[Editor’s Note: La Tête closed in 2021. This guide was last updated March 2020]
Great Vibes In The Old Biscuit Mill
I love The Pot Luck Club. It’s one of my favourite restaurants. It brings a lot of creativity, and there’s a great vibe up there. The restaurant is on the top floor of the historic Silo at The Old Biscuit Mill, which is a great place to go, and one of the best views of Cape Town in the evening. The food is fun, exciting and approachable.
Down Bao With The Locals
Bao Down is a great little restaurant that’s packed every day with locals from the surrounding neighbourhoods. As the name suggests, it’s all about bao and prawn toast: things like that. The décor is very chic and cool, and there’s a beautiful bar that seats about 12 people. I don’t think it’s so well known internationally, but it’s really a fantastic little spot.
Where You’ll Find Cape Town’s Chefs Eating
On the foreshore, there’s a very unusual Chinese restaurant called He Sheng that’s an industry favourite. If you go there on a Monday evening, it’s generally full of chefs eating dumplings and the like. It’s run by a husband and wife team; the husband is in the back cooking, and the wife, May, runs the floor. She’s the type of person who will tell you exactly what she thinks of you, what you should be eating, what you shouldn’t be eating, and if you receive something that you don’t think you ordered, well tough luck – enjoy!
“A Very Cool Place To Be”
There’s a very cool hotel that’s opened up in the heart of the CBD called The Gorgeous George which is really nice. It’s a small boutique hotel where they welcome and encourage people who aren’t necessarily staying there to hang out in the rooftop restaurant-slash-bar and swimming pool. It’s a very cool place to be at the moment.
Possibly The Country’s Best Restaurant
Liam Tomlin is a great chef that has a very good little selection of restaurants under Chefs Warehouse. Beau Constantia, run by chef Ivor Jones is fantastic and in my mind one of the better restaurants in the country, if not the best. It’s definitely a great overall dining experience in Cape Town. Chef Jones just has a fantastic flair about him; he’s quite a personable and fun guy with great personality, and you really feel that come through in his food.
As with the rest of the world, there’s quite a big gin movement in Cape Town, and a lot of gin-obsessed gin makers, and drinkers. There are some very good gin bars, the main one being the not-so-secret Secret Gin Bar. It’s a very beautiful space with a small courtyard. It’s a bit of a speakeasy actually. You enter through a boutique chocolate shop and there’s a great – but not too big – selection of both international and local gins that they’ve carefully chosen. The guys there are pretty knowledgeable.
My Favourite Local Gin Labels
Pienaar and Son is a great local gin to try. They make three different gins which are very, very good and work really well in cocktails. Inverroche is another one that I really like. They use fynbos in one of their gins, which is an indigenous plant that grows up on Table Mountain. There’s also Hope Distillery that make a lovely Mediterranean gin infused with rosemary and thyme. Those are three gins that you should really look out for when you’re in town – I’m sure there are a lot of great local gin producers, ones that I haven’t tried yet which are as equally as good.
Cape Town’s Best Wine Bars
We’re in the heartland of the winemaking district, so obviously we have some amazing wine here, and recently some great wine bars have opened their doors. The main one I go to is a place called Publik Wine Bar. It’s a very cool little place serving lots of wines by the glass. It’s a great place to start, finish, or even spend an entire evening. There’s a place called Openwine which is fantastic for a good drink – same sort of concept, lots of wines by the glass and really nice homemade food on offer.
Hang With The Locals at The Weekend Farmer’s Market
Oranjezicht City Farm Market which happens on a Saturday and Sunday, is a great thing for visitors to check out. Capetonians love it because it’s a hive, and a great thing to do on a weekend morning. It’s a very festive environment. It has everything you want: fruit and veg, a butcher, a cheesemonger, olive oil producers, cured meats – and of course you can do things like knock back a few oysters, or sit down for a breakfast of eggs benedict. I’ll usually stick my head in there on a Saturday morning – it’s a great way to keep in touch with what’s best in season and to source inspiration.
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