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Where to dine after the Design Indaba: the best restaurants for creatives in Cape Town’s city bowl

Photo by Micky Hoyle

Photo by Micky Hoyle

So you’ve imbibed inspiration from local and international speakers, marvelled at the amazing innovations on exhibition, and met a host of fascinating artists, designers and creatives… but where to take your new friends after hours? We list the hotspots in Cape Town’s City Bowl.

Within walking distance from the Convention Centre

Frere’s Bistro
Brothers Jason and Dylan Whitehead serve up great quality French food with rich sauces and oodles of farm butter, cream, duck fat and truffle oil. This is a great place if you’re banting.

Borage Bistro. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Borage Bistro. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Borage
Chef Frank Marks earned his stripes under Heston Blumenthal, and this restaurant, located beneath The Portside building (that’s the really tall one, for out-of-towners), serves up a mix of excellent quality café-style dishes and an ever-changing blackboard menu of options that verge more on fine dining.

Col’Cacchio
This is where it all started: the very first branch of Col’Cacchio. Low-cal foro pizzas (the ones with salads in the centre), banting pizzas, and a glorious selection of salads should keep everyone happy.

Hard Pressed Cafe. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Hard Pressed Cafe. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Thornton Whites
Expect innovative bistro-style food, which is mostly excellent. They recently invested in a dedicated kid’s room an Xbox, reading corner, ball pit and a full-time nanny – so it’s a great place to go if you’ve got a kid in tow.

Hard Pressed
Baristas with swag will serve you excellent coffee and tempt you with crazy-delicious cinnamon pastries. The Madonna muesli is a great way to start the day, there are tasty bagels and sandwiches for lunch and there’s even banting cheesecake. It’s also located in the über-tall Portside building.

For a drink (in stylish surroundings)

Mother’s Ruin
Serving over 60 varieties of gin – local and flown in from France, England, Belgium, Germany, Scotland and Madagascar – this bar is the hippest thing to open in the city bowl in the past six months. Tables fill up fast, so reserve one if you plan on doing justice to the gin options.

Publik. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Publik. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

The Orphanage
Cocktails are served in brown paper bags or tea cups, and décor is hip in a top-hat-and-tails kind of a way.

The Power and the Glory
This hip little bar isn’t the only sheriff in town any more, but it still pulls the crowds thanks to a comfortable interior and very tasty bar food.

Publik
Located in what is by day a butchery selling carefully sourced free-range meat, this bar is a great place for those who know their wine. Patrons often spill out onto the cobbled street.

Tjing Tjing. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Tjing Tjing. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Tjing Tjing
Located above Dear Me, Tjing Tjing offers a tiny section of open rooftop and a lovely attic beneath a mansard roof in an historic building.

Weinhaus + Biergarten
This vibey craft beer garden is good for lazy afternoon beer drinking, occasional live music and smoky sausages.

Yourstruly
Above Yourstruly on Kloof Street you’ll find a hip new rooftop bar.

For tapas or light dinners

Beijing Opera
This dim sum oasis has communal tables perfect for those inclined to socialise. Go up the counter to order pot-stickers, buns and steamed dumplings in variety of flavours and fillings.

Beijing Opera. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Beijing Opera. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Chefs Warehouse (Winner of 2014 Best Everyday Eatery)
The tapas has become slightly pricier since Liam Tomlin’s stand-out restaurant first opened, but with good reason. This is some of the tastiest food you can get your hands on in the city. Tapas dishes arrive in a parade of mini copper pots, steaming baskets and slate plates. You won’t quite believe this generosity and flavour. Find a seat on the raised stoep outside overlooking trendy Bree Street.

Chefs Warehouse interior. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Chefs Warehouse interior. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Downtown Ramen
Climb the unmarked staircase inside Lefty’s (see below) and you’ll be rewarded with fluffy buns and steaming bowls of fragrant shoyu broth loaded with juicy slow-cooked pork.

Hallelujah
Offering flamingo wallpaper and delicious (if pricy) new-style dim sum, Hallelujah is a great spot for a light bite. Perch at the counter overlooking the street.

Hallelujah. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Hallelujah. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Lefty’s
This dive bar in the still-ever-so-slightly-dodgy Harrington Street serves above-average soul food that draws in the crowds. Ribs are succulent and delicious, fried chicken waffles are semi-ridiculous, and tables look as if they were collected from the side of the road.

San Julian
This authentic Mexican spot hidden away on Rose Street offers traditional bites with handmade ingredients and some crown pleasers like chilli poppers. (Not to mention the 20 kinds of tequila.)

For dessert

Honest Chocolate Café
Aside from the ice-cream-and-chocolate-stuffed banana bread ‘bunny chow’, glorious chocolate ice cream and beautiful design, you need to visit this little dessert café to find the secret gin bar in the courtyard in the back.

Honest Chocolate Café. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Honest Chocolate Café. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

For breakfast

Clarke’s
Serving inspired diner food and some downright delicious breakfasts, Clarke’s is the place for a pig out. French toast is glorious, with apples and walnuts or Nutella. There’s also a new range of wholesome treats if your resolve is stronger than ours. Sit in the new little courtyard at the back or pull up a stool on the wooden deck on the street.

Jason
There’s actually a queue outside Jason every Saturday morning. Aside from the expected artisanal bread, baker Jason Lilley is a genius at creating OTT Dominque-Ansel-style treats. You might find a bacon-wrapped croissant filled with peanut butter; a deep-fried Nutella bite; or – on Saturdays – a dough-ssant (Jason’s take on the cronut). The flapjack stack with apples flecked with vanilla seeds, mascarpone and walnuts comes highly recommended.

Jason Bakery. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Jason Bakery. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Dear Me
It’s only open on weekdays, but the lovingly sourced produce and exposed brickwork make this a lovely serene spot for eggs Benedict. The menu caters for all manner of special dietary requirements.

Hemelhuijs
Jacques Erasmus’s food is as beautiful as his restaurant. Order luminous fresh juices in carafes and bright salads bursting with flavour and served on designer crockery.

Hemelhuijs. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Hemelhuijs. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

For coffee

Deluxe
Trendy, stylish branches on Church, Roodehek and Kloof Street will keep your caffeine stocks high.

Haas
Single-origin beans are roasted ‘in-haas’, as the owners like to say. You can also order kopi luwak or a death wish (the strongest coffee on earth).

House of Machines. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

House of Machines. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

House of Machines
This motorbike café and bar serves up great coffee. And from 9am to 3pm on Sundays, you’ll find The El Burro Food Truck parked outside. Think huevos rancheros, breakfast burritos and bean, corn and avo tacos.

Truth HQ
The most steampunk of all the steampunk cafes, Truth HQ offers a lesson in taking a design theme further. They’re serious about their coffee and the breakfasts are pretty delicious.
See also Jason and Hard Pressed, above.

Truth Coffee. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Truth Coffee. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Markets

Oranjezicht City Farm Market
The market part of this urban garden recently located to the gardens of Leeuwenhof. If farm-fresh produce, tasty vegan and wheat-free treats and the magnificent Nitro-Creamy ice cream doesn’t motivate you, the opportunity to shop at Helen Zille’s personal residence on a Saturday morning should pique your curiosity.

Oranjezicht City Farm

Oranjezicht City Farm

City Bowl Market on Hope
Open on Saturday mornings and Thursday evenings, the City Bowl Market is located in a church hall and is a convenient place to pick up dinner, dim sum and fresh juices.

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