Bree Street is doubtlessly the coolest restaurant strip in Cape Town. The road has been a focus for development in recent years, bringing new diners and office workers to the area. The most recent (and ongoing) development are the buildings at number 16 (where veggie paradise Raw & Roxy used to be). They’re being demolished to make way for a new 35-storey retail and residential skyscraper, which promises even more hungry mouths to feed and maybe even a café or two. In the meantime, here’s our definitive guide to dining on Bree Street.
No. 4: Red! The Gallery
This gallery and café opened in September 2017, offering art with your Uber coffee. The friendly staff recommend the scrambled egg, and the campfire breakfast – three eggs cooked in onion, tomato and chillies then topped with cheddar cheese.
And: Active Sushi on Bree
This branch of the brand has changed hands, but affordable sushi is still on the menu. The lunchtime specials in particular will have you coming back again and again.
And: Hard Pressed Café
A vinyl café in the Portside Building, this Bree Street darling has chirpy staff, great speciality coffees and tasty options for breakfast and lunch. Regulars – and there are many – look forward to every day’s street-side blackboard quip and the tip jar’s yes/no question. (‘Did you get some over the weekend?’ is one such gem.) We’re also big fans of their bagels and snappily named sandwiches.
No. 7: Folk Coffee Anthropology
This spot on the corner of Bree and Mechau Street is bright, breezy and filled with books to page through if you’re dining solo. Pick up a coffee, salad or wrap, and find a spot in a sunbeam.
No. 15: True Italic Italian Art Cafe
Open nights only, this traditional osteria serves handmade pastas and Italian specialities. The menu changes daily, except for the aubergine parmigiana, which is so popular Luca can’t take it off the menu. Fans also rave about the homemade gnocchi with gorgonzola pears.
No. 17: La Tête
Giles Edwards’s nose-to-tail eatery wows locals with experimental meaty dishes, and our advice is to order the crispy pig’s tails when they’re available. He also makes some stupendous puddings.
No. 22: The General Store
Freshly made gourmet salads and meat options are the order of the day at this teeny café. Saucy chicken breasts and pesto-smeared salmon, anyone? Rosetta coffee, a few baked options and smiling service rounds out the offering. (We can recommend the brownies, doughnuts and the occasionally available but glorious gluten-free cakes.)
And: SMAK Delicatessen
Katia Scherf and Devin Hogan’s deli serves up delicious fresh pasta and some tasty tacos. For the banters, there’s a banting Benedict or crustless quiche at lunch. At the other end of the spectrum, there’s a bacon butty and a wonderfully rich croque-monsieur. For breakfast, try the Good Ol’ Scramble, which comes with caramelised onions, mushrooms and a generous dusting of parmesan. Their freshly-made pasta is also a thing of perfection.
The three-storey charcoal restaurant complex offers up three options for hungry diners. Head to Locanda on the ground floor for high-end Italian tapas and delicious cured meats. (Their Benedict is something special.) They also offer pavement-side views of buzzing Bree. Above it, Seta offers a tapas-style menu and a bar that stays open late. At the very top is Pierino Penati, a spot for celebrating a special occasion, with a menu prepared by Michelin-starred chef Michelangelo D’Oria.
Corner of Bree and Strand Street: Dapper Coffee Co.
At the end of 2015, Dapper Coffee Co. opened alongside new luxury sports car showroom, Club9. Together they offer a space where classic-car enthusiasts and city dwellers can roll in for coffee, enjoy a laid-back lunch, have their wheels polished and possibly even purchase a Porsche on their way out. We have it on good authority that their baked eggs are the perfect way to start your day.
No. 68: Jo Al’s Takeaway
This teeny tiny hole in the wall offers no seating space, but serves fast and filling sandwiches and refreshments.
No. 70-72: The Hot Skillet
Housed inside the Youngblood Gallery, The Hot Skillet is a new venture by former My Kitchen Rules SA finalists Gomotsegang Modiselle and Oginga Siwundla. They serve simple well-done classics like eggs Benedict and lunchtime sandwiches, and often host shisa nyama nights.
No. 92: Chefs Warehouse and Canteen
Liam Tomlin’s spectacular tapas menu draws fans from near and far, and the tables on the raised outside area are hot property. They don’t take bookings, but hang out in the bar beneath, aptly named No Reservations, until they find you a seat. Though pricey, the food is worth the wait.
No. 107: God’s Army
This small Christian bookshop is also home to an old-fashioned, vintage-themed milk bar, serving double-thick shakes and light, affordable meals.
No. 107: La Parada
This spot is always pumping. You can sneak in for lunch but you might be hard-pressed to find a seat at sundown. Order tapas dishes like crispy calamari and prawn croquettes, and sip your craft beer as you admire the décor, beautiful crowd and bustling Bree street.
No. 103 upstairs: Inside & You’re Out (IYO) Burgers
This bright burger joint is often buzzing thanks to its smoky cheese-stuffed patties, great Southern-style sauces and decadent cheesecakes. They’ve expanded their space to include a pleasant bar area with pool tables and cosier seating options. Save space for the insane cheesecakes.
103A: Bowls on Bree
How did we ever manage without Bowls on Bree? The quick, nutritious and delicious bowls are packed with trout, tofu or chicken and a mix of healthy grains, greens and dressings.
No. 105: Burger & Lobster
This vibey spot is known for their simple and perfectly executed menu of grilled fresh lobster, lobster rolls and burgers. The lobsters are sourced either from South Africa’s South Coast or Maine in the U.S. Their cocktails range from a maple-and-bacon old fashioned to a cucumber-and-dill martini. Decadent desserts include an Oreo Nutella cheesecake or a peanut butter s’mores pot.
No. 110: Love Thy Neighbour (formerly Weinhaus + Biergarten, and before that &Union)
This old faithful has been given a revamp, though the beer garden is still its old relaxed self, perfect for a summer evening. Tuck into souvlaki, aubergine fries, burgers and calamari. Hank’s Olde Irish, a beautiful hidden whiskey bar with leather banquettes and exposed brick, can be found through a warren of passages.
No. 114: Charango Grill and Bar
Charango serves Peruvian-inspired cuisine. Think ceviche and barbeque grill-style dishes, with highlights like tuna tacos and barbecue pork belly, and some bar snacks too. Don’t forget to sample a pisco sour.
No. 120: Azhar’s Fast Food and Takeaways
Bree Street is not a particularly affordable place to eat, but this little hole-in-the-wall café will fill your tummy for under R30. Think chip rolls, burgers and samoosas. It is also strictly halaal.
This diminutive juice bar also sells light meals and snacks that are vegan or gluten-free.
And: Max Bagels
This tiny New York-style bagel bar offers a handful of classic fillings like our favourite, salt beef brisket, pickle and mustard. (“Everything comes with cream cheese” might be our favourite sentence ever.)
And: Cabrón Taco Bar
This vibey little spot offers a small choice of tacos, beers on tap and margaritas. It’s a good spot for a quick bite before heading out for a party.
No. 127: Mink & Trout
This beautifully sleek bistro offers bites like stellar ceviche with pickled veg and miso cream-cheese dressing, great Karoo lamb bredie and perfect crème brûlée.
No. 133: Clarke’s Bar and Dining Room
Clarke’s is still a hot spot thanks to its early and all-day breakfasts, and American-style comfort food like mac ‘n cheese, chowder and their iconic burgers on buttery buns.
No. 133: Hail Pizza
Head through Clarke’s and you’ll find a hidden restaurant with long communal tables and some stools at a bar. This is the place for wood-fired pizza with deliciously charred, chewy bases and tasty toppings. The Norman – topped with anchovies, mushrooms, capers and olives – is an office favourite.
Corner of Wale and Bree: Bocca Restaurant
Their beautiful thin-based pizzas are baked to perfection in a matter of seconds. There are also tempting plates for sharing, including fried gnocchi with ricotta, a standout beef carpaccio and delicious bucatini with prawns. Don’t miss the smart wine list.
No. 130: Nitro House
Taking over the spot formerly occupied by Issi, Nitro House specialises in Nitro coffee and offers a small menu of fresh and quick breakfasts and lunches.
No. 152: Arcade
This ‘resto-bar’ serves café-style food like chicken pregos, pizzas, burgers and salads. On the drinks side of things, look out for classic and new cocktails, shots, and SAB beer on tap. It’s wildly popular with the late-night crowd.
No. 160: Café Frank
Café Frank serves fresh, fuss-free food in a sleek and chic canteen-style setting. Apart from sandwiches and a salad selection, you could order one of their daily specials like ras-el-hanout chicken with couscous and nectarines, or rare roast sirloin with artichokes.
No. 165: The Crazy Horse
After a small facelift, the vibey pub downstairs has a varied menu featuring bar snacks like jalapeño poppers, chicken wings, pork riblets, as well as gourmet burgers, prego rolls, cheese steak sandwiches and salads. Upstairs is a focused cocktail lounge set up, where you can expect slightly more formal dining and cocktails.
No. 185: Jason Bakery
There’s almost always a small crowd outside the hatch waiting for their fix of coffee and pastry. King of all things decadent, Jason serves up Nutella-filled doughssants, peanut-butter-and-bacon croissants, and pies loaded with mac ‘n cheese. The breakfast pizza is pretty special too.
No. 199: The Odyssey
This double-storey joint is good for social gatherings thanks to its ample interiors, extensive wine offering and bar snacks like zucchini fries, chilli poppers and sliders.
No. 207: The Station
This London Underground-inspired pub serves up street food like burgers, pitas, hotdogs, boerie rolls and schwarmas. There’s dancing later on.
No. 213: Seabreeze Fish & Shell
This spot is popular for its oysters and bubbly. Also try the fish and (excellent) chips with a glass of bubbly from the extensive by-the-glass selection.
No. 215: Culture Club Cheese
A glorious yellow exterior announces that you’ve arrived at Bree Street’s cheese HQ. Grab one of the tables outside, or sit inside to admire the impressively stocked cheese fridges and talk to the passionate owner, Luke. You can tuck into the multitude of cheese sandwich options, or go for something more serious like slow-cooked lamb, raclette, or camembert mac ‘n cheese.
No. 217: Bacon on Bree
This bar by charcuterie king Richard Bosman is dedicated to all things porky and keeps crowds happy with bacon-and-brie croissants; baguettes topped with roasted tomato, bacon and brie; and French toast BLTs with parmigiano and mustard mayo.
No. 221: Häzz
The well-loved coffee roasters have added to their group of cafés with this little spot on Bree Street, serving light breakfasts and lunches.
No. 227: Orphanage Cocktail Emporium
Hearkening back to Victorian times with cocktails dubbed Jammy Dodger and More Tea Vicar, this trendy bar has a small menu of bar snacks like bruschetta, salt-and-chilli fried squid and truffle fries. They often host parties with music by guest DJs.
No. 231: Olami
A harvest table of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern-style food offers healthy, homemade options in this small, modern space. Find a sidewalk table outside in good weather and make sure you grab one of their decadent date balls on the way out.
No. 243: Crust Café
Breakfasts and lunches featuring crusty bread are the focus here, but you can also opt for rib-sticking sandwiches, burgers and homemade lasagna. You can pre-order sandwiches for delivery at lunchtime if you work nearby.