Farewell Anatoli: a Cape Town icon closes its doors after 40 years

Tucked away in the heart of Cape Town’s De Waterkant, Anatoli stood as a testament to the city’s rich food heritage. With a history dating back over four decades, it became an enduring icon, celebrated for its authentic Turkish cuisine and warm, inviting atmosphere. News dropped this week that the restaurant has closed its doors. Over the years, Anatoli evolved into more than just a restaurant; it became a cultural touchstone.

Established in 1984, Anatoli held the distinction of being one of the first Turkish restaurants in South Africa. Since its inception, the restaurant was on a mission to transport diners to the vibrant streets of Istanbul. Many will fondly remember its flavourful dishes and traditional ambience.

Its menu featured a wide range of dishes – from succulent kebabs to aromatic mezze platters. Signature dishes like the Adana Kebab and Börek became synonymous with Anatoli’s commitment to authenticity and quality.

What set Anatoli apart was not just its menu but also the charming atmosphere it offered. The restaurant’s interior was adorned with Turkish décor, creating a truly immersive experience. The intimate setting, paired with the welcoming hospitality of the staff, made Anatoli a favourite among locals and visitors. It’s no surprise that it continuously featured in the annual Eat Out magazine.

Eat Out Chief Judge Abigail Donnelly shares her fondest memories:

“Anatoli is an institution that’s now gone from the Cape Town dining scene. I used to visit very often when my husband, Terry, was studying at Michaela’s. All the students used to get together around these massive tables where we’d tuck into the mezze and Turkish flatbreads. It was a lot of sharing and a lot of fun. I distinctly remember the soft stuffed apricots with ricotta and the cold rice pudding with rose water. I’m certain that was the start of my love affair with milky puddings and rose water! Chef Tayfun Aras has become a dear friend. He often brings me spices and things from his trips overseas. He will be sorely missed and I’m glad I had the experience of eating that kind of food for so many years.”

Other loyal diners took to social media to express their sadness about the restaurant’s closure.


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In the bustling and ever-evolving restaurant landscape of Cape Town, Anatoli remained a cherished destination, and although Eat Out is saddened at the news of its closure, it leaves behind a legacy of excellent food and happy memories.

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