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Where to feast during Cape Town’s Open Book Festival

It’s National Book Week in South Africa, meaning that from 5 to 9 September, events will take place across the country to promote reading and celebrate local literary talents. Cape Town’s annual Open Book Festival will take place at The Fugard Theatre and act as a hub for the festival. The events – including dinners, talks, and workshops with some literary greats – will be hosted at several venues within walking distance around the theatre. To keep the hunger at bay as you soak up all that knowledge, here’s where to go for breakfast, lunch and dinner around the area.

Breakfast and coffee

Bootlegger (Harrington Street)

A huge breakfast menu – with over 20 options – and decent coffee is what makes this trendy spot so popular. There are also options of croissants, muffins and freshly baked banana bread for those on the go.

Haas Coffee Collective (Buitenkant Street)

The quirky coffee shop is a popular spot to linger with a good book. They make delicious cakes, hearty breakfasts and good, strong coffee (you can even get the world’s strongest coffee here).

New York Bagels (Harrington Street)

New York Bagels is nothing short of an institution in Cape Town. Stop by for Jewish fare like chopped herring and babka or tuck into a famous bagel or a slice of baked cheesecake.

Swan Café (Corner Buitenkant and Barrack Street)

This beautiful Parisian-style corner café specialises in all things crêpe. Head here for a pre-workshop brunch and a pot of tea. Try a cheesy savoury galette with ham and béchamel or go for a sweet crêpe topped with salted caramel and apples (or have both!).

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Truth Coffee (Buitenkant Street)

Books and coffee go hand-in-hand, right? Complete with steampunk-clad hosts, this coffee hub buzzes on any given morning. Grab a cosy nook inside for an expertly made cuppa or grab one to go before you head to your next session.

Lunch

The Electric (Canterbury Street)

This hip new addition to the area is a juice and nut-milk bar and bakery. Refresh with a vibrant freshly squeezed juice or a pantone palette nut milk while chomping on golden toasties or baguettes.

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Lekker Vegan (Barrack Street)

Even non-vegans have been known to be converted by this spot. The team has taken the vegan diet to new heights with its offering of comfort foods without any animal products. Think vegan gatsbys – complete with vegan cheese and ‘beef’ strips – plus crispy burgers with all the trimmings and even milkshakes.

Raptor Room (Roeland Street)

Even if you’re not hungry, pay this spot a visit for the décor and pretty cocktails. On the food front, expect a cool mix of quirky eats and familiar favourites. Tuck into a chip roll with paprika hand-cut chips on a toasted bun, a gourmet gatsby, or a bowl of mac ’n cheese. There are also vegan and gluten-free dishes available.

Dinner

The Cousins (Barrack Street)

This family-run trattoria transports you to the tiny streets of Italy. Chances are you’ve already heard about the famous Cousins pasta dish that has homemade tagliolini mixed together with cream, mushrooms and thyme in a Grana Padano cheese wheel. Don’t miss it. The gnocchi is also glorious, as is their ravioli with sage butter.

Dias Tavern (Caledon Street)

Visiting this Cape Town OG will without fail end in a party, so plan this Portuguese spot for the weekend. As for the food, the Portuguese fillet steak fried with white wine and garlic is the real deal.

Downtown Ramen (Harrington Street)

As one of the first places to serve real ramen in the city, Downtown Ramen specialises in these bowls of hearty broth and noodles. There’s a pork broth, served with pork belly and noodles, and a veggie-based ramen with tofu and noodles. Both dishes come with a boiled egg and a good kick of chilli.

Lefty’s (Harrington Street)

This low-key dive bar serves up proper slow-cooked ribs, chicken waffles, great pizzas and juicy burgers.

Drinks

Harringtons Cocktail Lounge (Harrington Street)

This cocktail bar is the perfect spot for drinks after a day of soaking up some literary knowledge. Sip on some signature cocktails while you snack on tapas like prawn skewers, ceviche, flatbreads, or tripled-cooked fries.

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If you’re after some food-related happenings on the Open Book Festival’s programme, here’s what to look out for:

  • Hosted dinners on various evenings with Food Jams’ Jade de Waal in the company of authors and literary names like Lesley Nneka Arimah, David Chariandy, Nick Mulgrew and Karina Szczurek.
  • Food on the Page on 7 September at 12pm: Anatoli’s chef Tayfun Aras and food blogger Ming-Cheau Lin speak to Ishay Govender-Ypma about their new cookbooks
  • Leopard’s Leap #Words4Wine: Leopard’s Leap will have a stand throughout the festival where they’ll exchange a pre-loved or new book for a glass of Leopard’s Leap wine.

Click here for the full programme.

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