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Cape Town, South Africa: 10 Food Stops During Your Trip to Cape Town

This year I had the beautiful (and unexpected) opportunity to visit my sister while she was living and working in Cape Town, South Africa. Cape Town is full of history and diversity, some aspects deeper and darker than others. This has consequently resulted is a diverse palate of dishes, both local and imported. All around the city, you can try different fresh foods, at surprisingly reasonable prices for the quality. We took full advantage of this, stopping by as many restaurants, bars, cafes, and carts as we could. From that, I compiled a list of some of our favorite food stops in Cape Town…

1. Eat Seafood Along the Waterfront

Cape Town is situated right on the water, making it the perfect location to get some fresh seafood. Not only that, but CHEAP fresh seafood. We took full advantage of this, eating entire seafood dinners for a quarter of the price we would have in the United States. Try some oysters, sushi, shellfish, and fish & chips (yes, fish & chips is a popular imported dish here). One common suggestion is to try Snoek, a white fish local to South Africa that you can find at most seafood restaurants in the area.

Where we went: Boulder Beach Restaurant, Karibu, Kyoto Sushi Garden, Sea Breeze

2. Grab Bunny Chow or a Gatsby Sandwich

for Lunch While Shopping

What is Bunny Chow? (Pictured Left)

Bunny chow is essentially local South African fast food. Take a loaf of bread, hollow out the inside, and fill it to the brim (or over the brim) with the curry of your choice. This is truly the epitome of an “ugly delicious” dish. The best way to describe it is a bread bowl of curry that soaks in the goodness and keeps on giving. If you love curry, you will adore this dish.

Where we ate: Eastern Food Bazaar

(an awesome food market that I highly recommend visiting)

What is a Gatsby Sandwich? (Pictured Right)

When researching Cape Town foods, the Gatsby Sandwich was listed again and again. This is maybe one of the most local foods you can eat in Cape Town, and is definitely a must-try. Essentially, it is a large (really, ginormous, I can’t emphasize this enough) sub with steak, fries, and select vegetables like lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, etc. Pictured above is a “half” order. Meaning, a regular order can easily feed three or four people. Most places offer a plain or spicy version -- of course I ordered some with a little curry spice. Most people recommend Miriam’s Cafe, a sub shop with two locations in Cape City Center, which is a super easy and cheap place to stop by while shopping around Greenmarket Square and other local stores.

Where we ate: Miriam’s Cafe

3. Explore Cape Malay Dishes

Cape Town has a deep, difficult, and diverse history. Because of this, there’s some wonderful diversity in food. I wanted to take full advantage of this and try as much local Cape Malay food as I could. Make sure to try some Cape Malay curries, and local favorites like Bobotie, Koeksisters, and Samosas.

What is Cape Malay Curry?

Cape Malay curry is typically slow-cooked meats and vegetables in a curry sauce that combines both sweet and savory flavors. It often combines cinnamon and ginger flavors with dried apricots and mango. I tried multiple chicken and seafood Cape Malay curries and they were phenomenal!

What is Bobotie? (Pictured Top Left)

The closest thing I can compare Bobotie to is a nice minced meat casserole. It is minced beef or lamb, sometimes baked with raisins, onions, and dried fruit, and topped with a fried egg. Often served with yellow rice, this is a surprisingly sweet but hearty meal to try.

What are Samosas? (Pictured Top Right)

Samosas are fried or baked pastry dough bites, full of savory fillings such as meat, potatoes, or an assortment of vegetables.

Where we ate: Karibu, Miriam’s Cafe, Rose’s Corner Cafe, street food

4. Grab Snacks for Your Drive Down the Cape

Yes! Snacks, snacks, snacks. Mainly droëwers and biltongs, which are essentially jerky from different game. Some popular ones are beef, ostrich, and venison, but you can find a variety of kinds at different markets and local grocery stores. So addicting.

Where we went: Woolworths Grocery Store

5. Relax at the Local Cafes with "Red Lattes"

Ah, I loved the cafes in Cape Town. I love cafes everywhere, but I loved Cape Town for the fact that I could wander in and have a delicious flat white for maybe a dollar. As a coffee addict, this was a dream. Make sure to stop by a few and try a “Red” latte (aka a Rooibos latte) or a flat white, made with classic South African flavors. And don’t forget to drink it along with some rusks! Rusks are biscotti-like treats that are delicious with your coffee.

Where we went: Jason’s Bakery, Tribe Coffee Roasting & Cafe, Honest Chocolate, Deluxe Coffee, Yours Truly

6. Devour South African Desserts

And what’s a trip without satisfying the sweet tooth a little? Luckily, you have a good excuse. There are some local Cape Town desserts you must try if you’re in town: Malva Pudding, Milk Tart, and Koeksisters are the most traditional.

What is Milk Tart? (Pictured Left)

A pastry crust with a custard-like filling.

What are Koeksisters? (Pictured Center)

A Cape Malay dessert that is fried dough with a honey or sweet filling, similar to a donut. I was recommended tasting this at Rose’s Corner Cafe, an unsuspecting corner store that looks over the beautiful Bo-Kaap village. Go up to the register and grab one for a few cents!

What is Malva Pudding? (Pictured Right)

A warm, bread-like, sweet pudding that often contains jams with creamy sauce.

In addition, Cape Town has some amazing local chocolate and toffee. My favorite and an absolute must-try is Honest Chocolate at Honest Chocolate Cafe. I was told to try their dessert version of bunny chow while I was here, and I can honestly say, it might be the best dessert I’ve ever eaten. And that’s coming from someone who lived in Austria. They take warm banana bread, carve out the middle, fill it with homemade ice cream, and then dump some of their locally made chocolate all over it. The cafe is right in the heart of the city, around a ton of fun spots, so it’s super easy to visit and try.

PS. Also grabbed a Peppermint Crisp bar at the grocery store, a Nestle chocolate bar only sold in South Africa which is so delicious if you love some minty chocolate!

Where we went: Rose’s Corner Cafe, Karibu, Honest Chocolate Cafe

7. Gather the Family Around For a Braai

A little bit harder to pull off, but if you’re able, it will be the highlight of your trip. A Braai is essentially a barbecue equivalent in South Africa, full of outdoor goodness, friends & family, and a variety of game (local meats).

We sat around with wine, sausage, salads, and rounded out our meal with braai broodjies while our guide told us about the close relationship he had with Nelson Mendala and his experiences in Cape Town.

What is a Braai Broodjie?

A classic South African side dish at a Braai, a Braai Broodjie is a toasted cheese sandwich, often with tomatoes and onions cooked on the inside.

8. Visit Hip Restaurants Post-Hike

Cape Town is full of some beautiful, fun restaurants. Plenty of drinks, plenty of delicious and surprisingly cheap food, and gorgeous interiors. After some good hikes around Table Mountain National Park, clean off and reward yourself with a stop at a hip spot.

Restaurants We Loved: Kloof Street House, Mulberry and Prince, Kyoto Sushi Garden, The Power and the Glory, Beleza Portuguese, Unfiltered, Sea Breeze, Yours Truly, Tiger Milk

9. Taste-Test Tea at Belmond

I couldn’t resist. The Belmond has a long history in Cape Town, and so does tea time. Rooibos is local to South Africa and often more specifically the Western Cape region. I thought this would be a wonderful place to sit down and get an authentic taste, as a tea lover. Even though we weren’t staying at Belmond, we made a reservation one night in their tea room for some evening tea. It was such a fun experience: we had cocktails, tea sandwiches and treats that were Cape Town-specific, trays of scones and desserts, and unlimited tea. I tried maybe four or five full teapots of different local Rooibos teas and generally was in heaven. If this sounds like a fun way to spend a dinner, it is super filling and I highly recommend it.

10. Take a Wine Tour Around Stellenbosch

This was my favorite thing we did during our trip to South Africa. I did some research, searching the web for the best way to explore the wine region. We didn’t have a car during this visit, but weren’t sold on the “big bus” idea. After looking at a few companies, I actually stumbled upon a tour offered through Airbnb Experiences. And boy, it did not disappoint. We did the “Cape Town with Wine Guru Tour,” priced similarly to most of the day tours I found, but with much more to offer. David only takes up to four people on his tours, is highly credentialed & certified, and is full of an immense amount of knowledge regarding wines and the history of Cape Town. He took us to multiple vineyards where he had a personal relationship with the winemakers, allowing us to have private and intimate tours of each winery, speaking with the winemakers directly, and enjoying wines and spirits that weren’t even listed to the public. We had an excellent time driving around, and were back in time dinner after trying 30+ wines throughout the day. Definitely make this a day trip, you certainly won’t regret it!

Find our whole experience touring with David in Stellenbosch: Western Cape: Winery Tour

Any other suggestions? Let us know!

Written by Emi Lungmus

Photographed by Emi & Jackie Lungmus

Edited by Anna McCarthy


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