A lot of people wonder where they can find traditional South African food in Cape Town. To be honest, that is a tricky question. What would be the traditional food in a city so cosmopolite you feel like it’s the 8th continent? On the other hand, it’s also a lucky situation since you get to try different local treats from a spectrum. Here are the most acclaimed and recommended restaurants you must visit for the sake of your stomach.
If you fancy the combination of upbeat African music, high-quality barbeque meat, and affordable prices, Mzoli’s is the best option. When the owner Mzoli Ngcawuzele built the place in the township of Gugulethu in 2003, it was nothing but a butchery selling meat in a garage. Over the past few years, it became a popular destination for Capetonians and tourists. The place also hosts famous South African DJ’s on the weekends.
The variety of meat is enormous, and you get to choose the ones you want to be grilled. Then, you take your selection to the kitchen, where the chefs grill and marinate them with traditional sauces, and side dishes of your choice.
If you visit the place on a Sunday, be prepared for a heaving crowd.
Ethiopian cuisine is quite popular in Cape Town, due to the people who migrated in the past. Timbuktu in Observatory is the most reputable Ethiopian restaurant in Cape Town. The place has a very authentic and quaint decoration, adding to the Ethiopian feel. The food gets served in such a traditional way that they don’t even provide cutlery. Their vegan plates are the highlight, proving that vegan meals can be delicious. The place doesn’t serve alcohol; however, they do allow you to bring alcoholic beverages from outside.
If you are seeking the best steak experience, Hussar Grill is the place to go. Established in 1964 in Rondebosch, this restaurant specializes in grilled steak of many kinds. Later on, they opened new branches in many areas of the city, including Camps Bay and Durbanville. The wide selection of steak dishes includes antelope and zebra meat. If you want more of the meat you have had, it is even possible to purchase a vacuum-packed version of that meat for take-away. Another remarkable feature of the restaurant is that they don’t charge for corkage, which means you can bring your wine from outside without having to pay extra.
Although the restaurants on this list offer authentic tastes, they are not necessarily specific to Cape Town, and you can probably try them in other cities in South Africa, except for the Cape Malay food. Cape Malay people originally arrived in South Africa from places like Malaysia and Indonesia as slaves during the Dutch settlement in Cape Peninsula. When their slavery came to an end, they had to come up with a way to become permanent and self-reliant. So, they developed their craft and cooking skills over time.
The colorful district of Bo-Kaap still preserves the integrity of their cultural identity. The restaurant Biesmiellah is an example of one of the oldest restaurants built in Cape Town. The place looks like the stopover places, with neon lights at the entrance that you would find dodgy. When you go inside, you come across with the friendliest staff and mouth-watering smells of Cape-Malay food. The menu is extensive, the portions are generous, and the main course always comes with many side dishes. If you like trying unique tastes, the distinct sweet & sour – sauced Cape Malay food will put your taste buds and stomach into a Roller Coaster.
Welcome to real African experience right in the center of Cape Town! Established one year after the end of Apartheid, Mama Africa represents the democracy and solidarity of people from diverse backgrounds. The menu enables you to try steak meals that you had no idea existed. These include crocodile, springbok, ostrich, and kudu meats. Besides the excellent steak options, Mama Africa stands out for the live performances that accompany the guests while they enjoy their meal. The stage hosts live performances every day at 8 pm, giving your ears a feast of African soul, jazz, and Marimba music.
Marco’s African Place
If you liked Mama Africa, here is an alternative. Marco, who is the head chef, and owner of the restaurant, is one of the first black restaurateurs of Cape Town. The place was established and fully licensed in 1997. The menu has a wide range of selections, from both African and international cuisine. They are also specialized in Italian cuisine, especially pizza. There is an A La Carte menu as well as set menus, making the ordering quick and easy. Just like Mama Africa, the place offers live performances of Marimba and African Jazz.
Silwood in Cape Town, one of the most prestigious culinary schools in the World. Even with this given knowledge, you would be pleasantly surprised what a fine-dining heaven Cape Town is. The most prestigious and well-acclaimed fine dining restaurant of Africa is in Old Biscuit Mill, Woodstock. The Chef, Luke Dale-Roberts, was born in England and trained in various places, including England, Switzerland, Singapore, Malaysia, and South Korea. His experience and creativity earned him and the restaurants many awards since 2010. The restaurant is known for its 10-course Gourmand menus comprising delicate elements of art and science. That, of course, will cost you 1800 Rand (even more if you decide to add tea or wine pairing into the mixture), but the chef and his staff will go to great lengths to ensure you get every Rand’s worth.
Simon’s at Constantia Groot
The 300 years-old Groot Constantia is the oldest wine farm in Cape Town, where the wine production originated. However, the alley doesn’t only grow grapes but also many kinds of vegetables and herbs. In Simon’s Restaurant at Groot Constantia, you will taste the ripest, the freshest of ingredients from the fields daily. Their menu even changes according to the harvest in every season. Besides the seasonal tastes, they also have their all-time-classic burgers, fish&chips, and deserts. Simon’s Restaurant is only 20 minutes away from the city center.
It is always hard to find a seafood restaurant, where all the different types of fishes and other seafood don’t taste the same. Cafe Orca is the pearl of Cape Town’s Atlantic Coast, a restaurant specialized in offering the highest quality of seafood. Established 21 years ago in Melkbosstrand in the north of the city, this restaurant applies fine dining techniques on various seafood. The menu has a diversity of fresh seafood options from prawn to mussel and calamari. The freshly caught Moroccan Line Fish is the highlight of the restaurant. The portions are so large that you hardly ever finish the whole meal in one go.
Eastern Food Bazaar
The name explains itself pretty much. Eastern Food Bazaar is the place to go if you want to find yourself at the heart of street food in Cape Town. Situated in the Cape Town City Bowl, it is as authentic as you can get because it is popular among the locals as well. The place has various sections, including Cape Malay, Indian, Turkish, Middle Eastern, and Chinese. The food is unbelievably cheap for the portion of food you get and the quality. A proper meal such as butter chicken with rice, or a giant chicken rotti will cost you between 30 and 50 Rands. Portions are so large that many people end up packing them in containers as takeaway food for later.
Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden is probably the greenest area in Cape Town. If you combine a selection of the rarest indigenous plants with a unique African dining experience, you will get Moyo in your hands. Moyo is a restaurant chain that first opened in Johannesburg in 1998 as a small restaurant. Today, it has a total of five branches in Durban, Johannesburg, and Cape Town. From grills to sandwiches, from salad to seafood, everything gets cooked using traditional recipes from all regions of the continent. What makes Moyo exceptional is that you go not only for the food but also for entertainment. The place is available for catering events and functions where dancers with colorful costumes and fancy footwork will entertain you. They even demonstrate traditional ceremonies of African tribes, such as face-painting, so prepare yourself for that!