The restaurant has the word ‘tavern’ in its name. You’re not expecting five star cuisine, so the stakes are quite low. If what you’re after is a selection of seemingly authentic Portuguese dishes doused in peri-peri sauce, then you’ve come to the right place. Their starters include chicken livers and deep-fried calamari rings.
My dining partner ploughed through their Portuguese fillet steak, fried with white wine and garlic, in record time, so it’s safe to say their meal was good. I ordered a half chicken and chips. The plate was orange so I’m sure not a chilli was spared. Next time I will try the prawns instead, which were highly recommended.
The desserts on offer include a traditional malva pudding and Italian kisses.
The drinks list lacks imagination. For a tavern, I was expecting a wider variety of options. I settled into my seat with a gin and tonic, which was well made. It’s not a bad wine list. It’s short and to the point, with familiar brands and a few standards like sherry and port. You won’t go thirsty.
From the minute I walked in, I felt welcome. It’s the kind of neat, ‘just-enough’ service that greets you with warmth and makes you feel like you will probably be back at some point.
The first thing my friend said when I sat down was, “This is like a tavern in a small mining town.” Which is absolutely on the money. My friend also said, “I guess the food made up for it” – so you get the point. It’s tip-toeing on dingy, with a boxing gym next door, and plastic garden seating. However, it’s warm inside, is in a semi-popular area in the Cape Town CBD, and the food is good so it walks a strange tight-rope.
The restaurant is pursuing an ‘unpretentious’ feeling, with heaps of comfort food and ample plastic red chairs everywhere. Come relaxed and come hungry. There is ample parking in the evenings, because the Canterbury Street parking lot is empty. Pop into the Fugard Theater for a show while you’re in the area.
Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay for their meals in full. Read our editorial policy here.
Every town needs more spots like Dias Tavern – unchanging, unpretentious and almost always full, with happy satisfied customers. They know that, visit after visit, they will get what they seek: comfort food, well-cooked and well-priced, without any unnecessary frills. No foams, no gels, no jus – only meat, chicken and seafood, spiced as you want it in portion sizes that leave no one hungry. Along with a mound of chips so well-cooked that even devout Banters weaken. It’s been that way for more than 25 years.
Tuck into a hearty plate of peri-peri chicken livers, rich and savoury, with just enough bite to make reaching for the water or beer glass mandatory after every mouthful. Follow with a steak with pepper sauce or the yummy calamari, or order one of the surf and turf combos Dias is famous for. The prawns are large, fresh and full of salty sea flavour, and the prego and trinchado steaks are always very popular.
The wine list is small and unimaginative, but they suit the food. There’s a decent selection of local craft beers and some Portuguese/Mozambican favourites.
It’s very well-oiled, friendly and attentive. No matter how packed it is, there’s always someone watching out for a patron in need.
It’ll never win any design awards and, when empty, probably looks a little grimy, but it's never empty – only bustling, loud and full of laughter.
One of the few remaining public places in Cape Town where you can spot a couple lang-arm dancing during their very festive weekend live music evenings.
Eat Out reviewers dine anonymously and pay for their meals in full. Click here to read our editorial policy.