Highly commended in the seafood category at the 2015 Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Best Everyday Eateries, Kalky’s in Kalk Bay offers Cape Town vis en tjips at its best. The former comes in huge portions, and the latter are fresh as can be, with a good combination of slap slivers and crunchy golden titbits.
In recent years the Mother City has gained a reputation for poncy nonsense when it comes to food. This Portlandia skit comes to mind, in which diners are presented with the papers and photograph of Colin, the organically reared chicken they’re about to eat for dinner. But there are still places like Kalky’s, where the hallowed tarp-lined halls have never witnessed utterings of ‘heirloom’, ‘ethically reared’ or ‘artisanal’. You’re here for fresh seafood right off the boats, and the rest doesn’t matter.
You can start off with a prawn and vegetable samoosa (R7 each), or if you’re just peckish – and brave – a fried yellowtail head and chips for R20. Good bets are the hake or snoek and crumbed calamari plus chips (R78), fresh grilled line fish and chips (R105), or the eight peri-peri prawns with chips, rice or salad (R105). If it’s in season, you could plump for a whole grilled crayfish for R165. There is a vegetarian meal of potato and spinach phyllo parcels with chips, and a Greek salad, but really, Kalky’s is not for fans of anything but beautiful fresh fish. Platters are popular and very affordable.
Grab a cold SAB beer or soft drink, or buy a bag of ice for R7 and bring your own.
It’s full of charm and character, which is why it’s bustling with multi-generation families and tourists on any given day, but sanitised and superficial it is not. There’s salt in recycled glass bottles with holes poked in the lids, red plastic tablecloths and a bucket full of vinegar on tap. Used paper napkins may flap at your ankles and you will get the occasional tang of fishing boats from the harbour. Food is served on stainless steel plates, and you help yourself to plastic cutlery at the front. Just lean into it… and try to ignore your elbows sticking to the table.
Deliberate on your choice while you wait in line and order and pay at the counter. It’s cash only. Then, find a seat and keep your ears open for the plate-balancing waitresses to yell your number.
Queuing to get a bay in the small parking lot (over the railway tracks) can test a hungry person’s patience. If you’re up for it, rather park on Main Road in Kalk Bay and stroll down to the harbour.
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