lunch offers salads, sh tacos, pasta, wraps and burgers, with tempting sides like rustic-cut fries with aïoli, fully loaded fries with wasabi Japanese mayo, or sweet chilli and firecracker prawn bites.

Jason Bakery (Green Point)

In the morning, look forward to breakfasts such as the spinach-spiked green pancakes, creamy mushroom ragout or fragrantly spiced shakshuka. For mid-morning cravings, indulge in the selection of sandwiches, all served on your choice of home-made Bree Street sourdough, ciabatta or 66% sourdough rye. The afternoon lunch menu has a selection of interesting salads and health bowls, as well as the home-made pie of the day. Also find breads, pastries, tarts and sweets.

 

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Jason Bakery (City Bowl)

There is an ever-changing display of decadent baked goods at this cool bakery, including apple danishes, pasteis de nata and cookies. If you’re looking to get your hands on one of Jason’s doughssants, you’ll have to get out of bed early on a Saturday because they fly out of the store. There’s an extensive menu of sweet and savoury dishes to eat in. For breakfast, don’t overlook the shakshuka, with eggs baked in a fiery tomato and red pepper sauce. Lunches feature man-sized sandwiches, kick-ass pies and salads.

The Kitchen (Woodstock)

Breakfast consists of charmingly named items that are often vegetarian friendly. Enjoy Bananas in Pajamas: seed toast with cream cheese, banana, honey and gomashio. Watch the salad cam carefully to plan your lunch selection of three salads; for a protein punch, add grilled chicken, a Scotch egg or gammon. Salads are wholesome: think potatoes with green pesto, aïoli and pomegranate seeds; thinly sliced aubergine in tomato paste; spicy Tunisian egg salad. The Kitchen is renowned for nutritious and flavourful lunches, and The Love Sandwich is no exception: bread is generously spread with pesto, aïoli, tomatoes, dressed leaves and then crammed with delicious fillings. For dessert, devour a brownie or lemon square.

Kleinsky’s Delicatessen (City Bowl)

There’s a short breakfast selection with challah French toast, latke Benedict and pastrami hash with eggs. Kleinsky’s is known for its bagels: you could have pastrami with mustard and pickles or a play on a California roll with smoked salmon, wasabi cream cheese, avo and pickled ginger. Or keep it simple with a schmear such as spring onion and chives or sundried tomato and olive. The hot dogs are a revelation: a beef frankfurter comes cradled by a heavenly hot pretzel roll. Toppings include plays on bánh mì and a Reuben sandwich. Finish with New York cheesecake or potato latkes with apple sauce and sour cream.

 

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Kleinsky’s Delicatessen (Sea Point)

This is bagel and latke heaven, both for breakfast and lunch. The breakfast bagel with egg, cheese, tomato and lamb bacon is a hot favourite. Also scrumptious is the latke Benedict – crunchily firm potato pancakes topped by two poached eggs and a creamy Hollandaise sauce, with optional extras like smoked salmon. Hot pastrami on rye is an excellent lunch choice with smoky home-made mustard adding piquancy. The chicken soup, either with noodles or a matzo ball, is good enough to make even the most ardent Jewish mama nod in approval. Finish with the richly decadent New York cheesecake.

Lime Tree Café (Bergvliet)

While the menu is made up of a great mix of lighter dishes, perfect for lunch, their breakfast offering is what to look out for. Aside from the standard breakfast, they serve a couple of standout dishes. Their Lime Tree Benedict ticks all the boxes, with poached eggs, rocket and smoked salmon served on a courgette and ricotta waffle. The Mediterranean morning – with boiled eggs, sliced avo, olives, cucumber and tomato – is a good option for those who enjoy piecing a breakfast together, and the butter croissant with camembert and home-made jam is all kinds of satisfying.

Loading Bay (De Waterkant)

The breakfast bun is what dreams are made of: a buttery toasted brioche bun is filled with tomato-studded guacamole, mature cheddar cheese, crispy bacon and an oozy fried egg. The heirloom rainbow breakfast (also just as delicious for lunch) is as colourful as it is flavourful. It serves as a deliciously unexpected combination of rainbow beets, ginger and tomatoes with goat’s cheese and poached eggs. Also on offer is a selection of salads and burgers served with those truffle fries. If you’re after something sweet, try the cinnamon or cardamom bun.

 

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Mustacchio Caffe (Gardens)

The menu is a mélange of options. It starts o with a customary breakfast selection before moving on to filled croissants (one option is filled with whipped cream and berries). Then comes the pastas, think Bolognese or vegan carbonara. The burgers are trendy: a deep-fried burger is wrapped in phyllo pastry; or try The Black Panther featuring buns infused with activated charcoal. The waffle burger is absurdly good – the sweetness of the waffle pairs perfectly with the savoury beef, bacon and home-made honey mustard. The torta Mustacchio is a must – a coconut cake layered with Nutella and topped with flaked coconut.

Olami (City Bowl)

Create you own combinations (three veg and one protein) to make up a personalised lunchbox takeaway or plate to eat there. Proteins include meatballs, curries and stews. Then there’s a plethora of brightly coloured salads sprinkled with seeds and scattered with herbs. The tender Durban- style chicken curry is lightly spiced, while the whole roasted cauliflower with its burnished exterior and soft creamy interior is sublime. The sweet roasted beetroot scattered with seeds and tossed with herbs is a consistent feature on the salad offering. The golden almond Florentine is a must, or try the signature sesame-rolled date balls.

Plant Café (City Bowl)

Start o with soup with tempeh, mushroom tartare, fried cheese sticks or tacos. For mains, the happy salmon burger is tasty with crunchy carrot bits and a slight sweet flavour, served on a bun with a savoury avocado guacamole. Or try the mushroom burger with sautéed mushrooms, cashew cheese, tomatoes and mayo on a bun. A popular dish is the quesadillas with smokey refried beans, vegan cheese and cooked salsa filling. The desserts include brownies and the Superfood raw cheesecake.

 

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Scheckter’s Raw Gourmet Health Food (Sea Point)

This buzzing little vegan café serves up tasty wholesome plant-based food that has even meat-eaters convinced. The wonderfully nutty falafel balls with pink hummus make a great starter to share. Else progress directly to the ‘Best Vegan Burger’ made with lentils, veggie protein, brown rice, oats and flax seeds. Paired with smashed avo, caramelised onions, sweet potato fries and vegan aïoli, it’s a magnificent thing, and looks the part too, with its black charcoal-infused roll. Also on offer: hot dogs, wraps and a range of bowls. Sweets are guilt- free raw, organic treats sweetened with low-GI organic coconut nectar and free from refined sugar, dairy and gluten.

SMAK (City Bowl)

This little deli spot is great for brekkie or lunch, and they make cakes to order. Salads, pastas and burgers are on the menu. The lamb double zero pasta is a winner, with shredded roast leg meat in a creamy sauce on fresh pasta. Other eye-catchers on the menu are the ‘Smoke Bomb’ burger with mozzarella and home-made tomato chutney or try the classic French croque monsieur, to which you can add chips, egg and bacon. There’s no dessert menu but the cheesecakes will do nicely.

The popular cheesecake at SMAK. Photo supplied.

Starlings Café (Claremont)

This is home comfort food at its best, with delicious aromas coming from the kitchen to greet you as you enter. The intensely rich salmon tart with a red onion base and rich cream cheese centre is a knockout, served with a super fresh salad with a tangy dressing that balances the richness. The aubergine bake is another favourite, redolent with garlic and tomatoes. Put a little spicy edge on things with tasty yellow Asian chicken curry served with cauliflower rice. Finish with the best cheesecake around – baked and irresistible.

Swan Café (City Bowl)

The menu is divided into savoury galettes and sweet crêpes. The savoury selection includes a bacon, egg and tomato breakfast galette, a croque-monsieur, and a galette with a chicken-and-creamy mushroom filling. Speciality galettes include truffled cauliflower, and blue cheese with pear and prosciutto. On the sweet side there’s classic cinnamon sugar with lemon, ever-popular Nutella, and a crêpe filled with home-made salted caramel. Speciality crêpes include orange sauce and thyme, and berries with lemon curd.

 

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Whole Earth Café (Scarborough)

This delightful new spot lives up to its name, offering fresh, healthy cuisine. The menu is inspired by the owner’s philosophy of using ethically produced, locally sourced ingredients to promote a healthy lifestyle. Specials range from truffled cauliflower soup to vegan lentil dahl. An innovative and contemporary menu offers Vietnamese string salad with crispy noodles and a falafel skewer with aubergine chutney and quinoa tabbouleh. Expect big, fresh flavours with loads of crunch. Meat-eaters will enjoy the succulent free-range beef burgers with home-made garnishes. Desserts are scrumptious, from gluten-free chocolate cake to Kirsten’s kick-ass ice-cream.

Wild Sprout (V&A Waterfront)

This whole-foods eatery boasts a menu that caters to all diets and doesn’t skimp on flavour. Breakfasts include zucchini fritters topped with poached eggs and a home-made tomato relish, creamy mushrooms on toast with home-made hummus, or Hot Fac porridge with flaxseeds, almonds, chia seeds and a fig compote. For lunch, choose from the harvest table or grab a cauli-wrap filled with sundried tomatoes, hummus, caramelised onions, goat’s cheese, spinach, carrots and cabbage. There are also easy-eating snacks like toasted banana bread, a vegan curry bowl and hemp waffles served with Nice Cream, fresh berries and cacao.

 

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Fine dining

Aubergine Restaurant (Gardens)

For lunch, the chef’s menu is a good option, comprising three courses plus coffee and friandises. Starters could include a fantastic salmon soup; mains fish of the day with a bronze fennel emulsion or slow-roasted Wildebeest loin with broad beans; and a plate of local cheeses or a chocolate fondant with glazed nectarines. The á la carte menu, for lunch or dinner is pricier with modest portion sizes. It does present more variety, however, with options like medallions of lamb shoulder or masala-style pork neck. You could also opt for the degustation menu of three, four or five courses with optional wine pairings. Dessert could be a mocha semifreddo with grapes and toasted ice cream.

Buitenverwachting (Constantia)

Austrian chef Edgar Osonjik follows the seasons with his two menus, Rustic Affairs and Indulge, both highlighting the high level of classical skill in the kitchen. Dishes like a Thai-marinated ostrich carpaccio with black garlic and sesame; and the complex M-S-G (mielie, spinach and garlic soup with lamb fillet, pesto and flammkuchen) show inspiration from his Austrian roots, South African home, and the rest of the world. Sea bass also gets an Asian touch, while perfectly cooked duck is more traditionally served à l’orange. Desserts are Asian-influenced, like lemongrass ice cream with banana ravioli or chocolate heaven – try the Valrhona chocolate brownie.

Catharina’s (Tokai)

Chef Kerry Kilpin and her team turns out delicious food at this upmarket establishment. Classics like hand-chopped beef tartare with truffle remoulade will warm the cockles of any carnivore’s heart; while the Cape Malay fish croquettes with lemon aïoli deliver maximum flavour. The sous vide pork belly with rosemary crushed potatoes has the right amount of crunch but the stars of the show are the grilled venison loin with potato rösti and the grilled beef fillet with Bordelaise jus. You’ll have to go a long way to find a better Amarula crème brûlée, served with churros and chocolate sauce.

The short rib and beetroot tart at Catharina's

The short rib and beetroot tart at Catharina’s. Photo supplied.

Cucina Labia (Muizenberg)

The menu is inventive. On the starters menu, a Waldorf salad is reimagined with a roasted apple, overflowing with strong roasted brie, a braised endive and goat’s cheese. A cherry-smoked duck comes with a beautiful jelly, made with sliced grapes and duck parfait. For mains, the osso buco is a triumph and the Weskus-inspired fish of the day is similarly successful. Dessert includes chocolate fondant and affogato.

De Grendel Restaurant (Panorama)

Chef Ian Bergh keeps dishes fresh and delicious at this gourmet destination; portions are manageable and flavours are intense. Char sui pork belly with kimchi, pear, daikon and crackling is a delight of flavours and textures, slightly sweet and sour with a little bite to keep it all on edge. The tuna tataki with pineapple, cucumber and black bean chilli is a revelation of eastern influences. A white chocolate brownie with mango sorbet and panna cotta makes a delightful ending.

 

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Diemersdal Farm Eatery (Durbanville) 

Innovative, globally inspired and tasty fare hit the mark here. Start with parmesan and ricotta dumplings, green peas, asparagus, king oyster and lemon foam. The pork belly with crispy crackling, beetroot and palm sugar with rum reduction is a definite recommendation: slow-cooked, tender and full of flavour served with parsnip, pistachio and lemongrass. For a sweet ending, the rich chocolate bomb has a hidden center mousse with a biscuit layer for a perfect crunch and butterscotch that adds a yummy gooey center. Another dessert to consider is the warm brandy tart with vanilla Chantilly and ginger.

Greenhouse at The Cellars-Hohenort (Constantia) – Top 10

To start, courses include the tasty amuse-bouche set of nibbles. The first few courses deliver oodles of theatre. The steamed blue prawn comprises a raw prawn steamed tableside to create a visual sensation and lingering aroma. The chokka noodle dish is served with waterblommetjies, sour fig gel and a lacquered squid-ink and yuzu sauce. Also unforgettable: the caramel smoked duck with truffled liver mousse, hibiscus beets, cashew and nasturtium crumble. Leave space for not one but two desserts: an apple with salted caramel and white chocolate pap.

A Greenhouse dish

A Greenhouse dish. Photo supplied.

Homespun Restaurant (Tableview)

For starters, the beef tatake is served with light and crispy tempura onion and completed by wasabi mayo and pickled ginger. Other starter options to try are the grilled Patagonian squid or the vegetarian deep-fried goats’ cheese. For mains, the new kid on the menu is the lamb en croûte: slow-cooked lamb neck encased in phyllo pastry with al dente julienned vegetables. Another main to consider is the beef fillet, flame-grilled and served with sweet butternut wedges and fresh spring onions. End with the chocolate torte served with banana gelato.

La Colombe (Constantia) – Top 10

Beautiful, visually arresting and utterly delicious food. Chef Scot Kirton has passed on the mantle to his right-hand man, James Gaag, to carry through the philosophy of whimsical fine dining. From a beguiling beginning of a black box of Cape Malay snacks to the famed tuna and then a standout of naartjie-glazed langoustine with Korean duck, fennel and umami broth, flavours are moreish and will have you enjoying every last morsel. The Karoo lamb is a delicious and complex dish of carefully balanced flavours, featuring loin, braised neck, harissa, chermoula, burnt sage and dukkah. A swoon-inducing ending is brought about by a memorable pre-dessert before a summer-island kiss of pina colada and litchi. Leave space for the petit fours.

A tapas dish at La Colombe

A tapas dish at La Colombe. Photo by Andrea van der Spuy.

La Mouette (Sea Point) – NOMINEE

Choose between a three- or five-course menu. The five-course option begins with a selection of tapas. The second course is a deconstructed leek and potato soup: smoked mash is served in a bowl with herb oil then the leek velouté is poured at the table. The third course poses a choice between a vegetable kofta and West Coast mussels. The koftas are wonderfully spicy and crisp. Fourth is a choice between herb gnocchi and pork belly. The pork is wonderfully tender and rich, coated with a sticky, flavourful jus. Dessert is a unique interpretation of lemon meringue tart.

Planet Restaurant (Gardens)

Choose from two-, three- or four-courses, plus extras such as oysters and caviar with potato blinis. Start with a Cape wild green salad with a vibrant curry leaf dressing; sweetbreads with prosciutto; or roasted cauliflower salad with buffalo milk yoghurt. For the second course, the roast sea bass with parsley crust and lemon-butter sauce is generously portioned, while the pan-fried trout with Puy lentils and spekboom salsa verde hits the spot. For mains, Asian-style duck breast is perfectly cooked, delivering a peppery tang, while the beef tournedos is a reliable choice. End with peanut-and-chocolate mousse and gingerbread ice cream or a twice-baked parmesan-and-gruyère souffle with apple pâté de fruit.

Riverine Rabbit (City Bowl)

Diners have a trio of menus from which to choose. At its simplest – and most affordable – you’ll find a three-course menu. That ramps up to a nine-course tasting menu. For starters, the delicate burnt leek in brown butter should be top of your list. Prefer something meaty? The honey-cured beef is outstanding. Main courses include sea bream with mussels, kombu and fresh greens, or lamb with legumes and wild herbs. For vegetarians there’s mushroom pithivier. Chocolate fans will love the Koffie dessert: a moist beer cake is topped with Amarula crème fraîche, cocoa nibs and luscious chocolate ice cream.

 

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Salsify (Camps Bay)

Start with the beetroot amuse-bouche then move on to the assiette of suckling pig, which pairs well with morsels of salted apple and num num. For mains, the pan-seared springbok is beautiful, while the Peking duck breast provides complex flavours from salted sour plums and walnuts. For dessert, the dark chocolate soufflé is impressive, served with a gorgeously creamy quenelle of milk-chocolate ice cream. The roasted pineapple goes beautifully with the tiny coriander sprouts, tangy kefir snow and torn crumbs of dense coconut cake.

The Test Kitchen (Woodstock) – Top 10

Chef-proprietor Luke Dale-Roberts presides over one of the country’s most inventive kitchens. At this bijou dining room, he presents a multi-course feast that straddles genres and continents from sea to terroir. The elaborate menu progresses from the light and subtle to the rich and robust. Dishes deliver tenfold on the promise that their beauty suggests, whether it’s the silky, savoury billionaire’s shortbread of dark chocolate and duck liver, the sweet scallop with crisp celery, or the sumptuous corn risotto with corn foam (from the dedicated vegetarian menu). Whether opting for the gourmand, vegetarian or pescatarian menu paired with iconic wines or tea – expect an expertly balanced menu that will have you enthralled right until the sweet ending.

A dish at The Test Kitchen: Chamomile ice cream, cardamom and brown butter sponge, toasted sunflower seeds. Photo supplied.

Tjing Tjing Momiji (City Bowl)

Start off with perfectly balanced soy-and-wasabi ice-cream sandwich, or a single cube of home-made tofu with buchu-pickled ginger. The sashimi course includes kob cured in yuzu and hay-seared tuna, which has been smoked in a wood-fired oven. You will love the tongue basted in a Japanese barbecue sauce and served alongside lean Wagyu fillet sprinkled with salt crystals. For dessert, pastry chef Adri Louw combines Japanese themes with local ingredients. The kumquat mochi – a soft ball of rice flour encasing kumquat ice cream – is refreshing, while the zesty yuzu posset is absurdly creamy.

Indian

The Indian Chapter with Prim Reddy (Blouberg) – 2018 Best Indian-inspired Eatery

This is real-deal Indian cooking, elevated by a tandoor oven. Try the chicken or vegetable samoosas done Punjab-style with potatoes and peas, or the tandoori mixed grill with chicken and lamb to get those taste buds going. Go on to the delicious lamb Madras which they call hot – and they aren’t kidding. If you prefer something tamer, try the lamb korma done in a mild cashew sauce. Vegetarians are well taken care of, with items like chickpea curry, deliciously rich, or dhal makhani. The naan breads are superb: have the aloo paratha with lightly spiced mashed potato and finished in the tandoor.

Maharajah South Indian Restaurant (Tamboerskloof)

Order a range of dishes, starting with the chilli bites: finely sliced onion battered in spicy maize flour and deep fried. For mains, options range from seafood, chicken and lamb to vegetarian curries. The palak paneer is an instant favourite, with generously sized cubes of delicate paneer in a flavoursome North Indian-style spinach sauce. The chicken korma is another delightful option and the mango-and-lime pickle is a tangy accompaniment to balance the spicy dishes. A highlight is the roti. Flaky and flavourful, they’re the perfect companion to all curries. There’s also a short list of non-curry dishes, ranging from grilled masala fish to vegetarian pastas. A short dessert menu offers ice cream and chocolate sauce, brownies or vermicelli pudding.

Prashad Café (Gardens)

North India meets Durban on a menu that tempts with a delicious range of breyani, korma, curry and dhal. All dishes are vegetarian – and over half are vegan. Order on the spice thermometer from mild to medium and hot. You can enjoy most dishes in a bunny chow, wrap, roti or bowl to share. Start with a platter of scrumptious home-made samoosas (the sweetcorn, spinach and paneer or spicy soya mince are firm favourites), poppadam and chilli bites. The paneer is light, the dhal is wholesome, and the breyani is layered with authentic spices. The matar mushroom and peas in creamy gravy and butter bean curry is also very good. Leave space for a slice of vegan chocolate or carrot cake.

 

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Thali (Gardens) 

The tapas plate for two is the star of the show. Apart from oysters to start, it’s the only item on the menu, but as plate after plate arrives, you’ll be amazed at the generosity. There’s crispy spinach bhaji with mint-and-coriander dressing and a smoky, date and tamarind sauce. A dish showcasing three ways with cauliflower is a marvel of piquant flavours. The fish tacos are a highlight: deep-fried kingklip sprinkled with finely sliced green and red onion, and a curry aïoli. The tender duck in a sauce of coconut milk, cardamom and cloves is a revelation. Dessert includes kulfi ice cream and chai custard with almond praline and spiced banana bread.

A selection of tapas from Thali. Photo by Claire Gunn.

Italian

95 at Parks (Constantia)

A hybrid of Milanese chef Giorgio Nava’s 95 Keerom and its meatier sibling, Carne, 95 at Parks is the ‘burbs-friendly incarnation that includes all Nava’s preferred Italian classics: carpaccio, salmon tartare and meat – lots and lots of meat. On the bone, off the bone, lamb, veal, beef – carnivores will not go hungry here. The freshly made butternut and ricotta ravioli and the chocolate fondant live up to their reputation – you cannot go wrong with sage brown butter and liquid chocolate. Prime cuts on the meaty mains list are sourced from Nava’s own farms; expect seasonal preparations like osso buco and braised short rib.

 

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95 Keerom (City Bowl)

Impeccably sourced ingredients handled with restraint is the key at 95 Keerom. The carpaccios are always worthy of praise and the beef tartare is reputed to be the best in town. Steamed asparagus with hollandaise, rocket and generous shavings of parmesan is a reviving dish. The pastas are wonderful: special mention must go to the gnocchi with gorgonzola and walnuts – light yet filling, rich but not cloying. On the meat side, there’s a La Fiorentina 1.2kg grilled T-bone for two, or try seared rib-eye scaloppine with white wine, parsley and lemon. And for dessert? A duet of chocolate fondants, one white and one dark, is a delicious option for two.

A Tavola (Claremont)

You can’t go wrong with courgette fritters to start, or mixed bruschetta. Delight in home-made pasta tossed with wild mushrooms, fresh rocket and a touch of truffle oil. Or try calamari, prawns and mussels in a light creamy white wine sauce on artisanal pasta. A mouth-watering soul food dish is the osso buco: slow-cooked veal shin enjoyed with either soft polenta or fresh pasta. There are gluten-free and banting options, too. The dessert menu boasts traditional Italian gems such as tiramisu, or try the Dolce della Nonna, amaretti biscuits layered with coffee, zabaglione, cream, walnuts and chocolate flakes.

 

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Borruso’s (Kenilworth)

Borruso’s built its brand on pizza and pasta, and that’s where the focus of the menu still lies. The pizzas have a legion of fans: they’re thin-based, chewy and pretty good, with a classic selection of toppings. Think piquanté peppers, bacon and feta; or smoked chicken, sundried tomatoes and mushrooms. There are decent banting bases and gluten-free options, too. For dessert, the ice cream with hot chocolate sauce is a fail-safe sweet ending.

Burrata (Woodstock)

Kick off with antipasti of cheesy arancini, olives and burrata cheese. While the pastas are popular, don’t miss the crispy pork risotto with apple-currant vinaigrette. But pizzas are the stars, whether bianca – no tomato sauce, or rosso – with tomato sauce. Carnivores love the barbecue meat-topped options. Desserts are modern takes on the classics. Take friends who enjoy sharing because you won’t want to miss the tiramisu, the ginger-and-apricot semifreddo with chocolate ginger cremeso and pistachio sable biscuit, or the olive-oil panna cotta served with naartjie compote and hazelnut crumble – bellissima!

 

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Col’Cacchio (Foreshore)

Col’cacchio’s reputation is built on its pastas and pizzas, although the wraps and salads are great too. Bolognese and lasagne are tried and tested pasta options – or try the pollo with chicken, mushrooms, spring onions and sour cream in a pomodoro sauce. The pizza bases are all perfectly thin and crisp, with carb-conscious alternatives available. The cosi verde boasts spinach, broccoli, edamame, basil pesto and spring onions; while the zucca is topped with roasted butternut, beetroot, rocket, avocado and seeds. Desserts vary from traditional to innovative: think tiramisu or vegan amistoso with cashew cream, caramelised pineapple and coconut shavings.

The Cousins (City Bowl)

Home-made pasta, authentic flavour and a true Italian experience have been created by three cousins from the Adriatic coast of Italy. Mains consist of pasta, meat, seafood and a specials board. The speciality pasta is the signature dish and not to be missed: hot mushroom and thyme-infused tagliolini is tossed in a half wheel of Grana Padano cheese at the table. The home-made gnocchi in a Bolognese ragu are mouthfuls of light, fluffy pillows. Finish with a home-made dessert such as panna cotta or the bignè filled with pistachio cream and covered in chocolate.

 

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Da Vinci’s on Kloof (Gardens) 

Starters include deep-fried bites, boerewors bowls, nachos and spring rolls. For something indulgent, choose the mushrooms Romano – baked mushrooms with a feta, garlic and tomato sauce. Mains range from salad meals and burgers to pastas, pizzas and grills. There’s a burger bowl for those avoiding carbs. The beef patties are good and the garlic mayo tangy. Ribs are always a hit here and come with a special barbecue basting. The thin-based pizzas are named after famed artists. Choose your own toppings, or take a bite out of the Da Vinci with bacon, avo, mushroom and garlic, or the hearty Rembrandt with roasted butternut, spinach, Roquefort cheese and piquanté peppers. For pud, The Lindt chocolate brownies arrive warm and gooey with sweet vanilla ice cream.

Giulio’s (City Bowl) – 2018 Best Italian-inspired Eatery

This vibrant eatery showcases the finest ingredients in wisely selected flavour combinations. For breakfast, choose between shakshuka of gently poached eggs in the spicy red pepper, cumin and pomodoro sauce, or crisp brioche French toast served with mixed berry cream cheese compote and maple syrup. Lunch sees pizzas from the wood-fired oven topped with the best-quality mozzarella, Parma, rocket and tomatoes. There are also pastas and burgers. The strawberry tart with a rich biscuit base is a must-have for dessert or a coffee break.

 

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Hail Pizza (City Bowl)

Start with a selection of small plates to share – West Coast oysters, mozzarella sticks with marinara sauce or Maggies pickled spicy beans. Then, classic combinations such as the margherita and pepperoni won’t disappoint. The crust is thicker than average and fired in a roaring wood-fire oven. Masterful combinations include the Eggplant Parm with eggplant, crème fraîche and breadcrumbs and the show-stopping Pomona with pesto, Swiss chard, zucchini and baby tomatoes. Meatier options are the Ciao bella with caramelised onions and fried eggs, or the Parma with local Parma ham and rocket. Complete the meal with tiramisu with a twist (Tipo Tinto rum is added to the base).

La Frasca (Oranjezicht)

If you’re a fan of wafer-thin bases and creative toppings, La Frasca should be your go-to pizza spot in the city centre. The pizza menu stretches to three pages, with more options scribbled on a chalkboard. Everything here is top quality, from the stoneground flour to home-cured wood-fired hams. The Pizza Saporita, with spicy pork sausage, ricotta and a touch of chilli is excellent. There’s also a compact menu of uncomplicated Italian plates: the home-made pasta is always popular, from papardelle with slow-cooked lamb to ever-dependable spinach-and-ricotta ravioli. Desserts are equally traditional; try the classic tiramisu or silky chocolate panna cotta.

Massimo’s (Hout Bay)

This is comforting Italian food with a variety from which to choose. Start with some spuntini (Italian tapas) – the deep-fried baby artichokes are absolutely moreish, served with a creamy pesto dip. For mains, choose from one of the many wood-fired pizzas or home-made pastas. All of the usual suspects feature, as well as some interesting options like spicy chilli con carne. The perfectly cheesy fior di latte margherita will please. On the pasta front, name the sauce and it’s there. There’s also a charity pizza and pasta offering where a donation will be given for each order. Order home-made Italian kisses to seal the deal.

Nonna Lina (Sea Point) 

Sardinian owner Antonella Scamuzzi and his passionate team turn out some of the best pizza in town. Salads are interesting: think artichokes, parmesan, caramelised red onions and roasted pine nuts; or a Caprese with fresh fior di latte. From there, your best bet is a glorious wood-fired pizza. The calzone is spectacular, whether it’s stuffed with taleggio and coppa or loaded with porcini and rocket. The traditional beef lasagna is thoroughly indulgent. Vegetarian? Try the version made with carasau bread, grilled aubergines and tomatello sauce. There’s also a range of fish, veal and lamb dishes. Finish with seadas nostras – this Sardinian speciality is a golden pastry filled with fresh mozzarella, preserved figs and macadamia nuts.

 

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Osteria Tarantino (De Waterkant)

Try the Four P pasta: pappardelle with a rich tomato sauce, pecorino, prosciutto and porcini. If you’re not into tomato-based pasta sauces, the penne salsiccia is made with Italian fennel sausage, mushrooms, garlic, chilli and cream. And if that wasn’t enough to give the dish a decadent richness, the pasta is topped with a generous sprinkling of pecorino cheese. Order the tiramisu in advance before it sells out, or have some of the best cannoli around: a crunchy shell filled with sweet, citrussy and creamy ricotta.

Riva (De Waterkant)

Kick off with a carpaccio (the fish changes daily), sliced and served with coconut flakes, olive oil and kiwi fruit. Another option is the tender Saldanha Bay mussels. Pasta is made in-house and the bronze-drawn spaghetti – served with cherry tomatoes and clams – is perfectly al dente. Squid ink gnocchi with prawns comes laced with vibrant threads of saffron. If you have space for secondi, there’s the option of a vast platter; a smaller platter of fried hake, calamari and bait fish; or the Abalobi catch of the day. For dessert, there’s a creamy lemon sorbet and very good tiramisu.

True Italic (City Bowl)

Owner-chef Luca Di Pasquale takes his Italian heritage and cuisine seriously at this rustic osteria at the foot of Bree Street. Food is carefully prepared and simply served. The compact menu of homely Italian dishes changes daily. There are generous boards of affettati (sliced Italian cured meats) to start, and no shortage of intriguing antipasti: bruschetta with octopus, capers and cherry tomatoes; silky burrata with Parma ham. Luca’s home-made pasta is sure to catch your eye. No run-of-the-mill combinations here: spaghetti could be served with swordfish, pistachio pesto and fennel bulb, or delicate gnocchi with pork fillet and saffron sauce.

 

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Mediterranean

The Fat Greek (Tableview)

All the Greek favourites are here, immaculately prepared and packed with flavour. The mezze platters are good value: garlicky tzatziki, creamy hummus, home-made dolmades, tiny meat balls, fried halloumi, and crisp calamari tops and tails make up a feast. Go on to excellent moussaka with the creamiest béchamel topping in town, or try the gyros (beef or chicken) – pita pockets packed with succulent pieces of meat bathed in tzatziki, with cucumber, tomato and red onion to give it crunch. If you want something more substantial, there are prawn, kingklip, and sardine dishes, grills and a great lamb shank. End with home-made baklava.

Maria’s Greek Restaurant (Gardens)

This relaxed eatery’s mezze is a game-changer: the hake is flaky and enrobed in a crisp Striped Horse beer batter and served with a fantastic home-made mayo. The komesko comes with beer-battered aubergine and zucchini and skordalia (garlic and potato dip). The vegan platter for one bursts with flavour: dolmades, garlicky olives, aubergine, hummus, komesko and garlic pita. The rest of the menu covers the Greek gamut: from souvlaki and moussaka to lamb chops with tzatziki and spanakopita. For dessert, choose between the likes of kataifi, semolina cake and kourabiethes (Greek butter cookies).

 

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Sotano (City Bowl)

The signature breakfast dish of eggs Benedict is the way to go. Served on a croissant with a choice of bacon, salmon or ham, the eggs are perfectly poached, with a gloriously oozy yolk, and the hollandaise is well balanced. Or have the shakshuka made with sautéed red peppers and tomatoes. The vast lunch and dinner menu has tapas, salads and soups. Seafood dishes feature prominently, with mussels and prawns as well as classic fish and chips. The Sotano lamb burger with hummus and avo is the most popular dish. The dessert section is small but interesting: try pistachio mille-feuille or white chocolate crème brûlée.

Middle Eastern

Anatoli Turkish Restaurant (Green Point)

More than three decades on, Anatoli is still in its original location; the waiter still does the rounds carrying a mighty wooden tray with hot and cold mezze; and the slow-cooked lamb shank is still enormous. The garlic bread, sliced at your table with a flourish, is memorably good. The signature Anatolian lamb (cubed and cooked with rosemary, oregano, red peppers and tomatoes) is a family-sized helping of richly flavoured, tender lamb served with rice. The borani (spinach with yoghurt, caramelised onions, sultanas and turmeric) is deliciously zesty. You’ll have no room for dessert, which is a shame, because the cheesecake is made with Turkish delight.

 

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Modern & tapas

Bistro Sixteen82 (Tokai)

Chef Kerry Kilpin has a flair for showcasing fresh seasonal produce in exquisite compositions that pop with flavour. The breakfasts are fabulous; signature eggs Benedict are served with a rich hollandaise. An Asian twist threads through the lunch menu, from tempura prawns with pineapple salsa to beef tataki with truffled corn, chilli and sesame. Carnivores will love the slow-cooked signature dishes like pork belly and braised lamb neck. A vegetarian menu offers warm quinoa salad, risotto, and mushroom-and-gorgonzola gnocchi. Leave room for the bread-and-butter pudding.

A trio of tapas dishes at Bistro Sixteen82. Photo supplied.

Black Sheep (Tamboerskloof)

Serving hearty bistro-style food from a menu that changes daily, Black Sheep has firmly entrenched itself as a neighbourhood favourite. The starters are seemingly light, but the portions are sizeable. The West Coast mussels in a creamy white wine sauce is a well-rounded dish. The trout gravadlax is light and fresh with dill mustard dressing, pickled beetroot dressing and rye bread adding tang. Mains options range from roast aubergine-and-tomato ragout, kingklip and rabbit leg to impala loin. The kudu, braised in red wine and served with bacon and root vegetables, is wonderfully rich. For dessert, try the flourless chocolate tart or the artisanal cheeseboard.

Bouchon Bistro (City Bowl)

The menu at this sophisticated urban hangout is delicious to read. It’s hard to choose between options such as pea-and-artichoke risotto, kudu carpaccio with beetroot and date salad, and grilled tiger prawns with saffron and garlic. The lamb ribs are succulent and tender. The pan-fried squid is good and the chorizo imparts a lovely smoky flavour.

 

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Cape to Cuba (Kalk Bay)

Kick off with tapas-style starters from the wide-ranging menu inspired by Spanish and Cuban cuisine. Delicious peri-peri chicken livers and sticky pork ribs are as popular as the grilled sardines with salsa verde. Mains highlights are meaty: spicy lamb curry, mojito chicken marinated in rum and lime, or the hunger-busting diablo rum burger. If there’s a signature dish, it’s the paella piled high with fish, calamari, prawns and chorizo – ideal for sharing. The chocolate cigars are a quirky end to the meal.

Chefs (Gardens)

A contemporary reimagining of the lunch canteen serves up a treat for tech-savvy food lovers. Despite only three dishes (meat, fish and plant-based) on the menu, it’s hard to choose. The menu changes daily, but keep an eye out for the the aubergine terrine served with a mustardy salad of rocket, almonds and shaved parmesan. The tartare is excellent – hand-diced cubes of beef with capers, gherkins, parsley and chilli oil, with a soft egg nestling on well-dressed leafy greens. Keep room for the buttermilk panna cotta.

Chefs Warehouse & Canteen (City Bowl) – NOMINEE

Liam Tomlin’s set menu of tapas-for-two changes regularly, but the result is always a fusion of cuisines, using some of the best local ingredients. It could include Japanese, French, Mediterranean and South African influences. Highlights are miso charred salmon with soba noodles and mentsuyu dressing; deep-fried squid with fragrant Cape Malay pickle and a curry emulsion; as well as the fresh tomato gastrique with home-made ricotta, semi-dried tomatoes and olives. There’s always a risotto, and the celeriac version with truffle cream is dreamy. Dessert isn’t included in the set menu, but the lemon posset is legendary.

A dish at Chefs Warehouse and Canteen

A dish at Chefs Warehouse and Canteen. Photo by Claire Gunn.

Chefs Warehouse at Beau Constantia (Constantia) – Top 10

Ivor Jones creates punchy flavours, each dish better than the next, and the best of them are inspired by Asian cuisine. There’s a Thai sour curry with fermented lime that you’ll want to bottle, and incredible Korean chilli chicken tacos. The umami-laced risotto’s secret lies in the coal-fired oyster mushrooms that lie beneath a thyme-infused milk froth. Line fish gets a lift from caraway and burnt butter dressing, and a simple tartare is finished with a barbecue garlic aïoli. End with wild honey and lavender crème, served with honeycomb and smoked cassia bark ice cream.

Coco Safar (Sea Point)

Start your evening at the rooibos bar for a delicate amuse bouche before going to the main dining area. The two- or three-course meal is paired with innovative drinks. The boule feta is a house favourite starter: a chilled sphere of creamed feta cheese filled with a chunky mushroom caponata. Main course options include pumpkin risotto, ostrich lasagne, sea bass curry, brisket and mutton casserole. The brisket is slightly smoked and served thinly sliced with caper mash and braised cabbage. The tropical coconut rice pudding with mango and granadilla purée, lime sorbet and dark chocolate is well balanced. The after-dinner surprise is a fabulous ending.

 

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The Foodbarn Deli & Tapas (Noordhoek)

Lunch options reflect the refined farm stall space. There are freshly made pies filled with the likes of braised pork in red wine or classic chicken and mushroom. Flatbreads are topped with interesting options such as butter chicken or smoked salmon, dill cream and watercress. The calamari salad is a particular standout, with lightly-spiced calamari tossed generously through leaves, green beans, tomatoes and avo, topped with an aïoli-style dressing. For the sweet tooth-inclined, you’re spoiled for choice with a rotation of home-made cakes and pastries. Dinnertime sees enticing tapas: mini bunny chows, sautéed potatoes with truffle oil and tuna tataki with peanut sauce.

A colourful dish at Foxcroft

A colourful dish at Foxcroft. Photo supplied.

Foxcroft (Constantia) – NOMINEE

The lunch menu by chef Glen Foxcroft Williams is set up for diners to enjoy any two small yet flavour-packed courses, followed by a more substantial dish and dessert. It provides a clever incentive to return for the longer evening menu. Roasted tandoori cauliflower mousse with lemon pickle, sultanas and naan bread is deceptively complex. Fragrant poached line fish with charred corn, seaweed and Thai broth is a delight, while glazed free-range duck with nectarine, garlic, green olives and mushroom boasts a balance of richness and sweet acidity. Desserts are shimmy-inducingly good. Sample rhubarb financier with Dulcey, yoghurt, celery leaf and lime, or buttermilk panna cotta with grapefruit, oats and Thai basil.

Hemelhuijs (City Bowl)

The menu is beautifully designed and, like the décor, changes with the seasons. Breakfast is served all day. Try the seasonal poached fruit and mealie meal porridge served with butter and honey, and the potato rösti with poached eggs and hollandaise is perfection. The lunch menu is divided into sections of botanical plates – which are different interpretations of carpaccio using fish, meat, veggies and even fruit. The signature dish is slow-cooked frikkadels wrapped in cabbage leaves. End with a classic sweet tart.

Homage 1862 (City Bowl)

The wood-fired grill is put to very good use here, in what is interestingly a vegetable-forward establishment. Peppers, eggplant, sweet potato and even broccoli all receive a baptism by fire, to delicious effect. They’re served small-plate style: grilled sweet potato with thyme and honey butter; wood-fired broccoli with toasted almonds, lemon and chilli, and the happiest mielie that ever did live – roasted corn on the cob with warm spices, mayo and fresh lime. There is fish as well (the spiced salmon is on point), and a selection of meats such as rib eye, lamb chops, lemon herbed chicken breast, and heavenly vegan dishes like green veg curry.

 

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Janse & Co (City Bowl)

What sets chef Arno Janse van Rensburg’s (previously of The Kitchen at Maison) restaurant apart is the use of indigenous ingredients. Expect the likes of num num, custard apple and soutslaai. Choose from an extensive list of menu options to make up three- to seven-course menus. Start with the home-made charcuterie – while the chokka with klipkombers and nasturtium aïoli is a highlight, the balance of sweet and salty is extraordinary. The trout is excellent, too: it’s served with num num, which adds a lovely tartness and a pop of colour. End with milk chocolate coulant, a rich end to an outstanding meal.

 

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The Mess Restaurant (Green Point)

This charming spot has a metropolitan feel, serving modern global fare in a vibrant, upmarket space. Start with mezze including white bean and tahini pâté, and duck rillette with pickled goat’s cheese, packed with piquant flavour. The Asian-inspired bao sliders are moreish, stuffed with smoky BBQ pork shoulder. Don’t miss the signature tuna ceviche, beef tataki with ponzu sauce and lacquered pork belly tacos that pop with flavour. Vegetarians will find a good choice in the halloumi sliders, melanzane and Cape Malay vegetable curry. Carnivorous appetites could tackle the signature Angus rib-eye or confit of pork belly. Eponymous Eton mess is the hero dessert.

Mulberry & Prince (City Bowl) 

A short paper menu lists the options of small plates intended for sharing. Options might include a generous serving of market fish carpaccio laid out on a bed of sour hot sauce; whipped hake roe; smoked lamb tartare; oysters; or stracciatella. The famed cacio e pepe (a highlight) and a dish of meaty and fragrant foraged mushrooms might appeal. Beef with café de Paris butter and the catch of the day are at the top end of the menu. The dessert could be a Dutch baby pancake with lemon and fromage blanc.

 

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Crispy calamari with atchar at The Pot Luck Club

Crispy calamari with atchar at The Pot Luck Club. Photo by Andy Lund.

The Pot Luck Club (Woodstock) – NOMINEE

The tapas-style dishes are made to share. Pencil down your choices and quantity desired and the kitchen will decide the order in which you’ll experience the flavours. Lighter fish dishes usually start things off, such as the fish taco or the fish sliders. Go for options such as the beautifully unctuous prawn and king-crab stuffed chicken wings with lime green crème fraîche and sriracha. Leave space for a sweet serenade to end off the eating extravaganza, such as the hazelnut-and-apple tart with salted caramel and smoked cinnamon ice cream.

The Shortmarket Club (City Bowl) – NOMINEE

Chef Wesley Randles shows his brave approach in dishes such as crispy pig cheek on red endive with honey, smoked nuts and gorgonzola – an unapologetic combination of sweet and salty, crispy fat and bitter notes. A main dish of springbok is complemented with a genius Caperitif quince jus, Jerusalem artichokes, smoked bone marrow and fresh porcini. The stand-out main course is aged rib-eye on the bone for two – as much for the theatrics of having it set alight in front of you as for the flavour. Desserts keep the pace with chocolate fondant with a peanut-butter cookie, malt foam and popcorn ice cream or oak-smoked crème brûlée with lavender and mozzarella.

The Willaston Bar at The Silo Hotel (V&A Waterfront)

Open throughout the day, The Willaston Bar boasts an extensive menu that runs the gamut from breakfast, salads, sandwiches and platters to desserts. The popular choice is a salad or classic club sandwich stacked with bacon, smoked chicken, steak and served with French fries. For a shareable choice, the tempura platter is worth a sample, while the dense apple treacle sponge with tonka-bean caramel and vanilla ice cream is a sweet way to end off. The high tea spread is sensational.

Seafood

Café Orca (Melkbosstrand)

The starter menu offers grilled squid with lemon butter, garlic, parsley oil and red pesto. If you’re a prawn fan, try the Cajun prawns with Asian noodles. A platter is a great way to sample a bit of everything, with many options to choose from: baby sole, prawns, calamari, hake – you name it. Vegetarians can try the Caprese salad, Greek salad or blue cheese salad. End with the house dessert of a sponge base, custard and peppermint mousse.

 

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Hokey Poke (City Bowl)

The food is fresh and bursting with flavour. A tofu salad or edamame beans with lime and furikake are great choices on the starter menu. Poké bowl favourites include the Lucky 7, which comes with prawns, seasonal fruit, avocado, radish, edamame beans, pistachio, mint and coriander. Over summer there are lots of fresh bowls to choose from. Warm winter bowls see Korean-style brisket slow-cooked to perfection and served with a base of your choice. Swap brisket for grilled tofu and mushrooms for a vegetarian option. Dessert of the day could be a moreish coconut flan.

Kyoto Garden Sushi Japanese Restaurant (Tamboerskloof) – 2018 Best Seafood Eatery

Miso soup with tempura scallops is a perfect way to kick things off: sweet, succulent scallops are offset by a salty miso broth. For mains, the ramen with prawns satisfies a big appetite, while The Saute – tofu, oysters, salmon, mushrooms, prawns, octopus, langoustine and mixed greens – sends your taste buds into overdrive. Other mains include duck with udon noodles, seared tuna and Japanese curry chicken with soba noodles. Sushi and sashimi are well represented. Desserts include ice creams such as black sesame, yuzu, cherry blossom and chocolate, tempura green tea and toasted tofu with ginger

 

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SeaBreeze Fish & Shell (City Bowl)

Start with fresh oysters, naked or dressed – order a Saldanha and Knysna oyster side by side and compare. (Half-price oyster happy hour happens twice daily: 12pm to 1pm and 5pm to 6pm). The starter menu also offers hake ceviche, an oyster po’boy and a tangy anglefish taco. Mains range from hake and chips and a couple of seafood curries to a Seabreeze Caesar salad and exotic dishes like whole grilled bream and grilled swordfish. Dessert offerings include an apple crumble cheesecake, a chocolate ganache tart and a piña colada panna cotta.

Willoughby & Co. (V&A Waterfront)

The fold-out menu is vast and varied and features a wide range of Japanese-inspired dishes and sushi, as well as a number of continental classic seafood items and good old fish and chips. The new-style sashimi, where raw, thinly sliced fish is doused with a punchy yuzu-soy dressing and aromatics such as ginger, garlic and sesame seeds, steals the scene. The desserts on offer are pretty standard, including malva pudding with custard and crème brûlée, but hit the sweet-tooth spot nonetheless.

Steakhouses & meaty fare

Brad’s Grill (Claremont)

Brad’s Grill was established over three decades ago, and is now housed in an intimate neighbourhood in the heart of the southern suburbs. Only open at night, it feels like a village secret, but its founder, Brad Steele, isn’t shy to let you in on it. To start, Brad’s buffalo chicken wings are deliciously spicy. The 200g skinny steak with a side salad is a tempting order, but the reasonably priced 300g rump or sirloin is a carnivore’s dream. Bread-and-butter pudding, apple crumble, cheesecake and pecan nut pie are but some of the decadent desserts.

The Butcher Shop & Grill (Mouille Point)

You might suffer from order envy if you don’t order the creamiest chicken liver starters. The game carpaccio starter is stylishly presented and also delicious. For a lighter lunch, the fragrant lamb pita showcases the freshness and quality of the meat. The pièce de résistance, however, is the dish of pork chops in black pepper – perfectly grilled and unimaginably succulent. For dessert, malva pudding goes toe-to-toe with halva ice cream.

 

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Carne on Kloof (Gardens)

Vegetarians, look away – this Italian-style steakhouse offers an outstanding experience for hardcore meat-lovers. Rare cuts are the Carne signature. The picanha rump, beloved by Brazilians for its sturdy layer of fat that hits the grill first, gets the nod and, with salsa verde and a side of thin-cut fries, is everything you’d expect from a supper of steak and chips. A trio of tartare delivers three spheres of hand-cut beef lightly dressed with anchovies, salsa verde and lemon by a chef with complete confidence in the quality of his product. The pan-fried sweetbreads with white wine, butter and sage are both crisp and juicy, and come served with potato mash.

Carne SA (City Bowl)

There are few places in Cape Town that serve meat of the variety and quality that Italian chef Giorgio Nava provides at his various Carne restaurants. The trio of beef tartare, served with briny anchovies and a sparkling salsa verde, is a tasty gateway to what’s coming. Another standout favourite is the ravioli of Karoo lamb shoulder, served with burnt sage butter. Better-known cuts like fillet, rump and sirloin are impeccably hung and prepared, but pricy. You get the same flavour and juicy tenderness from less well-known and less expensive cuts like spider and hangar steaks. If there’s room after the last meaty mouthful, the chocolate fondant oozes decadent richness.

Cattle Baron Steak Ranch (Constantia) 

For starters, try the likes of stuffed mushrooms, garlic snails or peri-peri chicken livers. Substantial salads such as seared sirloin with fig and roquefort are worth it. For mains, lighter grills include burgers and chicken schnitzel. There’s a wide selection of meaty mains including the usual beef cuts, while the meat on the bone section includes lamb chops, beef or pork ribs, prime rib and T-bone. There are also signature dishes such as chateaubriand for something different. A selection of seafood including sole, prawns and calamari is available. Add to your dish from a selection of sides, sauces and flavoured butters. Dessert is also a classic hit list, including chocolate mousse, malva pudding and ice cream with Bar One sauce.

Cattle Baron Steak Ranch (Durbanville) 

It’s steak all the way, with a small choice of chicken, seafood and vegetarian options. The menu begins with starters and salads like deep-fried stuffed mushrooms and a fresh rocket salad topped with cherry tomatoes, red onion, avocado and buffalo mozzarella. There’s a good selection in the section ‘Steaks that made us famous’ , like the sirloin Nevada, a 300g sirloin topped with bacon, avocado, camembert and onions. Meat on the bone includes ribs while traditional rump, sirloin and fillet are cooked to your liking. Desserts are classic steakhouse: ice cream with Bar One sauce, malva pudding, baked cheesecake, don pedros and Irish coffees.

Don Armando (Green Point)

This restaurant specialises in steak and prides itself in having the best cuts of aged meat, cooked to perfection. Starters include a steak tartare and succulent sautéed prawns with tomato and a hint of chili. For mains, share the signature picanha steak: an 800g hunk of beef served with hand-cut potato chips, chimichurri sauce and a crisp house salad with balsamic dressing. For those who don’t want steak, choose lamb or chicken. End with churros, caramel flan or heavenly pancakes drizzled with caramel sauce and served with dulce de leche ice cream.

Hoghouse Brewing Company (Ndabeni)

The focus here is authentic barbecue. Start off your meal with the crispy pig’s tails, coated in a maple glaze. The ‘low and slow’ style of cooking means you can look forward to tender cuts of meat such as sticky pork ribs, which are quite exceptional, as well as a decent offering of fried chicken. If you’re veggie, great options are the baked aubergine topped with a zingy tomato sauce and mozzarella, as well as the coal-roasted cos lettuce tossed in a punchy citrus dressing. Keep space for dessert, the famous pasteis de nata in particular.

 

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The Hussar Grill (Camps Bay)

For starters, expect to find familiar steakhouse specialities, such as chicken livers with sherry and garlic cream, crumbed and fried camembert served with sweet cranberry jelly, and calamari and tartar sauce. Steaks are the focus here: choose your own portion size and cut of meat, on or off the bone. Matured and grilled to perfection, steaks are served with classic sauces such as creamy mustard or green peppercorn. The popular carpetbagger steak with smoked mussels and cheese filling, as well as chateaubriand, are also on the menu. The pork belly ribs deliver smoky, sticky pleasure. End with the chocolate fondant or crème brûlée.

The Hussar Grill (Mouille Point)

If you’re not in a meaty mood, go for the delicious mussel pot: plump mussels finished in a herb, wine and cream sauce. If you feel like some theatrics, the chateaubriand is a good choice: well-aged fillet is served with a classically prepared Béarnaise sauce on the side and flambéed in brandy tableside. The meal includes a starch, but the onion rings, creamed spinach and cinnamon-infused butternut are sides to consider. End with the signature ice-cream dessert that comes with peanut brittle, marshmallow, nougat, honeycomb, sprinkled nuts and is finished with chocolate sauce

The Hussar Grill (Willowbridge)

Obviously the thing to eat here is meat, for which they are famous, but they also have some delicious fish and even veggie offerings, like superb tomato soup and a large grilled black mushroom with caramelised onion and feta. The grilled calamari with chilli and garlic is delicious. Perfectly aged rump, sirloin and fillet are on offer, as well as ostrich served with a wild berry and apple schnapps sauce. Their sauces are legendary, ranging from Béarnaise to classic café de Paris. The salads are fresh and crunchy, with the caramelised pear, walnut and blue cheese one being a knockout. The baked cheesecake has been gathering fans for years.

 

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Patina (Newlands)

With most steaks (all Chalmar beef ) above the R200 mark, this is not a cheap neighbourhood restaurant. The steak tartare is the second clue that this is no ordinary suburban steakhouse. Patina’s version is beautifully plated with wafer-thin pink radishes, mustard seeds resting in a boat of pickled onion, and a covering of grated cured egg yolk. Try the fillet champignon topped with creamy thyme, roasted garlic and wild mushroom sauce. There’s also fillet on the bone, lamb rib-eye and a Wagyu burger to be had. For pud, there’s a chocolate fondant with hazelnut crumb, mascarpone and sour cherry ice cream, or try the affogato.

Rare Grill (Kenilworth)

Winner of the steakhouse category in the Western Cape at the 2018 Best Everyday Eateries. You could be won over by the bone marrow on toast or chicken livers for starters, but just keep in mind that you’re here for the steak. The selection is small (aged rump, sirloin and fillet) but steaks are expertly grilled, fat rendered, but still rare and with enough flavour to dispense with a sauce. The desserts are the usual favourites (brownies and malva pudding), but a good reason to hang around.

Brought to you by Stella Artois

This selection comprises all the Cape Town restaurants that made the cut for the 2019 Eat Out 500, the list of best restaurants in the country as rated and reviewed by our panel of critics for the 2019 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 section below.

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