Cape Town isn't just a beautiful city - it also has a great foodie scene, with strong European influences. From breakfast to sundowners and beyond, these are my favourite places to eat and drink
Best for breakfast
Breakfast on a Saturday and Sunday morning is a permanent feature of my weekend. I flip between a range of delis and restaurants that all serve good, proper coffee and know how to cook eggs over easy the right way (soft inside but not slimy on the outside). Lazari has been, and I think will always be, my number one, and not just for breakfast. Chris, the gorgeous Greek owner, is running around chatting to everyone and if you look like you are dithering, the slightly harassed-looking staff are quick to tell you what you should have, with a cheeky smile. Gooey eggs Benedict, flapjacks and bacon, the traditional fry-up and fresh fruit salad... All of this can be topped off with a pink iced cupcake or a very large slice of lemon meringue. If you are a little late for brekkie, try the grilled lamb salad or the meze platter.
Fresh and fishy
Coming in second (for me) is the Olympic Café in Kalk Bay. Unfortunately, this little restaurant has been so widely featured on every ‘best kept secrets’ list ever written about Cape Town that one has to be feeling in the mood for a little wait. It’s worth it though, so write your name on the blackboard and take a wander down the street. Timing is everything, so don’t stay away too long or you will miss your table. Try seared tuna fresh from the harbour across the road, seafood pasta in a tangy tomato-based sauce with strips of hake, mussels and capers, a dozen fresh mussels swamped in a buttery white wine and garlic sauce, or fresh yellowtail, gently grilled on seasonal vegetables. The ingredients are fresh and cooked perfectly, translating into some of the best food in Cape Town at whatever time of the day.
Down the market
Markets, and particularly organic/home-grown/local markets, have become terribly popular. The Old Biscuit Mill Market down in lower Woodstock happens every Saturday from 9 till 2 and offers a real glimpse of Cape Town’s fashionable young (and not so young) things. Between all of them, you will find some real treats. On arrival, grab yourself a fresh lemonade, Bloody Mary or a Mule (berry juice, mint and vodka), then do a lap of all the stalls and taste the different foods on offer, from cheeses to olives, biltong to organic chocolate, honey from the hive on the slopes of Table Mountain to perfect little chocolate tortes… the list goes on. Once you have a clearer idea of what is on offer, then, and only then, start buying. After stuffing yourself, stroll over to the tent that houses local young fashion designers and have a browse round the frocks, jewellery and shoes.
Now, if you are after postcard sea views and good seafood, hop across the Peninsula to Kalk Bay harbour, where you'll find Live Bait. This restaurant is perched right on the rocks, looking out to sea in one direction and down the harbour wall in the other. I can honestly say that you can’t go wrong with anything on this menu. We have whiled away many a Sunday afternoon here drinking Haute Cabrière Pinot Noir and talking of totally trivial things. Personal favourites? The Cajun-style grilled calamari tubes, traditional fish and chips, and death by chocolate dessert. One thing to note: you really should book a window table, and there are two seatings for lunch, 12 and 2 o’clock.
For steak, there are two places you should go: Boo Radley’s and HQ. Boo Radley's is an intimate diner experience with a simple menu. Starters include a suitably 80s-style prawn cocktail in a martini glass, layered with finely-chopped lettuce and avocado complete with four prawns draped over the edges. Mains range from the traditional burger and fries to the perfectly done blue (not bloody) fillet steak served with a Béarnaise sauce. Other options include a seafood pasta and a grilled linefish of the day. HQ, on the other hand, serves only steaks. That’s it. Each is served with a salad to start and frites to accompany as well as a choice of sauce. Simple and delicious.
Early evening is a very special time of the day and you should be well positioned to enjoy it. Capetonians love sundowners and whether it’s just on the beach with a six-pack or lounging on a deck somewhere, make sure you have a plan and arrive on time. Wakame’s rooftop bar, Wafu, in Mouille Point, looks out over Table Bay to Robben Island. There is a wide choice of cocktails and they serve one of my favourite wines, the Pecan Stream Sauvignon Blanc. When you get hungry, order some of their delicious sushi.
Salsa and trailers
Just round the corner and slightly up the hill is the area of De Waterkant. The Cape Quarter is a little piazza that's home to a few bars and restaurants: Fiesta is rather fun and on some nights they have salsa dancing. Further into the city centre on Long Street is the Grand Daddy Hotel, with the coolest Airstream Trailer Park and bar on its roof. The bar is open every evening and on Fridays in summer there is live music. Some nights it’s a harmonica-playing cowboy called Lonesome Dave and at other times a Balkan trumpet band complete with fake dancing bear – if you’re lucky.
Find out more
For the complete list of every eatery in Cape Town along with user reviews, have a look at www.eatout.co.za (it’s like a local tripadvisor). The contact details and address for all the above restaurants can also be found here.