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Five great pubs in Cape Town’s southern suburbs

Ami Kapilevich presents a highly scientific analysis of five great drinking holes in the Cape Town southern suburbs, from historic wood-panelled pubs to slightly more modern bars.

Beer taps at Barristers. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Beer taps at Barristers. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Barristers (Newlands)

Remember the bar from the sitcom Cheers? “Where everybody knows your name?” That’s Barristers for you. The crowd here is slightly older and a large percentage are regulars, which contributes to the convivial and dignified atmosphere at this place. The owner has a deep love for wine and the descriptions on the wine list are all his own writing, so they’re honest and sincere. He will also give you a personal recommendation with a warm smile.
Those in the know will tell you that the Monday dinner specials (buy-one-get-one-free) are great value; and pub lunch deals are on daily between 12pm and 6pm, but Fridays are particularly popular. (Ask for the chef’s special of the day.)
The deck is superb in summer and the main bar is great in winter, but the two extra rooms that serve as extensions to the restaurants feel a bit removed from the terrific atmosphere. Fortunately, the service is so good, you’ll hardly notice.

Quality and range of beer ****
Food ****
Service *****
Rugby watching ***
Kids *
Toilets ****
Parking ***

People enjoying beers at Barristers. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

People enjoying beers at Barristers. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

The Brass Bell (Kalk Bay)

The Brass Bell is probably the closest you can get to the water in False Bay with a cold draught in your hand without being arrested. (Drinking on Cape Town’s beaches is illegal.) And since the restaurant has expanded to encompass the sandy pool area, it’s now a brilliant destination for families, too. Kids can play in the sand or splash in the water while mom and dad enjoy a beer under the awnings. In winter, head for the original cosy pub with fireplace – The Cabin – that gives an impression of being in the captain’s quarters. Adjacent to this is the Cabin Restaurant, where the à la carte menu and deep booths cater for those who prefer a quieter time. For added fun, catch a train there on a Sunday; The Bell is a stone’s throw from the Kalk Bay train station. Rugby is screened on a big screen in a room fronting onto the sea that’s referred to as the Bikini Lounge. Wednesday nights there’s karaoke from 8pm, on Saturdays there’s often a band during the day and a DJ at night, and on Sundays a band plays. (Cover charges depend on the band and DJ in question.) Food-wise, we can recommend the seafood – tuck into great calamari at R95 for a medium portion – and the inventive pizzas (R65 to R120).

Quality and range of beer **
Food **
Service **
Rugby watching ***
Kids *****
Toilets *
Parking *

An outside view of The Brass Bell. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

An outside view of The Brass Bell. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Foresters Arms (Newlands)

Forries is the grande dame of the southern suburbs watering holes, and is billed as “the oldest bar in South Africa”. It’s certainly one of the largest. The menu includes some of the best finger snacks in Cape Town, the banting pizza (R110), with its superlatively cheesy base comprising mozzarella, parmesan and small sprinkling of cauliflower, and the Sunday carvery, which is the stuff of legends. There is a large outside area with some television viewing available. There are 12 screens in all, but be warned: not all television-viewing angles are equal, so you’ll need to come early to make sure you get a good view of the game. Forries also has what is probably the best kids’ play area of all the pubs on this list, tucked away at the back, with plenty of shade and enough junglegyms to absorb a large gaggle of kids. The indoors section is roomy but with more of a beer-hall feel – with long tables and a extensive bar – than a cosy pub. On one hand this can handle crowds pretty well; on the other, it’s not for the claustrophobic! There’ll be green beers for St Patrick’s Day and an annual post-Two Oceans party – always a buzzing afternoon – on Easter Saturday.

Quality and range of beer ***
Food ****
Service ***
Rugby watching ***
Kids *****
Toilets ***
Parking **

Foresters Arms at night. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Foresters Arms at night. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

The Toad and Josephine (Newlands)

Arguably the crown jewel of The Toad pub franchise, The Toad and Josephine is located in one of the few remaining water mills in Cape Town. The building itself is a national heritage site, located on the banks of the Liesbeek River across the road from Newlands Rugby Stadium. The dappled light through the trees and the old bricks and machinery of the mill give this Toad a very special feel. Upstairs, you can watch sport and engage in banter; downstairs you can enjoy a roaring fire in winter and sit at the tables. But don’t expect an intimate dinner when there’s rugby on at Newlands – its proximity to the stadium makes it a default after-party venue. Special mention goes to the food quality and value for money. The ribs (R95, R135 or R250 for 300g, 500g, or 1 kg) are some of the best in the Cape Peninsula, the burgers are terrific, and the pizzas are wood-fired perfection.
The Toad’s Sunday Special is a winner, with two pizzas and a bucket of beers or a bottle of house wine (which is excellent, by the way) going for R200.

Quality and range of beer ***
Food ****
Service ****
Rugby watching ****
Kids **
Toilets ***
Parking **

Nothing like trying something new! #afterworkdrink #beer #happiness #nature #thetoadandjosephine

A photo posted by Jolette Muller (@jolettemuller) on

The Warthog (Rondebosch)

Catering for the Rondebosch student crowd, but with the busiest times being Thursday and Friday afternoons after work, The Warthog has a crisp and clean appearance with grey tables, slate floors and white walls. While this relatively new establishment is still working on the lived-in warmth of some of Cape Town’s older pubs, it does have some benefits: ample parking across the road, for instance, and the ability to get a table in front of a television at short notice. Neither of which are to be sneezed at when considering popular drinking holes in the southern Suburbs. The menu specialises in breakfasts and chicken-breast burgers, but the kilo of ribs is pre-cut and would make a great sharing option for a band of merry and peckish Stormers supporters. There’s also a decent selection of craft beers on tap (and in the fridges). Specials include two burgers and six beers or a bottle of wine for R199 on Tuesdays, happy hours on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and endless ribs on Sundays. We have a feeling that in a few seasons this place will find its feet, so get in there while you still can.

Quality and range of beer ****
Food *
Service ***
Rugby watching *****
Kids *
Toilets ***
Parking *****

A burger, chips and a beer at The Warthog. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

A burger, chips and a beer at The Warthog. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

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