It’s time for our annual Rhino Africa Top 5 Cape Town Restaurants and Bars Lists! Some of last year’s contenders made the cut but some have been ousted by fresh talent. Our mercurial Horny Grazer has been rooting around like a truffle hound to bring you the very best that the Cape has to offer. Do you agree with our selection? Any you would add or remove?
We’ve created bite sized lists for every occasion and we’ve added a new category, “Everyday Eating”, for those moments when you just want a decent meal in a decent place. When you’re next in need of some inspiration on where to wine and dine, consult our lists. We do. We do it a lot.
Impress the In-Laws
Many of the restaurants mentioned in the other categories could easily fit in here, but we’ve selected our top 5 for when you need to do a little showing off or warming up to the spouse’s folks.
“Never rely on the glory of the morning nor the smiles of your mother-in-law.” – Japanese Proverb
1. The Greenhouse – 93 Brommersvlei Road, Cellars-Hohenort Hotel, Constantia. It has that greenhouse feel, but with windows looking out at the nine acres of world-renowned gardens, it’s no regular nursery. Superb wines, professional service and top class, creative meals. Tel 021 794 2137.
2. La Colombe – Constantia Uitsig Wine Estate. This foodie and oenophile’s delight will make it tough to ever dine at home again. The top class service, wines and meals in this countryside setting will have the in laws fawning over you. Tel 021 794 2390. Read the review.
3. Bizerca Bistro - 98 Shortmarket Street, Heritage Square. Amazing food and since their relocation to Heritage Square, a location to match. Dishes are meaty and inventive, there are great Cape and French wines and the service is friendly but professional. Tel 021 418 0001.
4. Test Kitchen - Old Biscuit Mill, Woodstock. The name is off-putting; but don’t worry, the food is tried and tested and passes with flying colours. What we love about this popular spot is its NYC loft apartment’ feel, the complexity of the dishes, and the exquisite attention to presentation. It’s food as art. Tel 021 447 2337. Read the review.
5. Planet Bar & Restaurant – Mount Nelson Hotel. The name relates to the modern, cosmic theme, which makes for a unique addition to the colonial hotel set up. It’s perfect for special occasions and the food and wine is less Mars and more Earthly bliss. Tel 021 483 1948. Read the review.
“Why do we love the sea? It is because it has some potent power to make us think things we like to think.” – Robert Henri
1. Bungalow – 3 Victoria Road, Clifton. Where yuppies meet to sniff sea air, clink cocktail glasses and relax in a chic, vibey setting and indulge in Mediterranean dishes. Tel 021 438 5600
2. Harbour House V&A – Quay 5 V&A Waterfront. This new addition to the string of harbour restaurants features beautiful design with bleached wood and glass, delicious fresh seafood and top wines. Tel 021 418 4744.
3. Grand Café and Beach – Haul Road, off Beach Road, Granger Bay. You can’t get much closer to the beach than this, being on a private beach and all… It’s world class dining in a retro-chic setting next to the V&A Waterfront. 021 425 0551 – Read the review.
4. Azure and Leopard Room – Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa. Mountain meets sea, fine wine meets lips, delicious food meets belly. It’s the perfect pairing of the best things in life. Read the review.
5. Salt Restaurant & The Ambassador Hotel – 34 Victoria Road, Bantry Bay. Sea and sunsets, bubbles and oysters. This is what we like most about Salt. It’s also very larny and will make you feel like a million bucks. Not just because you’ll fork out a million bucks. Read the review.
“I’m on a seafood diet – I see food, I eat it.” – Dolly Parton
1. Willoughby and Co - Lower Level, Victoria Wharf, V&A Waterfront. It’s inside a mall, but still has customers coming back for more, and more, thanks to the high quality of its seafood, sushi and service. Tel 021 418 6115.
2. Nobu – One&Only Hotel, V&A Waterfront. The world-famous Nobu has sushi that’ll make you forget about everything else but what’s on your plate. Try the bento box. Add a saki or two to the table and you’ll be “Turning Japanese”. Tel 021 431 4511. Read the review.
3. Kitima - 140 Main Road, Kronendal Estate, Hout Bay. It’s considered by many as the best place to go for Asian in Cape Town. It’s a nice change from things, being situated outside the busy city centre and has killer espresso martinis that will wreck your self-control. Tel 021 790 8004.
4. Haiku – 33 Church St, City Bowl. You’ll get a good feel for the East here, with tasty, traditional Asian dishes you might need a dictionary to decode (from dim sum and Peking duck to daikon, robata and scallop har gau). Wash it all down with their great wines. Tel 021 424 7000.
5. Lucky Fish – Kalk Bay Harbour. This is gourmet fast food, with the standard “fish and chips” knocked up a level . It’s an experience the rest don’t offer. Situated in the harbour, watch fishermen hauling in and preparing fish, seagulls above and seals below. Eat undercover on the benches or on a stroll along the jetty. There are also Ciabatta loaves, croissants, cinnamon twists, Florentines and fried snoek on offer. Tel 021 788 4133.
“My father considered a walk among the mountain as the equivalent of church-going.” – Aldous Huxley
1. Eight Spier – Spier Wine Estate, Stellenbosch. The new Eight Restaurant is a lovely addition to the estate with healthy, tasty meals served either inside or out, under the shade of oak trees, with mountain views. Drink too much of that fine wine and it might end up more the “Sound of Music” with the Cape Winelands mountains instead of the Alps around you. Read the review.
2. Blakes Bar - 189 Buitengracht Street, City Bowl. Not necessarily the best food and drink in town, but one of the best mountain views and très popular with the swanky. It’s multi-levelled and luxurious with an outdoor deck and live music some nights. Tel 076 451 5356/ 021 422 4747.
3. Roundhouse – Kloof Rd, The Glen. Views as good as this are dangerous. They get you thinking and reflecting too much. But it sure is magical here at the Roundhouse, with the mountains above and Camps Bay and the Atlantic Ocean below. The food and wine are some kind of magical too. Tel 021 438 4347.
4. Bistro Sixteen82 – Steenberg Estate, Tokai. Anyone ever tell you Cape Town was the best city in the world? And you believed them right? Because which other city has all that and winelands within its confines? This luxury bistro offers mountain views, rolling lawns, great wines and superb food. Tel 021 713 2211.
5. Café Paradiso – 110 Kloof Street, Gardens. Sit outside with Table Mountain in view and have the fresh pasta of the day. That’s our advice. And the waiters are a good kind of zany. Tel 021 423 8653. Read the review.
Breakfast & Brunch
“All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast.” John Gunther
1. Manna Epicure – 151 Kloof St. A bit like breakfasting at Tiffany’s, it’s considered for ladies who lunch, but it’s also great for anyone wanting to break the fast over a newspaper or laptop or with a friend. (See the photo above for some of what they offer). Tel 021 426 2413.
2. Power & Glory – Kloofnek Road, Tamboerskloof. If you want trendy, this is the place. It pumps at night, but in the mornings maintains its vibe with a slower pace for you to enjoy great coffee and meals at before or during work. Sit at the counter and look out the open windows at city life. Tel 021 422 2108.
3. Jason Bakery - Cnr Bloem and Bree Streets, Cape Town. Beer, bread and bubbles. Regulars love the much talked-about gourmet sandwiches and pastries, as well as the range of beers and the great Deluxe coffeeworks coffee. Closed Saturdays and Public Holidays. Tel 021 424 5644.
4. Olympia Cafe & Deli – Main Rd, Kalk Bay; Situated in the seaside Hippie-ville of Kalk Bay, this is a great corner cafe to breakfast or brunch at with the sea and mountain in view. Excellent pastries and soups, and kooky people behind the coffee machine (and outside). Tel 021 788 6396.
5. Old Biscuit Mill Market – Cape Town’s lovechild will never do you wrong. Go on a Saturday and enjoy the flurry of market life, with a range of fresh and unique breakfasts on offer, plus treats to take home for later. Tel 021 462 6361. Read the review.
“Burgundy makes you think of silly things; Bordeaux makes you talk about them, and Champagne makes you do them.” – Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin
1. Delaire Graff – Helshoogte Pass, Stellenbosch. No one leaves here easily. The restaurant at this world class wine estate offers unbeatable mountain views, wine tasting and sit down meals of the highest calibre. And prices… Tel 021 885 8160. Read more here.
2. Overture - Hidden Valley Wine Estate, Annandale Road, Stellenbosch. Excellent, creative dishes that stand out, with great wines served by people who know wine well. It also has one of the greatest views of any winelands restaurant. Tel 021 880 2721. Read the review.
3. Terroir - Kleine Zalze Wine Estate, Stellenbosch. A family-owned wine farm, award-winning chenin blanc and shiraz, oak trees and views over De Zalze golf course and vineyards. Tel 021 880 8167.
4. Jordan - Stellenbosch Kloof Road, Stellenbosch. Warm, family feel with a terrace overlooking a lush lawn and lake, paired with exquisite food and wine. Sip wine under the shade of a tree. Tel 021 881 3612.
5. Makaron – Majeka House, 26-32 Houtkapper Street, Paradyskloof, Stellenbosch. Eclectic and bold design that’s hard to miss and an excellent a la carte menu and great wines. We recommend a final drink in the M-Lounge or cigars, Cognac and Armagnac in the glassed off cigar lounge. Tel 021 880 1549. Read the review.
Cheap ‘n Cheerful
“I have enough money to last me the rest of my life, unless I buy something.” – Mason, Jackie
1. Woodlands – Best pizzas in town, in our opinion! And loads of character… in every way, from the decor to the service. We could eat here every night if we didn’t have to watch out figures. Tel 021 801 5799. Read the review
2. El Burro - 81 Main Road, Green Point. A great Mexican food joint with authentic traditional fare. This is a restaurant oozing in colour and character; you’ll struggle to pick between ogling your food, the decor or your date. Tel 021 433 2364. Read the review.
3. San Julian - 3 Rose St, Bo-Kaap. Real Mexican food served by real Mexicans in a restaurant owned by real Mexicans. You don’t get much more genuine than this. It’s great fun when the tequila flows and the sombreros come out. Tel 021 419 4233. Read the review
4. Chef Pon’s Sawaddee - 10–12 Rheede Street, Gardens. A firm favourite when it comes to Thai food and sushi, at reasonable prices, with a fish tank and Thai decor adding the exotic flair. Tel 021 422 1633 .
5. Dogs Bollocks – 6 Roodehek Street, off Buitenkant Street. Apparently the best burgers in town and definitely the biggest, including a jalapeno cheese and the old-school 1950s-style mega slider, wrapped in newsprint and served out of a garage. This is the new hip spot to meet for cholesterol-loaded food and organic wine, served by a crazy, charismatic Brit. Tel 083 440 7843.
“The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook.” - Julia Child
1. Carne SA – 70 Keerom Street, City Bowl. We didn’t realise meat could be served in so many forms until we dined here. Carpaccios, veal tongue, biltong salad, steak tartare, slow-baked lamb shoulder ravioli, any steaks cut any way you like… Served in a modern and upmarket, yet warm setting. Tel 021 424 3460
2. Nelson’s Eye - 9 Hof Street, Gardens. The Real Deal Old-School Steakhouse, is how it’s touted. A favourite with locals; their meat never lets you down… Tel 021 423 2601.
3. Reuben’s – One&Only Hotel, V&A Waterfront. They do many different dishes but their steak is definitely notable. And there’s a wall of wine bottles to indulge in. Tel 021 431 5222. Read the review.
4. Hussar – Somerset Rd, Green Point. The Hussar is an experience! Excellent steak and wines in a gentleman’s setting ; it’s almost like being in a Cleudo boardgame with the tall book shelves and cognac and cigar bar. Wear a waistcoat and bring the pipe. Tel 021 433 2081. Read the review.
5. The Grillroom - Huguenot Street, Heritage Square, Franschhoek. Decor is typical of a steakhouse, while the wine list surpasses expectations. The meat is some of the best we’ve tasted, with the advantage of dining out in the countryside. Tel 021 876 2548.
Every Day Food
“Food is an important part of a balanced diet.” – Fran Lebowitz
Everyday I’m shuffling… food into my mouth. Where are those great places to go for an everyday meal that’s not too expensive but classy enough to not be on a sidewalk?
1. Maria’s – This is one of our favourites. We dine here at least three times a month. Wholesome, filling Greek food, great wines and an outdoor setting, between the trees, with a European plaza feel to it. It’s only a minute’s walk from our offices. Lucky us. Read the review.
2. La Boheme – Main Road, Sea Point. One of Cape Town’s best bistros, with good, simple food at reasonable prices, a great tapas menu and up to 60 wines on offer. Sit outside when it’s warm. 021 434 8797
3. Burrata - The Old Biscuit Mill, 373-375 Albert Road, Woodstock. One of the city’s best that has diners coming back for more. Trendy set up with facebrick walls and great and diverse Italian food.
4. Mitico – 71 Kloof Street, Gardens. Fill your tummy with this new Italian spot’s delicious pizzas, made according to a secret family recipe, and you won’t be disappointed. Tel 021 422 2261.
5. Van Hunks – Corner Kloof and Upper Union Street Gardens. A great regular to go to with friends or a date for something casual and contemporary, with wholesome meals and great wines and beers. Goldilocks would call it… just right. Tel 021 422 5422. Read the review.
“Sobriety diminishes, discriminates, and says no; drunkenness expands, unites, and says yes.” – William James
1. Tjing Tjing Rooftop Bar - 165 Longmarket Street, City Bowl. Heady cocktails and moreish tapas are served on the balcony of this rooftop bar, where a cosmopolitan mix of people meet. Nights can end quite late when the drinks flow and music plays. Tel 021 422 4920.
2. &Union - 110 Bree Street, St Stephen’s Church, CityBowl. Sausage, meat, mustard… and a ping pong table. This one’s sure to stay on our list for some time. The first proper beer bar in South Africa, it promises a good night out with excellent grub and good-looking patrons to boot. Tel 021 422 2770.
3. Orphanage Cocktail Emporium - Corner of Bree & Orphan Street, City Bowl. This trendy new specialist cocktail club and eatery makes for a great drinks spot. It’s small and intimate and you can stand inside or out. While not cheap, it’s a bar in the true sense of the word. Tel 021 424 2004.
4. French Toast Wine & Tapas Bar - 199 Bree Street, City Bowl. French-style wine bar in a two -level converted warehouse outfitted with plush leather couches and floor to ceiling windows. Expect excellent wine and tapas! Tel 021 422 4084. Read the review.
5. Daddy Cool Bar & Sky Bar – 38 Long Street, City Bowl. Daddy Cool Bar – the name says it all. This is one bling joint. Bubbles and cocktails in a chic setting with DJs some nights. The Sky Bar with its wooden deck and vintage Airstream trailers has views of Table Mountain and the city, with a Bedouin tent for cover. Tel 021 424 7247.
“If I can’t drink my coffee three times a day, I shrivel up like a piece of roast goat.” – J.S. Bach
1. Bean There Coffee Roastery – 58 Wale Street, City Bowl. Coffee lovers adore this quaint roastery, offering coffee from Ethiopia, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Kenya. Friendly barristers and quaint, unique interiors. Tel 087 943 2228.
2. Bread, Milk & Honey – 10 Spin Street, City Bowl. Our neighbourhood caffeine fix, with an intimate feel, bubbly service, excellent coffee, tasty snacks and buffets for breakfast and lunch. It’s like being at home and having someone else make your favourite cuppa for you. Tel 021 461 8425.
3. Loading Bay - 30 Hudson Street, Die Waterkant. Hipster capital, with a variety of coffees and a hip layout inside and out. Bring your fixie bicycle and grab a cuppa before or during work. Tel 021 425 6320.
4. Haas – 67 Rose Street, BoKaap. On the outskirts of the CBD, this small, quirky coffee shop has excellent coffees and pastires, with seats inside and out. Plus, it’s the only place we know of where you can buy the very sought-after (read: expensive) Indonesian Kopi Luwak beans. Google them. Tel 021 422 4413.
5. Gusto - 117 Hatfield Street, Gardens. A favourite of ours since it’s on the route to work. It’s small, one of those places where everyone knows your name and the coffee is great. There are sweet and savoury treats on offer too. Tel 021 461 7868.
Read more about Coffee here.
Read about our favourite Durban restaurants here.