While the Silo District’s Zeitz MOCAA museum took years to design and build, the hub of surrounding restaurants have sprung up comparatively quickly. The area has to cater to the well-heeled local and international visitors that frequent it, so it follows that the eateries here are slick, refined and produce high-quality food. Si! Cantina-Sociale is one such restaurant, a place that seems to feel European and distinctly Capetonian at the same time.
Best for: A good meal after visiting the galleries
Cost: R120 for average main course
Corkage: R50 per bottle (1 bottle per 3 people)
Parking: Underground, in the Silo District parking
Star ratings: Food and drinks: 4; Service: 4; Ambience: 3
As the inspired name implies, the food here takes on a decidedly Mediterranean feel and the name of the game is tapas-style dishes. With this in mind, the dishes are mostly conceptualised as larger sharing plates, though with a couple of options available should you want a plate of food to yourself.
On the starter side of things you’ll find the usual tapas suspects like crostini, patata bravas and beef and pecorino meatballs. The winning items, however, were the fried pickles served with a creamy dill mayo. Not often seen on menus in South Africa, these had herby freshness from the mayo and a perfect mix of rich and tangy from the combination of the pickle’s acid and the batter. The zucchini fries also deserve an honourable mention.
Depending on your sharing ability, mains take the shape of a hearty bean burger, a grilled prego half-chicken, or mussels steamed in white wine and garlic. Especially great are their flatbreads, made from house-made 48-hour matured dough and topped with a generous dusting of grated Parmesan. There are a number of really great topping options but the mushroom and onion variety is exceptionally tasty. The delicate sweetness of the onions and leeks is tempered by the earthy mushrooms.
For those looking for something sweet, the dessert menu is concise and simple. Choose from pavlova served with berries and cream (or gelato) for a more virtuous-seeming dessert, or go all out on the decadent chocolate marquis with dark chocolate mousse, brandy crème anglaise and toffee.
There is an extensive cocktail menu featuring classic options like Aperol Spritz, Bloody Marys and Cosmopolitans, as well as a couple of fresh remixed versions like their old fashioned, made with rum instead of bourbon, and Si! Cantina’s take on a Tom Collins. The wine list is distinctly South African and includes a collection of well-known names like Spier, as well as niche brands like Saronsberg and Holden Manz. The mark-up is noticeable, but not flagrant – this is an upmarket restaurant at the Silo District, after all.
The staff here are pleasant and welcoming from the moment you walk in. There’s no awkward milling around as you wait to be seated. You can also look forward to attentive service, with several waiters checking on you.
It’s worth noting that the Silo District is still finding its feet vibe-wise at night, so the restaurant was fairly quiet for a late Friday night. Despite this, the restaurant is warm and inviting, with an open kitchen that provides a glimpse into dishes being made, so it certainly doesn’t feel like a ghost town.
Si! Cantina-Sociale serve wholesome breakfasts every morning, which makes this a tempting place to stop off after an early morning walk. Considering the large floor-to-ceiling glass windows and outdoor seating, this is also a lovely place to refuel and people-watch in between shopping and sightseeing.
Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay for their meals in full. Read our full editorial policy here.