This Cape Town haunt is much-loved for breakfast, lunch, dinner and everything in between. It’s attracted an almost cult-like following among the resident hipster set. Clarke’s makes a mean beef burger served on a buttery brioche bun, topped with Underberger cheese with flippin’ fantastic fries! The offering hearkens to elevated pseudo-American diner fare but is done with more flare and a whole lot more luvin’.
For brunch, The Hash Eggs comes with toasted cauliflower, parmentier potatoes, two poached eggs, asparagus and hollandaise. It’s a firm favourite and I’m a repeat offender when it comes to ordering the Huevos Rancheros with black beans, smoked tomatoes and fried eggs all topped with homemade queso fresco and avocado.
Where would American fare be without good old mac and cheese? Clarke’s is no exception here. Their four-cheese gooey hot pot is the stuff cheesy dreams are made of!
If your sweet tooth is yearning, try the nutty gluten-free brownie to tame the chocolatey beast within. Or, if ice cream’s your thing, the hot fudge brownie sundae is perfect for two... or just one!
The buzzing bar serves up drinks to Bree Street’s thriving masses from dusk till dawn and is popular for its brunch cocktails, as well as its larger dinner cocktail menu. The Hibiscus and Gin Soda, as well as its virgin counterpart, is a floral delight, and their Bloody Mary seems to be a super popular choice for hungover-filled Saturday mornings.
Showcasing some of the Cape’s best, a carefully selected array of local wines and craft beers are available, as well as a fully stocked bar with artisanal spirits and everything else one could ever need. On the non-alcoholic front, Clarke’s whizzes up fantastic fresh juices – try The Red with carrot, beetroot, pineapple and ginger – and offers on-tap Theonista kombucha. Caffeine-wise, the barista efficiently pumps out coffees with beans made by local coffee roastery Deluxe.
Service is relaxed and informal. There seems to be quite a close-knit relationship amongst all the staff and it’s evident in the air of familiarity wafting around the place. It’s not a fussy establishment. One is mostly left to one’s devices and often has to wave down a waitron in times of need but, that said, everyone seems to have a good handle on what needs doing.
At peak times the buzz can get to a frenetic roar, especially during the mania of First Thursdays, but don’t let that deter you! Clarke’s oftentimes feels a bit like a sprawling party with customers filling every nook and cranny with laughter and the frivolity of celebration. If peace and quiet are beckoning your name, this is not your destination – Clarke’s is fit for the easygoing city-dweller in need of the sights and sounds of a rowdy kitchen and a familiar smile.
Clarke’s offers a myriad of interesting options fit for the non-meat eater – the beet burger is an absolute winner!
Lisa van Aswegen
Start the day with house-made granola, a decent fry-up (the huevos rancheros have a cult following) or simple avo on toast. Lunch and dinner time sees serious diner fare: the four cheese mac and cheese will have you in cheesy heaven, while salads such as the classic Caesar are light and zesty, packed with crunch. Smoked pulled pork or Reuben sarmies, a juicy burger, or a packed-with goodness pressed veggie sandwich hit the spot time and again.
Welcome bar snacks, like twice-fried fries with aioli or their Rooster Dog with kimchi and sriracha, go down well with a drink or two. If you're an oyster fan, this is the place to be – the baked oysters are a treat. Sweets are simple: hot fudge brownie sundae or a scoop of ice cream hit the sweet spot.
Fresh juices, smoothies and Deluxe coffees keep things ticking over in the mornings. Move on to classic cocktails with a twist – such as their own hibiscus cordial with gin – as the day goes on. A small but interesting wine list and decent selection of craft beers rounds things off. Look out for their regular drinks and happy hour specials.
Super chilled but super friendly. Staff seem at home and enjoy your enjoyment of the food.
Sit outside watching Bree Street life, inside at the bar or at one of the tables. There's a large courtyard table at the back, ideal for a group get-together.
The addition of a small deck on the pavement adds to its outside appeal.
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Clarke’s has two simple menus: one for the day and another for night. Breakfast, however, is served throughout the day. Who doesn’t like breakfast all day? Top your choice of sourdough or five-grain toast with eight ingredients, including Nutella, pan-fried mushrooms, eggs two ways or home-made jam. For lunch, you can enjoy home-made brioche bun burgers, either vegetarian or beef. The vegetarian burger could also satisfy meat lovers – it’s filled with zucchini and beetroot and served with aubergine, smoked mozzarella and the tastiest double-fried chips or a salad. The grass-fed beef burger with Underberger cheese is just as mouthwatering as it sounds. For dinner, take your pick from pizza, West Coast oyster chowder, cauliflower soup and more.
Clarke’s rooibos and honey ice tea refreshes like nothing on earth. For a healthy kick, enjoy The Breakfast smoothie filled with blueberries, banana, chia, hemp and flax seeds. For an alcoholic option, try one of the four beers on tap or standard bottled beers and ciders. There’s also a variety of red and white wines by the glass or bottle.
There’s a casual and friendly vibe to the service. The waiters do not hover around your table while you stuff your face, which is perfect. They also don’t wear standard uniforms or stiff attire, yet they’re very visible. Overall, the service is offered with a smile and the food makes you want to go back for seconds and thirds.
A very relaxed and hip atmosphere. The offers a fine dose of Cape Town’s culture, so it would be a great place for tourists to start.
Sweet tooths should not expect a big variety, but the menu of three desserts is topped by a chocolate pie with 70 % Valrhona chocolate that just melts in the mouth.
Even though this diner has become known for its delicious and generous burgers – served in a basket with fries – they’ve also become a popular breakfast and brunch spot, with delectable items like brûléed French toast served with bacon, warm apples, ricotta and toasted pecans. They run weekly specials such as The Jackpot, on the breakfast menu, featuring free-range hash eggs with coffee and fresh orange juice. Not to be missed.
As for lunch and dinnertime fare, opt for a very classy mac and cheese with smoked mozzarella, goat's cheese and pecorino, and tip the boat by adding some bacon. The burgers are made from free-range meat sourced from the well known local butchery, Bill Riley Meats. Order a choice of sides that include fries or cheese fries and buttermilk coleslaw – there’s a typical American diner room vibe to this experience.
This being trendy Bree Street and craft beer the talk of the town, Clarke’s offers craft options and regular beers on tap, at an average of R30 for a glass of artisanal brew. There’s a rather fine list of cocktails and also a short but well selected wine list.
The waiters are passionate, well spoken and very knowledgeable about current food trends. Expect service of a relaxed and friendly nature.
The venue attracts an array of city slickers and creatives. The diner sports a quirky and relaxed atmosphere through its creative use of space and décor.
Daily happy hours make this the perfect after work watering hole. You will notice the young and trendy arriving in droves.
I walked over on a rainy, cold Friday but once inside, all my chills faded away. Clarke's was like a hidden tropical paradise inside, with palm fronds and shorts-wearing waiters. It was jam packed full of all kinds of people, and the aroma of fried food and coffee was enough to cheer the darkest heart. I ordered the Reuben, which came on delicious buttered sourdough and the biggest pickle known to man. It was a perfect balance of tangy and meaty – although I couldn't really discern the blue-cheese dressing promised by the description. The double-cooked chips were insanely good – crispy and golden with actual potato flavour – and they came with a gorgeously silky aioli. I also loved that I could order an interesting non-boozy drink over lunchtime, the soda water with hibiscus cordial and fresh lime. Yum, yum, yum!
Clarkes Bar & Dining Room on Bree is often reviewed along with other hamburger joints. It is in fact more than that, a great little menu, good attitude, great service and always well run and spotlessly clean.
Nothing wrong in this eatery where everything is made with love, I've tried nearly everything on the menu and coming often just for a drink it's neat and tidy - the waiters are doing a good job.
I think that because it's a really small place people tend to queue a lot, come during the day or for lunch it's not crowded and the food is really good.
The cheese burger and the cheesy fries are the best, and it's reasonably priced.
Trendy or tacky?
Called to make a booking only to find out it's walk-ins only. Arrived 8pm only to be told there was no waiting list, then watched the next walk-ins be added to a waiting list and the third set of walk-ins being led straight to a table... the place is chaotic, the service even worse - we tried to get a beer from the bar for about 15 minutes before we walked out and that was after we watched a guy walk inside 3 times begging for salt. Tables weren't cleaned so people were sitting surrounded by old beer glasses and burger baskets. No staff seemed to take any notice anywhere. Leave this one to the Bree Street hipsters maybe...
Stay Away! It is a waste of time and money. The staff is inattentive, the food sub-standard quality. Arrive for breakfast at 8am. Asked for coffee and croissant - not to be heated. Repeated the NOT TO BE HEATED. After waiting 20 minutes coffee arrive, 5 minutess later a croissant that was heated up. When I asked to have it sent back as I specifically requested NOT BE HEATED I got the following reply - they have to heat it up as it was frozen. Who in his right mind serves a frozen croissant for breakfast? I really really don't get it - this place does not do any justice to Bree Street.
Rather unfortunate that I never got to eat here, clearly they are so popular at the moment they don't need clients. Website says open at 7,00 during the week but arrived at 7,10 to be told rather dismissively that we could wait until 8,00 for breakfast and they might think about giving us coffee. That was fine but when I mentioned helpfully that they just might want to update their website I got even more attitude. Sad but true example of poor service losing clientele. Five friends already changed plans to go there - the restaurant business in Cape Town is competitive and having unpleasant staff is one sure way to limit your success!
I would go to Clarke’s again for the atmosphere and vibe primarily. The burgers are just ok and mine was very dry, even lashings of ketchup didn’t help! Also – if this food is your speciality then it would be nice to ask your guests how they like there burgers done, as mine was well-done, which is not to my liking. Service is good and friendly but the no booking policy can be a bit of pain as patrons don’t necessarily want to sit at the bar for an hour to get a table or have someone else go ahead of you in the line. I liked the basket-idea that the food arrived in - was cool but it slips and slides all over the table but it makes it quite authentic and like an American-style diner.
Zooty, fun, busy. We just had a cup of coffee. It was very good. Friendly waitress...
Have been three times now. I just had to get that best burger in town... But - the burgers are quite average. There are lots of better ones in other places. And at one time they were out of that burger! A bit weird as this is the signature dish here. In fact I think the fries are the best thing here, skin on and really crispy. And the ice cream from The lovely Creamery.
I guess we had high expectations after reading all the wonderful views . We where, however, really disappointed with the burgers. The patty itself is great but the bun was too oily. Overall the burger was really dry, not even adding some ketchup to it saved it. Clarke's saving grace is atmosphere and the drinks special. I would not eat another burger there.
I'm just saying this because I like the place. The Reuben needs work, and the Cobb salad is pretty overwhelming. Burgers and fries are awesome.
Oh my gosh this is the most delicious burger I have ever eaten - the meat was absolutely awesome. Each mouthful was a yum moment! The only thing missing is a great chilli sauce or fresh chopped chilis for the chilli lovers - but my friend Brigitte had some of her homemade chilli sauce in her handbag - yes - interesting thing to carry around! Loved the place - found the service a little spotty - but loved the touch of water straight onto your table and constant refills. Lovely place, I will be back.
Best hash breakfast ever, with crispy cauliflower, spring onion and haddock added - amazing. Extra strong Deluxe Coffee - delicious. Great music and very attentive staff.
Huge burger - yum. Order fries for everyone to share - big portion. Wholesomely unhealthy and tasty! Ambience ok. Menu only had burgers on for beginning. Was sad they then closed for a Christmas break - bit odd just after they opened and over busy time. Definitely worth a visit.