The Cape, with its diverse ethnic mix, offers a range of cuisines to tempt any tastes. From the spicy Cape Malay curries to the traditional township fare, unique meats and fresh seafood, dining out in the Cape is bound to be one of your favourite memories of your visit. Food is generally reasonably priced, high quality, and well prepared.
This Cape Restaurants Guide gives a breakdown of what type of cuisine you could expect to find, as well as listing a few restaurants which you may like to try. More general information about food in South Africa can be found by going to our South Africa Restaurants Guide. And to help burn off some of those calories, why not enjoy some of the fantastic shopping in Cape Town - check out our Cape Town Shopping Guide for hints and tips of what souvenirs you make like to take home, and where to find them.
The Cape Peninsula is reknowned for its diverse and delicious cuisine. Whilst in the Cape, you may wish to:
- Savour the fragrant spices and powerful flavours of Cape Malay cooking.
- Experience traditional township meals such as morogo and "samp and beans", at places like Igugu le Africa or one of the Township B&Bs in Cape Town.
- Sample some unique African meats, such as the low fat ostrich steaks or even springbok or kudu.
- Travel along the West Coast where you will find the very best seafood in the Cape, although anywhere along the coast normally offers something fresh and tantalising.
Cape Malay Cooking
Curries and pastries are two of the most popular features of Cape Malay cooking. Fragrant spices are a key ingredient, and give the cuisine its distinctive taste. Particular favourites include:
Bobotie - ground beef and raisins, covered in a creamy crust made of egg
Breyani - with a spicy base made of rice and lentils, breyani also features fish, meat or poultry
Samoosa - minced meat or vegetables in a covered pastry, a popular snack
Koeksister - normal taken with tea or coffee, this is a sweet plaited pastry
African fusion restaurants abound in Cape Town, and a number of them are excellent locations to try some African fare. Unique dishes are created by combining and experimenting with African ingredients and recipes. There is a tremendous amount of variety available on the menus, and as such surely something to please everyone. Established, well-known African fusion restaurants include Mama Africa, on Long Street, and the Africa Café, located in the City Bowl.
The Township Culinary Experiences
If you'd like to try something a bit more authentic, in terms of the types of meals eaten every day by many locals, your best option is to try some of the traditional township fare. As mentioned previously, dishes such as morogo (wild spinach) and "samp'n beans" are popular, as are various wood fired meats. A boisterous "shebeen" (township bar/restaurant) is the best place to enjoy one of these meals.
Meat & Braai (BBQ)
As is the case everywhere else in South Africa, meat is both popular and plentiful. Whether it's the juicy lamb from the Karoo, low fat ostrich steaks from Oudtshoorn, springbok, kudu or even the huge beef steaks on offer, carnivores will find themselves spoiled for choice. The quintessential South African braai is an absolute must if you are offered the opportunity - less a meal than a way of life in South Africa.
If its game meats you're after, you'd be best served going to restaurants specialising in them, such as Lobst's in Paarl and Lapa Lanterfanteer in Gansbaai. One local snack which you may also wish to try is biltong, basically dried meat. Normally made from beef, it is also made from kudu, springbok and ostrich meat. It's especially popular as "padkos", which translates from Afrikaans as food for the road.
The Cape is famous for its wonderful choice of restaurants catering to all budgets and palates. Here's just a sampling of it's best eateries (and some of our personal favourites)...