Communal eating, pinxtos or tapas, is a popular way of eating and sharing food, and one that’s become something of a growing foodie trend on both the local and international dining scene. Although the fad originates in Spain, restaurants are experimenting with flavours and styles from all over the world; from Japanese-infused bites and mini-Mexican tacos to tiny plates of French bistro fare or South African favourites. We’ve put together a list of wine bars, eateries and bistros that offer tantalizing tapas to share and enjoy.
Be sure to vote for your favourite by writing a review and putting them in the running for the tapas category at the Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Best Everyday Eateries later on this year. Write a review now.
Baha Taco (Norwood)
Small dishes that pack a huge flavour punch make Baha Taco a great tapas-style dining destination. Try the chicken wings in ale-and-chipotle barbecue sauce (five for R60), jalapeño rellenos (R15 each), or corn on the cob with chipotle butter and queso fresco (R25). You don’t need to be huge lover of Mexican cuisine to enjoy Baha Taco’s gluten-free soft corn taco (R40 for halloumi, veg and re-fried beans; R50 for pulled pork; R65 for sirloin steak; and R50 for grilled chicken breast). Prepared while you watch and made with ethically sourced ingredients, the food is zingy and light.
Escondido Tapas (Illovo) & Tapiana by Escondido (Sandown)
Spanish meets Thai, Indian, Greek, Asian and more on Escondido’s dynamic and tasty menu. The eclecticism is clearly a potent ingredient, as the establishment’s new sibling restaurant, Tapiana by Escondido, is proving popular, serving up the same versatility and powerful flavours as the elder sister. The menu is constantly updated, but look out for superlative hits like pork belly spring roll with chilli jam (R30 each), chorizo-and-cream-cheese poppers (R38), and zucchini fritti with tzatziki (R39) in winter at Escondido. Coffee-glazed pork belly with apple sauce (R48), pumpkin fritters with cinnamon sugar (R36), and dirty fries with biltong dust (R39) – while they remain on the chalkboard menu – are all the convincing required to check out Tapiana.
Living Room (Maboneng)
Artsy, modern and green in a fun, light-hearted way, this rooftop restaurant has a great vibe. It’s a great destination for tapas-style dining. Prices for small bites (ostrich carpaccio with jalapeño-caper dressing or pan-fried halloumi in mint butter, for example) range from R35 to R45, with more pricey options like the aubergine dip, basil pesto cream cheese and caramelised onions served with toasted oregano pita triangles (R68) still very appealing. The tapas boards come with varying assortments of the small bites – such as falafel balls, zucchini bites, beef spring rolls and barbecue lamb riblets – and can be selected vegetarian, meaty or mixed.
Mezepoli Meze & Wine Bar (Melrose Arch)
Inspired by the flavours of the Mediterranean and Asia, Melrose Arch’s swish Mezepoli has an impressive selection of meze dishes to be enjoyed as appetisers or as tapas. Catering for vegetarians, meat eaters and seafood lovers, options range as wide as spanakopita (R55), jamón serrano or raw cooked ham (R69), strips of beef shwarma (R59), souvlaki chicken (R55) and sliced octopus pickled in a vinaigrette marinade (R75).
Momo Baohaus (Greenside)
Beloved since day one, this relatively new kid on the block serves Asian-style tapas in an ultra-cool and modern industrial-inspired space. Try the salmon ceviche taco comprising Norwegian salmon, teriyaki, wasabi, plum sauce, toasted sesame and spring onion, or one of the spicier meals, such as the mapo tofu, with braised tofu with Szechuan chilli sauces, shiitake, tingly Szechuan peppercorn oil, spring onion and jasmine rice. (The average price is R50.)
An avant-garde brewery restaurant with an award-winning industrial chic setting and a chef who’s unafraid to push the envelope when it comes to cooking techniques – nothing about Urbanologi falls neatly into traditional categories. You’re encouraged to have fun with the menu, because it’s not organised according to your typical set courses, but rather into raw, fried, kushiyaki, steamed, cured and frozen food items. The white anchovies with roasted garlic emulsion and crispy chicken skin (raw); tempura shimeji mushroom with tamarind dressing and butternut purée (fried); coal-fired broccoli with smoked gorgonzola cream and broccoli gremolata (kushiyaki); and steamed mosbolletjies with whipped farm butter and dukkah spice (steamed) can be enjoyed as tapas. Prices range from R20 to R115.
Workshop 55 (Parktown North)
While not exactly a tapas restaurant in the strict sense, Workshop 55’s concept of a fixed charge of R240 paid upfront for any choice of three start-sized dishes and R70 for each additional item has associated the relaxed and trendy Parktown North restaurant with tapas in the public imagination. Expect exquisite presentation and attention to detail, with options such as chickpea falafel with beetroot, pomegranate, red onion, wild rocket, tahini, honey vinaigrette; braised beef short rib with Asian barbeque sauce, orange, broccoli, garlic potato purée and roasted baby carrots; and arancini made with butter-caramelised onion risotto and filled with mozzarella, and served with cauliflower-and-truffle purée and spring onion.
Blos Café (Faerie Glen)
Visit this spot for after-work drinks and great deck seating under the trees. The smaller bites on the menu are perfect tapas-style options that pair with the good selection of beers, wine and cocktails. Fill up on bitterballen, beer-battered chicken strips, roasted potato wedges, beef trinchado, and halloumi with tomato jam. If you’re in a larger group, try one of the platters filled with meaty options like pork belly and hanger-steak sosaties. There are also veggie boards available filled with the likes of falafels, zucchini fries and marinated olives.
Capital Craft (Menlo Park)
While this spot is known for its good burgers and beer, the offering doesn’t end there. Head over for shareable snacks like deep-fried biltong with bechamel sauce, mac-and-cheese balls with jalapeño, spicy wings with a hot and tangy sauce, mini cheese-filled corn dogs, and jalapeño poppers. If you’re dining in a crowd, the platters of sausages, wings, chicken lollipops, pork ribs and falafel balls are a great option.
Culture Club – Bar de Tapas (Hazelwood)
This trendy hotspot is a great place to linger for drinks and exciting tapas. Feast on dips and spreads, nibbles of halloumi bites, chorizo lollipops, bobotie arancini balls and popcorn pork, or mix it up with a selection of mixed plates and share boards. Choose a few for the table with options like panko chicken strips, Spanish meatballs, Thai-style squid, or paprika prawn tails. End off on a sweet note with dessert tapas portions of churros with dark chocolate, chocolate brownie, or crema Catalana.
An array of tapas dishes that could easily become delicious starters is available at this Italian spot. The selection includes deep-fried buffalo mozzarella, chicken livers in port, prawns and baby calamari with garlic and spicy cherry tomato, or sour sardines on a skewer with dry raisins and white vinegar. Pricier options also please; think sliced roasted salmon with orange, or venison carpaccio and crumbed goat’s cheese.
Hemingways Restaurant & Wine Cellar (Centurion)
This classic French-style bistro offers great wines and a tapas selection for pairing. Settle in for a tapas-for-two platter with options of sliced rump, spicy meatballs, prawns, mussels, fish goujons, and bacon-wrapped jalapeño poppers. Vegetarians can also build their own selection with options of wild-mushroom risotto croquettes, spinach-and-feta koftas, butternut crisps and zucchini fries. Both platter selections also come with a selection of three cheeses, green olives, stuffed peppadews, fruit, and a variety of breads and condiments.
Laughing Chefs (Tiegerpoort)
Laughing Chefs prides itself on its tapas selection, and the restaurant’s setting and live entertainment lends itself to large platters of food shared among friends. The menu changes based on seasonality and availability, although popular options might include patatas bravas with smoky mayo, arancini balls, crab-and-mozzarella cigars, garlic scallops, deep-fried chicken livers, skilpadjies, and snoek-and-patat fishcakes. End off on tapas portions of apple-pie doughnuts, chocolate truffles, or peanut-butter éclairs.
Meet on Milner (Waterkloof)
This trendy little eatery is a good spot for craft beer, wine, live music and food that’s made for sharing. Pair your choice of drink with something off the long bruschetta menu, or go for a selection of eats off the ‘smalls’ section. Meat eaters can enjoy options like lamb cutlets with ginger and coriander, or fillet strips with Dijon sauce, while vegetarians can feast on zucchini with lemon mayo, artichoke balls with cream cheese, or halloumi with tzatziki. There are also fish cakes, calamari, chilli poppers and prawns on offer.
Priva Gastrolounge (Waterkloof Heights)
This elegant restaurant offers seating in the restaurant, the sky deck or cigar lounge, the latter of which calls for platters topped with grilled kingklip, pork-belly crackling, fillet with miso cream, chicken strips, and potato wedges. Alternatively, build your own selection with options of deep-fried pap and mango atchar, chicken strips with chilli mayo, biltong and droëwors, jalapeño poppers, and shredded chicken tacos.
Whisk Wine Bar (Centurion)
This stylish wine bar offers an ideal tapas-style food offering that works well with the wine selection. Choose from options like cheese croquettes with barbecue sauce, fillet with romesco sauce and mini foccacia, trinchado with spicy cream sauce, and bacon-and-onion wontons. If you’re in groups of 10 or more, call ahead and ask for one of the sharing platters to be put together, topped with everything from cheese and mini burgers to meaty boards and mini filled rolls.
The Big Easy (Central Durban)
This swanky spot offers a great selection of titbits along with an impressive collection of local wines. Guests can look forward to dishes such as smoked snoek and corn fish cakes, oxtail-and-marrow fritters, Cape Malay shrimp samosas, mini boerie rolls, and spicy peri-peri chicken livers.
Café 1999 (Berea)
The menu at this Durban eatery is divided into small bits and big bits to encourage communal eating. Favourites include Kalamata olives that have been stuffed with ricotta, crumbed, deep-fried and served with chilli herb mayo, and chickpea-and-feta balls with minted yoghurt and olive-and-tomato salsa. Meatier options include duck-and-date samoosas with feta; grilled pork skewers with peanut satay; and chicken livers with grilled polenta.
The Chairman (Durban Central)
Durban’s trendy wine and jazz bar is the perfect spot for drinks and a feast of tapas plates. Create your own selection with options of cola- and barbecue-basted beef rib; calamari stuffed with egg-fried rice; African goat meat and dumplings; peri-peri chicken wings; chilli bites; and Camembert croquettes.
El Toro (Durban North)
Known for Mexican tapas and tequila, El Toro tempts with flavoursome three-cheese tequila fondue with chorizo and nachos; Mexi golf balls with corn mash and jalapeño crème; empanadas filled with paneer, chorizo and spinach; seared livers in jalapeño with charcoal maize bread; and jalapeño poppers. You can also grab a few soft or crispy tacos filled with the likes of tuna ceviche, roast corn and mushroom, and pulled pork.
Greedy Buddha (Umhlanga Rocks)
This popular spot boasts a selection of Southeast-Asian tapas with tasty cocktails. Try Asian chicken bites with Szechuan-chilli glaze; crispy pork eisbein bites with teriyaki; seven-spice prawn tails with coconut-pea purée; and lime-and-coriander fishcakes with kaffir lime and wasabi mayo. There are also dim sum portions, slider buns, mini Asian-style soups, and a confit duck pancake dish that’s perfect for sharing. If you can’t decide, order one of the tapas tasting menus to share.
S43 Home to That Brewing Co. (Morningside)
Beer lovers and foodies alike will enjoy this brewery’s offering of tapas and street food to pair with ice-cold brews. The menu changes often, but you can expect dishes like spicy tacos; mini lentil bunny chows; ginger-and-soy chicken skewers; Spanish olives with feta; and doughnuts filled with salted caramel with a chilli-beer-chocolate sauce.
Pintxada (Umhlanga Rocks)
A popular spot in The Village, this Spanish tapas eatery makes for a vibrant night out. The ever-changing menu offers options of marinated olives; patatas bravas with dips; Madrid-style croquetas; fillet medallions; pork belly; Portuguese-style chilli prawns; and white anchovies with roasted peppers.
ASH Restaurant (City Bowl)
This charcoal-themed menu boasts big, smoky flavours in small and big plates. Expect the likes of local deep-fried octopus with romesco sauce or lamb neck scrumpet with stone fruit ketchup. Cold dishes might be a stellar beef tartare or dry aged beef tataki with ponzu dressing and smoked cream cheese. End on a brown sugar tart or freshly baked madeleines.
Balducci’s (V&A Waterfront)
Besides an extensive sushi offering, this busy stop for tired and peckish shoppers also serves a great range of Asian-inspired tapas. Enjoy dishes such as Asian noodles with Thai-style prawns, bean sprouts and a hint of chilli, or tempura seasonal vegetables served with a traditional dipping sauce. The robatayaki offering (skewered and barbecued meat) includes juicy grilled Karan beef fillet or grilled deboned chicken.
Bascule Bar (Cape Grace, V&A Waterfront)
An elegant spot on the water’s edge at the V&A Waterfront makes for an ideal setting for a cocktail or whisky (this elegant bar offers over 500 from which to choose) and some tapas. The menu includes items like potato dumplings with spinach and gorgonzola; mushroom risotto; prawns in butter curry; mini fish and chips with tartar sauce; smoked ostrich with balsamic-poached pear; and sautéed chilli duck livers.
Bistro Sixteen82 at Steenberg (Tokai)
This picturesque restaurant offers tapas and bistro-style dining in the heart of the verdant Steenberg Wine Estate. Their special tapas menu – available from 5pm to 8pm – features contemporary eats such as creamy broccoli-and-herb soup; fish pot stickers with miso remoulade; pork-and-manchego croquettes; and chicken wing trinchado with coriander yoghurt.
Bouchon Bistro (City Bowl)
This wine bar and cellar offers a simple, ever-changing small eats menu with a carefully selected wine list. Dishes might include chorizo paella, sardines wrapped in Parma ham with aioli, goat’s cheese phyllo parcels, and small bowls of fragrant lamb curry. Finish off with chocolate fondue.
Bukhara (V&A Waterfront)
Indulge in spicy and aromatic tapas at this stylish Indian eatery. There’s chicken chaat with lime dressing; tomato-and-chicken curry rotis, lamb pot-roasted curry; paneer-stuffed potatoes; and tandoori chicken wings. Order a selection to share as starters or as mains, and be sure to ask for the chef’s daily tapas special.
Chalk & Cork (Gardens)
This Kloof Street wine bar and restaurant caters to all, with an accessible wine list and an extensive tapas menu featuring a great selection of seafood, meat and vegetable plates. Order the roasted East Coast hake with leek custard and smoked bacon; braised pig cheek with sweet potato purée; or wild-mushroom risotto with parmesan and truffle oil. The menu changes frequently, but the website is updated every few days to reflect this.
Charango (City Bowl)
Bree Street’s Peruvian-inspired grill offers dishes that are made to be shared. Options include the Charango house ceviche with leche de tigre and avocado; Nikkei tuna tiradito with teriyaki, miso mayo and pickled ginger; and crispy pork with baby gem and dressed quinoa. There are also veggie options of courgette-and-cucumber tiradito with chilli and miso, and mushroom ceviche with red onion and truffle.
Chefs Warehouse at Beau Constantia (Constantia)
Headed up by Ivor Jones, the kitchen at this branch of Chefs Warehouse offers fresh food with a serious flavour punch. The tapas for two might include the likes of seared tuna with braised eggplant vermicelli noodles and ginger; potted ham hock with mustard cream; slow-cooked egg yolk with miso and butter-poached mushrooms and brioche soldiers; and wild honey and lavender crème for dessert.
Chefs Warehouse & Canteen (Cape Town CBD)
Headed by well-known chef Liam Tomlin, this casual, canteen-style eatery was the first to establish the ‘tapas for two’ offering. The menu comprises eight gourmet tapas dishes that change daily. Expect innovative and colourful plates with fresh fish, umami-rich meat titbits, perfect copper pots of seasonal risotto and legendary lemon posset for dessert.
Cheyne’s (Hout Bay)
This Hout Bay hot spot serves fusion tapas, combining Pan-Asian-style tapas to bring you innovative treats like deep-fried ‘firecracker’ crayfish with spicy Sriracha and kimchi; pork belly chasu with five-spice potato cream; Vietnamese rice noodle bowl with chilli and lime; poké bowls with tuna, salmon or beef tataki; and desserts like the cereal-milk ice cream with miso caramel.
FORK (City Bowl)
Located on bustling Long Street, this cosy eatery serves up contemporary Spanish-style tapas infused with European and South African flavours. Tapas dishes include the likes of pork rillettes with pickles and crostini, risotto tart with truffled mushrooms, raclette fondue, and seared tuna with Asian sun-dried tomato dressing. There’s also a great wine list and a variety of desserts, cocktails and digestives.
The Foodbarn Deli (Noordhoek)
At 6pm Tuesdays to Saturdays, the much-loved Foodbarn Deli in Noordhoek transforms into a vibrant tapas restaurant. The menu is packed with a variety of authentic and contemporary tapas including fresh fish tartare with soya and avo; panko-crumbed brie with raspberry gastrique; fire potatoes with chilli sauce and aioli; and slow-braised pork belly with sticky ginger sauce.
The tapas menu at the 2016 Eat Out Retail Capital New Restaurant of the Year features crisp pork cheek with pickled octopus and tamarind; 64-degree hen’s egg with black pudding and smoked apple; roast pumpkin risotto with smoked ricotta; and chicken-liver parfait with mushrooms and rhubarb. End on rich banana cake with coffee and rum, or the cheese board with boerenkaas done three ways.
The Pan-Pacific Asian food at this chic restaurant is served tapas-style and meant to be shared. From fresh sushi plates to petite plates of steamed and fried dim sum, there is something for every palate. Order the fillet shitake robata skewers, or snack on prawn popcorn served with a creamy sweet chilli.
Hip foodies flock to this quirky eatery for its Asian-inspired bites and great bubbly options. The menu is split into sections of seafood, meat dishes, sides and specials. Options include Mozambican prawns on steamed buns with coriander and lime sauce; sticky grilled beef brisket with gem lettuce spoons; vegetable surprise with barbecue sauce and cashew miso brittle; and sake steamed mussels with housemade Chinese sausage and lime butter.
The La Parada cooks up authentic Spanish tapas in a laid-back space with a vibrant atmosphere. The menus features a variety of meat, seafood and vegetarian tapas dishes, including prawn crouqetas; Spanish garlic mushrooms with poached duck egg; salt-and-pepper calamari; pork rillettes with pickled cucumber; and lamb rump with Spanish poor-man’s potatoes.
Lucky Bao (Hout Bay)
Look forward to a selection of small, Asian-style eats at this popular Hout Bay bao bar. The menu changes often, but you can expect dishes like the bird bao with roasted sticky duck or the option filled with soft shell crab and lemongrass; chicken and tom yum or beef and ginger yakatori; and sides of nori-dusted fries or slaw with green chilli mayo.
Manga (Mouille Point)
Sushi, tapas and sea views is what you’ll get here. If you’re not ordering your favourite sushi roll, go for the delicious snack options like soy-roasted nuts; crispy calamari with garlic chips; duck spring rolls with a spicy dipping sauce; or pineapple and lime line fish ceviche. Meatier options are also available, such as beef tataki and sticky pork belly.
The Mess Restaurant (Green Point)
This Green Point eatery and bar focuses on shareable plates with a diverse variety of flavours. Try the tuna ceviche with wonton tostada; spicy squid taco with smoky mayo; beef tataki with ponzu dressing; and aubergine melanzane with fior de latte and parmesan crumble.
Mulberry & Prince (City Bowl)
South African Cornel Mostert and New Yorker Cynthia Rivera bring a slice of the city that never sleeps to Cape Town. Sharing plates can best be described as New American in theme; think smoked onion dip with porcini-dusted potato crisps; beef tartare with n’duja; burrata with black garlic and soured cucumber; and squid with radicchio and wild fennel emulsion.
The Peacock Indian Inspired Tapas (Observatory)
This spot brings Indian-inspired tapas to Obs with an exciting offering of spicy small plates with a twist. Think chicken breyani rissoles; homemade paneer sticks with sweet chilli dip; lamb cutlets with tandoori spice; and masala fish tacos with habanero raita and spring onion. There are also samosa and puri trios and naan pizzas available.
Piano Bar (De Waterkant)
This social music lounge offers a soulful atmosphere with a bar-style menu, refreshing craft beers, exciting cocktails and boutique wines. The tapas offering includes salmon tartar with paprika oil; croquettes filled with biltong or cheese; curried mini vetkoeks with mince; falafel balls; and a medley of mushrooms with cheese fondue.
The Pot Luck Club (Woodstock)
This stylish silo-top restaurant entertains guests with an open kitchen and a variety of sharing-plates divided into five flavour profiles: salty, sour, sweet, bitter and umami. The menu features innovative tapas dishes such as chickpea, goat’s cheese and parmesan fries; beef tataki with hoisin dressing; crispy calamari with fermented peanut chilli dressing; the legendary fish tacos; and a grapefruit margarita sorbet with Caperitif jelly.
Rick’s Café Americain (Gardens)
Sip cocktails on the veranda and enjoy a selection of global tapas and meze. The large tapas platter is perfect for big groups and includes favourites like lamb kofte, chicken brochettes, prawn skewers, calamari, Spanish meatballs, chilli poppers, and a variety of dips and pita bread. Alternatively, try the Moroccan cheese parcels; chicken livers in brandy-and-sage sauce; or fish cakes with a yoghurt-and-harissa sauce.
Rumbullion at the Roundhouse (Camps Bay)
Overlooking Camps Bay and set among leafy trees, this relaxed venue offers guests a chance to recline on the landscaped gardens and enjoy fresh gourmet tapas and platters of cheese and charcuterie in the summer months. Order a ciabatta loaf and select a few tapas jars from the menu. The jars include options such as the spicy olive mix, feta-stuffed peppadews, snoek pâté, and hummus.
SHIO (De Waterkant)
Expect modern Japanese tapas at this trendy spot. Look forward to dishes like miso-glazed aubergine; teriyaki lamb gyoza with garlic, ginger and chives; tempura scallops with kimchi butter; and nashi pear tarte tatin with black sesame ice cream for dessert.
Stuzzico at Villa 47 (City Bowl)
The sexier late-night cousin in the Villa 47 family, Stuzzico brings Mediterranean influences to its compact menu of tapas-style dishes built for sharing. Try the pea-and-pancetta arancini; fontina-cheese crostini; or salt-and-pepper calamari.
Sundoo (Sea Point)
This stylish South Indian restaurant has become a vibey hotspot thanks to stylish décor, tasty food and seating overlooking the buzzing Regent Street. Try tapas like squid heads with lime, coriander and green chilli; Sundoo samoosas with chicken, lamb, or sweet potato; mini bunny chow trios; or vegetarian-friendly tarka dhal.
Chef Liam Tomlin has created a Chefs Warehouse experience with Indian flair at this beautiful Gardens venue. Here you’ll find mildly spiced North Indian tapas with options like succulent tandoori meat, delicate and aromatic fish, glorious naan bread, and inspired floral desserts.
Tjing Tjing Torii (City Bowl)
This super-stylish rooftop bar offers unique cocktails, wines, craft beers, and Asian tapas-infused tapas. Think chargrilled corn with miso butter; lime-cured fish with soy and cucumber; duck bao buns with hoisin and spring onion; and kimchi bowls with radish and bamboo shoots.
Bramon Restaurant (Plettenberg Bay)
It’s all about the wine here and Bramon Wine Estate’s long meze-style list offers a good variety of choices to go with it. Dishes are portioned to share, so order two to three, with options like Spanish meatballs in tomato sauce; bobotie wrapped in crispy phyllo; olive tapenade with bread; and crunchy spinach-and-feta cigars.
Genki Sushi Bar (Stellenbosch)
This hidden Stellies gem offers not only a variety of sushi classic sushi options, but there are also tapas-style dishes like new-style sashimi, tataki, yakitori skewers, salmon fish cakes, and crispy prawn spring rolls. There’s also tempura done with tiger prawns, line fish, shiitake mushrooms, vegetables and calamari.
Spek & Bone (Stellenbosch)
This tapas-and-wine bar by Bertus Basson offers locals a great place to enjoy wines by the glass and small plates of seasonal, local flavours. Past highlights have included herbed potato churros, slow-cooked lamb ribs with shiso leaves, and the spectacular Peppermint Crisp King Cone dessert.
Tuk Tuk Microbrewery (Franschhoek)
This Mexican eatery and microbrewery offers a selection of small plates for long boozy lunches. Options include locally caught line fish ceviche with avo and roasted corn nibs; chilli-and-lime buffalo wings with coriander mayo; and slow-cooked beef tacos with guacamole and smoked onion aioli.
Did we miss your favourite tapas spots? Let us know in the comments section below. Be sure to vote for your favourite by writing a review and putting them in the running for the tapas category at the Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Best Everyday Eateries later on this year. Write a review now.