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 (as well as a few restaurants close to the city!)

Chefs Warehouse at the Bailey 

The city branch of Chefs Warehouse has RE-OPENED on the ground floor of the THE BAILEY on Bree Street.   This is owned by a partnership between Liam & Jan Tomlin & the owners of Tintswalo Atlantic.   This is the perfect spot for any foodie to pop in as they explore the buzzy Bree Street hood at night.   The same tapas small dish sharing concept of the other Chefs Warehouse restaurants applies here – however you do not have to do a certain number of dishes.  You have the option of doing a small dish and a drink or staying and working your way through the whole menu.   The dishes on the menu change regularly based on what is fresh and seasonal………as well as on what inspires the top chef team in the kitchen.

SeaBreeze Fish & Shell

Seafood – fresh and simple!  This is our favourite outdoor table in Cape Town!  We can be found  relaxing here with a plate of oysters & bubbles throughout summer!  It is our happy place.  It is owned by a couple who owned an award winning seafood restaurant in a fishing harbour near Aberdeen in Scotland.  They sold their restaurant in Scotland, 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 seafood restaurant in Cape Town. spots in Cape Town and we can be found at the outside table regularly in the early evening in summer!   Open daily for dinner.  Closed on a Tuesday.   Open for lunch & dinner all other days!

Grub & Vine

Grub & Vine by Chef Matt Manning serves refined bistro-style fare, in a relaxed, contemporary space.   Grub & Vine’s seasonal menu changes regularly and the wine list features some of South Africa’s most respected producers.  “No-nonsense, good grub. Beautiful produce and honest cooking” – Chef Matt Manning.    After visiting for a multi course lunch – his philosophy caught the essence of his philosophy completely.   It was a celebration of freshness from start to finish.   I think what I enjoy has changed with age – I am over foams and over fiddled food – my body craves freshness – I love meals that have an abundance of fresh produce.   I like to eat real food that is freshly harvested.   I love food with flavour.   Matt met this brief on all levels.     Note that they have a sexy wine bar next door called CULTURE.   Make sure you head there early for a glass of wine before dinner or head there after dinner!

Grub & Vine Summer Vegetable Salad
Grub & VIne – Sea Bass, Burrata and Salsa Verde
Hake! The best hake dish I have ever tasted
Lamb with naughty lamb fat potatoes!

Grub & Vine offer a seasonal tasting menu of either 2 or 3 courses.

Note that Chef Matt a hands on cooking studio upstairs.  He also has a private dining room that can be booked for dinners or parties – it can seat 20 people.

Location – 103 Bree Street – city centre Cape Town (upstairs!).  Note that you can book online for  lunch or dinner at Grub & Vine.

Fyn Restaurant


Chef Peter Templehoff  brings over 20 years of experience to his restaurant – FYN – a contemporary inner city restaurant located on top of a building in Church Square.    The word Fyn means FINE in English – it could also be a shortened version of Fynbos – our indigenous cuisine.   The two pivotal team members in this venture will be  Executive Chef Ashley Moss (his head chef at The Greenhouse for 4 years) and Jennifer Huge (Former La Colombe Restaurant manager).    I loved my dining experience at Fyn! 

The venue is gorgeous –  funky & contemporary in design.   The tables have no table cloths and no clutter.  They simply have your chopsticks on a plate.  Everything about it is sexy.    They started us off with a lovely glass of champagne in a wonderful old fashioned champagne glass – it felt so elegant.   The dinner is a tasting menu.    The dishes were all delicious and each had was fun and innovative.   The service was warm, relaxed, friendly, knowledgeable and unobtrusive.   Perfect!  Our Italian friends commented on how lovely it was to have such a wonderful fine dining dinner in such a relaxed environment.   They loved the warm and friendly service.    A wonderful foodie journey.   

Watching the kitchen and the bottom floor of the restaurant from above

Canapés from bento – Daikon maki & a white fish sushi
Squid Ramen, game fish, Quail with glazed eel & pickled cucumber……..all were delicious! I loved drinking the ramen from the bowl!

Fyn is hard to get in to!  I would highly recommend that you book it well in advance!  Click here to make a  booking!  

Bao Down

Is owned by Phillipa and Graham Oldfield – Phillipa had a catering business and Graham is the former head chef for Chefs Warehouse in the city.    As the name indicates – they do Bao & Asian style street food with a western twist.   Chef Graham is a wonderfully talented Chef and every morsel melted in our mouths!   My recommendation is to go with some friends – that way you can order and taste the whole menu!   Note that ordering many small dishes does add up!   But it is worth every cent!   Yummmmmmmmmmmm.    Phillipa and Graham have done a wonderful job with the decor.   It is relaxed, quirky and fun.   I love the space they created.   Even better for us is that it is across the road from where we live!   So we will be happy Bao groupies forever!  Location – they have moved to Greenpoint.


Thali is co-owned by Chef Liam Tomlin & the owner of the Fat Cactus.   It is located just above the city, just off Kloof Street.   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.    

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 Friday from 8am to 3pm for walk ins and Saturday & Sunday for brunch – only with bookings on the weekend. OPEN SUNDAY FOR BRUNCH

Belly of the Beast

They were one of the early restaurant openings in the new emerging Eastside District of Cape Town.  They are located in Harrington Street –  literally on the fringe of the city – being parallel to Buitenkant Street.   Belly of The Beast is a great addition to the hood.   It is a beautifully decorated small restaurant that seats 20 people.   So it is a wonderfully intimate space. It is owned by two chefs who are friends.   They focus on nose to tail dining – so they aim to have a zero wastage kitchen.

They are however happy to accommodate vegetarians – but need to know in advance! This is definitely a tasting menu strategy – they however do not commit to how many courses they will feed you!  The current cost is R599 without wine.   They are fully booked 6 weeks in advance.   So plan ahead!!  Book online and come and experience it for yourself.  *

 OPEN SUNDAY AND MONDAY NIGHT – a rare thing to find in Cape Town!    

Clarke’s Dining

Is chilled, funky diner style, hipster hangout……..  that started by serving great burgers.  The burgers are made from free range beef and are really good.  Over the years the food offerings got broader.   So in addition to burgers there are lots of other options – I love their Caesar Salad.   Everything they do seems to be delicious.   They have teetered with closure over the lock down – but it looks like they will pull through and that the community are showing them their support.    133 Bree Street.

Tjing Tjing

Tjing Tjing  re-invented themselves and went Asian in a big way!   I love Asian – so this is my idea of heaven.   We popped in a  to try out the casual Asian spot downstairs and to have a drink upstairs.   I LOVE the quirky decor downstairs.   It is so much fun.   We had a booth and in my normal style I just ordered a bunch of random goodies for us to share.   I loved every bite!   They initially told us that we were limited to either House White or House Red for the wine – I almost exited!  When I looked closely the House White was by David & Nadia – from the Swartland!   I love their wine!     This venue is called Tjing Tjing Torii – it is open from Tuesday to Saturday and does not take bookings.   On the middle level they have launched Tjing Tjing Momiji.   Everything is smarter on the middle level.  Lovely decor.  They are focusing Japanese tasting menus that can be paired with drinks.   The third spot here is the rooftop bar – which is a great secret bar to know about in the city for summer.   (Located in the city bowl).  Closed Mondays

Feb 2021 opening hours update:

Tuesday – Saturday from 12pm – 10pm, first come, first served.
{The kitchen closes at 9pm}

** MOMIJI RESTAURANT: Friday & Saturday evenings. Reservations essential, via e-mail or Dineplan. You can also order and collect our Omakase at-home box for 2 people via info@tjingtjing.co.za.

Tjing Tjing downstairs – Asian Streetfood

Zanne’s Fare

This is a great city cafe offering the opportunity to try some favourite local South African dishes & treats.   The restaurant is owned by Zanne.  For many years she had a restaurant at the top of town in the legal district, she then moved to the lower part of town to the business district and then took 10 years off.

Zanne is proudly Afrikaans and has a menu that allows you a “taste” of her culture.   For us locals this is such a treat as many of these dishes are part of the fabric of our upbringing, with each dish bringing back childhood memories.  Location – 89 Loop Street.  Open 07h30 to 22h00 (Monday to Saturday.). NOTE THEY ARE INSIDE THE HONEYBADGER VENUE.

Bobotie! Traditional Cape Malay/Afrikaans community

Milk Tart! Hertzoggies! Koeksister! Traditional South African Afrikaans desserts.

The first Design Hotel to launch in Cape Town has taken two heritage buildings in St George’s mall – combined them to create a gorgeous boutique hotel and a fabulously glam rooftop called GIGI ROOFTOP.   Here you can head up for interesting cocktails and a menu designed by Executive Chef  Guy Bennett – (Ex Grande Provence, Delaire, One & Only, Buitenverwachting…………….).

Sitting up on their rooftop makes me think that we have been missing a trick as a city – we have not utilized our city rooftops.   We have been missing out on maximizing our urban inner city views and vibe!

This is highly recommended for dinner and drinks.   Tip – make sure you phone in for a booking to make sure you get an outside table.   Dine Plan bookings will only give you a table outside if you are three or less people.    This is now a firm favourite.

Great spot to meet for lunch or dinner with a group of friends

The Poke Co

Wonderfully fresh & healthy  large poke bowls. (A Poke bowl is similar to a salad bowl –  each ingredient is kept separately and there is often raw fish added to the dish)  The vision of Andrew Flanagan is to do good – be good to your body, source locally and from NGO’s.   Find your bowl of health at 90 Loop Street!  Open daily 11 to 21h30. (Note he has opened a second branch in Seapoint and that one can have the bowls delivered on ORDER IN (The app) 90 Loop Street.

Tomo Japanese

This is a fairly new sushi & Japanese restaurant by the former Chef from Willoughby’s in the Waterfront (which has the best reputation for the best sushi in Cape Town).  I love the decor.  It is wonderfully clean and has a warm (Zen?) wonderful energy.  The welcome you receive from the staff is warm and welcoming.    The food was good and some dishes were excellent…….and others were average – a real mixed bag.   I really enjoyed both visits to Tomo.  86 Loop Street.  (Tip – head to the House of Machines around the corner for live music and a drink after dinner)

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

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    

95 Keerom

Closed down in the city for now.  It may re-open in the future.  He is keeping his Constantia Restaurant.


Update FEB 2021:  Carne on Kloof Street is OPEN.  CARNE on Keerom Street is currently still closed.  .

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 steakhouses 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.  I love  the CARNE BISTRO On Kloof Street.   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.  

Tomo Japanese

This is a fairly new sushi & Japanese restaurant by the former Chef from Willoughby’s in the Waterfront (which has the best reputation for the best sushi in Cape Town).  I love the decor.  It is wonderfully clean and has a warm (Zen?) wonderful energy.  The welcome you receive from the staff is warm and welcoming.    The food was good and some dishes were excellent…….and others were average – a real mixed bag.   I really enjoyed both visits to Tomo.  86 Loop Street.  (Tip – head to the House of Machines around the corner for live music and a drink after dinner)

The Village Idiot

A fun upmarket gastro pub with great decor – open in the evenings during the week  from 3pm and & for lunch and dinner on Friday & Saturdays.  They focus on our South African braai culture  (yes we are indeed meat lovers and we love to BBQ!)  32 Loop Street. #southafricancuisine

South China Dim Sum Bar 

Is an absolute foodie treat!  Chef Ed and his team turn out amazing authentic Dim Sum and Noodle dishes – the atmosphere is fun, quirky and no frills.  It is a great spot to meet up with friends. It is reasonably priced and the food is amazing, authentic and made with lots of love.  Read my blog on them for more details.  Note you do need to book as they have become very popular!! (It is always listed among the chefs of Cape Town as their favourite spot for dining out!)  289 Long Street. Call to book: 078 846 3656.  Email southchinadimsumbar@gmail.com.  Closed on Sunday & Monday nights. (Top of Long Street)

Moro Gelato

They are a local gelato producer that makes gelato that rock the rhubarb!   They are Woodstock based  – which was hard for us city slickers to access in the past – so it is wonderful that they opened  an outlet in the heart of Long Street!   Amazing gelato’s!  Track them down in either Long Street or in Sea Point.

Obi Restaurant – SUSHI

Papa San (a legendary sushi chef and famous for having owned Minato Restaurant and for being in the Douglas Green Wine advert) has teamed up with a wonderful young chef Ben Bettendorf to open Obi in lower Long Street.  This is a great combo as both can work in the kitchen – which frees Papa San to come out and chat to his Cape Town fans!  We loved our visit to the restaurant – we were warmly welcomed by Ben and as we were early, we ordered the early bird special  – three courses including a Miso soup,  a lovely large plate of sushi and delicious ice creams to end (a scoop of a fancy green tea ice cream that was sublime!!!) .   Simple decor, warm welcome, honest Asian style food…….fantastic! OPEN ON A MONDAY NIGHT (Bottom of Long Street)   Great sushi  – we highly recommend it!

The House of Machines

Is a quirky combo of a cafe, a coffee shop during the day, a motor bike workshop where you can have your custom made motor bike built,  a funky biking merchandise store, a bar with cocktails matured in barrels and a live music venue.  We love this little spot!  They also have light eats.   Pop in anytime of the day – this one is always fun!  For live music pop in from Wednesday to Saturday nights to see local bands playing.   (Note this one is very close to Heritage Square – so a good combo when doing dinner there)

The Athletic Club & Social

Is my new favourite spot for a fun evening with friends!   We needed the equivalent of a comfortable gentleman’s club for Cape Town!   Picture wonderfully comfortable couches and armchairs – sport pics on the wall – marvellous decor where you feel like you have stepped back in time……..squash racquets on the wall – yes – it sounds odd – but it is indeed marvellous!   This spot seamlessly combines comfort, great service, good food, great decor, an outside terrace, an eatery and a downstairs club.    Sound too good to be true?   Head there for an evening of relaxation!!   Note that the upstairs is supposed to be for drinks only – the ground floor level is for eating – so if you wish to eat – then book a table for downstairs for later for after you have  met up with your friends for drinks upstairs.    Closed on a Sunday  –  otherwise open from about 11am for drinks, lunch & dinner.  35 Buitengracht Street. To book  –  info@theathletic.co.za or  021 012 5331