5 great places for satisfying bar snacks in Cape Town

The Mother City is brimming with edgy wine, cocktail and spirit bars. And though the beverages are the drawcard, it’s the edibles that properly round off the evening (and line the stomachs). We’re not talking nuts and olives here – though they serve their purpose, too – it’s the memorable small plates, the cleverly constructed tapas menus, and the satisfying shareable boards that we’re after. From venison frikkadels and deep-fried burger bites to dreamy bowls of burrata with bread, here’s where to find satisfying bar snacks in Cape Town.

The Botanical Bar (City Bowl)

This botanical-inspired bar takes their food as seriously as their drinks. The snacks here are made to complement the cocktails and are also made with local produced and foraged ingredients. Think venison frikkadels with mint salsa and pickled red onion; cauliflower dip with curried paaper bites; smoked snoek and spekboom pâté with seed crackers; and crushed crispy potatoes with imphepho (African sage) chakalaka.

Botany (Newlands)

Hidden in a shared courtyard with Patina in Newlands Quarter is this southern suburbs gin and bubbly bar. The cosy space makes for a perfect before- or after-dinner drink. If you’re after something to nibble on that will pair with your choice of tipple, the bar has you covered there too. Think small plates like trinchado Chalmar beef cooked in red wine and chilli; zucchini fritti with lime aioli for dipping; deshelled prawns with champagne butter; and gin and fennel mussels in a gin cream, served with Turkish loaf to mop up the sauce. You could also order a meze platter to share featuring cold meats, olives, cheeses and preserves.

Pork loin riblets and chimichurri from Botany. Photo supplied.

Burger & Lobster (City Bowl)

Bree Street’s trendy burger and lobster bar is known for its eponymous three-dish offering paired with a wide range of exciting cocktails. Appeasing the bar hoppers, the eatery has introduced a new R38 bar snacks menu and two-for-one drinks. The offering features fun American tapas-style bites like two mini slider burgers – one bacon and cheese, the other Southern fried buttermilk chicken; mini deep-fried burger bombs stuffed with melted cheese and topped with maple bacon; mini prawn rolls in a light Japanese-style mayo; lobster-and-prawn bites; and popcorn-like bites of prawn served with a garlic aioli. There are also Buffalo wings (either spicy or BBQ), pork ribs, and a basket of bacon-filled mac-and-cheese balls wrapped in phyllo pastry.

Cause | Effect Bar (Gardens)

There’s a substantial food menu at this quirky Park Road brandy bar and it’s ideal for pairing with the expertly mixed cocktails made from local botanicals and ingredients. Line your stomach with light plates of homemade snoek pâté on toasted ciabatta; bloody Mary cocktail tomatoes; pickled fynbos olives with feta; and food boards with deep-fried pickles, mozzarella-stuffed meatballs, buttermilk chicken tenders, skinny fries, dips and grilled haloumi. For something a bit heartier, there are dishes like brandy mushroom pasta or the popular pulled beef burger.

One of the cocktails at Cause and Effect. Photo supplied.

Publik (Tamboerskloof)

The newly relocated wine bar focuses on the more intriguing lesser-known wines with a list that changes each time you visit. Choose a few glasses to try and tuck into the new and more extensive food offering. The menu comprises small plates, charcuterie and cheeses. The idea is that a few dishes and snacks will make a full meal for those who want it. Expect bowls of house-made pickles or artichokes; shareable cheese-and-charcuterie boards featuring local and imported produce; and a selection of indulgent plates like pan con tomate, prosciutto with basil oil, Puglia burrata with olive oil, and white anchovies with melba toast. End on an affogato.

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