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.
Jerry’s Burger BarAddress and Info
Observatory, Kloof (& other locations)
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
Jason BakeryAddress and Info
Cape Town City Centre
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!
HemelhuijsAddress and Info
Cape Town City Centre
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.
The Pot Luck ClubAddress and Info
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
JuniorAddress and Info
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
Nooka CaféAddress and Info
Cape Town City Centre
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
Kyoto Garden SushiAddress and Info
Cape Town City Centre
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
Kloof Street HouseAddress and Info
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.
Chefs Warehouse and CanteenAddress and Info
Cape Town City Centre
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.
Izakaya MatsuriAddress and Info
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
Glen Carlou Wine EstateAddress and Info
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
Eastern Food BazaarAddress and Info
Cape Town City Centre
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
Bistro 1682Address and Info
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.
PigalleAddress and Info
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’CacchioAddress and Info
All around Cape Town
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.
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1. Jerry's Burger Bar123 Lower Main Road, Cape Town
2. Jason Bakery185 Bree st, Cape Town
3. Hemelhijs71 Waterkant St, Cape Town
4. Pot Luck Club373-375 Albert Rd, Cape Town
5. Junior16 Kloof Nek Rd, Cape Town
6. Nooka Café20 Roeland St, Cape Town
7. Kyoto Garden Sushi11 Kloof Nek Rd, Cape Town
8. Kloof Street House30 Kloof Street, Cape Town
9. Chefs Warehouse and Canteen92 Bree St, Cape Town
10. Izakaya MatsuriShop 6, The Rockwell, Cape Town
11. Glen Carlou Wine EstateKlapmuts-Simondium Road, Klapmuts
12. Eastern Food Bazaar96 Longmarket St, Cape Town
13. Bistro 168212 Ebony Rd, Cape Town
14. Pigalle55 Somerset Rd, Cape Town
15. Col Cacchio7 Wale St, Cape Town
There are two reasons Jerry’s Burger Bar has expanded from one location to five around the city—the atmosphere and the burgers. A diverse selection of juicy burgers brings in hungry diners, who stay to enjoy the casual party vibe of the Bar. Local craft beers are always in rotation on the taps, and Jerry's offers Cape Town drinkers a huge cocktail list—everything from classic Manhattans to giant sharable concoctions served in jugs. Dark wood and neon lights give this mini-chain a dive bar feel, but there's no dive bar sloppiness here, just house-made burgers piled with toppings and enough booze for everyone in the Observatory neighborhood.
Jason Bakery, arugably Cape Town's most inventive bakery, makes some of the best breads and pastries in South Africa. From the ciabatta to the sourdough to the rye, all of their breads are worth trying, either at home or in the form of one of the bakery's sandwiches. The sandwich menu rotates regularly, but the signature porchetta is homemade and not to be missed. Besides the porchetta, Jason is known for their unique donuts, which come in both regular and "doughssant" varieties, always covered with melty sauces and crazy toppings. A biker bar cool atmosphere keeps the crowd mostly young and hip, and this place is mega popular so seating is tough to find—arrive early.
Hemelhijs could be a contender for best-looking restaurant in Cape Town, with its sunny, well-lit interior contrasted by dark grey walls and furniture straight from a Dutch painting. The all-day menu means you can order breakfast as late as you like, and the options are more sophisticated than your average diner with choices like cinnamon dumplings and their signature home made potato rösti. The menu and the decor (which is usually for sale) change regularly during the year directed by chef/designer Jacques Erasmus. This hip and stylish restaurant is a majorly popular destination for weekend brunch, so make sure to get there early.
Sitting on top of the Old Biscuit Mill on Albert St., Pot Luck Club commands some of the best views of Cape Town while serving up inventive tapas-style food. The small plates, divided up into the five main flavors (salty, sweet, sour, bitter, umami), are designed for sharing and trying new tastes, and the dishes are constantly changing so there's always something new to try. A huge menu of drinks can complement anything you order, from sparkling wine to aged bourbon and local ales and ciders. Known for their extravagant brunches (with bottomless champagne), this restaurant is extremely popular so reservations are reccommended.
One of the few spots for real late night eating in Cape Town is Junior's, which serves up classic, simple burgers and fries until all hours of the night. Tastier and more juicy than any of the fast food options around town, Junior's never freezes their patties, bakes all their buns in-house, and cuts fresh potatoes every day. In the style of classic California burger kitchens, the interior is bright and clean with high stools for seating and quick counter service. Juniors also serves donuts and milkshakes that change week-to-week, and has several local brews available. There are no reservations and limited seating here, so take-away is your best bet.
One of Cape Town's more upscale cafes, Nooka Cafe is a vegetarian haven with handcrafted espresso beverages and Middle Eastern-inspired plates. You don't need to be a vegetarian to enjoy the food here, though—their signature dish is the "burger of cheese," a breaded patty of creamy cheese. Dark and cool, this is a quiet and romantic spot perfect for one-on-one conversations. It's a small restaurant that doesn't take reservations, so make sure to get there early for a seat.
Cape Town's best seafood is to be found at Kyoto Garden Sushi on Kloof Nek Rd. The quality 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 signature Japanese coleslaw with crayfish might sound a little strange at first, but it's actually one of the best things on the menu. A simple pairing of sushi and sake is available, and seats are limited. This classic, elegant sushi garden in the heart of Cape Town does take reservations, and seating is limited at the sushi bar.
If you're trying to set the mood with your significant other, take him or her to Kloof Street House in the Gardens, where the red furniture and opulent decor creates an utterly sexy atmosphere. Whether you are dining under chandeliers in the dining room or enjoying the weather in the garden, you can indulge in decadent cuts of beef, such as lamb rump, ostrich fillet and wagyu beef. The many rooms and enclosed spaces in Kloof Street House are also available to rent out privately, so it makes the perfect place for birthdays, anniversaries and parties.
Chefs Warehouse and Canteen in Cape Town City Centre might just be the best tapas place in Cape Town. The platter for two is the best option for sampling a bit of everything, and make sure to allot an hour or two for your dining experience as the tapas come out in multiple courses. The no-frills decor leaves the focus on the food, and the ingredients that are very beautifully displayed along the wall make it feel like every table is an exclusive chef's table. The restaurant doesn't allow you to make reservations, so showing up early is key to securing a spot.
This hidden gem in Green Point is the best place in Cape Town to grab a few sushi rolls or Japanese tapas. The always-packed sushi bar creates a bustling atmosphere for customers, and the outdoor patio is a perfect spot for nice days. If you're interested in more than a quick bite, the menu boasts substantial entrees, and the authentic Japanese flavors will have you coming back for more.
Glen Carlou Wine Estate in Klapmuts sits on a hill with mountain foothills in the distance, so its restaurant has one of the most spectacular dining views in the Cape Town area. For a daring choice, order the roasted quail main and the lamb sweetbreads starter. The shaded terrace deck is the perfect place to get deep into the wine paring recommendations, and make sure to peruse the vineyards while you're there to walk off any food or wine coma you might have.
If you're plagued with indecision, head to Cape Town City Centre and visit Eastern Food Bazaar, which contains 10 separate stands that feature foods such as curry, Chinese, pizza and many vegetarian options. You order and pay at the central till and then collect your order from the correct stall. This is fast food at its most fun, and the lively atmosphere will have you wanting to try something from each stall.
Bistro 1682 overlooks gardens at an expansive winery, but you don't have to travel far to get there. It is located in the Steenburg Vineyards' wine tasting center, which is only a 25 minutes' drive from downtown. The early afternoon tapas menu lets you sample and taste many of the restaurant's best flavors, and the fish selections are some of the freshest you can get in the Cape Town area. The must-have on the menu, however, are the surprisingly savory butternut churros. After you meal, make sure to walk around the beautiful fountains and gardens that surround the bistro.
Pigalle in Greenpoint features many Portuguese-inspired menu items, including a house peri-peri sauce that is authentic to its origin. It specializes in seafood, and the seafood platters are the best way to sample a bit of everything on the menu. With a cigar bar, extensive champagne list and cocktail bar, there's no way to not indulge at Pigalle. The dimly lit atmosphere makes it the perfect place to take a date or discuss business matters over a heaping plate of shellfish.
Col’Cacchio is a chain pizza restaurant with locations all around Cape Town, but the quality of their pizza is something you rarely find at a chain. The restaurants give off the perfect casual vibe, but only you take a bite of the pizza, you'll feel like you're in a fine dining establishment. The restaurant prepares all the toppings on site, so any pizza you order comes packed with freshness. If you're not feeling pizza, the pasta and salads menu is just as long and varied as the pizza list.