Pam’s favourite Cape Town Restaurants – City and close surrounds

Pam’s favourite Cape Town Restaurants – City and close surrounds

Below is my list of the best Cape Town Restaurants located in the central Cape Town area that we call the City Bowl region of the city.

Grub & Vine

Fabulous addition to Bree Street!! Opened December 2018!  See my new Restaurants in Cape Town section.

Grub & Vine Summer Vegetable Salad

Chefs Warehouse & Canteen

Is still my top foodie pic for the city.  Do not miss it.   This is a completely amazing foodie journey.   They are very quirky in the way that they operate.  They are open Monday to Friday for dinner.  Monday to Saturday for lunch – and do NOT take bookings!  Last orders at 8pm means you literally have to stalk them if you want to get in.It is best to get there at 5.30pm if you wish to have dinner.   If they are full – you can leave your phone number & go and have a drink elsewhere.  It is completely worth stalking!   Each day they create 8 small plate dishes for two people to share based on what they have that is fresh and what they are inspired to cook  It is owned by celebrity Irish Chef Liam Tomlin (of Sydney top restaurant Bank fame).   It is the best value for money  fine dining  option in the city (R800 for two people) It has a cult following among Cape Town’s foodies.    Note they can accommodate vegetarians – but you need to let them know the day before you are coming.  Liam Tomlin has expanded and now has other branches.   He is known for his consistency and for attracting the best young chefs.  As such everything he touches is consistently good.   Try to fit in a Liam Tomlin spot during your stay:  Note that he has a Chefs Warehouse at Beau Constantia (Constantia) & one on Maison Estate in Franschhoek.   He also owns Thali just above the city.  Note that all of his spots work on the concept of 8 tapas style dishes created by the Chefs in each kitchen based on what is seasonal & fresh……..and on what inspires them.  Location – middle of the city – corner Bree and Shortmarket Street.    OPEN MONDAY NIGHT.

Thali

Thali is co-owned by Chef Liam Tomlin and is located just above the city.   It runs on the same concept as The Chefs Warehouse restaurants  – 8 tapas dishes to share  – between 2 people.  All the dishes on the menu are however inspired by Indian spices.   There are options for vegetarian and vegans here (which are permanently on the menu).   I love this spot!!!   It is once again a wonderful flavour journey – but far more spicy than the normal Chefs Warehouse dishes!  And I love spicy!  I love the decor here – Moroccan inspired decor.  Contemporary and colourful and fun.   They do not take bookings.  They do however have their own bar – and one can still be served after 8pm!  

Chefs Table Cape Town

Is a shared social table in the home of a top Chef.   Chef Santi Louzán has opened his inner city apartment for dinners on a Wednesday & a Thursday night The concept is a shared social table of 16 that you can book to join.  It is great fun to watch your dinner being prepared and plated in front of you.   Chef Santi acts as the charismatic host and explains his inspiration behind each dish.   It is 7 courses paired with 5 wines for approx. R1050 per person.   We loved every second of our dinner with Chef Santi.   To get a feel for our experience – check out my blog.    Book well in advance.  Note that the table can be booked for exclusive use  – subject to Chef Santi’s availability.

SeaBreeze Fish & Shell

Is a great addition to Upper Bree Street.   Seafood – fresh and simple!  This is owned by a couple who owned an award winningseafood restaurant in a fishing harbour near Aberdeen in Scotland.   They sold their restaurant in Aberdeen, came on a sabbatical to Cape Town and fell in love with our city…..and stayed!   They aim to serve the freshest seafood in town – and are happy to reprint the menu a few times a day when new fish comes in.   They also have the best oysters in town.  It has a  festive atmosphere in summer and is a great spot to meet up with friends at the long shared outside table on the pavement.They are a seafood bistro – so they aim to keep things simple and to allow you to taste the flavours of the fish.  Their oyster happy hour is half price per shuck from 5 to 6pm – so don’t miss it! (The happy hour is also over lunchtime for oysters from 12 – 1pm).  This is one of our favourite spots in Cape Town and we can be found at the outside table regularly! OPEN MONDAY NIGHT & for lunch &  dinner on a SUNDAY

Fyn Restaurant

Is a great new fine dining addition to the inner city!!  For more info check out my New Restaurants in Cape Town section. 

Fyn – the Chefs at work!

 Shio 

Chef Cheyne Morrisby is a wonderfully talented local chef.   He loves Asian-Pacific rim flavours and that influences all the restaurants/hole in the walls that he opens.   His main restaurant is in Hout Bay – which was just a little too far for us city slickers to get to & as such we did a happy dance when he opened a second restaurant called Shio on the edge of the city in De Waterkant.   Shio Modern Japanese Izakaya– would be worth visiting for the decor alone!  It is small, gorgeous and contemporary.   The perfect spot for a romantic dinner or a dinner with friends!  I love the influence of the Asian flavours that are worked into all of his dishes.   The best way to experience his food would be to order a couple of dishes to share.  His dishes are beautiful taste sensations.   I love his cooking.   If you get a chance try and also eat at his mother ship restaurant – Cheyne’s in Hout Bay.

Shio’s beautiful interior Open Mon – Sat for lunch & dinner.  OPEN MONDAY NIGHT.

Riverene Rabbit

Talented Chef Ash Heeger has closed how Ash Restaurant and  simply  reinvented herself and  transformed her restaurant into a more fine dining focused venue called Riverene Rabbit. The new decor is much warmer and the lighting is  now really good in her shop!   The focus is on tasting menus – there is no a la carte menu – and the emphasis is on fine dining and creativity.   Options range from 3 to 7 courses.                       

Janse & Co

Talented Chef Arno Janse (ex-head Chef of The Kitchen @ Maison in Franschhoek), in partnership with Liezl Odendaal, has opened a restaurant in Kloof Street, just above the city.            Expect the best fresh ingredients that are seasonal and locally sourced prepared with love and passion!  We loved our visit to Janse & Co.   I love the beautiful decor & design – it is contemporary with an Asian feel.  Everything has been lovingly designed to add to the experience – from the beautiful menus, through to the box with your cutlery.   The menu features a list of dishes based on what is fresh and what has inspired the kitchen – there are no starters or main courses – the dishes are simply a list and you chose as many dishes as you feel like having from the list for your dinner ie 3,4, 5, 6 courses.   Each dish boasted wonderful flavours and beautiful plating.                                                                                              It was a complete culinary journey from start to finish.   We had wonderful service and the wine list had some wonderful local wines from smaller producers – something I love to find on a menu!  We loved our visit.  Note you can book online on their website – they have live availability.   75 Kloof Street,   Cape Town.

La Tête 

Nose to tail restaurant by Chef Giles Edwards.  La Tete opened on lower Lower Bree Street in the city about 2 years ago and rapidly became a wonderful part of regenerating  the city’s food scene in the business district.  Lovely clean modern interior.  Talented Chef/owner.  We have had some wonderful dinners here!  It is advisable to pre-book by phone – +27 21 4181299 or email – info@latete.co.za. Closed on Sundays and Mondays NB Snout to tail dining including Pigs Tails and Sweetbreads (menu changes daily!)   Note that the Chef is extremely talented at cooking veg dishes.   There should be enough options on the menu – if not simply ask and they will chat to him and come back to you with options.   His veg dishes blew me away – so don’t be shy – speak up and you will have a fabulous veg dinner if you are a vegetarian or a lover of fresh produce! 

Mulberry & Prince 

Beautiful decor, intimate & owner run – the owners met at the International Culinary institute in Manhattan.  Hip eatery.  Part of the Bree Street City revolution – over 40 restaurants have opened on this inner city street over the last two years – literally transforming the city from a business district into a really fun zone for eating, drinking and playing!  Small shared plate dining – they call this Modern American Dining.   Beautiful restaurant and beautiful food.     Open Wednesday to Saturday for dinner and Sunday for brunch. OPEN SUNDAY FOR BRUNCH

Chefs Cape Town

This is a quirky concept of note!!  This is fine dining on the fly!   Literally you check out the website so you know what is being offered today – there is a limited offering of dishes each day, you then arrive, the chef heads over to your table to discuss the dishes of the day, you order and your food arrives on a tray with your wine/beer.   This is perfect for foodies who want a quick lunch or a fairly quick dinner – but wish to eat something exceptionally delicious.  Note you are also very welcome to stay and chill!   I had the lamb on the day we went and I am still dreaming of the flavours.   The Chef Jenny is really talented.   Fun, almost industrial looking space combined with people who are very very serious about good food.   Quirky!!!   Located just on the edge of the city.  They are a perfect dinner for after a long day of touring if you want an early dinner.   This is real food at its best.  Generous portions with sides included such as a wonderful side salad and lovely bowls of condiments such as pesto or mayo or homemade fresh chilli to add to the sublime flavours of your dish.  As most of her dishes are prepared in a wood burning oven – the flavours add an extra zing to your taste buds!  Marvellous.   Love it.  Seriously quirky as you don’t expect great food to arrive on a tray!    Lunch and dinner Monday – Friday.   Note last orders at 20h30 – this is an early evening eatery! OPEN MONDAY NIGHT

Bistro Bouchon

Is located inside the wine cellar of Christophe Durand’s Dorrance inner city winery.   The bistro is a joint venture between Christophe and Faisal Khakoo of La Boheme Bistro & Wine Bar and Engruna Eatery.   Expect a relaxed, warm and intimate feel inside the cellar and food to match.  The menu features a seasonal list of tapas to share from plus a couple of main dishes.   It is most fun to order a whole lot of tapas to share and a few bottles of wine! Christophe’s Dorrance wines are on offer by the glass or by the bottle.   He is a self taught wine maker who is now producing serious wines – his chardonnay this year was awarded 5* in the John Platters guide.   He is also importing foreign wines – as such each week there is a selection of foreign wines available by the glass – this is exciting to us locals as we get very limited exposure to foreign wines!  Bouchon is currently only open at night from Monday to Friday.  Tip – if you have a special occasion with a small group of friends – book to be inside the cellar next to the barrels – it creates a great private space!    95 Hout Street, City Bowl OPEN MONDAY NIGHT

House of H

Brace yourself before you head to House of H.   This is not a conventional “smart” looking restaurant.   This is a chilled world all to itself.   It is quirky, loud and looks a little grungy.   Dress down if you are headed here!  As you enter you will think where on earth has Pam sent me?   You are warmly greeted and given a card to swipe whenever you order anything inside, it is self service from the bar, the meat counter and the coffee section.   You simply swipe as you go and pay at the end.  The reason to go?   Some of the best meat and salads in Cape Town.   You queue to chat to the chefHe wants to chat to you about his beautiful meat options before you order.  Chef H himself stands at the front of his meat counter and talks you through the different cuts and options.   He is like a proud Daddy telling you about his babies.   Next to you in the queue is a pile of vegetables and fruit – they are all for sale and are part of a project where homeless people are growing fresh produce in the city.   There are also options for a burger – either meat or oyster mushrooms (I am advised by every vegetarian who goes that this is one of the most delicious burgers in Cape Town.………I must try it……but how to resist having the most amazing meat?).   With your meal you get a choice of chips or salads.   This one is hard as his chips are some of the best in Cape Town and his salads are amazing from the salad bar.   The answer is to order half and half!   They are located in Loop Street in central Cape Town.   With Bree Street rentals sky rocketing – Loop is the new hub for openings in Cape Town! OPEN MONDAY NIGHT &  LATE NIGHT DINING

The Grand Cafe & Beach Granger Bay 

Pizza & Salad at The Grand!

This is my absolute favourite place to  kick back, relax and have that holiday feeling. It is all about the amazing setting and ambiance that has been created here. They took an old abandoned building – lobster shed – and kept the exterior as it was while restyling the interior completely. The interiors are funky and fun. The exterior has a large terrace for tables and a fake beach has been created to overlook Table Bay and the Waterfront area. Add couches and chairs on the beach, with a great cocktail menu and you have a winning formula! Ratings on the food seem to vary from average to nice. We usually stick to the pizzas and salads, which are quite good – we go for the vibe, not the food! This spot makes you feel like the summer holiday has started!  It is great fun for all ages.   So, book for lunch or dinner – but whatever you do – make sure you make a booking as it is the favourite place for the locals to visit, as well as the visitors to our city! (note you can go for drinks without booking).  For Reservations – you can book online or call 021 425 0551.    Closed on Mondays and Sunday night

TheLord Nelson Restaurant at the Mount Nelson Hotel 

Talented Chef Rudi Liebenberg has been impressing the “foodies” in Cape Town with his cooking at The Mount Nelson Hotel for many years now. You can opt to dine in the main restaurant – which has a wonderfully refined old world feel featuring chairs from the original Union Castle Shipping liner that owned the hotel.  Here you can enjoy 2 to 4 courses.  OR to have some foodie fun book the Chefs Table in the kitchen.  Open daily – evenings only.  Mount Nelson Hotel. 76 Orange Street.  OPEN ON A MONDAY NIGHT    

Headquarters (HQ) 

This is a novel concept.  There is only one dish on the menu – steak.   It is a no option menu – you start with a salad with Parmesan shavings, followed by a  sirloin steak served with skinny fries.  Headquarters is a glamorous venue for an evening out in the city – but take care to tell your friends that it is a “no choice” menu!  They have a bar which is fun for early evening or late evening drinks.  They also offer music on most nights – either a band or a DJ plays after 9pm.  Location: Heritage Square, 100 Shortmarket Street (corner Shortmarket and Buitengracht Street)   Note that they do have a mushroom option for vegetarians.  The team from HQ have taken over the courtyard on Heritage Square and have launched a restaurant serving chicken there called Roast & Co.   A few tables in the courtyard belong to HQ – as such they have a fun sign on the wall saying CHICKEN or BEEF!   OPEN MONDAY NIGHT    

Black Sheep

This is an absolute local favourite -it was the first proper gourmet gastropub to launch in Cape Town.   This spot is vibey and needs to be booked a few days before you plan to go.  It is nearly always fully booked.  It is a great spot to meet up with a  few mates for a fun evening out. The food is really good, and you will see people eating in all parts of the bar – which is always a good sign!  Note that the do split seatings at dinner time – so either an early slot or a slightly late time slot for dinner.  Closed on Sundays.  104 Kloof Street Tel no+27 (021) 426 2661 / 426 2753 OPEN MONDAY NIGHT    

True Italic

Is an  Italian  Cafe/Bistro located at the lower art of Bree Street.  I love this little spot – and so does most of Cape Town’s Italian community who can be found at most of the tables!  True Italic is owned by an Italian brother and sister duo who are infectiously passionate about their venture.  The brother cooks and the his sister looks after the front of house.  They change the menu daily based on what is fresh.  They make their own pasta and gnocchi.  They offer a combo of Northern Italian and Sicilian fare…….  as one parent was from the north and one from the south.   To enjoy a good range of flavours , I would recommend ordering a couple of dishes to share.  Note that if nothing appeals to you on the day or you have dietary requirements they have no problem whipping up a dish to suit your tastes.   I would recommend going at night as the venue may be a little dark during the day.  Location – lower (15) Bree Street.  Note closed on Sundays and closed from early evening on a Monday – otherwise open until 10pm weekdays and 11pm Saturday night.

95 Keerom

Specializes in offering a fine dining Northern Italian cuisine menu.  The attention to detail is amazing and is reflected in the glamorous furniture, excellent service and delicious food.   The owner is an Italian Chef – Giorgio Nava.  He has been in South Africa for many years and is now an integral part of the foodie fabric of the city.  After 95 Keerom he opened Carne across from his current restaurant.  He then opened Carne Kloof Street, followed by 95 at Morgenster (a joint venture between himself and the owners of Morgenster Wine Estate, who are also Italian.    95 Keerom Str, City.    Closed on Sundays. OPEN MONDAY NIGHT

Carne

Owned by Chef Giorgio Nava, the successful restaurateur and owner of the highly rated 95 Keerom Restaurant.  Carne is a northern Italian style steak house.  Giorgia Nava has taken steak houses to a new height of glamour with this venture.  The restaurant features a stylish bar upstairs for drinks before dinner, before you descend into the basement area for dinner.  This room has funky plastic transparent chairs and is just simple and chic.   The meat for the main course was brought out raw on a platter in all of its glory.  The waiter explained the different cuts and that all of the meat was dry aged.  We opted for the T-Bone served as it is in Florence, ie a huge T-Bone that they slice and serve on two platters.  It was the best steak I have had for years. My recommendation is to go to this Carne at night – it is more of a  dinner venue then a lunch spot, in my opinion!  Location of Carne: Cape Town city centre – 70 Keerom Street, City Bowl

Note – I am now in love with their newer spot called CARNE BISTRO On Kloof Street – it is more chilled then the mother restaurant, and has a lovely terrace where you can sit outsideon Kloof Street. (versus the main Carne is in an underground basement).  Carne on Kloof has a great vibe and a  cafe ambience – plus great meat and a lovely outside area for seating. 153 Kloof  Street. Perfect for summer.  The Keerom Carne is perfect for winter!