Cape Town’s restaurant scene is buzzing with hot new chefs and go-to favourites. Whether you feel like a tapas bar, sushi spot or hip coffee shop, the choices are endless. Here’s our list of the best restaurants in the Mother City in every category from bistros to Italian trattorias and tapas bars to steakhouses.
This list is our critics’ pick of Cape Town’s best restaurants, as rated and reviewed for the 2017 Eat Out magazine, with a section below for some new spots to look out for.
Gold Restaurant (Green Point)
The vast menu features tastes and styles of cooking from the far north of the continent down to the Cape, with flavours ranging from hot and spicy to soft and gentle. Look forward to Xhosa pot breads, Mozambican peri-peri wings, Tanzanian mango-and-lime chicken, and Cape Malay seafood curry.
This is a popular spot with tasty classics, from meaty grills to peri-peri prawns and Senegalese line fish. The legendary buffet is a pan-African feast, including croc pies, mopane worms, Moroccan tagines, Karoo lamb, bobotie and bunny chow. An essential tourist experience.
Banks Burgers (Newlands)
This is fast food made fresh, minus the additives and preservatives. Burgers will hit the spot, with gloriously golden brioche buns, dripping, juicy pure-beef patties, cheese, slightly crunchy pickles, caramelised or fresh onion, and secret sauce. Choose from potato and sweet-potato fries, made with the skins on. There are also carb-conscious options.
Burger & Lobster (City Bowl)
Tuck into juicy burgers and prawn rolls in hot, buttery brioche rolls at this Bree Street hot spot. End with the glorious Nutella-Oreo cheesecake. (West Coast Rock lobster is now sadly on SASSI’s red list.)
Charango Grill and Bar (City Bowl)
This is Peruvian crowd-pleasing fare. Start with the dirt-rubbed tuna tacos and spicy, zingy ceviche. The sirloin with chimichurri, lamb loin with chilli sauce, and succulent pork belly are all excellent mains, and perfect to share. Keep room for the picarones, feather-light sweet-potato doughnuts.
Clarke’s Bar & Dining Room (City Bowl)
Start the day with granola, huevos rancheros or simple avo on toast. Later on, tuck into diner fare like mac ’n cheese, juicy burgers and smoked pulled pork sarmies. Bar snacks like twice-fried fries with aioli and sweets like hot fudge-brownie sundaes go down a treat.
Del Mar (Camps Bay)
This modern Mexican food will have you salivating. Standout mains include a beef rib-eye with mushroom-tequila sauce; grilled tuna with adobo marinade; barbacao (slow-roasted lamb); and carnitas de puerco (slow-cooked pork tacos).
El Burro (Green Point)
The ceviche is deservedly popular; another winning starter is the smoky chilli rellenos. For mains, the build-your-own tacos with twice-cooked pork shoulder are rich and tasty, leaving behind a tingling warmth. Vegetarians are looked after, too. For dessert, stick to the theme with churros and dark-chocolate sauce.
El Burro Taqueria (Tamboerskloof)
Sister restaurant to the flagship branch in Green Point, the taqueria serves small portions so you can try a few things. The fish fried taco and free-range rib-eye with chimichurri salsa are top choices. For dessert, go straight for gold: churros.
This Waterfront burger hatch offers great burgers and some of the stickiest ribs in town. Burgers might feature smoky barbecue sauce, cheddar and mustard or chutney, gruyère and guacamole.
Hudson’s – The Burger Joint (Gardens)
Well-made burgers with inventive toppings have helped this chain grow from this single branch to a small chain. The Bacon Jam is delicious, sweet and succulent, with onion rings for crunch. The disco fries (charged extra) are worth the calories. Wheat-free buns are available, too.
House of H (City Bowl)
The portions are hearty and flavoursome. You’ll want to roll your sleeves up for the cheeseburger with fries. The beef patty is served on freshly made ciabatta with cheddar, pickles and tomato. The chips are golden, crunchy and salty. Other lunch options include 16-hour roast brisket sandwich, fish and chips, and a steak roll.
Inside & You’re Out (City Bowl)
Look forward to ethically sourced and locally grown meat and veg on soft buns, topped with unusual additions. Tick the options on a paper slip to ask for mains like the Umami BBQ burger, or the Kimcheezy, with caramelised pork belly and kimchi. There are chicken and vegetarian options, too.
A variety of snacks makes for great socialising before mains: try corn dogs, cheese bombs and chorizo croquettes. For mains, chose one of Lucy’s Seven Deadly Sins (with stuffed patties), or the wings with delicious bastings.
Royale Eatery & Royale Kitchen (City Bowl)
This institution is famous for its choice of over 50 gourmet burgers, beloved by many and served with fries, sweet-potato fries or salad. Highlights are The Burgerac (white cheddar, chipotle sauce, and onion-and-gherkin salsa) and El Burro (chorizo, chillies and coriander). There are chicken, fish, vegetarian and vegan options, too.
San Julian (Green Point)
The Garcia-Aispuro clan likes to keep things simple and authentic. Here the guacamole is ramped up with feta, white onion, coriander, green chilli and fresh lime, and the ceviche is excellent. For mains, best bets revolve around hand-made tacos with chicken and smoked-chilli salsa or braised pork shoulder with guajillo chilli paste and spices.
The Taproom at Devil’s Peak Brewing Company (Salt River)
Smart bar snacks like sesame-beef short-rib and chilli poppers set the scene. Burgers are the perfect size to eat with your hands; they’re a must with truffle-parmesan fries or onion rings. End on churros with chocolate sauce or banoffee mess.
1890 House Sushi and Grill (Observatory)
This is one of the most underrated sushi restaurants in Cape Town, with Japanese food artistry of the highest order. The conveyor belt is convenient for a quick bite, always well stocked with favourites like seared tuna salad, spicy prawn on bean curd, and caviar sandwiches.
Active Sushi (Hudson Street) – Best Asian Eatery: winner for Western Cape
Fresh, creative sushi combinations are complemented by fast, happy and helpful service. Value for money and well-made sushi are what keeps diners happy.
Beijing Opera (De Waterkant)
The dim sum selection here is scribbled on the chalkboard above the pass. Pot-stickers come filled with pork, beef or vegetables, and served with a punchy dipping sauce. Steamed prawn gau are as delicate and delicious as any in Hong Kong, as are the steamed buns with barbecue pork.
Chai Yo (Mowbray)
This neighbourhood gem offers great-value Thai food. Start with complex and fragrant tom kha gai soup, then narrow it down to either curry or one of the protein sections. Most dishes feature all the good stuff: lemongrass, roasted chilli and garlic, fresh basil, coconut milk and crisp vegetables like beans and peppers.
Cheyne’s (Hout Bay)
Chef-proprietor Cheyne Morrisby has a knack for creative combinations and beautiful plating. The strong Asian influence means you’ll see plenty of exotic touches like firecracker crayfish with beetroot kimchi, baby back ribs in a sticky mandarin caramel, and teriyaki pulled-lamb pie with aubergine tempura.
Downtown Ramen (City Bowl)
The menu is small but to-the-point: the main event is four types of fragrant, flavourful bowls of ramen. The signature shoyu broth with pork belly, spring onion, nori, egg and chilli is incredibly delicious, but the spicy miso broth steals the show, with melt-in-the-mouth slow-braised beef, Szechuan pepper and all the trimmings.
Husband-and-wife chef-patrons Zhi and Jian Cui Zheng create an original menu that tempts with fare from their home in northern China and old Cantonese favourites. The crowd pleasers vary from nourishing wonton broth and home-made dumplings to chop suey, chow mein and crispy duck pancakes. Signature dishes are the home-made tofu, crystal noodle salad, crispy sesame calamari and spicy prawns.
Haiku (City Bowl)
The cuisine here is superlative, although portions are on the sparing side. Highlights include Haiku sashimi, consisting of a deliciously umami-rich trio of tuna in mild chilli ponzu, salmon in yuzu and halibut with chilli peanuts; the delightful herb-filled Vietnamese prawn roll with crispy pancake; sticky grilled salmon robata; and mushroom pot-stickers.
Select your tapas from the brief menu and wait for the magic to begin. Skewered prawns pack an incredible punch – sweet, sour, salty, spicy – and the accompanying steamed buns soak up the zingy coriander-lime salsa like magic clouds. The beef short rib with kimchi and six-minute egg is a standout, as is the 12-hour duck on a soft ramen taco with almond-ginger ‘hum-mush’ and orange.
Izakaya Matsuri (Green Point)
Chef-patron Arata Koga produces top-quality sushi: fresh fish, perfect portions and interesting options like eel, mackerel and octopus will please. The salmon aburi sushi is simple perfection, scorched with piping-hot sesame oil. Panko pork-neck skewers and dumplings vie for attention with kimchi octopus and cucumber, soft-shell crab, and salmon croquettes.
Nobu (V&A Waterfront)
The modern Japanese cuisine here is not just about sushi; the menu plays with textures and flavours in an overwhelming range of innovative dishes. Kick off with arancini-style crispy rice cubes served with hot-buttered soy. If you’re feeling flush, you can move onto signature black-lacquered cod den miso or sweet, sour and citrusy kingklip with ponzu.
Kobe Sushi (Newlands)
Aside from all the usual sushi and sashimi, the skilled chef puts his own spin on dragon rolls, dynamite rolls and tiger rolls. If you like the heat, try the hot, hot, hot box of wasabi parcels.
Kyoto Garden Sushi (Tamboerskloof)
Kyoto offers so much more than just sushi or sashimi – you’ll experience the delicacy, subtlety and enduring flavours of Japanese cuisine. For mains, try the steamed fish, seared salmon, giant Alaskan scallops or king crabs. Cherry-blossom ice cream with chocolate ends the meal in style.
Obi (City Bowl)
After Takumi closed, sushi legend Papa San joined forces with chef Ben Bettendorf to open this urban eatery. Kick off with trademark starters like sweet and tender nasu miso, agedashi, or appealing tempura options. The shoyu ramen is comforting, light and softly savoury. The sushi options have enough range to suit both traditionalists and the adventurous.
Raya Kitchen (City Bowl)
The large menu here meanders from starters and soups to dim sum and curries, with well-trained staff happy to offer advice. Highlights are prawn har gau, spicy tom yum soup, traditional Thai curries, phad Thai, and steamed line fish in chilli-lime broth. Look out for good-value specials.
Saigon Vietnamese Restaurant (Gardens)
Saigon will win you over from the very first bite. Phenomenal food combines Asian flavours not limited to Vietnamese, but stretching to Thai, Chinese and Japanese. Outstanding mains include green prawn-and-litchi curry; red duck-and-butternut curry; baked aubergine with miso, ginger and sesame seeds; slow-roasted duck; and caramelised pepper pork.
Salathai Restaurant (Green Point)
A culinary whirlwind of Thai dishes. Order popular chicken with cashews, or choose your favourite protein, from prawns to crispy duck, to have in stir-fried basil or pad Thai.
Simply Asia (Kenilworth)
This is authentic Thai cuisine with imported noodles, spices and MSG-free ingredients. All the classics are here, from fragrant, spicy soups, satays and salads to tongue-tingling curries and delicious stir-fries. Standouts are tom yum prawn soup, pad Thai, jungle stir-fry and chilli-tamarind duck. Sushi is very good.
South China Dim Sum Bar (City Bowl)
Perennial fixtures on the blackboard menu include chicken wontons, pot-stickers and sesame-noodle salad with or without chicken. There’s usually a special, and everything is intended for sharing, so it’s easy to work your way through the menu in one sitting. The black-sesame ice cream with gently spiced citrus is heavenly.
This nights-only venue is a real gem. Tapas dishes are relatively affordable, considering the quality, so you can order a feast of fabulously flavourful dishes. The pièce de résistance in the umami department is the ochazuke, a bowl of sushi rice in a warming matcha-and-dashi broth, topped with tender pan-fried fish.
Wang Thai (Milnerton)
Start with spring rolls, dim sum or the legendary deep-fried sweetcorn cakes with sweet chilli sauce, them move onto the vast menu of sushi and curries, of which the duck is the best. Delicious vegetarian options could make a few converts. Sticky rice pudding with coconut milk makes a great ending.
Bistro Bizerca (City Bowl)
Bizerca has a cult following for its refined bistro food in a stylish setting. Blackboard menus showcase changing dishes and classics like mussels with creamy velouté; superb pumpkin gnocchi; meaty mains like seared kudu loin, which arrives gloriously fuschia and butter soft, with a subtle grand veneur sauce and poached quince; and the deceptively named ‘chocolate pudding’.
The Brasserie (Constantia)
This neighbourhood bistro serves favourites like pumpkin arancini, mushroom risotto, roasted bonemarrow, and panko-crumbed fishcakes with fennel-and-citrus salad. Daily specials might include seared tuna, lamb shank and, on Sundays, crispy pork belly or rare roast beef.
Diemersdal Restaurant (Durbanville)
Chef Martin de Kock draws on his classical French training to put a spin on wholesome country fare. Dishes are inspired by the garden, with preserves, pickles, breads and vetkoek from the farmhouse. The stars are sirloin béarnaise; slow-cooked pork belly with braised cabbage and apples; free-range chicken pot pie; and family fondues on Saturday nights.
The Foodbarn (Noordhoek)
With a reputation for delicious French-inspired dishes with SA flavours, acclaimed chef Franck Dangereux serves highlights like duck-liver parfait with toasted brioche; creamy seafood soup; ravioli with wild mushrooms; sustainable seafood mains; and offal, cooked to perfection.
Hemelhuijs (City Bowl)
It’s obvious that quality is of tantamount importance to chef-patron Jacques Erasmus. With his heritage coming through in elements like mosbolletjie brood and smoor, there’s a focus on simplicity. Lunch offers colourful, seasonal salads and unusual dishes – think veal with crab butter, parmesan, pine nuts and parsley – all on beautiful crockery.
La Boheme Wine Bar & Bistro (Sea Point)
An appealing mix of formal and cosy, this bistro offers something to suit most palates. Crispy spring rolls are satisfying and the steak au poivre is beautifully done, with pungent pepper crust and brandy sauce. The chalkboard dessert menu offers exemplary crème brûlée and moist brownies.
Mano’s (Green Point)
The comfort of the familiar is what Mano’s delivers in spades. Start with the reliable bacon, blue cheese and avocado salad, and move on to favourites like grilled prawns, calamari, chicken livers in many guises, creamy chicken limone, steak and sauces. The chocolate brownie mess and banoffee pie are go-to desserts.
Mink & Trout (City Bowl)
Owners Leigh Trout and Kevin Mink ran Birds Café in the same spot before, but this concept is entirely different. Stellar menu items like ceviche with ginger-pickled veggies and miso cream cheese; trout, asparagus, leek-and-ricotta tart; and outstanding Karoo lamb bredie will impress.
Nuovo Restaurant at Hotel Verde (Airport Industria)
Produce is proudly sourced from within 150km – the blackboard shows how far it has travelled – and dishes make use of the greens from the hotel’s hydroponic wall gardens. Highlights are prawn-and-citrus salad; battered hake with hand-cut chips, pea purée and mint gel; and sous-vide chicken with coriander jus and savoury granola.
NV-80 (Sea Point)
The menu of this popular bistro offers a lot of variety. You might begin with caramelised pear and gorgonzola salad or a generous portion of grilled calamari tubes, before moving on to rib-eye with café de Paris butter or charred queen prawns.
Open Door (Constantia)
Country-style bistro fare with an edge, just enough to make it interesting. The beef burger with bacon, cheddar, tomato marmalade, fried onion rings and hand-cut chips will warm the cockles of the heart. End with the salted-caramel ice cream sandwich for dessert.
This quintessentially French place is a Constantia favourite. There are snails with fresh parsley and garlic butter, the soup du jour, and, if you have a bigger appetite, deboned free-range chicken poached in a rooibos-and-orange sauce, and the formidable roasted pork belly with buttery mash and wholegrain mustard jus.
Quentin at Oakhurst (Hout Bay)
Marrow bones roasted in the wood-fired oven and served with bruschetta and goat’s cheese are a mouthwatering beginning here. The line fish is always cooked to perfection and the signature wood-fired duck is also highly recommended. Sunday lunches have reached almost legendary status.
Societi Bistro (Gardens)
It’s all about comfort food. Starters include snails, bonemarrow with charred ciabatta, and mussels with garlic, cream and white wine. For mains, choose from Karoo lamb shank, venison Bordelaise with buttered mash, bonemarrow and red wine, or the perennial favourite, risotto with pumpkin and sage butter.
The bistro menu has well executed classics like luxurious French onion soup and plump Saldanha Bay oysters served with red-wine-shallot vinegar and lemon. There is a plat du jour – coq au vin on Mondays, Toulouse cassoulet on Tuesdays – and à la carte options include staples like steak frites and roasted baby chicken. Desserts include crème brûlée and tarte au citron.
Tiger’s Milk (Muizenberg)
This super-popular hangout with lovely views has consistent food with mass appeal. There’s an impressive range of flame-grilled burgers and thin-based pizzas are made in a wood-fired oven. They also do delicious barbecue pork ribs, half a grilled peri-peri chicken, and a line fish of the day.
The Woodlands Eatery (Vredehoek)
A lovely, thoughtful menu caters for all, from meat lovers to plant eaters and even the Banting fans. Pizzas have well-balanced and creative toppings and the option of a cauliflower base. If you’re keen on seafood, the crispy fish goujons come accompanied by a well-seasoned home-made mayo.
Bacon on Bree (City Bowl)
Great fare – with or without a hangover. It does exactly what it says on the label: bacon, in about 20 different ways. The one-page menu covers breakfast, sandwiches, salads and light bites. Stick to the simple options that showcase the phenomenal star, like the bacon butty on house sourdough with ketchup, or the Smokey Joe, with bacon, cheese and a dusting of smoked paprika.
Café Roux (Noordhoek)
The no-frills fare – really good burgers, sandwiches, pasta, and fresh, seasonal salads – suit the informal setting. All dishes come with delicious home-made relishes, dressings, chutneys and toppings. Classic eggs Benedict or Florentine and a signature all-day breakfast for late risers keep the crowds happy.
The Company’s Garden Restaurant (City Bowl)
The breakfast menu is small, offering popular staples such as eggs Benedict, French toast and home-made muesli. For lunch, choose from a selection of sandwiches or a variety of seafood and meat dishes. The fisherman’s and ploughman’s platters are ideal for a light lunch for two.
Culture Club Cheese (City Bowl)
Owner Luke Williams sources the best cheese from SA to create a cheese emporium with heart. It’s not all toasted cheese – but you can have that, too! Lunch is ramped up a notch: think wild-boar bangers with cheesy pumpkin mash, free-range duck rilettes with sauerkraut or bourbon-glazed pork belly – all delicious. If you’re going the whole hog, opt for camembert mac ‘n cheese or raclette.
Four & Twenty Café & Pantry (Wynberg)
For all-day breakfast, the poached eggs on an aubergine, mushroom and truffle rosti with yoghurt Hollandaise is delicious; and the beetroot-bun burger with a free-range lamb patty, blueberry compote, feta and avo is popular at lunch. Unusual tea-time treats are on display, such as a green-pea sponge cake layered with strawberry cream-cheese icing and lime curd.
The Hub Café (Scarborough)
This food is beautifully presented and delicious to eat. Ingredients are seasonal and largely sourced from local farmers, so the menu changes regularly. The crispy battered fish is excellent and comes with herbed mash and home-made curried mayo. Cape Point Bakery is downstairs and guarantees fresh bakes warm out of the oven.
The Kitchen (Woodstock)
The Kitchen is hugely popular for its plentiful salads at lunch time – up to 20 every day – and famous Love Sandwiches. Artisanal bread from the nearby Woodstock Bakery is filled with your choice of gammon, grilled chicken, honey-mustard sausage, melanzane, pastrami, falafel, avo, bacon, signature pestos, salads and secret Love Potion.
The Lighthouse Café (Simon’s Town)
This quaint eatery is a popular haunt for locals and tourists alike. Seafood sourced from Kalk Bay Harbour is super fresh and well cooked, especially the tender and flavoursome calamari steak strips. It’s a great place to stop for a quick coffee and cake.
Jason Bakery (City Bowl)
Famed for its amazing pastries, Jason Bakery is a Cape Town institution. Breakfast highlights include toasted sourdough with toppings like bacon, chorizo, salmon and avocado. A flaky, buttery croissant is a must with morning coffee. Lunch offers sandwiches and kick-ass pies. Jason is also renowned for its Saturday-morning doughssants in crazy flavours.
Manna Epicure (City Bowl)
Everything is refined and well executed. All-day breakfasts feature perfectly poached, free-range eggs in a range of interesting guises with excellent Hollandaise sauce. Lunch and dinner herald calamari with chickpeas, chorizo, peppers and pineapple, and a succulent chicken parmigiana with perfectly crisp panko crumbs.
La Belle Café & Bakery (Constantia)
La Belle is always buzzing with patrons tucking into hearty breakfasts and excellent pastries in the morning, and delicious-looking salads, soups and sandwiches later on. Other options might be seafood dishes like salmon and kingklip fishcakes with Asian broth.
Olympia Café and Deli (Kalk Bay)
This iconic Kalk Bay restaurant remains extremely popular. It’s a super casual eatery that dishes up delicious, robust and fresh meals from the daily blackboard menu. Constants are the fresh local mussels, cooked with white wine, cream and garlic; and linguini di mare, with a slow-roasted tomato sauce, chunks of line fish, mussels and prawns. Ciabatta from the bakery is served with every meal. Breakfasts are equally popular.
Starlings Café (Claremont)
Farm-fresh, ethically sourced ingredients from small producers feature here. Golden free-range eggs are used in eggs Benedict or Florentine. Sandwiches, salads, wraps and power bowls are full of honest-to-goodness flavour and crunchy texture – and are a delight to the eye.
tashas (V&A Waterfront)
All the tashas have the same basic menu with unique additions per branch. This one serves Spanish bites like patatas bravas and paella. Breakfasts are legendary, featuring polenta porridge with crispy bacon, mushrooms, a poached egg with parmesan shavings, or toasted brioche with berries, mascarpone and crème anglaise. Fabulous burgers, steaks, lamb cutlets, pastas and salads complete the offering.
Truth Coffee Roasting HQ (City Bowl)
Smoky flavours are favoured by the chef. The Pork’s Benedict Underbelly is a rich combo of smoked pork, poached eggs, creamy Hollandaise and bok choy. Try the smoked wiener with a host of toppings. Croissants and other bakes are available all day and perfect for takeaways.
Whole Earth Café (Scarborough)
This café makes health food cool. Try the bagel burger or the Vietnamese salad with soy-roasted pumpkin seeds, mint, chilli, crispy noodles and yuzu. If you’re feeling virtuous, the oats bowl with chia seeds, coconut and berry coulis is excellent. Don’t leave without checking out the cakes.
Aubergine Restaurant (Gardens)
Ingredients are of the highest quality, with presentation harking back to a bygone era with foams, smears, glass plates and doilies. Chef-patron Harald Bresselschmidt offers a caviar menu, and seasonal dishes like standout cured springbok with dark chocolate, quince and mushrooms.
Azure (Camps Bay)
With Azure’s dazzling location overlooking the Atlantic, it’s little surprise that seafood plays a starring role. That could mean a decadent seafood platter, a classic prawn cocktail, or fresh line fish. There’s also a generous choice of grills, poultry and game, with Cape Malay curry a nod to home-grown flavours.
There’s something for everybody here, from springbok two ways with port sauce, almond crème-fraîche potato, baby beets, celeriac and vanilla-confit baby carrots, to signature Caesar salad with pan-fried Norwegian salmon. Look forward to little treats from the kitchen, like amuse-bouches, palate cleansers, heavenly breads and petit fours.
Cape Point Vineyards (Noordhoek)
No shortcuts are taken at this stylish venue. Highlights include charred asparagus with a farm egg; cauliflower-and-tarragon soup with Pernod-flambéed prawns; soft-shell crab with nori and yuzu mayo; slow-braised pig’s cheeks with polenta; and springbok shank with smoked vanilla mash. The charcuterie and cheese platters are also very good.
This is top-notch cuisine using the finest ingredients and impeccable presentation by chef Archie Maclean. The starter line-up could include roasted sweet-potato soup with pickled mushrooms and hazelnut crumb, or grilled scallops with tempura green beans. Adventurous diners can opt for zebra, warthog, ostrich and crocodile tail. Finish off with the chocolate cremeaux.
Chef’s Table at The Belmond Mount Nelson (Gardens)
This celebration of SA flavours will thrill even the most jaded diner in a beautiful, surprising, nostalgic and delicious tasting menu. Expect the likes of shiraz-marinated bresaola, oysters on a landscape of crushed ice, a very memorable prawn curry, and springbok loin with chakalaka soil.
The Conservatory (Constantia)
Classic dishes star excellent quality local produce. The double-baked Underberg cheese soufflé is a standout starter. For mains, meat lovers will be happy with the free-range beef burger, or the grass-fed rib-eye with crispy-onion spaghetti and mushroom ragù. For dessert, try the wild-chamomile-and-honey panna cotta with pistachio brittle and fresh berries.
De Grendel (Panorama)
Using fresh seasonal products, much of it from the farm itself, chef Ian Bergh continues to please his fans with unfussy, innovative food. Highlights include sumac-cured salmon; cured ostrich with root vegetables, quinoa and dukkha; pork belly, cooked sous-vide before being crisped in a hot oven; duck-leg confit with duck breast and quail’s egg, pear and port; and wild-mushroom risotto with asparagus and artichoke.
Greenhouse (Constantia) – Top 10
Peter Tempelhoff’s food is beautifully plated with a masterful combination of flavours and textures. The menus change seasonally. The starter of superbly fresh tuna with kelp, seaweed and tempura sea spaghetti is delicious, as is the main of grilled squid and pickled octopus served with calamari-stuffed black ravioli. The pièce de résistance is the Cape Malay kingklip with seafood bisque, cauliflower, blackened onion and sultana.
La Colombe (Constantia) – Top 10
Dining here is a special, singular experience. They’re unable to take the tin-can tuna off the menu, for good reason. You might be treated to a seared scallop with a lollipop quail leg, wing and breast, sensational parsnip purée and braaied sweetcorn before a theatrical Granny Smith sorbet. For mains, go for the Chalmar beef with langoustine, sticky oxtail and peas. Desserts are layered and enthralling.
La Mouette (Sea Point)
Chef-patron Henry Vigar goes from strength to strength at his celebrated restaurant. You might encounter fontina-and-truffle croquettes with aioli; impressive Mushrooms on Earth; seared tuna with pickled cucumber and tempura courgettes; and kudu loin with smoked mayo and celeriac purée. End on sweet and savoury mascarpone ice cream.
Planet Restaurant (Gardens)
Executive chef Rudi Liebenberg may be one of the Cape’s heavyweight chefs, but he doesn’t take himself too seriously. Well-constructed classic dishes include lamb loin, elegantly plated with onion purée and a cabbage parcel of confit neck; mushroom arancini with roasted mushrooms and aubergine pakoras; seared duck breast with prune purée, chicken liver parfait; and a playful ‘corn dog’ of confit duck leg.
Savoy Cabbage (City Bowl)
Savoy Cabbage has long been a staple of Cape Town’s fine-dining scene. The menu changes with the seasons, but could include chicken-liver parfait with port-soaked figs and currant toast; pork cutlets stuffed with celery and gruyère; or herb-crusted rack of lamb with a garlic flan.
The Test Kitchen (Woodstock) – Top 10
This is food entertainment as richly layered and engrossing as a well-written film. The menu is constantly evolving and the focus is on flavour, flavour, flavour. While the menu shows a love of Asian flavours, there are nods to SA ingredients like Cape Malay curry-glazed kingklip and springbok loin. A pre-dessert of scattered fragrant chamomile flowers, friandises soaked in burnt butter, a buttermilk quenelle and roasted sunflower-seed-and- honeycomb crumb will blow you away.
Bap Shayona (Rylands)
Here you’ll find a wide variety of vegetarian dishes that stem from the tenets of the Hindu diet, with no onion or garlic. The most popular dishes include the pani puri, paneer curry (with naan to mop up the gravy), masala dosa, and the thali, a wonderful selection of curries, biryani, roti, puri and sambar served atop a tray.
Bihari Indian Restaurant (Newlands)
At this landmark in the southern suburbs you can watch the chefs at the tandoor ovens, roasting kebabs on long skewers and baking fresh naan breads to mop up the aromatic madras, masala, korma and vindaloo sauces.
Bukhara (City Bowl)
This is the place to go for a special, delicious authentic meal. For mains you might opt for butter chicken and prawn masala, with a side of naan and garlic raita. The delectable mango ice cream is the only way to end off such a spicy feast.
Locals flock here for their curry fix from the tandoor oven. Start with samoosas, marinated line fish or minced lamb. If you order the gorgeous lamb vindaloo or madras, be warned: they’ll bring a tear to your eye. Try the lamb korma for a more mild experience.
Maharajah Vegetarian (Rondebosch)
The extensive menu here tempts with a range of authentic curries. The slow-cooked sauces are richly layered with braised spices – mild, medium or hot. Popular specialties are lentil dhal, palak paneer, korma and chickpea-and-butternut curry.
Maharajah South Indian Restaurant (Tamboerskloof)
The many choices could easily send your head into a spin. Luckily, the knowledgeable waiters provide insight. The non-veg snack platter is a good start, allowing you to sample the flavours you’re about to experience. The lamb curry on the bone is delicious.
Punjab Express (Tokai)
Freshly ground spices infuse the restaurant with exotic fragrances of the traditional northern Indian cuisine. You’ll find excellent versions of all richly flavoured, slow-cooked Punjabi standards, from signature chicken tikka and tandoori chicken to lamb kebabs, atchar prawns and highway chicken curry.
Comfort food, South-Indian-style, from Kerala-born restaurateur Seelan Sundoo. Small sharing plates of wok-fried squid heads with lime, coriander and chilli spice have a great kick; the puri patha also gets the thumbs up; and mini bunny chows – three to a plate – are very popular. You might try something from the clay oven: Kerala roasted chicken, fish roe with curry leaves, or kingklip with ginger and coriander.
95 Keerom (Gardens)
Giorgio Nava has attracted aficonados for many years. The beef tartare is one of the best in town, hand-cut and anointed with SA olive oil. Also fabulous are the ravioli, butternut or spinach, topped with sage butter and parmesan, and gorgonzola gnocchi. Much of the meat is from Giorgio’s farms. Tiramisu and chocolate fondant make great endings.
A Tavola (Claremont)
Traditional Italian food of the highest order. Work your way from the antipasti (zucchini fritti) through the primi (hand-made linguine pescatore), on to secondi (veal saltimbocca alla Romana), and end with dolci or gelato and an espresso. The tagliolini ai funghi e tartufo with wild mushrooms, rocket and truffle oil is also a standout.
Bocca (City Bowl)
The solid menu hasn’t changed much since opening, attracting a steady stream of diners here for business or pleasure. Classic Neapolitan-style pizzas fall in two categories – with or without a tomato base. Bocca is also known for tapas like zucchini fries with garlic aioli and the ever-popular crispy pork ribs. End with an espresso and some biscotti.
Consistency and contemporary Italian cuisine are the benchmarks here. Start with one of the best antipasti and charcuterie selections in town, then move onto fantastic pizzas, pastas or a signature risotto. Try leave space for the dolce pizza.
Col’Cacchio Pizzeria (Foreshore)
This family-friendly eatery is best known for pizzas, but it has so much more to offer. Salads are abundant and the meaty pastas are a highlight. Banters will be delighted with a number of carb-free offerings. Tiramisu and panna cotta end off the meal.
The Cousins (City Bowl)
Inspired by their nonna, who taught them to cook, these three Italian cousins from the Romagna province specialise in delicious pasta with authentic ingredients. Try delectable burrata or gnocchi with a piquant sauce of blue cheese and pecans to start. For dessert, try the tiramisu.
Cucina Labia (Muizenberg)
Reliable classics and innovative dishes is what you’ll find here. Mains include a perfectly cooked smoked duck breast with pillowy gnocchi, fennel and sundried tomato beurre noisette; deboned short rib with a café-au-lait sauce and cauliflower purée; and linguine with smoky tomato and basil.
Il Leone Mastrantonio (Green Point)
You’ll get all the classics at this always-vibey eatery. It’s renowned for carpaccio di pesce and the linguine Portofino (perfectly cooked pasta smothered in a mélange of prawns, cherry tomatoes and white wine sauce). There’s short and long, open and closed pasta with all the traditional fillings. Tiramisu ends the meal on a high.
The lunch menu at this Bree Street spot offers baguettes, wraps and platters loaded with imported ingredients like mortadella, Italian gorgonzola and Milanese salami. For dinner, opt for beef or octopus carpaccio, seared tuna, pastas and risotto. The saltimbocca – veal with prosciutto crudo, sage, white wine and polenta – is rich and tasty.
Magica Roma (Pinelands)
A Cape Town institution famed for old-school Italian fare, this is the spot for something really retro. If the usual pizza and pasta suspects don’t pique your fancy, try the panzerotti veal with ricotta, parmesan and sage. End on classic tiramisu.
Massimo’s (Hout Bay)
Owners Massimo and Tracy offer warm hospitality and generous portions at reasonable prices at this local landmark. Share a selection of cold and hot spuntini (tapas) to start. Regulars can’t resist the 30+ thin-crust pizzas and the extensive pasta menu with sauces from arrabiatta to carbonara and puttanesca. Don’t miss the boozy trio of chocolate cups filled with home-made liqueur.
Nonna Lina (Gardens)
The menu at this local favourite offers everything one would except from an Italian establishment and more, from a traditional thin-based margherita to Sardinian specialities like pane guttiau – a snack of thin bread, warmed in extra-virgin olive oil and salt.
Ristorante Posticino (Sea Point)
Posticino is a staple on the Cape Town pizza and pasta firmament, and a favourite with locals and tourists alike. Mix it up at your table with a selection of pizzas and pastas, and barter with one another to create your own signatures.
Unpretentious and authentic Italian food is what you’ll get here. Enjoy homemade bread and olive oil to start before moving on to one of their hearty pastas or gnocchi with Sicilian rib sauce.
Volaré at Peddlars & Co. (Constantia)
Chef Brad Ball has been building a steady clientèle at his Italian eatery under the Peddlars roof. Tempting main courses include sous-vide pork belly with confit onions; braised beef flat rib with white polenta; and specials like roasted kingklip or chorizo-and-prawn linguine. End on Elgin apple tarte tatin with fudge sauce.
The Greek Fisherman (V&A Waterfront)
Taste your way through a platter of meze favourites, from white bait, spanakopita and grilled sardines to halloumi, mussels, grilled prawns and warm pita breads with dips. Another highlight is the signature slow-roasted lamb and tender souvlaki. Leave space for the chocolate hazelnut baklava.
Maria’s Greek Restaurant (Gardens)
This hidden gem with a cosy atmosphere is perfect for a night out with friends or a date. If you enjoy sharing, dig into the delightful, delicious meze. The slow-roasted lamb with artichokes in a creamy tomato ouzo sauce is the signature dish for good reason. There are also many vegetarian, free-range chicken and seafood options.
Marika’s (City Bowl)
There’s so much variety and deliciousness offered here. Whether you start with spanakopita, or chewy halloumi, you won’t have any regrets. For mains, go for grilled baby calamari, butterflied prawns, or signature lemon-and-herb baked lamb.
Anatoli Turkish Restaurant (Green Point)
Look forward to tasty food in a setting straight out of old Istanbul. Starters are served from a large tray; choose from smoky baba ghanoush, lamb koftas and spicy olives to hummus or dolmades and a smorgasbord of dips with piping hot flatbreads. For mains, order the lamb shank or the cabbage leaves stuffed with rice, lamb mince, pine nuts and herbs.
Sloppy Sam (Green Point)
Start with a delicious selection of creamy dips, dolmades and pickled octopus with piping hot pitas. The meatballs are a favourite for mains and the baked brinjal is recommended. The lamb dishes are also legendary. Finish up with some of the best baklava in town.
ASH Restaurant (City Bowl)
This charcoal-themed menu boasts big, smoky flavours. Expect the likes of sweet and sticky lamb ribs and pig-head scrumpets with Szechuan-apple sauce. Cold dishes might be a stellar beef tartare or rolled lamb with rosemary oil and gentleman’s relish. End on cheesecake mousse with doughnuts.
Bistro Sixteen82 (Tokai)
Showstopping sauces make every dish special: artichoke velouté with line fish; sticky soy and ginger with tender pork belly; chimichurri Hollandaise with a steak sandwich; and a rich, dark and lovely cumin jus with braised lamb neck. Breakfasts are also worth every cent.
Black Sheep (Gardens)
This is an uncomplicated, delicious dining experience. Mouthwatering dishes are grilled tongue with salsa verde, pickled beetroot and horseradish; coppa with cauliflower fritto and a caper-parsley dressing; and perfectly cooked hanger steak with thick-cut fries. Appealing flavours and reasonable prices.
Bouchon Bistro (City Bowl)
Look forward to seasonal tapas with the same flavours as sister restaurant La Boheme. The fresh Caprese salad features generous fior di latte, the beef tataki melts in the mouth, and the cloud-like gnocchi with porcini is buttery-rich and satisfying. Desserts are simple, like apple crumble and crêpes Suzette.
Chalk & Cork (Gardens)
Tapas-style eating at its best, with a choice of boards, bar snacks and carefully conceived dishes to share. The salt-and-pepper calamari with Sriracha aioli is a hit, as are the cauliflower risotto with hazelnuts and the braised beef short rib. Wood-fired pizzas deserve a mention, too.
Chef’s Warehouse & Canteen (City Bowl)
Liam Tomlin’s every dish is a sensory experience. Perfectly plated and presented tapas will have your taste buds applauding. Highlights are crisply fresh tuna tartare with crunchy nut crumb and croutons; melt-in-the mouth pork belly; tender venison with rainbow carrots; and truffly saffron risotto. End with a citrusy lemon posset.
The Foodbarn Deli & Tapas (Noordhoek)
Franck Dangereux’s more casual eatery is always filled to the brim. Daytime offers a selection of baked goods, but from 6pm to 9pm the kitchen comes alive to serve exciting tapas. Highlights include spring rolls, saucy chicken livers, a giant mushroom under a blanket of lemony Hollandaise, and, the crowd favourite, pulled pork quesadilla.
The menu at the 2016 Eat Out Retail Capital New Restaurant of the Year features champagne-poached oysters, tuna tartare, and tempting mussels, ceviche and fried squid. Mains usually include one option per protein – beef, duck, pork, lamb and line fish – and faithful risotto for the vegetarians. End on delicate panna cotta, gypsy tart or the sensational cheese board.
Homespun by Matt (Table View)
This is eclectic cooking in its widest sense, drawing inspiration from many sources. The baked camembert tart wrapped in phyllo pastry is suitably rich, while the chargrilled beef fillet with tempura prawns and ginger soy is very popular. The standout dessert is the deconstructed soft meringue with blueberry curd, rose reduction and roasted raspberry gelato.
Kloof Street House (Gardens)
Kloof Street House keeps it classy with indulgent offerings. Enjoy the Moroccan-spiced lamb rump or delicious bouillabaisse with line fish, salmon, prawns, calamari, mussels and clams. For vegetarians, the baked lentil-and-artichoke loaf with a goat’s cheese, carrot and cumin purée may go down well.
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 – think lardons on toast; endive with anchovy, walnuts and pecorino; shaved kohlrabi, bright persimmon, hazelnuts and fresh mint; and lamb ribs drizzled in spiced honey.
Myoga Restaurant (Newlands)
Chef-patron Mike Bassett’s contemporary culinary imagination blends east and west in a mélange of the highest quality. Highlights are silky barley ‘porridge’ with miso milk, onions, butter and parmesan; tender Korean pork belly; Angus beef fillet with roasted bonemarrow, béarnaise and ox-tongue croquettes; and the Death of Strawberry Shortcake.
The Pot Luck Club (Woodstock)
The dishes created by Luke Dale-Roberts and his team are intelligent, evolved and surprising, with the menu divided into sour, bitter, sweet, salty and umami. Highlights include Korean fried cauliflower; rich pig-head bo ssäm; mushrooms on toast; fish tacos; and beef fillet with truffle and café au lait sauce.
Reuben’s at One&Only Cape Town (V&A Waterfront)
The trimmed-down offering here begins with fragrant lamb bobotie samoosas, signature chilli-salted squid, and beef tartar with ponzu-cured cucumber and a sous-vide egg yolk. Inventive main courses like the signature pork belly, veal loin with smoked-carrot purée, and line fish with saffron linguine.
Restaurant at Villa 47 (City Bowl)
Bamboo-smoked bread with truffle butter starts the meal on a high note. Move on to balsamic-cured salmon, duck breast with apple-and-ginger dipping sauce, or the standout, kudu loin with apricots and garam masala.
The Shortmarket Club (City Bowl)
The menu is more bistro-inspired than at sibling The Pot Luck Club. There are some Asian touches, but there’s also steak, roasted potatoes and soufflé. The grass-fed beef carpaccio, served with a miso-cured egg yolk is a winner. The signature petit poussin arrives on a smoking bed of chestnuts before being whisked back to the kitchen for plating. Do order the potato churros and duck-fat potatoes as sides – glorious.
Stuzzico at Villa 47 (City Bowl)
The sexier late-night cousin in the Villa 47 family, Stuzzico brings Mediterranean and Asian in influences to its compact menu of tapas-style dishes built for sharing. Try the delicious caponata on bruschetta or the kudu tartare lifted by a hit of chilli and chives.
This is cosy Mozambican café just off the famous Surfers’ Corner in Muizenberg. Starters include mussels in a spicy soup, a Mozambican salad, a prawn salad and the Caldo Verde soup. The legendary LM prawns are a must-have. The chalkboard also offers peri-peri chicken with rice.
Dias Tavern (City Bowl)
Every town needs more spots like the Tavern: unchanging, unpretentious, and almost always full of happy, satisfied customers. Tuck into a hearty peri-peri chicken livers and follow with a steak with pepper sauce, calamari, or a surf-and-turf combo for which they’re famous.
Blowfish Restaurant (Table View)
The main reason to be here is for SASSI green-listed fish. Choose what you’d like from the fridge and ask for it to be prepared in numerous ways. Sides like chips, truffle mash and sauces are extra. The dulce de leche baked cheesecake is a killer dessert.
Café Orca Seafood Restaurant (Melkbosstrand)
The star is fish in its many forms, as fresh as can be. Try fat West Coast mussels with bacon, garlic and blue cheese or spicy prawns with Cajun butter for starters. Go on to line fish with lemon butter or Moroccan-style with tomatoes, capers and harissa.
Fish on the Rocks (Hout Bay)
This family-owned fish shop has been serving great seafood for almost 30 years. Start with a paper cornet of legendary scampi or calamari rings, followed by grilled or fried hake, yellowtail or snoek. Portions are generous.
Harbour House (Kalk Bay)
The kitchen at this sea-facing restaurant ends out favourites like West Coast mussels steamed in white wine, garlic, thyme and cream; hearty bouillabaisse with signature rouille sauce; fresh line fish of the day; sautéed smoked paprika calamari; grilled crayfish; and a most impressive seafood platter for two.
Pesce Azzurro (Woodstock)
Dishes here are simple, fresh and prepared with love. Start with mussels in a fragrant broth, fresh tuna carpaccio or the Caprese salad with soft mozzarella and confit tomatoes. For mains, try the generous spaghetti scoglio (the showstopper) tossed with generous seafood, the hake in a Siciliana-style tomato sauce.
Willoughby & Co. (V&A Waterfront)
From Cali rolls to the famous 4×4 rolls with creamy rock shrimp, each bite of sushi is well made and full of freshness and flavour. There’s a number of Japanese dishes, too, including grilled crispy rice with hot and spicy salmon; rich salmon grenades; grilled yakitori chicken; and soft-shell crab with ponzu. Classic desserts finish the meal.
Black Bull Steakhouse (West Beach)
Wildly popular since its opening, this steakhouse clearly focuses on meat, but you could always start with creamy garlic snails or excellent chicken livers. As for the main event, there are sticky barbecue pork ribs; sirloin, rump or fillet steaks; lamb chops; and ostrich options.
The Butcher Shop & Grill (Mouille Point)
This has become a go-to spot in Mouille Point for all meat lovers. Mains simply have to be meaty: select the cut and size from the menu or the butcher counter. The sirloin on the bone is perfectly cooked and seasoned, and the classic fillet is an intense and juicy choice, with a surprising amount of flavour.
Carne Constantia (Constantia)
Award-winning chef Giorgio Nava sources many prime cuts from his own paddock, prepared with fine artisanal ingredients from his native Italy. Apart from the benchmark grass-fed sirloin, rump, T-bone and rib-eye, unusual cuts star, too, from spider steak to hanger steak. Enjoy with a side of shoestring fries.
Cattle Baron (Bellville)
Obviously the thing to eat is meat, but the vast menu offers some unusual options. The pièce de résistance is their famous chateaubriand, flamed at the table. The knockout dessert is the silky crème brûlée.
Don Armando (Green Point)
The fare is predominantly for meat lovers, but starters include a few veg options. The mains consist of everything from classic sirloin steak and rump to grilled short rib, T-bone and lamb chops. All are served with fresh chimichurri sauce and papas fritas or salad. The dulce de leche pancakes are a must.
Simple, honest food is the winning formula of this unpretentious venue that offers a retro mix of South African steakhouse fare. Carnivores will be in a quandary over a hearty rack of signature barbecue pork ribs, rib-eye, sirloin or tenderloin – all grilled to your exact order over the coals.
Order a host of sides and meats and share them family-style. Starter highlights are pigs’ tails with sticky marinade and wild-mushroom arancini. The barbecue section offers various cuts, some of which are smoked on site. Dessert consists of dainty tartlets and superb gelato.
HQ (City Bowl)
Diners get a simple salad of lettuce, pine nuts and high-quality parmesan shavings with mustard vinaigrette along with the main event, which is sirloin steak – either local or Australian Angus – with café de Paris butter and shoestring fries. Crème brûlée is an excellent finish.
The Hussar Grill (Rondebosch)
The Hussar Grill is one of the oldest grillrooms in the country, where a healthy appetite is a prerequisite. Fillet, rump and sirloin are grilled to your liking and served with fries, mash, baby potatoes or a salad. End the evening with a gooey fondant or the chocolate-vodka martini.
Pirates Steakhouse and Pub (Plumstead)
This is a nostalgic landmark for great burgers, steak and ribs in the ‘burbs. Choice cuts – fillet, rump and pork ribs – are fall-off-the-bone tender, basted with house barbecue sauce, and flame-grilled to order. Nothing much ever changes around here, which is how the locals like it.
Chef’s Warehouse at Beau Constantia (Constantia)
Headed up by the previous head chef at The Test Kitchen, Ivor Jones, Chefs Warehouse at Beau Constantia offers fresh food with a serious flavour punch. The tapas for two menu might include the likes of yellowtail escabeche, beef tatami, summer-pea risotto, and cauliflower-and-onion soubise. The views are magnificent.
La Tête (City Bowl)
Food at Giles Edwards’s new Bree Street eatery has French influences and promises delight for adventurous eaters with its nose-to-tail concept. Highlights might include crispy pig’s tails, mussels with bacon, and crispy roulade of pork belly.
Chef Liam Tomlin has created a Chefs Warehouse experience with an Indian lilt in his new Gardens venue. Here you’ll find mildly-spiced North Indian tapas with options like succulent tandoori chicken and rashers of tempura pork belly with sweet-and-sour ginger-tamarind sauce.
Solo (City Bowl)
Expect dishes made with heart and the best fresh ingredients at this new Loop Street spot. Highlights include the cheeseburger with smoked cheddar and tomato chutney, buchu-marinated rib eye, and flavourful pan-fried calamari. Leave room for the mini doughnuts.
By no means a complete list of all Cape Town restaurants, this list comprises the top restaurants rated and reviewed for the 2017 Eat Out magazine, which is on sale now.