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The best restaurants in Cape Town: Where to eat in 2020

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From hot new chefs and go-to favourites to hip tapas spots and pizza joints, the range of restaurants in Cape Town seems to grow year on year. To make it a little easier, here’s our guide of the best restaurants in the Mother City serving up every food type.

This selection comprises all the Cape Town restaurants that made the cut for the 2020 Eat Out 500, the list of best restaurants in the country as rated and reviewed by our panel of critics for the 2020 edition of Eat Out magazine (on sale now). But we know the city is crammed with loads more gems and mainstays that didn’t crack the nod. Please tell us about your favourites in the comments section at the end!

Cape Town City Centre

95 Keerom

95 Keerom thrives year after year, always drawing a crowd and never slipping on quality. The menu is rooted in chef-patron Giorgio Nava’s native northern Italy, fused with ingredients of SA. The carpaccio – beef, linefish or salmon – is always a fine start, as is the hand-chopped and perfectly seasoned steak tartare. Butternut ravioli in burnt sage butter is spoken of in hushed tones by regulars and, if you’re lucky, the special of lamb ragù ravioli will be on offer. The prime cuts are grilled Italian-style, dressed with olive oil and salt – the gargantuan La Fiorentina T-bone for two is superb. Leave room for legendary chocolate fondant, rum baba or semifreddo.

The seafood pasta at 95 Keerom

The seafood pasta at 95 Keerom. Photo by Romy Wilson.

The Athletic Club & Social

This speakeasy-style bar offers a meze-style selection of plates ideal for sharing. It’s light food with ample flavour, offering a refreshing twist on the usual bar grub that’ll have you dipping, forking and scooping. Glossy, charred aubergine with an addictively good black-garlic emulsion is a hit; equally pleasing are the tangy home-made labneh with charred broccoli, thyme and crispy lavash and the heartier roasted lamb shoulder with hot, herb-sprinkled pita triangles, tzatziki, cured onion and sweet pomegranate jewels. For dessert, end on really good baklava cigars or head upstairs for a nightcap in a cosy alcove.

Aubergine Restaurant

For starters, the deliciously tender grilled octopus served with veggie rice paper rolls and a spicy sauce is all kinds of yum. There’s also a burrata with aged balsamic, an unusual salmon soup and hot-smoked hake. For mains, the linefish is pure perfection – crispy skin, tender flaky flesh, served with spring vegetable paella. The herb-crumbed ostrich comes perfectly cooked and a trio of pork is also on offer, which includes the pig tongue and liver. For dessert, skip the local cheese platter for the sublime and silky crème brûlée served with the loveliest zingy granadilla sorbet. The symphony of citrus is beautifully plated and the kumquat marmalade, orange cake and orange sorbet all complement each other perfectly.

Bao Down

A little Mecca for fans of the steamed buns after which the restaurant is named. You should order three or four dishes to share off the small menu, and the prawn toast bao, a steamed bun filled with prawn, then crumbed and deep-fried, is a cult favourite. Meat-eaters should sample the slow-braised Karoo lamb shoulder bao or the saucy chicken wings with just the right amount of spice, and vegetarians will love the Asian green bean salad with puffed rice or the cauliflower cake. End off with Bao Down’s take on Milkbar’s famous ‘crack pie’, with a fudgy caramel centre and a sprinkling of salty cornflakes to offset the sweetness.

Belly of The Beast

The ingredients-driven tasting menu in this 20-seater changes daily and there’s no telling whether you’ll get a series of pork dishes or more plant-based, packed with seasonal vegetables in delightful variety. It’s sumptuous, proper food. Immaculately grilled hake with the most voluptuous sweetcorn purée is so simple; just two elements are on the plate, but both are perfect, and no further embellishment is necessary. The beef tongue with celeriac, beef broth and crispy onions is another dish where restraint is key: the incredibly rich flavours could easily overpower one another if any element were over-reduced or seasoned, but they work in harmonious balance. The tipsy tart with brown-bread ice cream to finish is rich, dark, ambrosial. A nursery classic elevated to fine-dining splendour.

Between Us

The menu at this charming Bree Street spot is full of original twists. The ricotta-and-spinach gnudi are a great bet, dressed with pine nuts and sage butter. Puddings are fabulous, though. The baked cheesecake is perfection, and the warm date cake is satisfyingly sticky, with a spicy gingery gelato to offset the sweetness of the cake.’

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Black Sheep Restaurant

This always-busy brasserie is known for its blackboard menu of interesting, seasonal dishes. The smoked snoek trout with pickled onions, dune lettuce and toast is a winner, with a perfectly creamy texture and delicate, smoky flavour. Fresh, home-made pappardelle topped with a rib-sticking springbok ragu and generous parmesan, and the superbly cooked grilled hanger steak, liven things up. Desserts like the simple almond tart with gooseberry compote and crème fraîche end things off on a sweet note.

Bocca

Smaller plates to share is the name of the game. Think tuna carpaccio, polpette al sugo (pork and beef meatballs in a tomato sauce), and ortofrito (battered and fried zucchini, artichokes and broccoli). The flavours are robust and the portions substantial. The pizette are alluring, in particular the Foresta, with wild mushrooms, rosemary, mascarpone, parmesan and truffle drizzle. Desserts include a lemon posset, tiramisu, and the tempting cremoso: a dark chocolate mousse with orange compote and biscotti.

Bombay Brasserie at The Taj

The newly renovated brasserie weaves together Indian and Cape Malay cuisines to create a unique melting pot. Novices might opt for a set menu; otherwise, mix and match smoky starters from the tandoor. Dishes are superbly presented, colourful and richly fragrant, and easy to share. There’s a wide choice for vegetarians, from creamy kofta curry to gobi mutter. Highlights are Kerala-style prawn curry and the succulent masala tikka Karoo lamb chop. Don’t forget flaky paratha or naan bread. Desserts boast spun-sugar spirals and cascading dry ice.

Bones Kitchen & Bar

Ethically sourced meat treated with care. For starters look forward to delightfully simple chicken tortellini in a clear broth, dotted with mushrooms and kale, or the deep-fried parmesan croquettes in a hearty mushroom ragout, which you won’t be able to get out of your mind. For mains, the order of the day must be bone-in rib eye that’s charred on the outside yet meltingly marbled on the inside. Pair it with your choice of classic sauce: béarnaise, red wine, bordelaise or pepper, mopped up with thick-cut fries. Offerings of chocolate torte and lemon tart will tempt you into ordering dessert.

Bouchon Bistro

The menu is made up of simple, hearty dishes, intended to be shared as tapas. The risotto is a no-brainer, with flecks of mushroom and hints of tarragon and roasted garlic, as is the prawn and potato gnocchi, served with a satisfyingly creamy tomato-and-basil bisque. The mussels served in a simple white wine, cream and garlic sauce are also delicious, complete with grilled bread for mopping up the remaining sauce. While the main menu is long, the dessert menu happily offers only four dishes, and here the crème brûlée is particularly well-executed, with a crispy sugar topping and creamy custard base.

Burrata

It’s hard to compete with the perfectly puffy, flame-blackened crust that is both crispy and light, but before you fall face-first into one of the pizzas (the Fabio with oven-roasted bacon, feta and avocado and the Piccante with slow-cooked spicy pulled pork, cherry tomatoes and red onion are both delectable), try the delicious cheese with fresh tomato, basil, pine nuts and balsamic reduction. The small selection of antipasti is also a great way to start the meal, especially the porcini arancini. You’ll delight in the pasta and risotto options, especially the hearty prawn and smoked tomato risotto. Dessert is a simple choice: tiramisu or torta di ricotta. The latter is packed with a punch of lemon and beautifully balanced with burnt honey gel and ricotta gelato.

Carne on Kloof

Kick things off with ravioli: the slow-baked Karoo lamb is a classic, and the butternut and ricotta version, doused in rich sage butter, is the ultimate comfort dish. To help decide on mains, a waiter will bring round the famed meat platter, which includes lesser-known cuts like spider steak, hanger steak and flat-iron. All are expertly aged and flash-grilled exactly to specification at 400°C. Plating is minimal – your meat, cooked simply with olive oil, rosemary and sea salt, with three little carrot sticks and perhaps a floret of cauliflower. It’s a good idea to order one of the sauces on the side and the thin-cut fries are also excellent. You must, however, save space for the dark chocolate fondant. Its centre is perfectly molten.

Carne SA

Italian restaurateur Giorgio Nava woos the regulars with a winning formula based on a marriage of authentic Milanese cooking with a range of premium, grass-fed beef, free-range lamb, venison, pork and chicken. While specialist marbled cuts like beef hangar, flat iron, spider and tomahawk steak will intrigue, classics such as prime rib, rump, sirloin and T-bone satisfy the meatiest appetite. Served with all the trimmings from thin-cut shoestring fries to sublime potato mash with sauces like rich béarnaise and green peppercorn. There’s also scaloppini of seared rib-eye in a white-wine-and-lemon sauce or home-made pasta with imported prosciutto, porcini or gorgonzola. Make sure to leave space for Giorgio’s legendary dark Italian fondant.

Cause | Effect

It was a surprising move from town to the Waterfront, but it works. The menu at the new location is more varied and exciting, which makes the outstanding cocktails taste even better. For brunch, the land and sea Benedict made with eggs and lobster is over the top with deliciousness. Blind Tiger gin from Durban, infused with rose petals and citrus soda, is a great match. Other highlights of the substantial menu range from buttermilk-battered calamari to Big Mac tacos for the main event, with a side of spicy curly fries, or even something more exotic like an experimental peppermint tart made with local trout, mint geranium, cocoa and gingerbread ice cream. For dessert have another drink, like the apple pie, infused with vanilla vodka, sparkling apple juice and topped with vanilla foam.

Chefs

You won’t need to pore over the menu for hours as the sit-down menu offers a choice of just three plates and one dessert – but that’s no hardship. Dishes change daily, but always include one vegetarian plate, and could include an aubergine terrine, prawn and corn chowder or the truly excellent herb- and-mustard lamb cutlets with triple-cooked chips. Plates arrive with a selection of sides: fennel and baby greens with the lamb, or crunchy lime fritter with the chowder. You’ll easily have space for dessert. If you’re lucky, it’ll be the duo of chocolate mousse.

Chefs Warehouse & Canteen

This is the OG Chefs Warehouse, where it all began. Diners are spared the anxiety of making choices from the eight-course set menu that changes weekly, starting with three light dishes that often include a seared, sashimi or ceviche of fish, squid or calamari and a tartare. The second, more veggie-centric dishes are served as a duo with one always comprising a risotto of the day. (Liam Tomlin and his chefs could write a book on all their superb arborio treats.) The final phase will often comprise beautifully balanced and deeply flavoured fish or meat options. Desserts such as lemon posset and fondant worthy of praise.

Tapas-inspired dishes at Chefs Warehouse & Canteen. Photo by Claire Gunn.

Clarke’s Bar and Dining Room

Clarke’s has lost none of the charm that first recommended it to the hipster crowd; expect kombucha on tap and delicious kimchi fried rice as a breakfast option. The burgers are as juicy as ever, but other items on the day menu to lure you back include the Reuben sandwich with 12-hour brisket, braised cabbage and blue-cheese dressing, and the huevos rancheros with homemade queso fresco and pico de gallo. From 4 pm the menu is pared down, though the now-legendary Fifteen Rand Oyster appears. The dessert menu reveals the hand of a chocolate lover; artisanal ice-cream flavours change daily.

The Commissary (To close end of March 2020)

The small menu here packs a big punch, with all of the dishes designed to be shared, drawing inspiration from global street food. Whether you start out with fresh oysters with a piquant Vietnamese nahm jim dressing, tuna tataki with a velvety, citric peach and peanut sauce or the Korean fried chicken wings, you won’t be sorry. The bhaji bao is a cross-cultural delight of spiced-fired vegetables served inside a beautifully steamed bun. The desserts are quirky and playful.

The Cousins

To start, the peppered mushrooms with crostini come highly recommended, fresh, flavoursome and with a moreish broth. To try the home-made pasta, go for the taglairella della Tina, based on the proprietors’ grandmother’s Bolognese recipe, or more experimental with the black pasta, infused with squid ink and served with prawns, mussels and linefish. There’s a lovely selection of ravioli and gnocchi but the signature pasta is a taglioni served with cream, mushroom and thyme and tossed in a wheel of grand padano cheese right in front of you. The affogato al caffe also doesn’t disappoint. Espresso ice cream meets 33% cream-based tartufo bianco ice cream, with Italian meringue and a shot of espresso coffee. Heaven!

Den Anker Bar and Restaurant

This is easy-going fare that’s good for families. The regulars insist you start with mussels: prepared in beer, with a delicate flavour, and a hint of saltiness and coriander. Otherwise, begin with West Coast oysters with bubbly or lobster bisque. Mains are generously portioned, with a special mention for the slow-roasted pork belly with crackling, a rich bordelaise sauce and potato croquettes, perfectly creamy inside and crisp outside. The Carbonades Flamandes, a beef stew cooked in Trappist beer, is rich, juicy and tender. The mushroom risotto with truffle oil is great for vegetarians. Since this is a Belgian restaurant, have the crêpes flambées for dessert, or a comforting waffle.

The Dog’s Bollocks at Yard

Start with chicken wings, or go straight to the famous burgers. Here there are choices to be made: beef, chicken or vegan? Prego sauce? Or would you prefer your burger smothered in spicy chilli con carne, or in a cheese sauce with home-pickled jalapeños? They’re all bloody good and the server will declare you’re a genius for choosing whatever it is. There might be a chocolate brownie to end off, but you’re unlikely to have room.

El Burro Taqueria

The snacks here are perfect for sharing, such as the fresh fish ceviche, chips and guac, or smoky, roasted jalapeño stuffed with queso fresco. The fish taco has earned true cult status – it’s the perfect bite (or four) of creamy avo, heat, limey acidity and crunch from the fish in batter. Other knock-outs are the vegetarian quesadilla, with roasted butternut, caramelised onion and goat’s cheese, and the delicately spiced chilorio pork. End with churros with a dark chocolate dipping sauce, or a Paletas ice cream.

Folk Café

Breakfasts are very well-executed. The crispy bacon-and- avo toast comes with delicious thyme-roasted cherry tomatoes and the excellent eggs Benedict is made with either bacon, smoked salmon or spinach and mushrooms. Otherwise, grab a perfectly flaky chocolate croissant. Come lunch, the soups are a good option, particularly the Thai-style beef or creamy tomato and basil. There are some more substantial mains too, but rather stick to the café classics, like toasted sarmies, wraps and burgers. Finish with a tasty date ball or a slice of the cheesecake.

FYN Restaurant – Top 10

An interplay of Japanese and South African flavours, with the deft touch of skilled, experienced chefs. Landscapes of beautiful wooden frames, pebbles and trays present artfully plated canapés such as Cape Malay-spiced guinea fowl lollipops, daikon wraps, blue prawns with wakame and naartjie, and buns dipped in melting bone-marrow butter. A kaiseki tray might feature a Wagyu-beef spring roll with onion petals and truffly accents, or tender sea trout with crunchy counterpoints of apple, dune spinach and tempura samphire. The famous chokka ‘tsukemen ramen’ lives up to the hype, and the pre-dessert ‘cheese sandwich’ is a masterstroke. Dessert comes in a set of three, a hot-and-cold parade of berries, blossoms, cake and crumbles.

A dish at FYN. Photo supplied.

The General Store

The glass counter holds a variety of proteins and salads to choose from, like a fabulous cauliflower cheese, roasted carrots with cumin and rocket, a lemony salad of zucchini, peas and green beans, or a deliciously tender dish of roasted pumpkin with pecan nut, cranberries and goat’s cheese. Go for the meatballs if you find them on the menu, drenched in an excellent tomato sauce, or the reliably good salmon. The beef fillet is served with a kicky horseradish cream, and the tender pork fillet with thyme, cream and mushrooms is full of flavour. Owner Colette Robert almost always has some wonderful baked thing on display, but the chocolate brownies are legendary and when The General Store posts their doughnut offer on Instagram on Fridays, people come running.

Gibson’s Gourmet Burgers

Beef, pork and lamb ribs will certainly tempt, as will the prime cuts of steak, but it’s chargrilled burgers that made Gibson’s famous, and there are no easy choices here. The regular or small patties come in 49 different variations, so there will be temptations for just about anybody. Standouts are the towering Ultimate Burger with beef, chicken and bacon, or the Mex-Tex stuffed with cheese, guacamole and nachos. The combo may be crazy, but the basics are done well: brioche buns with quality patties cooked to medium. For dessert, you’ll also find brownies, sundaes and cheesecake to fill any gaps.

Giulio’s Café

An all-day breakfast menu features crowd-pleasers like pancakes with maple syrup, and oats with Nutella or peanut butter, but to properly enjoy Giulio’s, bring a big appetite to lunch, and then take the afternoon off. It’s the sort of place where not having a glass of vino with your bolognese alla sorrentina or lamb ragu pappardelle seems a shame. The flavoursome pasta puttanesca and the open lamb wrap, slices of tender lamb on hummus with toasted pine-nuts and lemon-mint yoghurt, arrive in portions guaranteed to rule out a productive afternoon, so you may as well wash it down with a glass of rosé. Only a serious sweet tooth will have room for dessert, though the tiramisu is excellent and the gelato is the real deal.

Gigi Rooftop at Gorgeous George

The crusty bread with pesto, anchovy aïoli and chermoula butter will disappear in no time. Share the delicious potato and squid with chorizo or the lamb ribs, so flavourful and fall-off-the-bone tender with a complementary charred-corn salsa. The popular mushroom risotto is creamy with a great bite, topped with toasted macadamia nuts and lemon zest to make it pop. For dessert, you might not be able to resist the churros with bitter chocolate sauce. They’re deliciously fat and plump – crispy and golden on the outside, dusted with sugar, and soft and cakey on the inside.

Grub & Vine

Despite being billed as ‘grub’, this is accomplished and refined cooking made with skill and sense. The menu is blissfully short, allowing you to spot the dishes that fire the imagination. You might be treated to a tasty amuse-bouche of arancini, before starting off with a dish of creamy burrata, heritage tomatoes and figs. West Coast hake with peas, lentils and tender mussels is perfectly cooked and tender, and the poached and roasted baby chicken with endives and parsnip chips shows off the chef’s skills, with umami-rich flavours and textures that will have you scraping your plate. The single dessert option could be the lovely blackberry almond cake with custard and honeycomb. Alternatively, order a platter of local cheese.

Hemelhuijs

Chef Jacques Erasmus has made this downtown café a gastronomic destination for fine seasonal fare. A signature Karoo breakfast tempts with golden farm eggs, soft mielie pap with honey and toasted mosbolletjie bread with home-made apricot jam. Chef reinvents traditional dishes with a gourmet spin, like bobotie frikadelle with buttery mash potato, tomato and onion smoor. Don’t miss the raw sliced scallops with citrus, miso and sesame, or roasted Karoo lamb croquette with mint bearnaise. Innovative salads, like the date, fennel and endive salad enhanced by a gorgonzola, hazelnut and buttermilk dressing, also delight. Finish your meal with dark chocolate and orange ganache or a double cream yoghurt panna cotta, lifted by slow-roasted orange, and ginger granola.

Hokey Poke

This unassuming spot produces flavour-packed, Asian- and Hawaiian-inspired food, mainly in the form of poké bowls. Choose between bases of sticky sushi rice, brown rice, kale slaw, baby leaves, gluten-free nachos or glass noodles, add protein (tuna, salmon, prawns, chicken, Korean-style brisket or grilled tofu) and then go wild with toppings such as edamame beans, pickled cucumber, crispy onions, seasonal fruit and avocado. Choose from one of the suggested combos, or build your own. Other menu highlights include the Korean-fried chicken sandwich, pad Thai, delicious tempura prawn lollipops with ‘naughty sauce’, or a rice ball with tuna sashimi, crispy onions, hot mayo, soy and furikake. Ingredients are of the highest quality, fresh and delicious. There is only one dessert, a deep-fried Hawaiian doughnut.

Honest Chocolate

This entirely chocolate-focused coffee shop is well worth a visit, even if you just want to split a brownie in the pretty courtyard. And you should try the famous chocolate-filled banana bread bunny chow, at least once. Ethically sourced, organically grown cacao beans are roasted and tempered by hand and sweetened with either unrefined cane sugar or coconut blossom sugar, then becomes the star ingredient of treats such as Honest Dark Chocolate Cake, Double Chocolate Cheesecake or Double Chocolate and Nut Brownies. The menu is vegan-friendly and offers several gluten-free and dairy-free options, and sweet-salty aficionados will delight in the salted nachos with chocolate spread.

Janse & Co. – Nominee

Two years since its opening, and scooping of the 2018 Eat Out Retail Capital New Restaurant of the Year Award, Janse & Co. is now a bona fide heavyweight in the highly competitive upmarket restaurant scene. Dishes such as trout with plum, grape and verjuice; raw beef with onion and black garlic; and leeks with beurre noisette, smoked almond and crème fraîche are exemplary plates of what masterful modern cooking ought to be. The renosterbos goat’s cheese with pumpkin and sesame may be an odd flavour profile to end on for dessert but for the culinary curious, it’s a must.

A dish at Janse & Co. Photo by Claire Gunn Photography

Jason Bakery on Bree

he menu is very bread-centric, but you’ll find some salad and gluten-free options, too. The Sushi Sandwich is a must try – the combo of wasabi mayo, salmon, sesame seeds and pickled ginger serving a flavour punch. The more classic Reuben Bagel is sensational: glossy on the outside and chewy on the interior, with delicious dressing and crisp slaw complementing the corned beef and melted Swiss cheese. Be sure to take home something from the bakery hatch: the best-on-the-block sourdough loaves, speciality sweet pastries and Viennoiserie. Follow them on Instagram for weekly specials.

Kloof Street House

The roasted chilli-and-garlic prawns with toasted ciabatta, and beef tartare with smoked tomato chutney – for one or two to share – are always a hit. Freshly made salads might draw your eye, such as the one with roasted beetroot, dukkah-crusted goat’s cheese, almonds and balsamic reduction. For mains, the vegan risotto is beautifully plated with textural elements like grilled broccoli, roasted baby tomatoes, mushrooms and pine nuts. The rib-eye with smoked marrow bone butter and rustic cut fries is perfection. Dessert is on-point, too: oozing dark-chocolate fondant is served with marshmallow ice cream. Otherwise, look to salted caramel cheesecake with popcorn ice cream or the vanilla crème brûlée with orange ice cream and berries.

Kyoto Garden

Start with the wagyu, duck and kingklip, the beef tender and the fish succulent, or the tempura prawns with shredded radish and a soy dipping sauce. Other starters include Alaskan crab salad and a variety of miso soups. For mains, fat udon noodles come served in a deep bowl of flavourful broth with thinly sliced duck pieces. The steamed fish in bamboo is the highlight of the meal, soft flaky white fish, served on a bed of steamed cabbage scattered with sliced spring onions and crunchy seaweed. There’s also an extensive sushi menu, curries and ramen. There’s a small selection of ice cream for dessert, in flavours like matcha, black sesame, ginger and miso, served with either toasted tofu or crêpes.

La Frasca Restaurant and Pizzeria

When the pasta is home-made, it’s a sign of a great restaurant and this neighbourhood gem certainly is that. The thin-crust margherita pizza is a great start, nibbled on while you enjoy the fresh Caprese salad. It’s hard not to order the ravioli on each visit, especially the showstopper stuffed with butternut and served with shredded-oxtail sauce. It might, however, have competition in the form of the gnocchi with the same sauce. The changing blackboard specials entice you to come back. End on a classic tiramisu, which is suitably rich and decadent.

La Parada

A well thought-out menu has lots of variety, such as sharing plates of prawn croquettes with spicy tomato aïoli; seared tuna tataki with lemongrass-and-soy dressing; paprika- and orange-glazed short-rib; pork belly; and truffle potato crisp. For larger appetites there’s a Waygu beef burger on a gently toasted buttery brioche bun with mature cheddar, red pepper chutney, butter lettuce and mustard aïoli. The signature churros are dusted in sugar and cinnamon, and accompanied by a dark-chocolate ganache – nothing short of magical. There’s a good selection of vegan and vegetarian dishes, plus a breakfast and kiddies’ menu.

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La Tête – Nominee

Chef Giles Edwards has a knack for delicately teasing out the fairest of flavour profiles from even the most humble of ingredients. The menu changes daily, but some stellar stalwarts such as the mussels, leeks and bacon starter and the main portion of perfectly roasted quail with aïoli remain, and not a single soul is complaining. Happy surprises also await those gutsy enough to try sweetbreads, chicken hearts, ox heart, a bit of lamb brain. For dessert, don’t leave without ordering a dozen or two of the madeleines.

Life Grand Café

There’s a wide variety of breakfast options here, like classic fry-ups or eggs Benedict. For lunch or dinner, share tapas or charcuterie to start: the grilled calamari is tender and particularly well-cooked. Portion sizes are generous: good main meal choices include garlicky prawns or lamb cutlets served with tasty veggies in a North African rub. There is also a vast selection of sushi, pasta dishes and sandwiches. To end off with, try the molten chocolate pudding, which is gooey and warm on the inside and crisp on the outside, served with ice cream.

Loading Bay

There’s an emphasis on ancient grains, sustainable line-caught fish, pasture- raised animals and fresh, seasonal vegetables. When food quality is so superlative, sometimes less is more. A bowl is a great way to start the day, such as the cocoa-and-granola bowl, with activated raw oats, organic cocoa, sugar-free roasted granola, seasonal fruit, citrus syrup and home-made compote and berries. For lunch, go for anything served with delectable sourdough – it’s prepared daily with wholegrain organic flour and naturally fermented yeast. Simple, tasty toppings are scrambled egg, mashed avo, ham and king oyster mushroom.

Maharajah South Indian Restaurant

Start with samoosas, chicken tikka masala or spicy chicken wings. Be sure not to miss the chilli bites, perfect for dipping into chutney. For mains, there’s an array of highly commendable seafood curries, chicken breyanis and lamb Rogan Josh, but the true scene-stealers are vegetarian. The home- made paneer shines bright in a rich, creamy, tomato-based sauce in the paneer butter masala, and in the palak paneer with its bright, zingy spinach sauce. Scoop everything up with gloriously flaky paratha. Dessert is a simple choice between vermicelli pudding, ice cream and chocolate sauce, or a Lindt brownie.

Manna Epicure

The coconut bread here is the signature breakfast accessory, topped with two free-range scrambled eggs, locally smoked salmon trout and avocado. The free-range eggs benedict is also a definite, with poached eggs nestled on a potato-and- wheat waffle stack, Hollandaise sauce and streaky bacon. Lighter bites like muesli with yoghurt or soya milk are also on offer. Lunch on a salad of grilled zucchini with fried halloumi, bulgur and chickpeas, fresh mint and a sweet-and-spicy tahini dressing, or the chicken-and-chilli waffle. The sticky pork ribs are legendary, and the beef cheeks bourguignon with bacon, mushrooms and pearl is served on soft polenta. If you don’t opt for the rich crème brûlée, try the local cheeses with preserved fig and melba toast.

Maria’s Greek Restaurant

Create your own starter platter from the myriad fresh meze, such as dolmades, hummus, spanakopita, fried halloumi, keftedes and falafel. For mains, the signature lamb Maria’s is a popular choice: slow-cooked, fall-apart Greek lamb served with artichokes in a creamy ouzo sauce. Or go for the youvetsi lamb or chicken, served on orzo pasta with tomato and kefalotyri cheese. There’s also calamari, succulent lamb chops, hake and chips, and lamb or veg moussaka. Portions are all large enough to share. For dessert, go traditional with baklava; kataifi, phyllo pastry with nuts and creamy Greek custard; ravani, a semolina cake soaked in lemony honey syrup; or rizagalo, a traditional Greek rice pudding. The flourless chocolate cake is also excellent.

Mink & Trout

Owner chefs Leigh Trout and Kevin Mink, who formerly ran Birds in this grand old heritage building, now tempt diners with a well-prepared and attractively presented short menu. For starters, share tapas infused with local flavour, from buttery mussels poached in a Cape Malay broth to crispy white bait with aïoli. For mains, enjoy the signature chicken pie, enhanced by a mushroom and truffle sauce, butter chicken and cauliflower curry, or tender pepper-crusted fillet with duck-fat roasted potatoes. The pork belly with smoked pork broth, ginger, soy and rice noodles is a stand-out favourite and for vegetarians there’s gnocchi with wilted spinach, mushroom, poached egg and parmesan. For dessert, an oozy dark chocolate fondant or a sweet pear and apple crumble with custard both tempt.

Mulberry & Prince

he chilled Saldanha Bay oysters set the tone: fresh and simple. Dishes jump from destination to destination – Roman cacio e pepe, then to the Middle East for a shawarma-inspired beef tartare, and then back to Milan for risotto – though overall the food is sophisticated contemporary American. The butter lettuce in a green goddess dressing is exceptional, as is the crispy fried chicken, and the buttermilk pancakes with burnt caramel sauce and whipped Pimms butter are tasty.

Nobu

With so many local restaurants peddling sushi drenched in mayo, sweet- chilli sauce and cream cheese, Nobu remains a beacon of authentic Japanese cuisine. Start your evening with heavenly sashimi slices of toro, followed by melt-in-your-mouth new-style salmon sashimi, before diving into the tempura section and ultimately making your way to the miso black cod before closing off with the silky chocolate bento box served with green-tea ice cream or even the matcha fondant, which is equally scrumptious. But instead of ordering anything, the best advice is to surrender yourself to your seasoned waiter and allow yourself to be taken on a Japanese odyssey.

Osteria Tarantino

Expect rich, robust flavours in classic dishes, inspired by the Italian owners’ passion for good food. For starters, the freshest creamiest burrata and imported Parma ham is served on a bed of rocket. Follow with sublime home-made gnocchi in a divine gorgonzola sauce or the signature Four Ps pasta – a pan of pappardelle, porcini, prosciutto and parmesan, tossed in a rich tomato sauce with veal mince. There’s home-made penne salsicca made with fennel sausage, mushroom, lashings of garlic, chilli, pecorino and cream, and delicious ravioli stuffed with creamy spinach and ricotta. Make sure you don’t wear tight skinny pants to dinner, and leave room for the classic layered tiramisu or baked cannelloni stuffed with ricotta.

Pesce Azzurro

New owners have helped turn what was a bit of a hit-and- miss eatery into something special. There’s a good selection of starters, including grilled octopus, stewed baby calamari, burrata with tomato tartare, and a carpaccio based on the catch of the day. The mains include calamari, prawns, octopus, mussels and various kinds of fish, often swordfish. Their signature pasta of mixed seafood with a spiced tomato sauce is a firm favourite. Those less fond of seafood can delve into ‘land-based fare’ of sliced sirloin with rosemary, grilled lamb chops or a fantastic gnocchi bolognese. There’s a good selection of sweets, but be sure to order the tiramisu – it’s a rich but light concoction you’ll be dreaming about for days.

The Pot Luck Club

It’s all about clever small plates in a loose Asian theme with local influences. The fish taco, a punchy Pot Luck classic, is outrageously tasty and fun to eat. The asparagus-and-truffle tart, with earthy porcini Hollandaise and topped with two poached quail eggs, is luxurious and unfussy all at the same time, as are ash-roasted vegetables with toasty hazelnuts. Other knockouts include the doejnang-glazed tuna, whose funky umami is neatly pared back by spicy home-made kimchi, and the generously portioned crispy calamari with tangy tamarind chutney. The mint chocolate ice-cream sandwich is a winning dessert, served with a caramelised white- chocolate dipping sauce – it’s hands-on, sweet and refreshing.

The Raptor Room

Everything here is a little tongue-in-cheek, which translates to dishes like the ‘Benebagel’, eggs Benedict on a bagel, modern gatsbies, a cult-status mac and cheese, and a prego vetkoek. For brunch, the excellent avo toast is served on sourdough, topped with feta, slow-roasted rooibos tomatoes, candied lemon and their own dukkah. Pair it with hand-cut fries with a fantastically garlicky aïoli, to keep things from feeling too virtuous. The fish fingers and chips are as satisfying as the childhood staple, with crumbed white fish, a chunky tartar sauce and sweet potato fries. They keep the good times rolling with a deep-fried Romany Cream and a chocolate Dutch baby topped with ice cream and chocolate sauce.

Riverine Rabbit

Chef Ash Heeger’s vision for her cuisine is the sustainable use of natural resources, and the name nods to this, as the riverine rabbit is a local critically endangered species. Choose between three menus, all available as vegetarian or pescatarian. Vegetables are the heroes of many of the dishes here, like the leeks served with Béarnaise, hazelnut breadcrumbs and hard cheese, or broccoli, with egg, miso, blue cheese, pine nuts, herbs, lemon and yeast. The spiced duck course is perfectly cooked and the more traditional approach to the venison with red cabbage hits the spot. For dessert, think the likes of a summer pudding with silky, luxuriant vanilla ice cream.

Royale Eatery & Royale Kitchen

This legendary spot has been known for gourmet burgers since before they were even a trend. With over 50 variations, and beef, chicken, fish, vegetarian and vegan options, all possible cravings are covered. If you’re a purist, go for a classic like the arguably perfect Cheddar Royale. More exotic options include the Hawaiian piggy, with bacon, pineapple and guacamole, and the Provincial, grilled chicken with melted Brie, cranberry sauce and caramelised onions. Desserts are a Lindt chocolate brownie or malva pudding, both with vanilla ice cream.

Scarpetta

Walking into Scarpetta is like coming home to an Italian family gathering you always see in the movies – filled with an abundance of food, laughter and loud conversations. Love and passion are in every dish. The menu is written on the chalkboards, featuring specials determined by market finds. The asparagus wrapped in pancetta and enrobed with cheesy white sauce is delicious, as is the spaghetti vongole with plump clams. The oxtail comes served in a generous portion with creamy polenta. End on home-made tiramisu, a coffee-and-cream perfection that’s light but still decadent.

Seabreeze Fish & Shell

Expect a small but well thought-through menu, featuring exciting options like angelfish tacos, a tuna burger with house-cut chips and a moreish Cape Malay seafood curry, which comes with home-made roti and sambals, a true homage to the area. The restaurant also prides itself on its daily Oyster Happy Hour(s). For non-seafood eaters, the choices are small: asparagus and poached egg or aubergine tacos for starters and hearty rib-eye steak for mains. The dessert list is pure decadence, from apple crumble cheesecake to chocolate ganache and salted caramel tart, and a host of signature don pedros.

Sepial’s Kitchen

The kimchi pancake and the Japanese omelette rolled in nori sheets both pack a lot of flavour for a tasty start. Chef Sepial’s signature bibimbap is both visually stunning and delicious, arriving in a deep bowl that shows off all the components: nutty multigrain rice, vibrant vegetables, tender marinated beef and a punchy chilli dressing. The slow-cooked spicy pork is tender, spicy, sweet and salty all at the same time – an absolute pleasure to eat. For dessert, order a cake of the day or mini matcha mochi.

SHIO

In the case of Shio, ‘modern Japanese’ is a synonym for ‘utterly delicious’. Start with a small bowl of edamame beans with smoked wasabi salt while you decide what to order. The salmon with miso and smoked aubergine purée and chilli salt squid with green chilli caramel and miso aïoli are winners, celebrating the magic combination of savoury and sweet. The pork belly is another stand-out, served with a rendang curry sauce, shaved coconut and puffed black rice – it’s rich and warming. Be sure to order a side of nori truffle fries with gochujang mayo. End with the lemon posset with ginger syrup and sweet-potato crisps or banana cream pie with miso butterscotch, brûléed banana and sugared wonton.

The Shortmarket Club – Nominee

A chef with a deft hand around the skillet and a gleaming reputation to back it up – patrons flock here to sample chef Wesley Randles’s modernist take on ‘progressive cuisine’. Think dishes such as the crispy pig cheek on red endive with honey; smoked springbok loin with roasted pears and barigoule artichokes; and sweet options including chocolate glacé with marmalade shortcake and burnt white- chocolate ice cream. If you don’t have a sweet tooth, the cheese trolley with a selection of the best local cheeses from small-scale producers awaits.

The stylish interiors of The Shortmarket Club. Photo supplied.

SMAK Delicatessen

Chef-owner Katia Scherf is highly praised for her cakes and pastries and her salted butter caramel cheesecake is a particular favourite. For breakfast, try a vegan banana bread, the ideal accompaniment to a freshly made coffee, or the crunchy home-made granola and fresh fruit. A build-your-own sandwich menu is a drawcard for surrounding office workers, and the chefs make fresh pasta every day, with the signature bacon-and-mushroom sauce particularly popular. Other lunch-time items include a variety of salads, wraps, quiches and a hearty portion of chicken tacos. The dinner menu takes a more elegant slant with dishes like a classic sirloin steak with cumin-spiced sweet potato wedges or Norwegian salmon served alongside sesame green beans.

Sotano on Bree

Sotano brings its winning formula from Mouille Point to town. The eclectic menu runs from a hearty brunch of eggs benedict, a signature lamb burger to playful Spanish tapas and pintxos (small bites), and even first-class sushi. To start with, mix ‘n match generous portions of lamb koftas, calamari a la plancha, squid tentacles, chorizo, halloumi bruschetta, confit of octopus and patatas bravas, swirled with piquant salsa verde, chipotle aïoli and chimichurri. And stick to the Club Med theme for mains, from a signature spicy paella to a delicious squid ink risotto, tender espetada and creamy moules in creamy white wine with frites. There’s plenty for vegetarians too, and to end on a sweet note, share the churros with chocolate dip.

South China Dim Sum Bar

The street food menu changes regularly, so you’re always in for a tasty surprise here. Highly recommended are the siu mai with mustard and hoi sin sauce – steamed open face wheat dumplings with pork belly and shiitake mushrooms. A tasty vegetable option is vegetable pot stickers with nuoc cham sweet chilli sauce, pan-fried and served with caramelised onions, mushrooms, cabbage, carrots and garlic chives, and do add on an order of the cold sesame noodle salad. Hawker noodles are punchy in flavour, tossed with ginger, spring onion, oyster sauce and topped with bean sprouts, Asian greens and spicy sauce. Check the specials for exciting sweets like Vietnamese affogato or halva and hazelnut ice cream.

The Stack

To start on this French-inspired menu, the beef tartare is tasty with radishes and spring onions. Other good starter options include oysters with mignonette sauce or an interesting beetroot carpaccio. The rack of lamb is juicy and tender, served with a mouth-watering white bean purée and watercress velouté, and the Chalmar beef sirloin comes with excellent chips and a creamy béarnaise sauce. For something less meaty, the smoked aubergine stack with a chickpea ragu stands out. The dessert menu shows some African flair, like the milk tart with a pistachio brittle, honeycomb and berry coulis, or try the local cheeseboard.

Swan Café

For breakfast, try a Parisienne, filled with gypsy ham, emmental and gruberg and creamy egg, and for lunch, perhaps the chicken galette, with moreish lemon-and-herb chicken, mushrooms, cheese, béchamel and truffle oil. The sweet crêpes come in classic iterations such as cinnamon sugar and lemon, and home-made lemon curd and fresh thyme. For the more adventurous, try the Belle Helene with cinnamon and white wine-poached pear, vanilla ice cream, milk chocolate drizzle and toasted almonds. Another scrumptious option is the Luscious Luc, with Ferrero Rocher, home-made salted caramel and Nutella.

The pretty interior at Swan Café. Photo supplied.

The Test Kitchen – Top 10

his world-class restaurant offers a culinary adventure like no other. The journey begins with aperitifs in The Dark Room, where the mood is mysterious and seductive. After worldly-inspired snacks (inspired by the travels of chef Luke Dale Roberts), top-notch cocktails and the iconic Millionaire’s Shortbread, you’ll move to the Light Room, a more formal setting, where the rest of the show unfolds. Highlights include the TTK lobster salad served in a porcelain shell with kalamansi caviar, a generous spoonful of coconut ice and a drizzle of nam pla dressing. This light beginning gathers momentum with a twist on bibimbap and kimchi done three ways, and beef tartare hidden under a lattice-like Yorkshire tuile. Desserts are brilliantly balanced: the grape-and-rhubarb trifle with elderflower, rose and mascarpone slowly eases you towards the finale: quirky mini gummy bears.

Thali

A meal here is like a fever dream of the best kind, where each bite is more delicious than the last, and the bowls keep on coming. Deep-fried Kashimiri cauliflower bites, tangy amber-hued khatti dhal, lamb kebabs and aloo dum make a thrilling beginning, with rotis, chilli relish, raita and pickles. Chilli aubergine with labneh and linefish sashimi remind you of the small plates at owner Liam Tomlin’s Chefs Warehouse eateries that fuse different cuisines so well. Splendid spiced rice, sambal and naan accompany the final dishes of deeply rich ghee roast chicken, silky palak paneer or lamb bredie. To end, a shot glass of sweet, spiced ice is a perfect send-off.

The Kitchen

Everyone wishes they could cook like Karen Dudley. Even if you don’t know the restaurateur, caterer and cookbook author, you’ll love her food: unpretentious, generous, flavourful bowls made from the best and brightest fresh ingredients. If, amongst the phenomenal salads, you spot the cauliflower larb (with lime, coriander and fish sauce) or Waldorf crunch salad, go for it. Breakfasts are a treat too. Don’t miss the creamy dreamy eggs – it’s exactly what the name promises. As for sweets, the lemon squares and shortbread are highlights – and those famous World Peace brownies!

Tiger’s Milk

This is for everyone – you’d be hard-pressed not to find something on the menu that appeals. Begin with calamari with garlic aïoli, a cheese toastie with truffle oil or chicken wings. If you’re in a group, order the Jenga nachos (fully loaded and ready to serve four), burger sliders, Rockstar fries (with crispy onions, bacon bits and avocado), or the platter featuring bacon mac-and-cheese bombs. Pizzas are crisp and flavourful and hit all the right spots. As for burger patties, choose from the usual suspects plus Southern fried chicken, vegan lentil and cheese-stuffed. Sides include sweet-potato fries, onion rings, roasted butternut and feta, chargrilled corn, mac and cheese, and slaw. Dessert is a little less varied: brownies and cheesecake.

Juicy burgers at Tiger’s Milk. Photo supplied.

Tjing Tjing Torii

Torii is focused on Japanese street food. The bento and sando boxes are ideal for a quick brunch, but the real magic comes after noon. The ramen bowls are a must, featuring home-made noodles in a rich broth. Choose between shio mushroom, miso chicken or classic pork tonkotsu. Under the ‘Bites’ sharing plates, steamed buns of sticky pork belly and katsu chicken are standouts, especially when paired with succulent yakitori skewers. The chicken thigh with spring onion is a sucker-punch of flavour and don’t miss the ‘Atsui Dog’, a superb combo of sweetmilk bread, kimchi, kewpie mayo and hot sauce. The sweet creations are also wonderful, particularly the cheesecake with miso caramel.

 

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Tjing Tjing Momiji

It’s difficult to do justice to the flavours and precision of this eight-course set menu. Sashimi – hay-smoked tuna, trout with ponzu, and an oyster – is followed by a light and refreshing chilled avocado-and-dashi soup with crunchy tenkasu crumbs. Next courses include a savoury baked custard with chopped mussels, steamed samphire, and salty pops of roe, and a delicate arrangement of fresh and slightly pickled vegetables. The grilled course uses the under-utilised beef tongue alongside more popular fillet and rib-eye in respect for the animal, and in the rice course octopus and squid ink okayu is beautifully offset by pickled dune spinach. Dessert is rooibos-and-naartjie mochi ice cream, burnt orange cheesecake, and candied fennel, and house-made petit fours round things off.

Tomo Japanese Restaurant

Begin your journey with silky agedashi tofu with well- balanced dashi sauce. The miso soup also offers a delectable and combination of wakame seaweed, tofu, spring and mushroom. Standout sushi orders are the 4×4 and the rock shrimp rolls (spicy tuna California roll with mayo, caviar, sesame oil, spring onion and siracha, topped with rock shrimp tempura). Robata is a Japanese version of our favourite braai tradition; choose from beef tongue, salmon, lamb and chicken. If you can’t decide, the bento boxes offer a bit of everything from the chef’s selection, from raw to cooked sushi, steamed fish and barbecue prawns. Ice cream saves lives, especially if it’s flavoured with black sesame or green tea.

True Italic

This is unfussy, traditional food made from family recipes, ideal for sharing. The menu changes according to seasonal availability, but the antipasto d’inverno of Parma ham, Table Mountain-foraged pickled mushrooms and garlic bread is a fantastic first dish. The beef ragù, served with home- made tagliatelle, is hearty and rich, but the gnocchi with West Coast mussels and cherry tomatoes is the real winner here. It’s fresh and flavoursome, and not a morsel will be left on the plate. The home-made panna cotta is not set with gelatine, and is heavenly, with a tart marmalade the perfect companion to the creamy panna cotta. Otherwise the chocolate salame pairs wonderfully with a shot of espresso.

Willoughby and Co.

Good ingredients and skilled cooking make up for the shopping-mall ambience of this institution. The sushi is famous, but the culinary fireworks happen on the Japanese side. The tofu miso is highly recommended, a clean and simple introduction, and the well-balanced flavours of the tempura- fried sweet-and-sour kingklip are also excellent. And an honourable mention, thanks to expert cooking and quality ingredients, goes to the prawn cocktail, with fresh, plump prawns and creditable Marie-rose sauce. If ordering the fish curry, choose kabeljou, and Cape Malay over green Thai.

Atlantic Seaboard

Azure Restaurant

A whopping choice of 14 starters, ranging from seafood and ostrich to waffles and risotto. The ceviche is wonderfully citrusy and fresh, with a kick of chilli. Joostenberg duck for mains is tender and juicy, with rich broth. Other options are a trio of pork, Cape Malay curry, grilled cauliflower steak for vegetarians, and plentiful seafood options. For dessert classics come to the fore; think cheesecake, rice pudding and crème brûlée.

Sunset views at Azure at The Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa. Photo supplied.

Bobo’s Brasserie

This stylish addition to the strip ticks all the boxes: fantastic view, delicious bistro fare and great service. A French-inspired menu starts with dry-aged beef tartare with confit egg yolk, French onion soup, oysters and escargots. A few vegetarian options include the ricotta dumplings with asparagus and leeks, and a roast onion-and-fennel tart. Meat lovers will be more than satisfied with all the steaks and the burger. Lighter options are seared tuna with a Niçoise slant, steamed creamy mussels, and lemony roast chicken with crispy potatoes. Dessert includes a chocolate fondant or tarte tatin with excellent thyme-and-vanilla ice cream.

The Butcher Shop and Grill

After a warm welcome of fresh bread and boerewors, a light starter of mussels, calamari or smoked salmon and avocado is recommended. Yes, the seafood, oxtail, lamb and chicken dishes are tasty, but you know why you’re here. The steak melts in the mouth, and the flavour of each cut – whether basted or simply seasoned – is incomparable. Sourced from top suppliers around the world, the meat is expertly hung, cut and aged up to 40 days for superior texture and flavour. Select sirloin, rump, T-bone, rib-eye, fillet or prime rib off the menu or visit the in-house butchery to pick your cut. End with a dessert of SA favourites such as malva pudding with custard and ice cream or sorbet of the day.

Coco Safar

You’re spoiled for choice here, from a big breakfast menu with everything from a frittata to warm quinoa porridge and a lemon poppy waffle with berry compote, crème fraîche and honey, to a sizeable selection of lunch options – including ostrich pie, mushroom risotto, bobotie and burgers. Their salmon trout Niçoise, lightly smoked, with green beans, potato, egg, capers, and olives, is a great choice for lunch. Or try the smoked brisket sandwich – slow-cooked brisket, coleslaw, roast garlic mayo, home- made gherkin and green salad or triple-cooked fries. For dessert, apart from the outstanding patisserie selection, their bonbons are simply spectacular, and the coffee selection and execution is equally impressive.

Don Armando

Inspired by a traditional Argentine parilla, steaks star here. But consider girding your loins and ordering a starter or two, like the tempting grilled sweetbreads or empanadas. Alongside the prime cuts are a few more interesting options, including short rib and prime rib. There’s also a baby chicken, butterflied and grilled, and a fish of the day. All steaks arrive with a side of chimichurri, although more traditional mushroom, pepper and garlic sauces are available too. On the side, expect the likes of roasted bone marrow, and broccoli sautéed in butter, chilli and garlic. The dessert selection is small but excellent, with pancakes of dulce de leche, and churros with chocolate sauce.

El Burro

You’re in for a festive feast here. Chilli rellenos, the El Burro version of chilli poppers, are a popular starter option, as are the taquitos: sweet potato and feta wrapped in corn tortillas, fried and topped with a jalapeño and ginger sauce. For mains, the chorizo con patatas quesadilla is scrumptious, with chorizo, diced crispy potatoes, roast tomato salsa and melted queso fresco served with chimichurri salsa. Or try the carne asada, tender slices of grass-fed steak with a chipotle butter. When it comes to tacos, it’s hard to resist the spicy prawn version with cabbage slaw and a mango habanero salsa. For dessert, choose between churros, dark chocolate fondant and Mexican ice pops.

Giovanni’s Deli World

Three generations of the Esposito family run the deli, making home-made fresh fare, from bagels, croissants and kitkes to Italian meatballs, lasagne, schnitzels and sweet treats like baklava and pastries. Servers will weigh your buffet favourites, like rosemary chicken, roast potatoes and delicious marinated brinjals, or build your own platter from the stacks of smoked salmon, gravadlax, pickled octopus, pancetta, coppa, mortadella, salami, buffalo mozzarella, tellagio, pesto, pickles and peppers. There’s also a good choice for vegetarians, with quinoa, tabbouleh and green bean salads, porcini risotto and cauliflower mash. For dessert, select imported truffles or nougat if the baked goods aren’t tempting enough.

Hesheng Chinese Restaurant

The menu here is vast, but it’s the dumplings which have earned a loyal following, folded by the owner at a table in the corner. Enjoy the dim sum fried (pot-sticker style), steamed or boiled. The pork-and-prawn version is delightful, with the beef coming a close second, and black vinegar, soy and spicy chilli oil completes each mouthful. The portions are large, so order to share. The scallion pancakes are also not to be missed, layers of crispy golden flatbread with nuggets of sweet scallion in between, and the lip-tingling Sichuan beef is another superb sharing option. No dessert: take a stroll down the Sea Point strip for a sweet ending.

 

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The Hussar Grill

If the prawn cocktail is just too retro and you can resist the Hollandse Bitterballen, scroll all the way down the starter menu to the oven-roasted marrow bones, so rich and delicious that you may need a short nap afterwards. As well as the throwback Hussar Carpetbagger, house specialities include blue-cheese sirloin, chateaubriand and filet béarnaise. Perfectly matured meat and skilled cooking do these grillroom classics proud, and of course there’s creamed spinach and roasted butternut on the side. On the dessert menu, baked cheesecake gets stiff competition from a sweet and sticky malva pudding, but if you don’t order the signature chocolate vodka martini, there’s a good chance it will arrive anyway, courtesy of your host. You won’t be sorry.

Il Leone Mastrantonio

From the selection of cold and warm antipasti, the calamari grigliati is exceptional, lightly chargrilled with a touch of lemon, and perfectly tender. The mussels are also excellent, in a light white wine sauce with tomatoes and fennel. Or pick a caprese salad, either classic or with imported mozzarella. For mains, get the osso bucco if it’s available. The beef falls off the bone in a rich tomato sauce, served with cheese and gremolata. The grilled lamb chops are also particularly juicy, served with a port reduction sauce. The menu also includes seafood and chicken dishes, and of course a variety of pasta dishes, some vegetarian. Although not Italian, the crème brûlée stands out on the dessert menu.

Jarryds

From fruit smoothie bowls to toasties, omelettes and sliders, you’ll find a nourishing option here. Their artisanal bread is made using unbleached stone- ground flour, and you get to choose between sourdough, 70% rye, country and five-grain. Breakfast is served all day and you won’t go wrong with Jarryds Breakfast Bruschetta, a tasty stack of bacon, avocado, tomato and spanish onion salsa. Basil pesto and poached eggs bring it all together. The popular banana bread is over-the- top delicious, and milkshake lovers are also in for a treat. Choose the fresh strawberry flavour or a double-shot espresso iced coffee made with vanilla ice cream.

Jason Bakery (Green Point)

The brunch and breakfasts clubs flock here for some of the most OTT morning feasts around. Think baked shakshuka in a spicy tomato stew or the famed Bomb croissant filled with bacon, emmenthal cheese, and a poached egg. Sandwiches are also an event and the Kimcheese Toastie – with housemade kimchi, emmenthal cheese, mozzarella and a fried egg – will haunt your dreams in the best possible way. Hit the sweet spot with one of Jason’s weekly doughssants or oozing brioche doughnuts filled with dark chocolate custard.

Kleinsky’s (Sea Point)

If you’re looking for a good, traditionally made bagel, Kleinsky’s should be on your radar. Spring-onion scrambled egg, smoked salmon, mozzarella cheese and home-made caper mayo smooshed together between a bagel is the ultimate morning meal. The deli also serves a variety of soups, salads and sandwiches, the most iconic of which is the Reuben, with pastrami, Swiss cheese and sauerkraut. The popular latke benedict is a twist on the classic: two perfectly seasoned crunchy potato cakes topped with poached eggs and Hollandaise. And don’t miss the challah French toast, with maple syrup, strawberries and home-made apple compote.

La Boheme

You can expect hearty bistro-inspired fare here, like their famed mushroom risotto with fillet, steak frites and a tasty tapas menu. The fresh black mussels get things off to a cracking start, perfectly cooked with a deeply satisfying and creamy bisque. The mains on offer, such as braised pork belly with potato and butternut gratin and pulled lamb neck with potato gnocchi and pecorino, are good enough, but the panko-crumbed hake is very nicely cooked and topped with a lovely tomato and shrimp sauce. The cannelloni, stuffed with spinach, feta and sundried tomato, and topped with a creamy Napolitana sauce, is also good, with particularly well-made pasta. The dessert menu is made up of the classics, like baked cheesecake, sticky toffee pudding and crème brûlée.

La Mouette

The hallmark of the La Mouette experience has always been good food for exceptional value, and nine years later, whether you choose the excellent five-course tasting menu or just two or three courses, nothing has changed. Who could resist the signature croquettes with aïoli, followed by sweetcorn soup, corn shoots and basil pistou, then sumptuous ricotta gnocchi, smoked aubergine and tomato chutney? Follow this with linefish, shaved fennel, burnt orange and anise veloute, and the rest of the menu also tastes just as fabulous as it sounds. To end with, the best choice is the dreamy, sharp lemon meringue with mascarpone and lemon leaf snow.

The Lawns at The Roundhouse

Of the three starters, the chicken wings are deliciously saucy (either peri-peri or barbecue); otherwise go for halloumi or calamari. For larger groups, try the generous cheeseboard or charcuterie board to share. Burgers are great, layered with cheese, bacon and caramelised onions, and served with salad or home-made chips. There’s also fish and chips, ribs and a whole roasted free-range chicken. Pizzas are thin-based and come with scant but tasty toppings, such as pulled pork or salami and piquanté peppers. Have old-school ice cream with choc sauce or cake (chocolate, carrot, cheese or almond) for dessert.

Salsify – Top 10

Chef Ryan Cole is a talent in touch with his ingredients, extracting flavour and playing with nostalgic treatments and new techniques in a way that feels oh-so fresh. After amuse-bouches of bright ceviche and baked-gruberg balls, you might have fried octopus with bright green-mango salad, peanut and coconut – crunchy and sweet and salty. A prettily plated scallop makes way for the showstopper of grilled langoustine with an intensely unforgettable shellfish cappuccino and black rice. Last-meal territory. Next, Caperitif has a little moment adorning the skilfully prepared springbok loin, vibrant carrot purée and sumac dukkah, before a pre-dessert highlight of rhubarb Paris-Brest with creamy-tangy guava butter and crowd-pleasing ending of a chocolate-peanut bar. Don’t skip the memory-lane petit fours.

Scheckter’s Raw

First thing at this vegan haven, smoothie bowls and cold-pressed juices will certainly perk you up, and the pumpkin pie flapjacks masquerade as a guilty treat but are secretly good for you, with ingredients like chickpeas, flax seeds and pumpkin. For lunch they serve the imported Beyond Meat burger patty with all the trimmings, like vegan bacon, vegan mozzarella, fried onion and chipotle mayonnaise, and the sweet potato fries are excellent, with wasabi aïoli. For something lighter, choose a ‘super bowl’ like the probiotic bowl with alfalfa sprouts, sauerkraut, mung beans and cashew mayo. Finish with a decadent-tasting mocca delight or snickers bar.

The Shop

Beautiful ingredients – sourced from local farmers and producers – do the talking here. Drawing on classic French techniques, dishes such as beef carpaccio, pillow-like potato gnocchi with silky carrot purée, and splendidly unfussy slow-cooked lamb with pommes mousseline and jus have become famous. The specials board is also worth a gander: think roasted bone marrow with gremolata and sourdough toast, or grilled fish of the day in a delicate white wine sauce with broad beans and aïoli. Dessert could be anything from crêpes Suzette with home-made ice cream to apple crumble, or perfect crème brûlée. No one is trying to be clever or challenging, and the result is irresistible.

Three Wise Monkeys

The eclectic menu here tempts with a selection of bao buns, ramen noodle broths and sushi poké bowls. Start with a stuffed bao bun enhanced with pickled vegetables, piquant teriyaki sauce or firecracker mayo, and a bowl of strongly flavoured fermented kimchi on the side. The seared seven-spice tuna or beef tataki also burst with flavour. The ramen broths are the star of the show and you’re encouraged to bend low over the bowl and slurp. The broths – beef, duck, chicken or vegetarian – are infused with delicious smoky, salty and sour flavours of fermented soy, miso, mushroom, nori, pickled cabbage, charred yaki corn and the option of a five-minute marinated egg. If they have mochi, share dessert.

Upper Bloem Restaurant

This fabulous addition to the local culinary scene draws its inspiration from the Bo-Kaap. The food is served tapas style, and the express lunch menu has to be the best value in town, consisting of two rounds of three magnificent dishes. First up is a line fish ‘sandwich’ with potato and pickled cucumber, Boerenkaas croquettes with curried aïoli and smoked buffalo curd, tomato smoor and bhaji. The second, heartier round includes a slightly mercurial biryani, accompanied by gorgeously braised beef short rib and tongue with a spiced shallot purée, wild garlic and charred onion, and organic beetroot with whipped goats- milk yoghurt. Desserts are given the same nostalgic treatment and no matter how much you’ve eaten, find space for the rice pudding.

Southern Suburbs

1890 House Sushi

This is an institution, for those in the know. Dive straight into the freshly prepared sushi coasting past on the old-school conveyer belt, choosing from familiar favourites like maki, California rolls, sashimi and nigiri. The smoky, spicy seared tuna roses are an upgrade on the classic salmon, and the vegetarian rainbow roll with kewpie mayo, avo and a whisper of fresh chilli a seductive vegetarian alternative. Golden morsels like the prawn tempura and deep-fried wontons deliver, too. There’s also Chinese-style chicken stir fry, beef chop suey, and crispy duck, and even warming Thai curries. If you’ve still got room, sticky bow ties or deep-fried ice cream tempt.

95 at Parks

A salad like the avocado and fresh pear with blue cheese or the antipasti of 24-month-reserve parma ham with melon are perfect ways to get your appetite going. For mains, skip the famous gnocchi, or the pizza – it’s not wood-fired here – and rather opt for the well- loved butternut ravioli or the Milanese-style osso buco, prepared with veal shanks in a tomato gravy. From T-bone steaks to lamb chops, something meaty is a good choice here, with delicious sides and sauces. And whatever has befallen you, the chocolate fondant here will save the day, with its rich dark chocolate and perfectly gooey centre.

A Tavola

For fresh pasta prepared the Italian way and plated with flair, look no further. The beef carpaccio with fresh rocket, shaved parmesan and cipriani dressing comes highly recommended to start, or, for a taste of the sea, fresh mussels cooked in tomato, chilli, garlic and white wine, and served with bruschetta. The linguine tossed in a sauce seafood of tomato, mussels, prawns and calamari with a touch of chili and garlic, is a wonderful main, as is the delicious lasagne or tagliolini with wild mushrooms, rocket and truffle oil. A tantalising array of tasty Italian desserts, including a chocolate gelato, tiramisu and panna cotta, make decisions tough. The chocolate tart with hazelnut gelato won’t disappoint.

The Bistro @ Klein Constantia

The menu is concise, making choosing a dish easy. After a welcome of wood-fired sourdough, choose from the likes of panko-crumbed prawns with lemongrass, ginger and coriander mayo (light but delicious and full of flavour); peri-peri chicken livers with toast; or hot-smoked salmon with new potatoes and fine beans. Mains might include a fall-apart, tender braised pork belly with potato dauphinoise, lamb curry or, for vegetarians, a Boland cheese-and-truffle pasta. For dessert, opt for a pear-and-frangipane tart with whipped cream, or if you don’t have a sweet tooth, go for a platter of local cheeses (R40 supplement). The set menu offers great value for money, and portions are well-sized but not overwhelming.

Bistro Sixteen82

Start with the lovely goat’s cheese panna cotta, served with a beetroot salad, pesto, greens and a seeded tuille biscuit, or the pickled fish, served with crispy wonton, avo and tomato salsa. For mains, the ricotta gnocchi with pulled pork, peas and broccoli is delicious, the gnocchi light as a pillow and the velouté deeply savoury. The ethically sourced fish with sticky rice, mushrooms, ponzu and citrus salsa is also sublime and wonderfully balanced in flavour. Other main courses to consider are fish fritters served with courgette noodles or grilled venison with celeriac and gooseberries. For dessert, think chocolate choux with orange curd, white and dark chocolate mousses, honeycomb and kalamansi ice cream.

Buitenverwachting Restaurant

Two menus showcase the considerable talent of the kitchen. The ‘Rustic Affairs’ dishes are more bistro in style, and here the caesar salad with pan-fried Norwegian salmon is a must to start, while the oriental lamb-rack and loin, enlivened by pomegranates, aubergines and pistachio, is superb. The ‘Indulge’ dishes are more refined,and here mains lean towards classic flavours, like the beef fillet with café de Paris butter, and duck in l’orange sauce, but the starters show a more adventurous streak, like shallot soup with madumbi crema and quail deconstructed. Leave room for something sweet: the ’Chocolate Variation’ will have you smiling into a cocoa-coma. Too sweet? Try the yuzu mousse with coconut, lemongrass and mango.

Chefs Warehouse at Beau Constantia – Top 10

The dishes on this inspired tapas-style menu all bear the unmistakable signature of Ivor Jones, winner of the Eat Out Graham Beck Chefs’ Chef Award for the second year running. After the chargrilled tuna with brown-butter dressing, queso fresco and popcorn dust you might think the chef has peaked too soon, but then the glory continues. A skillet of rice sounds basic, but not once you add Ivor’s Swiss-chard risotto with a curry-leaf beurre noisette and salty chunks of ash-rolled goat’s cheese. The roasted pork belly with prawn shumai, barbecue cashew-nut purée and Chinese master stock is surf-and- turf like you’ve never seen it before. The secret’s out: wild-lavender crème with honeycomb and cassia bark ice cream is a glorious way to end a sensational meal.

Chef Ivor Jones’s inspired tapas at Chefs Warehouse at Beau Constantia. Photo by Claire Gunn

The Conservatory at The Cellars-Hohenort

There’s a buffet and à la carte breakfast and extravagant high tea, but for dinner, start with the exemplary caesar salad, which boasts a glorious ratio of Parmesan to cos lettuce, and a deep-fried, poached egg. For mains, the slow-cooked lamb shoulder with pine nut polenta and an unctuous black garlic jus is comforting. If your wallet won’t spring for springbok, steak or duck, the burger and the bobotie are also good. For dessert, the warm, baked fudge-and-nut pudding with caramelized peanuts is sweet, peanutty, and shamefully rich, or the honey-and-rosemary semifreddo makes a sophisticated end to the meal.

Devil’s Peak Taproom

Expect beer-friendly fare without pretension. Start with a few snacks, like pok pok chicken wings, crispy calamari or biltong and cheese croquettes. For mains, you won’t go wrong with the classic Taproom cheeseburger generously topped with pickles and Dijon mayo. The tacos – chicken, beef short rib or fish – are a fine foil for the beers, but it’s in the larger plates where you’ll be most tempted. The Taproom ‘Po-Boy’ stands out, doused in pickled cabbage and maple mayo. There’s a small selection of indulgent desserts if you have room.

Four & Twenty

If you’ve a sweet tooth, the caramelised banana pecan streusel flapjacks are incredible for breakfast – crispy on the outside, pillowy inside, with a lovely crunch from the streusel. Otherwise, choose your Benedict: keep things classic, opt for umami Hollandaise with exotic mushrooms, or try basil Hollandaise and hickory-smoked ham, all made with free-range eggs. For lunch there’s a glorious steak and pepper pie, with buttery puff pastry and sweet onion fondants. The fish cakes with home-made tartare and chive-and-lime hollandaise are also very popular. Leave space to pick something from the beautiful cake cabinet. The salted caramel macadamia cheesecake flies off the shelf.

Foxcroft – Nominee

Flavours here range from spicy salsa macha to kimchi served atop, of all things, Brussels sprouts. Each plate is a surprise, whether from the four-course menu or eight-course degustation. The yellowfin tuna is a standout of the tapas plates, with medallions of dark meat atop a smoky salsa macha, balanced by avocado mousse and pickled radish. The West Coast mussels are also a must-order, swimming in a creamy chowder that seems a touch sweet only until the pickled calamari takes the edge off. The confit pork belly comes with kimchi and salty pork jus and the linefish is an equally fine dance partner to fennel, chorizo and smoked tomato. For dessert, do try the elegant poached pear, with bostock, rooibos jelly and crème fraîche.

A dish at Foxcroft. Photo Supplied.

Greenhouse – Nominee

The platter of False Bay canapés is a fitting start, showcasing the creativity in the kitchen. For mains, there’s an abundance of seafood, from the ‘Seafood Potjie’, with sustainable hake and local samphire, to ‘Die Vis’, kingklip with a samp of red quinoa. The sashimi plate is beautifully simple, with seabass, seaweed and avocado in a cucumber consommé, and the ‘Tshisanyama’ delivers perfect fillet, crispy sweetbread, a coriander-rich Asian pesto, and creamy ‘pap’. For dessert, citrus plates and petit fours bookend ‘The Beet’, where chocolate and cherry jelly offers sweetness and acidity in perfect balance.

Haru

A plate of gyoza – dumplings with soft tops, juicy fillings and lightly pan-crisped bottoms – is a delicious way to start here, with a choice between pork and vegetable or chicken and mushroom. The sushi is good, but the real joy is to be found in the noodle section. Shoyu ramen – delicately flavoured broth topped with barbecued pork belly, spring onions, bean sprouts, nori and a boiled egg – delivers the ultimate in comfort food and tempura udon is another crowd-pleaser, with thick noodles and crisp tempura vegetables adding texture to the light, delicious broth. And do try the ton-katsu – a crumbed and fried pork cutlet with a fruity curry sauce and a sesame-dressed cabbage salad that’s so good you’ll ask for an extra helping.

La Colombe – Restaurant of the Year

La Colombe’s reputation for sophisticated fine dining, and beautiful foliage-inspired presentation, is well deserved. Executive chef James Gaag skilfully interprets local flavours and presents them in a refined, sometimes quirky, manner. After snacks that resemble a garden scape, the Wagyu drippings with bone marrow and oxtail jus is revealed in a puff of smoke. Pull-apart sweet potato bread is served with smoked paprika and dukkah butter – you’ll wish there was more. The signature tuna can never disappoints, and the next course is equally intriguing, comprising Cape Malay mussel curry and charred passionfruit. Kerala-style quail with langoustine with coriander and slangetjies and spicy linefish and petit poussin with sweetbreads and truffle round off the meal. Dessert may be Bahibe chocolate with blood orange and smoked almond – rich but beautifully balanced – or make a selection from the ‘cheese chest’, before whimsical petits-fours.

A dish at La Colombe. Photo by Andrea van der Spuy.

Rare Grill

Grill Master Greg Bax was the owner of the original Hussar Grill in Rondebosch, and his respect and love for meat shines through in every bite. You might be tempted by sticky chicken wings or oven-roasted bone marrow on toast to start, but the real reason you are here is for the hand-selected, four-week- old wet-aged beef. Let Greg choose for you, and you’ll be rewarded with something like the 500-gram T-bone steak or a grass-fed fillet so soft it could be mistaken for butter. Add onion rings, triple-cooked chips and butter cabbage, and each bite will deliver well-balanced caramelisation and superior flavour. Desserts are steakhouse classics like brownies, malva pudding and a faultless crème brûlée.

Sea Grill by La Boheme

The food is simply plated and served on tables laid with brown paper sheets. No fuss or frills. Start by sharing tasty and colourful tapas, tender calamari tubes, buttery, garlicky mussels and grilled sardines, spicy crumbed prawns dynamite and tuna tataki marinated in soya and ginger. Preparation, dressings and sauces are classic and simple and seafood is succulently grilled. Highlights are well-priced butterflied Argentinian wild prawns, popular seafood jambalaya, and linefish seasoned with chilli, paprika and herbs. Pulled-duck risotto, grilled sirloin, mushroom risotto and aromatic veg curry something for everyone. For dessert, share decadent home-made chocolate truffles, bursting in the mouth like mini fondants.

Skotnes Restaurant

A tribute to artist Cecil Skotnes, the focus is on creating contemporary local cuisine to match the architectural showpiece. A spice thread runs through an original menu of South African classics, from prawns with atchar and pork croquettes with soetmostert to linefish with smoked snoek and leek tart. Popular breakfast options include the pampoenkoekies and the chakalaka shakshuka. For lunch, think modern interpretations of lamb bobotie, pickled fish and braaibroodjie with amabutho cheese. An innovative vegetarian and vegan menu comes up trumps with superfood Buddha bowls, korma lentil and chickpea curry and wholesome plant-based soups. Don’t overlook the stunning desserts – Malay pineapple with cardamom samp pudding or sweet potato kataifi cigar and rooibos ice cream are both delicious.

 

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Starlings Coffee Shop

Portion sizes are generous, so go hungry! The towering French toast stack with bacon and banana is a must, but if you’re after something more savoury, the beans in roasted red pepper and tomato sauce will hit the spot and leave you trying to discreetly lick the bowl. Lunch options include an eclectic mix of favourites like creamy risotto, chicken curry, meatballs and a selection of exciting open sandwiches and plant-based salads.

The Tasting Room at Constantia Glen

Start with one of the platters, which include a South African version with bobotie, biltong, samoosas, snoek paté and potbrood, and an antipasto platter for two with buffalo mozzarella, prosciutto, artichokes, grilled peppers, hummus and sourdough baguette. There’s also, surprisingly, a small collection of soups, including a well-made French onion, salads, and mains like a seared tuna Niçoise and pulled lamb served with potato gratin. But the flammkuchen is where it’s at, including a stand-out version with pancetta or artichokes, crème fraîche, leeks, red onions and chives. Desserts include the usual suspects, like a crème brûlée, chocolate fondant and affogato.

South Peninsula

Cheyne’s

The menu of Pacific Rim cuisine kicks off with crunchy prawn crackers with spicy Asian dip, which calls for a sip of one of Cheyne’s signature cocktails. The chilli-salt squid with sesame mayo and green chilli caramel is a real crowdpleaser, tender in its light and crispy batter. Carb lovers will enjoy the potato-and-coconut dumplings with a curry peanut sauce, and don’t leave without giving the pork belly a try, served with pear teriyaki, crispy sweet potato, keralan cream and puffed black rice. A wonderful balance of flavours and textures. Desserts continue the umami theme; think vanilla crème brûlée with banana bread toast and miso ice cream or perfectly executed chocolate fondant with coconut-and-rum ice cream.

The Foodbarn Deli & Tapas Bar

The tapas menu is an extensive list of small plates, which some diners share and some enjoy by themselves. The flavours cover a wide landscape of inspiration – there is French, Italian, Japanese, barbecue-style and even a few South African dishes. Highlights are the arancini (risotto balls), crispy baby calamari, and the braised pork belly with slow-roasted apple. Keep an eye out for the snack-sized bunny chow! The minted halloumi fries with chipotle mayo are excellent, as are smashed baby potatoes with herbed sour cream. Don’t miss baked goods and other delicious items from the deli to take home with you.

The Foodbarn Restaurant

Franck Dangereux seamlessly combines his French heritage with South African flavours and ingredients. The à la carte menu is written on blackboards that roam around the restaurant. Wild mushroom and ricotta ravioli with truffled fontina is a complete flavour bomb – truly a pleasure to eat. Other starter options included tuna tartare, prawn beignets with peanut sauce and fried baby squid. The bouillabaisse is lovely twist on the classic, with richly flavoured prawn broth poured over grilled fish on a bed of saffron mash. For mains, tender lamb rack is served with sweet date purée, butternut samoosa and incredibly aromatic cumin jus. The spring asparagus risotto is delicious, with a garnish of charred onion and creamy goat’s cheese. The dessert menu has something for everyone: chocolate pavé with bananas; strawberry-and-rhubarb fondue; a selection of local cheeses; and fruity sorbets, such as pineapple and blackcurrant.

Kalky’s

Portions are large, and as with any decent fish ‘n chips, well fried. The chips are everything that slaptjips should be, and drenching them in vinegar makes them even better. The fish is tender and the batter is light and crispy, though skip the tomato sauce if you can bear it. The fresh calamari shouldn’t be skipped, and if you’re with a crowd, indulge in one of the platters, like the family meal with hake, snoek, calamari, rolls, chips and cooldrink, or the Kalky’s platter with peri-peri prawns, hake, calamari, rice, chips and salad.

Massimo’s

This is one of Cape Town’s most renowned Italian restaurants and owners Massimo and Tracey showcase their passion for Italian food with the best, freshest ingredients. The menu is full of sustainable treats and the pizzas are award-winning, with extensive options including plant-based and gluten-free. The soft pillow-like ravioli, smothered in an artichoke and truffle sauce, followed by paper-thin slices of beef with rocket and parmesan, and a piping-hot slice of solo salami pizza all makes for a meal worth returning for again (and again). The limoncello bombe is rich and sweet with layers of meringue lemon curd and cream, and a slice of cranberry cheesecake goes exceedingly well with a double espresso.

A delicious pizza at Massimo’s. Photo supplied.

Olympia Café and Deli

This is a Kalk Bay gem, and they don’t take reservations, so prepare to queue, or pop around the corner to their bakery. The breakfast menu changes frequently, but includes the likes of flaky croissants, eggs benedict with an outstanding hollandaise, and an indulgent French toast stack. For lunch or dinner, it’s hard to resist the garlicky mussels with cream and white wine, or the steak roll with a side of potato wedges. For those with a heartier appetite, pork belly, seafood pasta or tomato bredie will hit the spot. To finish off, both the lemon tart and chocolate mousse come highly recommended.

Cape Flats

4Roomed Ekasi Culture

4 Roomed eKasi Culture is such a vibe, situated in buzzing Khayelitsha. Sis Abi, who was participant in MasterChef SA, has created a dining experience like no other to reflect the unique culture of this space. The sit-down feast, which is served family-style, with all the food placed in the centre of the table, begins with the sliced-beef dumpling roll with sesame seeds, caramelised onion, mushrooms and rocket. The pap with butternut, nutmeg and truffle oil and mleqwa – fall-off-the-bone runaway chicken – slowly cooked with fennel, is superb. End on citrus cake with dark-chocolate chips, vanilla frosting, pistachio nuts and fresh berries.

Northern Suburbs

Boston Coffee

The breakfast menu offers items such as the smoor and scramble (sourdough bread topped with perfectly crispy bacon, scrambled eggs, smoor and jalapeños) and the Dagbreeker (deliciously simple offering of a coffee of your choice, two fried eggs on toast and home-made sweet mustard that accompanies all sandwiches). Sourdough toasted sandwiches and all-day breakfasts keep the clientele happy. Look out for Pulled Pork Fridays and be sure to try the morsige broodjie filled with bacon, avo, feta and cheddar. The Mexican, a toastie jam- packed with mince, feta, tomato, garlic, cheddar, caramelised onions and jalapeños, will hit that spicy-sweet itch. If you enjoy sweet somethings, try a choc croissant, a bite-sized brownie or fresh muffin.

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Crown Restaurant

Generous portions, authentic flavours and a welcome lack of fussiness on the plate are the hallmarks here, where traditional SA favourites are given a stylish bistro makeover. To start, try the fresh roosterkoek with bokkom butter and fish pâté, or crowd-pleasing chilli poppers. Meat- eaters are particularly well looked after. The braaibord is a perennial favourite, with two thick-cut lamb chops served alongside boerewors and polenta tart. The grilled beef fillet with onion tart and sautéed greens is another stand-out. Tourists will love surely the bobotie and vetkoek sliders, while the kitchen is also famous for their towering Yumburgers. Desserts come straight from ouma’s kitchen: silky melktert crème brûlée or traditional Cape brandy pudding.

De Grendel Restaurant

To start, the springbok loin with grilled red cabbage and citrus is a delight, served with a fragrant five-spice jus. There is also a perfectly pink spiced duck breast served with chargrilled fennel and maple jus, and a fresh tuna sashimi is served with melon and an avocado mousse. For mains, the rolled Karoo lamb neck is a flavour sensation, every mouthful better than the last. The linefish with Cape Malay curry sauce is another tasty dish, a little like a fresh pickled fish, served with crisp vegetables. For dessert, the pumpkin ginger cake is a highlight: a moist, subtly spiced sponge served with cinnamon ice cream, orange segments and a pecan shortbread crumble.

Groot Phesantekraal

The focus is on hearty and wholesome farmhouse fare on this historic farm. The locals flock here to enjoy the full farmer breakfast with farm eggs, home-made boerewors, freshly baked country bread and jam, signature gammon cheese waffle or smoked salmon potato hash. Vegetarians are treated to a gourmet spin on brekkie from a warm quinoa salad with mushrooms, baby spinach and curried cauliflower to home-made granola. Inspired by fresh, seasonal produce, lunches are equally big on flavour. For mains, try the hero harissa lamb ragout on soft polenta with Turkish apricots, or roasted pork belly plated with white bean casserole and chorizo. Every dish is paired with the winemaker’s choice of the farm’s own wines by the glass. A lighter lunch menu offers creative soups of the day and salads like basil spinach cous cous or quinoa and sweet potato salad. Leave room to share a traditional farm dessert of burnt sweet potato pie with caramel custard.

Hoghouse Brewing Company

Start finger-food-style, with the likes of wild mushroom arancini with chipotle aïoli, barbecue chicken wings with sriracha marinade or, for the adventurous, crispy pigs’ tails with a maple-and-pecan glaze. For mains there’s a selection of barbecue meats, priced by weight, combined with vegetarian sides and served family-style. The ‘burnt ends’, or the crispy bit of the brisket, pastrami lamb ribs and the buttermilk fried chicken are particular favourites. The sides are delicious and varied, and will leave vegetarians more than satisfied. The braaibroodjie, with tomato and aged cheddar, will make you weep, and the corn is wonderfully smoky. The pasteis de nata are not to be missed – take a few home if you’re too full.

Magica Roma

To start at this old-school favourite, choose from hot and cold antipasti, including a refreshing caprese salad with fior di latte mozzarella, or one of the house carpaccios – beef, game or tuna. There’s a classic minestrone on the soup menu, too. Magica Roma prides itself on their pasta, and the spaghetti allo scoglio is a must if you like seafood. The seafood is tender and succulent, the sauce rich with crustacean notes. If you eat veal, choose the scalloppine di vitello Isacco. The veal is tender in a lightly creamy lemon, white wine and mushroom sauce, with a hint of sage. The penne arrabbiata is a good vegetarian option. For dessert, pick a classic, like tiramisu or spumoni with meringue.

Blaauwberg

Café Blouberg

Good fresh ingredients, home-style cooking, classic flavour combinations and seriously good value are a winning formula. Yeasty aromas of freshly baked goodies behind the glass counter entice regulars from a long way. Signature breakfasts with all the trimmings are the Blouberg (perfectly poached eggs, crispy bacon, oven-roasted tomatoes and creamy polenta) and the South African (eggs anyway you like, boerewors, home-made tomato relish, cheddar and pap). Other favourites are vetkoek with curried mince; the house Blouburger with bacon, cheddar and caramelised onions; and layered sandwiches (try pulled pork, avo and peach chutney on ciabatta). Take home cupcakes, scones or cheesecake.

Indian Chapter with Prim Reddy

A little slice of North India in Blouberg. The menu is extensive so seek assistance from your server if you’re indecisive. A popular starter is the traditional tandoori chicken, made with a home-made yoghurt marinade, and the onion bhajias is also a must-try. Don’t forego the lamb rogan josh, moderately spiced with boneless lamb pieces and delicious mopped up by the famous garlic naan. The saag paneer is also excellent: fresh Indian cheese cooked in a creamy green sauce made with garam masala, lemon and puréed spinach. It’s hard to resist over-ordering, but if you still have space for dessert, the short line-up features Indian kulfi and ice cream with chocolate sauce.

Brought to you by Stella Artois

This selection comprises all the Cape Town restaurants that made the cut for the 2020 Eat Out 500, the list of best restaurants in the country as rated and reviewed by our panel of critics for the 2020 edition of Eat Out magazine (on sale now). But we know the city is crammed with loads more gems and mainstays that didn’t crack the nod. Please tell us about your favourites in the comments section at the end!

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