The 15 Best Restaurants in Cape Town Right Now
Capetonians love to eat out, but they'll happily abandon popular restaurants in order to try out the newest spots -- this forces restaurants (and chefs) to continually innovate, which makes Cape Town the undisputed culinary capital of South Africa. The cornucopia of delicious wines produced nearby is just a happy little bonus.
With this huge variety of changing eateries to choose from, how's a visitor to know which are the right ones to try? Well, you're in luck: these are the 15 best restaurants in Cape Town right now.
If you want to start a war, just ask a group of people to name the best burger spot in town. Everyone has strong opinion, but there's a reason Jerry’s Burger Bar has expanded from one location to five around the city. A great selection of delicious burgers (like the double-patty "Monster"), plus excellent local craft beers on tap, makes this little chain tough to beat. Pro tip: try the chorizo croquettes starter!
Best sandwich spot
Everyone knows the key to a great sandwich is the bread, and Jason makes some fantastic breads -- from the ciabatta to the sourdough rye, there's not a bad loaf in the bunch. Buy some bread and make your own great sandwiches at home, or save yourself the trouble and tuck into one of the marvelous creations on offer. The menu changes regularly, but if the porchetta sandwich is on the board, order it!
Hemelhijs could also be a contender for best-looking restaurant, with a well-lit interior that's contrasted by dark grey walls. The all-day menu means you can order breakfast as late as you like, and the options are much more sophisticated than a traditional English breakfast; elevate your meal with choices like homemade potato rosti with salmon gravadlax and soft poached egg.
Brunch at Pot Luck Club is quite the affair, and it only happens on Sundays (starting at 11am). There's a set menu of tapas dishes at a fixed price, like fish tacos and springbok carpaccio, and you can pay a surcharge to enjoy unlimited (local) bubbly. Pot Luck Club sits atop a silo at the the Old Biscuit Mill, which means you'll also get some truly amazing views of the city during the day.
If, on the other hand, you'd prefer your brunch on another day of the week, check out Four & Twenty at 23 Wolfe St, Wynberg.
Best late-night food
Unfortunately late-night eating is one of Cape Town’s definite weak spots, since most restaurant kitchens won’t take new orders after 10pm, and some stop even earlier. Don’t succumb to the lure of the 24hr McDonalds, though: visit Junior instead. Yes, it’s still burgers and fries, but it’s the tastier, healthier, more ethical version.
Best for vegetarians
There's a good selection of vegetarian restaurants in Cape Town right now, but Nooka is our go-to top pick. The food is so interesting and delicious, you needn't be a vegetarian to enjoy it -- although once you try the "burger of cheese," you might just make the switch. It's literally a breaded patty made of cheese.
Best restaurant for when you're not paying
The seafood at Kyoto is unsurpassed, but you shouldn't expect sauces and complicated dishes here: the food here is simple and traditional, elevated by the quality ingredients and skillful preparation. Sure, the Japanese coleslaw with crayfish might sound unappealing at first, but it's actually one of the best things on the menu.
Best date spot
There's no better way to describe it: this restaurant is sexy. The décor is opulent but quirky. Dine inside under glorious chandeliers or opt to sit outside and enjoy the garden. Set back from busy Kloof St, this restaurant never fails to impress. For the full experience, arrive early and grab a drink at the gorgeous bar.
There's one small problem with eating at Chefs Warehouse: afterward, no other tapas place will measure up. Every single dish is spectacular, from the roast onion risotto to the ham hock terrine, but we suggest ordering the platter for two. Also, this place doesn’t take reservations, so you'll want to get there early to secure a table.
This tiny Japanese tapas and sushi bar is a total hidden gem. Many people still don’t know about it, but those that do know that it’s one of the best sushi options in town. For those that don’t enjoy sushi or feel like eating something heavier, the menu offers much more than sushi: try the funky-sounding panko pork neck skewers, or the Gyoza (pan-fried dumplings).
Best meal with a view
From the beaches to the mountains, Cape Town is blessed with such incredible scenery that picking one restaurant with the best views is a little tricky. Since plenty of cities offer great sea views go for a more unique experience at Glen Carlou: situated up on a hill with the mountain foothills across the way, the view from this place is spectacular. If you’re an adventurous eater, try the delicious lamb sweetbreads starter -- otherwise, the roasted quail main is unmissable. Try the wine pairing recommendations to elevate your meal even further.
Best cheap eats
Not just cheap, but fun too! The Bazaar holds a huge variety of individual stands, each serving a different type of food -- choose between curry, shawarma, Chinese, pizza, and much more, plus plenty of vegetarian options as well. Order and pay at the central till, then collect your food at each stall, but be forewarned: you'll want to hold onto your valuables, as the two entrances here mean easy escape for thieves.
Best lunch spot
You don’t have to travel far to get to wine farms in Cape Town: Steenberg Vineyards is only about 25 minutes from downtown. Located at the wine tasting centre, Bistro 1682 serves breakfast, lunch, and an early afternoon tapas menu -- it's just about the best lunchtime meal for your money. This place's sustainable fish main course is breathtaking on its own, but the cherry on top of is the savoury butternut churros. Also, the Arancini on the tapas menu is some of the best you'll ever had.
This Portuguese-influenced eatery has served up consistently excellent aquatic fare for many years. Grab a decadent garlic roll as a starter, then spoil yourself with one of the seafood platters -- try the shellfish option, with baby lobster, prawns, and langoustines. Whichever one you get, make sure to ask for plenty of the house peri-peri sauce.
Col’Cacchio has grown into a very successful chain of restaurants, but don't let the word "chain" scare you away -- the pizza's still delicious, and the atmosphere's just the right amount of casual. All the toppings are prepared on-site, so whether you're ordering the tropicale (banana and bacon) or the regina (ham and mushroom), the freshness is truly legit. It's not just about pies here, either: the pasta's great, and the salad menu's just as long as the pizza menu.
Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email, and get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.