The saying goes that you should stick to what you know and when it comes to food, we couldn’t agree more. The single-dish restaurant concept has become a global trend, and Cape Town has embraced it, boasting a plethora of single dish- and ingredient-focused restaurants. Here are some of our favourites.
Richard Bosman is the undisputed bacon king of Cape Town and Bacon on Bree is his bacon empire. Not only is everything on the menu dedicated to bacon, but Bosman ensures that the pigs he uses are ethically sourced and free-roaming. Bacon on Bree, however, is not a one-trick-pony (or pig?) as the menu features everything from hearty bacon-topped breakfasts to sandwiches, burgers and even salads. You can also just order a bowl of bacon without judgement.
From the people who brought you Jarryd’s comes the Chicken Shop – a fast-casual rotisserie serving free-range roast chickens in Sea Point. Based on the simple formula of fast food joints, you’re able to sit down for a quick meal or take away to enjoy as you please. The menu includes a variation of rotisserie chickens that you can buy whole or in pieces, along with freshly made salads and sides. They also have a couple of burgers and sandwiches (including a beef and lamb option) should you not feel like roast chicken.
Based on the French concept of a rôtissoire, where you simply pop past and pick up your chicken for dinner (en route to the boulangerie for your evening baguette, of course), Cocotte in Sea Point serves classic roast chickens. Cooked on a specialised rotisserie imported from France, the free-range chickens are covered in fresh herbs and spices before being slowly roasted. These are served with your choice of freshly made salads, as well as their famous mayo – perfect for assembling the ultimate meal at home. You can either call ahead to pre-order your chicken for collecting, or you can pop past for a roast chicken baguette on the go.
Though poké is a fairly recent addition to the Cape Town food scene, it feels like we’ve been filling up on it forever. Hokey Poké was one of the first dedicated poké restaurants in the city, and, as the name suggests, the concept is based on the traditional Hawaiian dish. Choose from a list of poké bowls with varying bases and proteins, or make up your own. Vegans and non-fish eaters are also catered for with the options of tofu or chicken and beef variations.
Honest Chocolate’s dedicated chocolate café is the place where dreams come true – you can fill up on their famous bon bons or you can go all out with their banana bread bunny chow (a hollowed-out banana bread stuffed with homemade ice cream and drizzled with chocolate spread). Their dairy-free hot chocolate has a cult following, as does their coconut-based chocolate milkshake, so you can indulge without feeling like you’ve overdone it.
These guys were doing a single dish before it was cool, and when that dish is steak, chips and salad, it’s no wonder they’re a huge success. Though they have recently expanded their menu to include tapas, their ethos of producing simple food well remains the same.
For those days you want waffles and nothing else, head down to Jessy’s in the East City. These waffles are gluten free and vegan, which means you don’t have to feel so guilty. They mostly serve their waffles with various vegan ice creams, but if sweet waffles somehow aren’t your thing, there are two savoury options available.
You’d be forgiven for having strolled right past this little hole in the wall, but make sure you do stop in next time for a bowl of their hearty broths. The concept here is a simple one – a bowl of homemade bone (or veggie) broth is served with clever accoutrements such as steamed fish, venison or roasted veggies. The combination of the stock and toppings make for a wholesome and hearty dish that isn’t heavy.
These guys need no introduction, and their one dish – the humble bagel – is one of the best available in the city. The bagels, made fresh every day, are turned into hearty sandwiches with toppings of your choosing. Get toppings like smoked salmon and cream cheese; smoked turkey breast, cranberry sauce and brie; or plain cheese or butter with a toasted bagel. A winning combo is the caprese on an everything bagel – simple and delicious.
A toasted cheese café is really the be-all and end-all of single-dish restaurants, and Melt in Cape Town is the place to head if you’re after toasted cheesy delights. You can choose a fuss-free classic toasted cheese, or you can get fancy with your order and go for pastrami and Emmental cheese with caramelised red onions, or even bacon, banana and mozzarella. They also serve fries (with various cheesy options) as well as double thick milkshakes.
Your chicken schnitzel prayers have been answered, thanks to Merle’s. Yaron Wiesenbacher of Bree Street’s Hard Pressed has opened his dedicated schnitz spot in a shipping container in the tree-shaded parking lot of the Aria Building on the Foreshore. Tuck into free-range chicken schnitzels with your choice of skinny fries or three great salads (the broccoli and cranberry salad is particularly good), and smother the lot in a house-made peri-peri mayo or spicy chutney.
You know a dish is popular when there are two restaurants dedicated to serving it. The Poké Co., which started out delivering poké to beachgoers, has settled into a brick-and-mortar store on Loop street. Here they sell their delicious poké bowls, which you can order off the menu (the Charlie Tuna is always a winner) or you can make up your own bowl.
“Winner, winner, chicken dinner” seems to be a popular theme with Cape Town restaurants, as Roast and Co. also specialises in roast chicken with your choice of sides. Depending on your table size (or hunger) you can order a full, half or quarter chicken; and accompaniments include salads, roast potatoes, truffled pap or coleslaw.
There is no shortage of great places to stop off during a Winelands trip, but De Stomme Jonge should be at the top of your list for their roosterkoeke. After a glass or two of local wine, what better way is there to fill up than with a toasty, melty roosterkoek? You can choose a classic cheesy sandwich or one of their gourmet versions, like mozzarella, pesto, tomato and feta.
Bertus Basson’s latest venture is so incredibly simple. The menu at De Vrije Burger features a single burger option, a proper grass-fed beef patty, lettuce, tomato, a pickle and cheese. That’s it. For sides, you can opt for chips, which come covered with BBQ dust spice, peri-peri or even cheese. Every burger order gets you a free old-school soft serve ice cream, which really seals the deal.