Review: Magnificent Mexican at Del Mar in Camps Bay

A new restaurant in Cape Town that offers modern Mexican fare adds a strong dash of substance to the Camps Bay Promenade. Jeanne Calitz visits Del Mar.


As soon as you step into Del Mar, a new addition to the Bukhara group, you’ll realise this is not your run-of-the-mill cheap-and-cheerful Mexican joint. There will be no tepid avo-mix masquerading as guacamole here, nor taco’s smothered in heaps of plastic-tasting cheese. Instead, Del Mar delivers finely crafted plates of quality food brimming with bold Mexican flavours. It comes at a premium, but if you can afford it you won’t be disappointed.

Start off by munching on the freshly made taco chips and two salsas brought to the table, one a spicy red roast tomato and garlic mix, the other a vibrant green blend of coriander, tomatillo and avo, bursting with bright flavours. Speaking of salsas, the menu features no fewer than nine types, including a habanero salsa we hear from reliable sources is absolutely addictive – if you’re brave enough to try it (habanero being the kind of chilli that will clear your sinuses for weeks after ingestion – here be dragons.)

Some of the spread on offer. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Some of the spread on offer. Photo courtesy of the restaurant. 

The starters menu holds some interesting options, but in truth it’s hard to drag your attention away from the lure of the ceviche. Choose from three options, each containing two or more types of seafood marinated in a variety of fragrant liquids. Priced at R90, the Ceviche de Pescado may seem expensive, but when the dish arrives – tuna, salmon and line fish individually marinated in various flavours, each in their own shot glass, and arranged on a bed of ice – it feels like you’ve won some sort of prize. The tuna in its little pool of coconut milk, chilli and lime is fresh and fragrant, and the salmon, swimming in orange juice flavoured with ginger and peppers, is a delicate treat. A further starter of tamal camarones – steamed masa parcels with prawns and a fantastic tomatillo sauce – is equally impressive.

Moving on to mains, we delve into grilled tuna with adobo marinade (served with a choice of rice cooked with green chillies – delicious) and marinated chicken with lots of peppers, onions and chillies, served with small, soft tortillas. Really, there’s nothing to fault here – the food is uniformly excellent.

The interior. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

The interior. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

I’d love to say we investigated the dessert selection as well – they serve their churros with a chocolate and dulce de leche sauce, for goodness’ sake – but in truth the mains portions were so substantial we couldn’t even consider it. It’s something to keep in mind for the next visit.

This is Mexican dining for special occasions and big budgets. The quality is undeniably excellent and the portions generous.


Being a Mexican restaurant, the wine list is concise but well selected, with enough choices to suit the basic and the blowout budget. But really, tequila is the name of the game here, and they deliver with quite a few tempting margaritas (including a pomegranate version that I’d very much like to try in future) and no less than 18 tequila and mezcal options.

The bar at Del Mar. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

The bar at Del Mar. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.


Very attentive. Staff members show a thorough knowledge of the menu and are happy to make recommendations. Some small, nervous mishaps here and there, but nothing that will ruin your evening, and it’s early days yet.


Classy, clean lines set the tone. There is nothing superfluous in the décor; everything speaks of quality and careful consideration. Crisp white tablecloths over dark wooden furniture are adorned with quality stemware, and I am particularly taken with the variety of custom crockery in grey and charcoal, which have clearly been selected to let the food shine. The place to be, if you can get it, is at one of the tables facing the beach, where big windows slide open to let the night drift in.


The fact that you pay separately for some of the accompaniments – like the salsas and guacamole – does mean the bill runs up rather quickly. Keep in mind perhaps that you get what you pay for – the guacamole at R40, for example, is almost ridiculously moreish, and enough for two (theoretically, that is; I had severe trouble parting with the bowl).

Eat Out critics dine anonymously and pay for their meals in full. Read the editorial policy here.

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