As travelers seek out authentic experiences, I continue to find myself making food-first destination decisions. I knew that Cape Town is a city overflowing with epicurean entrepreneurs carving their niches in the local food scene. From quiet, hidden coffeehouses to bustling city markets, there’s so much to see, taste, and explore!
Let me guide you through a food-centric adventure from the outskirts to the lively heart of the ‘Mother City’, with my tips on where to stay, stroll, and enjoy some scenic views.
DINING AROUND CAPE TOWN’S CITY BOWL
On your way up to photograph the colorful Cape Malay neighborhood of Bo Kaap – in my opinion, an Instagrammer’s dream of kaleidoscopic colored houses – step inside the Honest Chocolate Cafe for one of their “Banana Bread Bunny Chow” a hand-crafted dessert made with raw organic cacao. Tucked away just beyond the Honest Chocolate courtyard is one of Cape Town’s best kept secrets: the Gin Bar. Their ever-changing menu is comprised of four drink specials each night, with creative flavors (such as sherbert) shining through. Make sure you head back after the sun sets for a drink.
CENTRAL BUSINESS DISTRICT (CBD)
A patchwork of trendy restaurants have popped up on Bree Street within the past decade, making it a prime scene for gourmet-seeking, food-loving locals. The atmosphere at Charango Grill + Bar paired with the patio and large open window views make it an incredible people watching over tuna tacos. Just up the road, Bacon on Bree specializes in expertly cured bacon. This casual joint is known for its quality food and craft beers. When you’re ready for a nightcap, wander just a bit further up the road for drinks with a roaring 20’s feel at Orphanage.
Kloof Street, another Cape Town favorite street to stroll for gourmet grazing, has something for everyone. Lined with a medley of restaurants, cafes, pubs, and eateries, browse the antique shops, grab a sweet treat from a local bakery, and take in the unique cultural vibes.
Kloof Street House won us over with a stylish, witty, and amiable staff, and charming ‘chill fine-dining’ experience. Their menu (printed on silver paper – how cool!) offers a variety of delicious dishes- not to mention all of their meat is free-range, grass-fed, and locally sourced.
Travel Tip: When making plans to stroll the Cape Town City Bowl, keep in mind that weekends in are a bit sleepy. Slowing down Saturday afternoon, many shops and restaurants close until Monday morning.
South of Kloof Street, walk the paths along the grassy Company’s Gardens, where you’ll enjoy the sheer beauty of timeworn oaks, fresh herb beds, and cultivated pear trees.
Just beyond the exit you’ll find the Mount Nelson Hotel – one of the city’s most noteworthy five-star resorts (I love their bar – we went there for drinks after an instameet I hosted in with #LoveCapetown).
*Travel Tip: Give your feet a rest. Stop in the Mangwanani African Spa (space pictured above), a casual space in St George’s Mall in the centre of Cape Town, for a treatment. These ladies give a mean shoulder rub and foot scrub.
Outside of the City Bowl, you’ll find one of my personal favorite areas. From run-down neighborhood to contemporary creative haven, Woodstock has transformed itself into one of Cape Town’s artistic and entrepreneurial hubs. Step inside the Woodstock Exchange, a lively market filled with eclectic street art, giant murals, and homes painted by artists from all over the world.
On Saturdays from 9am to 2pm, explore the Neighbourgoods Market at Old Biscuit Mill. Go hungry – leave happy. Meander while feasting on foraged mushrooms, handmade pizzas, locally crafted cold brewed coffee and beer, and more. They have everything from essential oils to all of the essential food groups.
STAY IN… THE CBD
From simple AirBnBs to ultra-modern hotels, you won’t have any trouble finding an array of accommodations in Cape Town; the trouble lies in choosing just one. For something out of the ordinary, stay in an Rooftop Airstream Trailer Park at the Grand Daddy Hotel. One of my favorite themed sleepovers, the AC was fantastic, and the windows were completely blacked out, pairing well for sleeping in after a big night out.
STAY IN… HOUT BAY
Just outside the city and over the hills lies Hout Bay Manor, a lovely luxury boutique hotel. Recharge and relax in the peaceful atmosphere – perfect for a quiet night in. Filled with modern decor with an African twist, the hotel is close to the main shopping stretch and scenic beach area.
Try new tastes inspired by your travels and discover Kitima, any local’s go-to spot for authentic sushi and Thai cuisine. In a beautifully storied rustic house, this restaurant has several dining rooms, each with its own different personality. A team of well-trained chefs led by Chef P’Tad will craft your dish, blending Asian and European flavors for a worldly experience.
Fun fact: The spirited staff sets the front table each night for Elsa’s ghost.
STAY IN… CAMPS BAY
Unwind, indulge, and spend a few nights in the trendy area of Camps Bay along the coast at 12 Apostles Hotel. This five star boutique property boasts classic design and impeccable tastes. Spend an afternoon escaping in the cave-like spa is where you can relax among various hydrotherapy plunge pools as well as experience the current trend floating.
For a food inspired stay, choose to spend the afternoon fine dining over a long multi course lunch with a view diving into the menu at Azure. They have the most lovely sweet treats scattered throughout the hotel – you’ll never leave hungry.
DAY TRIPS + ACTIVE EXPLORING
There are some great day drives from Hout Bay or Camps Bay. Choose to spend your day driving down to Cape Point, or make a loop from Hout Bay or Camps Bay by driving over to Boulders Beach to visit the Penguins and back over Chapman’s Peak Drive on the return trip.
If you love the wind in your hair, make a more adventurous choice: hop in a sidecar and let someone do the driving for you.
For the person who loves to explore on foot, you can’t leave Cape Town without seeing the views from the top of Table Mountain. Don’t take the easy way out. Book a guide and hike up with (highly recommend using Justin Hawthorne) and reward yourself by taking in the views at the top. You can then take the Cable Car back to the bottom.
However you choose to spend your time, make sure you allow plenty of it to explore the many aspects, food and beyond, that Cape Town has to offer.
Because I love making friends with the locals everywhere I go, here are a talented few of my favorites to get to know on instagram before you go:
Hloni Coleman – @HloniColeman
Carlinn – @CampsBayGirl
Ockie Fourie – @TheWorldsYoungestMan
Cape Town Tourism – @LoveCapeTown
Josh Hundermark – @Hundermark