A Taste of Cape Town: 5 Must-Try Restaurants for Foodies
Cape Town is a food lover’s paradise, boasting a vibrant and diverse culinary scene that reflects the city’s rich cultural heritage. From mouth-watering local cuisine to global flavors, the Mother City offers a wealth of dining options that will satisfy even the most discerning palate.
In this guide, we’ll introduce you to five must-try restaurants in Cape Town that are sure to leave a lasting impression on your taste buds. And what’s even better – if you’re staying in one of our hotels in Cape Town, our central location means you’re only minutes away from all these must-try restaurants we’re about to share 🙂
La Colombe, nestled within the lush folds of the Silvermist Wine Estate on the slopes of the Constantia Valley, is more than just a dining venue—it is a destination where culinary dreams take flight. Under the expert baton of Executive Chef James Gaag, La Colombe has become synonymous with an unparalleled fusion of French and Asian cuisine, all while staying true to its vibrant South African roots.
Upon arrival, you are greeted by the estate’s tranquil beauty, with the restaurant’s architecture blending seamlessly into the natural surroundings, offering breathtaking views that promise to be as spectacular as the food. The interior is a balance of comfort and elegance, with touches of natural wood and stone that complement the exterior’s beauty.
Chef Gaag’s approach to food is both respectful and revolutionary. Drawing on the classical techniques of French cuisine, he infuses each dish with Asian precision and flavour, while also incorporating the boldness of South African influence. The menu at La Colombe is an ever-changing tapestry that reflects the seasonal availability of local produce, ensuring that every visit offers a new narrative of flavours and textures.
The signature dishes of La Colombe speak to the soul of the diner. You might begin with an amuse-bouche that sets the stage, perhaps a delicate arrangement of local scallops, enhanced with hints of yuzu and the crunch of apple. The journey continues, possibly with a perfectly seared duck breast, the richness offset by a tart plum sauce and the subtle spice of ginger. Each course builds on the last, creating a crescendo of culinary emotions.
La Colombe is not just renowned for its food; the wine list is a carefully curated collection, with each bottle chosen to complement the complex flavours of the dishes. The restaurant’s sommeliers are skilled at navigating this liquid library, guiding diners to the perfect pairing, whether it be a crisp local Chenin Blanc or a sumptuous Burgundy.
The pièce de résistance at La Colombe is undoubtedly the Tasting Menu, a showcase of Chef Gaag’s most inventive dishes. This multi-course meal is an exploration of the kitchen’s creativity and passion, an opportunity for guests to fully immerse themselves in the La Colombe experience. Diners are encouraged to place their trust in the chef’s hands, embarking on a gastronomic journey that is both unexpected and unforgettable.
Attention to detail is the cornerstone of service at La Colombe. The staff are more than just attendants; they are storytellers who enhance the dining experience with their knowledge and enthusiasm. Every need is anticipated, every desire met with a discreet efficiency that ensures the food remains the star of the show.
Dining at La Colombe is a form of theatre, where the artistry of the kitchen becomes the performance, the plates are the stage, and the flavours tell a compelling story that lingers long after the curtain falls. In the culinary concert hall of Cape Town, La Colombe is the symphony that food connoisseurs come to hear, a harmonious blend of tradition and innovation played out on the grandest of stages. It’s a world-class act not to be missed, a dining experience that transcends the ordinary and transports you to a realm where every bite is a masterpiece.
In the vibrant hub of Century City, a cosmopolitan district that pulsates with life, Gusto stands out as a culinary sanctuary, a place where the robust flavors of the Mediterranean clasp hands with the soulful tastes of South Africa. The restaurant’s façade is modern and inviting, a prelude to the stylish interior where contemporary design meets casual comfort.
Upon entering Gusto, the warm ambiance is immediately palpable, with soft lighting and earthy tones setting a relaxed scene. The décor is a thoughtful blend of chic and rustic elements, creating a space that feels both upscale and unpretentious. This is a restaurant designed for diners who appreciate the finer things without the formality that often accompanies them.
At the heart of Gusto’s appeal is its unwavering commitment to fresh, high-quality ingredients. The menu is a testament to this, brimming with dishes that celebrate the season’s bounty. Produce is sourced from local suppliers whenever possible, ensuring that each dish not only supports the community but also sings with flavor.
The culinary team at Gusto, led by a chef whose passion for the Mediterranean palette is matched only by his love for South African tradition, delivers a menu that is both innovative and familiar. There’s a sense that every dish has been crafted with a story in mind, with combinations that are as surprising as they are satisfying.
The seafood risotto, one of Gusto’s signature offerings, epitomizes the restaurant’s culinary ethos. Each grain of rice is perfectly al dente, enveloped in a rich stock that carries whispers of the ocean, while the freshest catch of the day is cooked to succulent perfection. It’s a dish that comforts as much as it delights, a true staple for the discerning palate.
For those with a heartier appetite, the lamb shank is a revelation. It’s slow-cooked to a tender submission, the meat falling off the bone with the gentlest nudge. The flavors are robust, with a hint of local herbs and spices that transport you to the rolling hills of the Cape, yet the presentation retains the elegance of a Mediterranean masterpiece.
Desserts at Gusto are not an afterthought but a crowning glory. The chocolate fondant, in particular, is a marvel. The exterior has a subtle crispness, giving way to an oozing heart of molten chocolate that is both rich and nuanced. Paired with a scoop of artisanal ice cream or a dollop of fresh cream, it’s an indulgent finish to a meal that celebrates the diversity and richness of the culinary landscapes it represents.
Gusto isn’t just a restaurant; it’s a dining experience that encapsulates the spirit of Cape Town’s diverse cultural tapestry. It’s a place where each visit promises something new, a discovery of flavors that may be steeped in tradition but are delivered with a fresh, contemporary twist.
In a city that never stands still, Gusto offers a moment of delicious respite, a spot where friends can gather, families can celebrate, and food enthusiasts can indulge in the simple pleasure of a meal that is both thoughtfully prepared and heartily enjoyed. Whether you’re a local or a traveler, Gusto is a must-visit on Cape Town’s culinary map, a destination where every dish is a celebration of the craft of cooking.
Ascending to the top of the Old Biscuit Mill, you find yourself at The Pot Luck Club, a venue that has fast become one of the most fashionable gastronomic destinations in Cape Town. The restaurant is a concept birthed from the innovative mind of chef Luke Dale-Roberts, whose name is synonymous with culinary excellence in the city. Here, perched high above the bustling streets of Woodstock, The Pot Luck Club is both a retreat and a celebration of the communal joy of dining.
The ambiance of The Pot Luck Club is effortlessly cool, with an industrial chic vibe that mirrors the artsy flair of its neighborhood. The space is open and airy, with panoramic windows that offer diners a view of the urban tapestry below. The aesthetic is complemented by an eclectic mix of furnishings and art, which gives the space a creative and inviting feel.
The menu is a vibrant mosaic, an ode to the shared dining experience. It encourages a journey through various flavors and textures, urging diners to embark on a culinary adventure together. The concept of small plates is central to The Pot Luck Club’s offering, with each dish conceived to offer a burst of taste that sparks conversation and delight.
Chef Dale-Roberts has crafted a menu that defies simple categorization, drawing inspiration from the four corners of the globe. There is a discernible Asian influence, where umami is celebrated and harnessed in plates like the miso-glazed aubergine, its silky flesh juxtaposed against a crunch of toasted nuts and seeds. Yet, in the same breath, the menu bows to local South African braai culture with offerings such as the smoked beef fillet, which arrives imbued with the scent of the grill and the earthiness of the local terroir.
A visit to The Pot Luck Club isn’t complete without delving into the array of bold dishes, each with its own identity and story. The fish sliders, for instance, are a playful nod to street food but elevated with the freshest local catch and a zesty Asian slaw. In another dish, the simple act of breaking bread is transformed into a sensory experience with house-made bread served alongside a trio of inventive butters.
The beverage selection at The Pot Luck Club is as thoughtfully curated as the food menu. It features a range of local and international wines, artisanal cocktails, and craft beers that are selected to complement the global flavors of the dishes. The staff are knowledgeable and eager to recommend pairings that elevate the dining experience to new heights.
As evening descends, the restaurant transforms with the city’s twinkling lights serving as a backdrop. The atmosphere becomes electric, the hum of conversation mixing with the clink of glasses, as the space fills with locals and travelers alike, all drawn by the restaurant’s reputation as a place where food and culture collide.
The Pot Luck Club is more than a restaurant; it’s a gathering space that celebrates the diverse palate of the city. It’s a spot where food is not just consumed but experienced, a place where each small plate is a canvas for Chef Dale-Roberts’ culinary artistry. For those looking to dine with a sense of discovery and to share in the communal spirit of a meal, The Pot Luck Club awaits with its doors wide open, ready to serve up memories alongside its exceptional fare.
Tucked away in the historic and picturesque quarter of Bo-Kaap, with its brightly painted houses and cobbled streets, is Biesmiellah, a restaurant that stands as a custodian of Cape Malay culinary traditions. This family-run establishment has become a cornerstone of the neighborhood, drawing in visitors with the allure of its authentic flavors and the promise of a dining experience that feels like coming home.
As you step inside Biesmiellah, you’re greeted by the aroma of spices that are foundational to Cape Malay cooking—cardamom, cinnamon, and clove, which mingle in the air, setting the scene for the feast to come. The restaurant’s interiors mirror the vibrancy of the surrounding area with touches of ornate Malay fabrics and artwork that tell the story of the community’s rich heritage.
The menu at Biesmiellah is a loving tribute to the recipes passed down through generations. It’s a tapestry of the Cape’s history, each dish narrating a part of the Cape Malay story. The cuisine is renowned for its delicate balance of sweet and savoury, expertly blended spices, and comforting, hearty textures.
A standout dish, bobotie, is a must-try for those new to the cuisine. It’s a delectable mix of minced meat and fragrant spices, with a golden custard topping that’s lightly browned under the grill—a reflection of the diverse culinary influences that have come together in Cape Malay cooking. Denningvleis, another traditional fare, features lamb stewed in a tantalizingly tangy and sweet sauce that is rich in tamarind and bay leaves, creating layers of deep flavor.
No visit to Biesmiellah would be complete without indulging in their koeksisters—a sweet treat that is emblematic of the area. These twisted, syrupy pastries are a delightful confection, crunchy on the outside, and soaked in a sweet spiced syrup, making them irresistibly moist inside. Served as a perfect end to the meal or as a tea-time snack, they embody the fusion of sweet, spicy, and comforting that is a hallmark of the cuisine.
Biesmiellah’s commitment to authenticity extends beyond its menu. The hospitality offered by the staff is a reflection of the warm, communal spirit that is integral to Cape Malay culture. Here, service is delivered with a personal touch; patrons are not just customers but guests, treated with the kind of hospitality you’d expect from a visit to a Malay family home.
For decades, this restaurant has not only been a place to eat but also a venue for cultural exchange and a living archive of culinary history. It’s where locals come for a taste of the past, and where visitors come to learn about the cultural melting pot that is Cape Town. The experience of dining at Biesmiellah is akin to being let in on a family secret, being shared a piece of heritage that is as much about the stories and the setting as it is about the food on the plate.
Biesmiellah is an invitation to explore the depth and breadth of Cape Malay cuisine, to embark on a journey through taste that is as colourful and vibrant as the Bo-Kaap itself. It is a testament to the power of food to preserve culture, to bring people together, and to offer comfort. In the bustling tapestry of Cape Town’s dining scene, Biesmiellah is a gem that continues to shine, cherished by those who know it as a beacon of tradition and a home for the heart and palate.
In the energetic urban landscape of Cape Town, Kloof Street stands out as a pulse point of the city’s social life. Amid this vibrancy, Kloof Street House offers an oasis of culinary delight, housed within the embrace of a Victorian building that whispers tales of a bygone era. This venue is a seamless blend of history and modernity, providing an atmospheric retreat from the bustling street outside.
Upon entering the premises, you are met with a sense of nostalgia. The restaurant’s eclectic decor, with its rich, velvety textures, antique furnishings, and ornate fixtures, feels like a portal to a time where every meal was an occasion. The setting is as much a feast for the eyes as the menu is for the palate, with an enchanting garden that brings a touch of nature to the dining experience. As evening falls, the soft glow of fairy lights transforms the garden, enhancing the magical ambience that is Kloof Street House’s signature.
The cuisine is a celebration of global flavors, curated with a contemporary flair while remaining approachable and diverse. The menu caters to a wide range of tastes and dietary preferences, featuring dishes crafted to invoke curiosity and satisfy discerning gourmands. The chefs at Kloof Street House have a knack for creating plates that are both familiar and novel, allowing guests to embark on a gastronomic journey from the comfort of their seats.
Steaks at Kloof Street House are a testament to the kitchen’s finesse, with cuts of meat that are chosen for their quality and prepared to perfection. Each steak is a tribute to the art of grilling, with the inherent flavors of the meat enhanced by just the right amount of seasoning and char. Seafood dishes are equally compelling, offering the freshest catch prepared with an innovative twist that honors the ocean’s bounty.
For those seeking plant-based indulgence, the vegetarian options are far from an afterthought. Inventive and satisfying, the vegetarian cuisine here challenges the notion that meatless dishes lack excitement. Ingredients are combined in a way that each bite brings an array of textures and flavors, proving that creativity in the kitchen knows no bounds.
Desserts at Kloof Street House are a grand finale not to be missed. The chocolate fondant, with its molten heart, is a rich and indulgent dessert that chocolate lovers will find irresistible. Meanwhile, the baked cheesecake has earned its fame honestly, with a creamy consistency and a crust that offers the perfect counterpoint, showcasing the pastry team’s expertise.
Kloof Street House isn’t just a restaurant; it’s a dining experience that touches all the senses. The background music is carefully selected to complement the mood, never overpowering but enhancing the auditory experience. The service is attentive and intuitive, with a team that understands the importance of detail and the value of personal touch.
This establishment captures the essence of Cape Town’s spirit—its ability to marry the historical with the contemporary, the relaxed with the refined. Here, each meal is an occasion, a moment in time to be savored amidst the theatre of life passing by on Kloof Street. Whether it’s a casual lunch, an intimate dinner, or a celebratory feast, Kloof Street House offers a refuge where the past and present meet, creating memories that, much like the Victorian era architecture, stand the test of time.