So you’ve imbibed inspiration from local and international speakers, marvelled at the amazing innovations on exhibition, and met a host of fascinating artists, designers and creatives… but where to take your new friends after hours? We list the hotspots in Cape Town’s City Bowl.
Brothers Jason and Dylan Whitehead serve up great quality French food with rich sauces and oodles of farm butter, cream, duck fat and truffle oil. This is a great place if you’re banting.
Chef Frank Marks earned his stripes under Heston Blumenthal, and this restaurant, located beneath The Portside building (that’s the really tall one, for out-of-towners), serves up a mix of excellent quality café-style dishes and an ever-changing blackboard menu of options that verge more on fine dining.
This is where it all started: the very first branch of Col’Cacchio. Low-cal foro pizzas (the ones with salads in the centre), banting pizzas, and a glorious selection of salads should keep everyone happy.
Expect innovative bistro-style food, which is mostly excellent. They recently invested in a dedicated kid’s room an Xbox, reading corner, ball pit and a full-time nanny – so it’s a great place to go if you’ve got a kid in tow.
Baristas with swag will serve you excellent coffee and tempt you with crazy-delicious cinnamon pastries. The Madonna muesli is a great way to start the day, there are tasty bagels and sandwiches for lunch and there’s even banting cheesecake. It’s also located in the über-tall Portside building.
Serving over 60 varieties of gin – local and flown in from France, England, Belgium, Germany, Scotland and Madagascar – this bar is the hippest thing to open in the city bowl in the past six months. Tables fill up fast, so reserve one if you plan on doing justice to the gin options.
Cocktails are served in brown paper bags or tea cups, and décor is hip in a top-hat-and-tails kind of a way.
The Power and the Glory
This hip little bar isn’t the only sheriff in town any more, but it still pulls the crowds thanks to a comfortable interior and very tasty bar food.
Located in what is by day a butchery selling carefully sourced free-range meat, this bar is a great place for those who know their wine. Patrons often spill out onto the cobbled street.
Located above Dear Me, Tjing Tjing offers a tiny section of open rooftop and a lovely attic beneath a mansard roof in an historic building.
Weinhaus + Biergarten
This vibey craft beer garden is good for lazy afternoon beer drinking, occasional live music and smoky sausages.
Above Yourstruly on Kloof Street you’ll find a hip new rooftop bar.
This dim sum oasis has communal tables perfect for those inclined to socialise. Go up the counter to order pot-stickers, buns and steamed dumplings in variety of flavours and fillings.
Chefs Warehouse (Winner of 2014 Best Everyday Eatery)
The tapas has become slightly pricier since Liam Tomlin’s stand-out restaurant first opened, but with good reason. This is some of the tastiest food you can get your hands on in the city. Tapas dishes arrive in a parade of mini copper pots, steaming baskets and slate plates. You won’t quite believe this generosity and flavour. Find a seat on the raised stoep outside overlooking trendy Bree Street.
Climb the unmarked staircase inside Lefty’s (see below) and you’ll be rewarded with fluffy buns and steaming bowls of fragrant shoyu broth loaded with juicy slow-cooked pork.
Offering flamingo wallpaper and delicious (if pricy) new-style dim sum, Hallelujah is a great spot for a light bite. Perch at the counter overlooking the street.
This dive bar in the still-ever-so-slightly-dodgy Harrington Street serves above-average soul food that draws in the crowds. Ribs are succulent and delicious, fried chicken waffles are semi-ridiculous, and tables look as if they were collected from the side of the road.
This authentic Mexican spot hidden away on Rose Street offers traditional bites with handmade ingredients and some crown pleasers like chilli poppers. (Not to mention the 20 kinds of tequila.)
Honest Chocolate Café
Aside from the ice-cream-and-chocolate-stuffed banana bread ‘bunny chow’, glorious chocolate ice cream and beautiful design, you need to visit this little dessert café to find the secret gin bar in the courtyard in the back.
Serving inspired diner food and some downright delicious breakfasts, Clarke’s is the place for a pig out. French toast is glorious, with apples and walnuts or Nutella. There’s also a new range of wholesome treats if your resolve is stronger than ours. Sit in the new little courtyard at the back or pull up a stool on the wooden deck on the street.
There’s actually a queue outside Jason every Saturday morning. Aside from the expected artisanal bread, baker Jason Lilley is a genius at creating OTT Dominque-Ansel-style treats. You might find a bacon-wrapped croissant filled with peanut butter; a deep-fried Nutella bite; or – on Saturdays – a dough-ssant (Jason’s take on the cronut). The flapjack stack with apples flecked with vanilla seeds, mascarpone and walnuts comes highly recommended.
It’s only open on weekdays, but the lovingly sourced produce and exposed brickwork make this a lovely serene spot for eggs Benedict. The menu caters for all manner of special dietary requirements.
Jacques Erasmus’s food is as beautiful as his restaurant. Order luminous fresh juices in carafes and bright salads bursting with flavour and served on designer crockery.
Trendy, stylish branches on Church, Roodehek and Kloof Street will keep your caffeine stocks high.
Single-origin beans are roasted ‘in-haas’, as the owners like to say. You can also order kopi luwak or a death wish (the strongest coffee on earth).
House of Machines
This motorbike café and bar serves up great coffee. And from 9am to 3pm on Sundays, you’ll find The El Burro Food Truck parked outside. Think huevos rancheros, breakfast burritos and bean, corn and avo tacos.
The most steampunk of all the steampunk cafes, Truth HQ offers a lesson in taking a design theme further. They’re serious about their coffee and the breakfasts are pretty delicious.
See also Jason and Hard Pressed, above.
Oranjezicht City Farm Market
The market part of this urban garden recently located to the gardens of Leeuwenhof. If farm-fresh produce, tasty vegan and wheat-free treats and the magnificent Nitro-Creamy ice cream doesn’t motivate you, the opportunity to shop at Helen Zille’s personal residence on a Saturday morning should pique your curiosity.
City Bowl Market on Hope
Open on Saturday mornings and Thursday evenings, the City Bowl Market is located in a church hall and is a convenient place to pick up dinner, dim sum and fresh juices.