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.
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.