There’s more to Bo-Kaap than its liquorice-allsorts painted houses. A leisurely lunch or dinner is the best way to get a flavour of the stories this colourful, cobbled neighbourhood has to tell.
Set high above the colourful cobbled streets of Bo-Kaap with sweeping views of Table Mountain, Bo-Kaap Kombuis is one of the best spots to sample the city’s distinctive Cape Malay cuisine. Yusef and Nazli, who both grew up in the neighbourhood, launched the restaurant as a cafe, but patrons soon wanted more than cakes. These days, you’ll find Malay staples like bobotie (curried meat with fruits and a creamy gold topping), denningvleis (tender lamb marinated in citrus, cardamom and aniseed) and bredie (tomato stew). Top it off with some koesiesters, which are dusted with sugar and drenched in syrup.
7 August Street, Schotsche Kloof
Kloof Street House
Set in a magnificent Victorian house, Kloof Street House is quite possibly the most romantic restaurant in Cape Town. Balmy summer nights are best spent under a canopy of trees in the fairy-light-festooned garden, while in winter the candle-lit brasserie beckons. There are plenty of nooks and comfy chesterfield couches to curl up on too. It’s not all about superstar good looks here though, the food is excellent. Ingredients are local, free-range and responsibly sourced and dishes are best shared. Book a table for lunch on a Sunday and you can tuck into your meal to the sounds of live jazz too.
30 Kloof Street Gardens
The vulnerable Biesmiellah has been going strong for more than 40 years, a testament to how good it is. If it’s sumptuous decor and sparkling service you’re after, you’ll need to look elsewhere – food takes centre stage here. Start with a plate of daltijes (spicy chickpea chili bites) and samoosas (fried pastry stuffed with spiced potatoes, onions and peas), then tuck into a hearty plate of melt-in-your-mouth Butter Chicken – it’s a hit with locals. True to its Cape Malay traditions, the cuisine is halal and no alcohol is served. Instead, indulge in a falooda (rose water milkshake).
2 Wale St & Pentz St
For an elevated dining experience, head to the heady heights of Utopia. Set on the 15th floor of the Capital Mirage building, guests can enjoy 360-degree views of the Mother City from one of Cape Town’s highest restaurants. The stylish dining room features floor-to-ceiling windows for year-round views, while outdoors you’ll find larger communal tables and comfy lounge seats. You can order a la carte, but we recommend splashing out on the five-course tasting menu. Be warned though, it’s a popular spot and reservations are essential: the staff don’t take kindly to attempted walk-ins.
15th Floor, 40 Chiappini Street
Marco’s African Palace
Marco’s isn’t the only African restaurant in town, but it’s certainly the liveliest. Guests can enjoy top-notch entertainment every night of the week, from Afro-jazz and Congolese kwasa-kwasa to traditional Xhosa beats and local marimba. The food is just as varied, with a menu that showcases the ‘best of Africa’: generous game-meat platters, crocodile carpaccio, ulwimi (steamed ox tongue) and Madagascar Sptingbok, all washed down with home-brewed African beer. Bring your dancing shoes, the tunes continue long into the night.
15 Rose Lane
Take a stroll along trendy Long Street and it’s impossible to miss Madam Taitou. The tree house-inspired space is crammed full of eclectic furniture covered in animal skins, enormous plants stuffed into clay plant pots and beautiful African art perched against the walls. Locals have billed it as the ‘best Ethiopian restaurant in Cape Town’ too. Menu crowd-pleasers include the Kifto (lean beef in spiced butter served with cottage cheese topped flatbreads), Sergenya (festive platter) and Shiro Wot (spiced chickpea flour cooked in Berbere sauce). Finish off with a stamping cup of Ethiopian coffee.
77 Long Street
South China Dim Sum Bar
Keep walking along Long Street and, right at the end of the aptly-titled road, you’ll find South China Dim Sum Bar. You might presume it will be easy to find, given its accolades and rave reviews, but this diminutive dumpling bar is easy to miss. Chef Ed Hung has run the restaurant for more than a decade and it’s since become a local institution. Portions and prices are small, with a menu featuring a wide range of dim sum, steaming hot dumplings, noodles and rice bowls. The menu is designed for sharing, so make sure you bring along a pal with good taste.
289 Long Street
VIXI Social House
Located on bustling Bree Street, VIXI Social House offers brilliant beats, booze and food. The mostly Mediterranean-inspired menu features meze-style dishes, generous salads, flatbread, pasta and grilled dishes. Head to the deli counter to choose your steak cut and stick around to watch the chef cook it up and top it with five signature flavours. Or, if you’re visiting during the day, order a steaming cup of coffee made at their very own micro-roastery. After midnight the tables are clear to make room for live DJ sets and dancing until the early hours.
49 Bree Street