Shopping in Cape Town: where the foodies shop

by vickisleet

Cape Town’s foodie scene has grown at a remarkable rate over the past few years. You can see it in the quality of the eateries that have popped up and in the plethora of food stores and markets

I’m a firm believer that the quality of the food experience in a city can be the clincher between a good or great holiday memory, so I’ve outlined some places to see and shop below. For dining inspiration see my Cape Town Cafés and Restaurants page.

Markets

Without a doubt, the Neighbour Goods Market (www.neighbourgoodsmarket.co.za) at The Old Biscuit Mill (375 Albert  Road, Salt River; 021 447 8194; www.theoldbiscuitmill.co.za) in Salt River is a must do. It’s a Saturday morning shindig that sees the city’s small producers setting up from early (it gets going at 8.30am and runs until 4pm-ish) and you’ll find everything from seasonal blooms and just-picked organic veggies, bottles of homemade lemonade, oversized meringues and cupcakes, biltong (that’s our famous air-dried beef), wonky ciabattas and perfectly ripened cheeses. Oh, and the best Belgian waffles you’ve ever tasted.

There’s a strong focus on artisan style offerings which is evident in the fact that most of the people selling the edible items are the producers too. Local restaurateurs like Pete Goffe-Wood of one of my favourite restaurants Wild Woods sells his famous steak rolls, there are cocktails to be had and the old-school showtime tunes played over the tannoy add to the charm of this Saturday morning affair. It’s situated in a now gentrified factory complex that comes complete with independent boutiques - look out for one of my favourites Quirky Me (375 Albert Road, Salt River; www.quirkyme.com). It also plays host to the Design Goods market once a month where local jewellery and product designers ply their wares. The venue is in an up and coming not-so-salubrious area which you should be aware of if parking down deserted side streets.

Other city markets include the Wednesday and Saturday Earth Fair (Main Road, Retreat; www.earthfairmarket.co.za) that feeds foodies in the southern reaches of the peninsula as well as the charming Saturday Porter Estate (Porter Estate, Swaanswyk Road, Tokai; 082 3345 434; outdoormarket.co.za) market, situated in a forest clearing on the outskirts of Constantia. If you’re travelling with kids, head here as it's contained, they can run around and there are lots of other littlies too – it gets going early and the coffee and breakfast fry up stands are firm favourites with bleary eyed parents doing the morning shift.

Spiced up experiences

As Cape Town is such a melting pot with a history as being an integral stop for spice traders, it goes without saying that spiced up foodie experiences are all over the city. I love Atlas Trading (Corner of Wale and Rose Streets, Bo Kaap; 021 423 4361) in the Bo Kaap where you can buy fresh curry leaves, bags of Masala and other spices, and nuts – all at excellent prices. Be sure too to pop up the road to Biesmillah’s (corner Wale and Pentz Streets; 021 423 0850) for an authentic slow cooked lamb, vegetable and rice breyani or some samosas to munch on.

Our most impressive authentic delicatessen is Giovanni’s on the Main Road in Green Point (103 Main Road, Green Point; 021 434 6893). It’s crammed with an alphabet of imported and local gourmet products and a crowd of smooth Europeans who hang out here drinking espresso after espresso. If staying in the area, treat yourself to a food-on-the-go meal and if you’re en route to the beach for sundowners, head here for delectable pre-packed deli goods. Though it’s something of a chain with a family of stores, Melissa's The Food Shop is a must do for foodies – especially for their edible gifts in equally delicious packaging.

Some local delicacies to try and buy:

  • Kloovenberg Olive Oil - an award-winning peppery oil.
  • Khoisan Sea Salt, harvested on the West Coast.
  • Biltong (I like beef but many people prefer the game meat variations) - a South African signature. 
  • Dried fruit comes in a variety of different flavours, travels well and is delicious.
  • Green fig preserve is amazing with cheese and you'll find it in many speciality food stores. 
  • Koeksisters are plaited pastries deep fried then smothered in syrup - decadent and delicious.
  • Samosas are the triangular shaped snacks synonymous with the city.
  • Try a spicy roti (meat or vegetable) wrap from a street café or vendor.

More expert advice on Cape Town

For suggestions on where to stay in Cape Town, see my Cape Town Hotels – Award winning expert hotel reviews, from cheap to luxury hotels in Cape Town page.

Read my overview on Shopping in Cape Town.

vickisleet

I am a freelance lifestyle journalist and editor, and write for the likes of Time Out Cape Town, Eat Out, Eat In, Food & Travel UK and British Airways Horizons amongst others.

I also edit a blog www.iwantthat.co.za that regularly features exciting places to see in Cape Town. I have been writing for a living for the past ten years, prior to which I was involved in the food industry.

I’m a born and bred Capetonian and though I’ve lived and worked overseas and have travelled to many different cities, there is certainly no place like Cape Town AKA the Mother City – a place I like to call ‘the Mama of all Cities’. And when you see the plethora of breathtaking beaches, taste the new world wines, dine at the world class restaurants and bed down in some of the top notch hotels, I’m certain you’ll agree.

In recent years, Cape Town’s become a design and shopping hub too, so once you’ve sipped some local wines, scraped your plate clean, dusted the beach sand off your feet and popped up to the top of Table Mountain –spend some time at some of the city’s contemporary art galleries and interesting independent craft and design shops and see if you can find the perfect memento of your Cape Town trip. I thank my lucky stars daily that my work involves seeing, tasting and testing in the city’s shops, restaurants and hotels – and I love sharing my discoveries.

My Cape Town

Where I always grab a coffee/tea/hot chocolate: While the Vida é Caffe dark hot chocolate really does it for me (and if I drank coffee I’d probably join the ranks of regulars who’re hooked) I’m a Melissa’s The Food Shop hot chocolate gal through and through. They’re a milky confection of melted chocolate-hazelnut paste and the perfect accompaniment for a me-time magazine-filled morning.

Books for inspiration: Quivertree Publishing’s Hot Afro is a visual feast of many a South African (many of them Capetonian) home and offers eye candy and insight into local style.

Where to be seen this summer: Built for the FIFA World Cup held in 2010, the three-kilometre long fan mile takes people from the central business district to the magnificent Cape Town Stadium and its park-like surrounds - from here it’s a short stroll to the six-kilometre long Sea Point Promenade, where locals and visitors alike take in the sparkling Atlantic views, indulge in ice creams, join impromptu soccer games on the lawns or eye out the 'Walking the Road' statues installation currently based here.

The most breathtaking view: Unless the weather’s terrible or you have a really good excuse, going up to the top of Table Mountain is a must. Take the easy route up and down via the cable car or if you’re fit, the Platteklip Gorge hike will take around two hours - either way the views of the city and the Cape Peninsula are spellbinding.

My favourite stroll:  On the Atlantic Seaboard side, the Sea Point Promenade with its blue rinse grannies walking their dogs, bronzed adonises sweating up a storm on their daily jogs and mums pushing their charges in their buggies, there's never a dull moment and did I mention the beautiful sea views on this kilometres-long stretch? On the other side of the mountain is the Muizenberg-St James catwalk - a shortish catwalk with breathtaking views of False Bay. if i'm in the city for a meeting - if I have time, a leisurely stroll through The Company's Garden always has a restorative effect.

Best spot for some peace and quiet: I love Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens with its neverending rolling lawns, mountain vistas and sights of the city is one of the city's most well loved gems. Take a blanket and a book and spend an afternoon snoozing under a tree.

City soundtrack: do yourself a favour, pop into any music store and buy a copy of a Freshly Ground CD - their Afro fusion sound is uplifting, heartwarming and a true indication of our beautiful rainbow nation. You'd do well to buy a copy of the latest Goldfish CD too - you'll love the electro jazz that's taking these talents all over the world.

Shopaholics beware: If protecting your plastic from bargains, one-off finds and must-have buys is a priority, don’t even think about venturing to Long and Kloof Streets. The two interconnecting arteries wind through the city virtually up to the mountain - on Long you’ll find edgy clothing boutiques, designer sneaker stores and pavement cafés teeming with well-heeled twenty and thirtysomethings (try out Royale Eatery & Royale Kitchen for the best burgers in town and some great people watching). Stroll up Kloof Street and stop in at smart lifestyle boutiques like O.live, Nap and Lim and make sure you take a look at Heartworks for cutting edge crafts by local talents.

Don't leave without: visiting the top of Table Mountain, you'll kick yourself if you don't. Trying dried meat biltong or a sweet and syrupy koeksister (a doughnut type delicacy), braving our chilly Atlantic waters and having fish and chips at Hout Bay harbour. Gifts? When I travel overseas I always take an animal or two made by a local craftsmen out of recycled plastic and they never fail to illicit a charmed response.