The first thing you notice whilst approaching Mama Africa is the bassy thumping of drums. Prepare yourself; the evening is going to be loud, jubilant and an unforgettable taste safari. The atmosphere is electric, and you will dance, even if you don’t, ever, here you will dance. But first we must eat, and the menu is a tour de force of tried and tested Pan-African recipes and local favourites.
For the adventurous traveller with a taste for the exotic and a desire for a story to tell there’s Mama’s Wild Game Mixed Grill which is a spread of crocodile, ostrich, springbok, kudu & venison cuts. If that’s too gamey for you, go with the flavoursome Mama’s Moroccan Prawns, and follow it up with a Banana Flame replete with ice-cream, rum & Amarula cream. Mama Africa also helped popularise the Feta & Biltong Salad, now a local staple.
The music is vibey, and relentless in its ability to make you want to leave your table and dance in front of the band while they combine marimbas, jembe drums, jazz elements, and African soul. If you really want to have the full experience and leave with a head full of memories, we suggest you dress for comfort, because your belly will be full and you will be discovering dance moves you thought you had forgotten.
On the top floor of the former Silo at The Old Biscuit Mill, you’ll find The Pot Luck Club, owned by Luke Dale-Roberts (whose nearby The Test Kitchen is something we’ll write about another time) and run by his vastly talented protégé Wesley Randles. The Pot Luck Club serves food that’s sensational, different yet accessible, always interesting, always prepared and crafted with care and respect to the ingredients. The menu is a journey through South African, Asian and international food styling’s that have been re-imagined, looked at from a different angle, and presented in an innovative light. The menu is divided into the senses of taste available to the human tongue (sour, bitter, salty, umami and sweet), and the items are understated, yet elegant beyond compare (such as the crispy Kalk Bay octopus with Doenjang Mayo, pickled cucumber and octopus teriyaki).
The sheer amount of experimentation, honing and thought that has gone into every dish is apparent on every plate. With 360 degree viewing of the bay and the mountain, very slick service and a kitchen that send you dishes in the order that they recommend (to avoid flavours being “robbed” by each other), you’ll be back again soon.
Side Note: Heavens Bacon for dessert, enough said...
There is always an energy at Tigers Milk in Long Street, a perpetually pumping environment that provides entertainment through the upbeat music, the wait staff and the off-the-wall decor. An expansive menu, that covers many staples as well as signature dishes, leaves little to be desired. Try all their burgers, seriously, keep going back until you have had each one, they are that good, this is man food at it’s finest. Also amazing is their acorn fed pork, seasoned with Asian spices, hoisin, red peppers and spring & red onions. Finish off with a Jack Daniels-spiked chocolate mousse with vanilla ice cream, it’s sublime. The pace is fast, the venue is buzzing and the food is a treat, enjoy.
The twin influences of being a thriving international tourist destination and having a vast range of culinary cultural inspirations make Cape Town a haven for any foodie. Though the list of great dining experiences to be had is long, we have shortlisted several favorites based on flavor, ambience and location.
Jarryds Espresso Bar + Eatery
If you are looking to start your day deliciously or recover from an exciting evening, there is breakfast and then there is breakfast at Jarryd’s. Jarryd’s source their ingredients, they don’t simply buy them. Their Fair Trade coffee is lovingly crafted at Espresso Lab in the Old Biscuit Mill, their milk is collected from a local dairy and for their bread (it’s heavenly) they have teamed up with Bentleys Bread Co. using only natural unbleached local stone ground flour. The attention to detail and the stringency applied to the quality of the ingredients reflects in the amazing spread that Jarryd’s offers. The toasted banana bread is a must have, also, the Jarryd’s Breakfast scramble, try the option with exotic mixed mushrooms, parmesan and truffle oil, you will not be disappointed. Alternatively the smoked salmon potato rosti stack with crushed buttery zesty peas, grilled zucchini ribbons, walnuts, caper berries, remoulade and a poached egg. The atmosphere is laid back, with a New York eatery flair, the staff are welcoming and attentive, and you you will often find the owner himself whipping up a round of coffees behind the espresso bar.
Once you’ve built up a bit of an appetite, it’s time to head over to Harbour House Restaurant in Kalk bay, to indulge in some delectable fresh seafood and cocktails while waves batter at the windows and breakwater by your feet. Elegant and sophisticated, this seaside venue offers unparalleled views across False Bay.
Spier is well worth the drive (29 km’s from Cape Town), and even though the area of Stellenbosch and the Helderberg offers many other surprises, you may want to pencil in quite a bit of time for this multi-faceted location. This is a wine farm and conference facility, eagle sanctuary and concert venue as well as a hotel, craft market and spa with richly appointed grounds. There is even a kids clubhouse, for the 2-12’s which entertains the children with developmentally appropriate activities such as feather arts, icing biscuits, pizza-making and farm walks. You have 4 restaurants to choose from, with great farm to table menus and amazing wine pairings. If you are in the mood to explore a little, you can also pick up a pre-packed picnic of local delicacies, brimming with pasture-reared cold cuts, farmhouse cheeses, homemade chutneys and pâtés, breads, fresh salads and various delectable baked treats. The Spier Estate has received numerous awards over time both from Condé Nast for its’ hotel and from various organisations for its’ wine and as a wine tourism destination. Be sure to visit Eagle Encounters, they do sterling work rehabilitating birds of prey, and you will be amazed by their falconry displays, as well as a variety of reptiles and bunnies for the kids to pet and interact with. Visit their website (below) to see the full span of their offering as well as individual booking and contact details.
In terms of classic Cape Town activities, there’s one that has become an institution, Afternoon Tea on a Sunday at the Grand Pink Lady, the Belmond Mount Nelson hotel, Cape Town’s very own blushing beauty. This iconic hotel has been in operation since the 6th of March 1866, as a destination hotel to rival its London counterparts for use by first class passengers on the then Union-Castle Shipping Line. It offers a time-capsule look at a slice of colonial history that has been graced by (amongst others), Winston Churchill, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the Prince of Wales.
“Tea at the Nellie” involves a wide variety of teas (Earl Grey, China, Indian, Herbal and many, many others) accompanied by both savoury and sweet delights, including the essential cucumber sandwiches and quiches, savoury tarts and cheeses as well as petit fours, iced cakes, chocolates, fruit tartlets and hot berry compote. Call ahead to secure a table, this is a popular activity. Also, make sure you have a look at what else they have to offer, there’s fine dining, a spa and a fitness centre, as well as the beautiful gardens that are not to be missed.
It’s so hard to pinpoint just one Wine Estate in the Western Cape, but in terms of historical depth, fine wine and an amazing restaurant (Cuvée), Simonsig has a lot to offer. A 45 minute drive outside of Cape Town takes you to the vibrant wine and student town of Stellenbosch, beautifully lush and green, with many a north facing slope. The country's first official wine route was opened by Frans Malan of Simonsig, and the estate is currently being run by his 2nd and 3rd generation descendants. Frans Malan was also the first to pioneer MCC (Methode Cap Classique) sparkling wines in the Champagne tradition. Simonsig offers a large selection of terroir-driven wines, seasonal dishes and flavours as well as a fascinating cross section of what it takes to be a sustainability-first and environmentally conscious wine estate these days. Keep an eye on their calendar, with opera evenings at the restaurant and First Fizzday (the first Thursday of every month) celebrating Kaapse Vonkel complemented by fresh cape oysters, live music and the stunning Simonsig Mountains overlooking the proceedings.
Around the corner from the historic Victoria Junction in trendy De Waterkant, you will find a little gem of a restaurant tucked away at The Rockwell. Everything on the menu is a must have, necessitating a return trip (or two) to enjoy the entire breadth of their fantastic menu. Ranging from traditional to uniquely non-traditional Japanese dishes, the chef/owner Arata Koga (formerly sushi master at Tank and Genki) pays homage to the roots of his craft, whilst elevating it to an art. Along with a great selection of Asian beers and sake there are a few notable items on the menu, for instance the sublime Nabe Yaki Udon (beautiful prawn tempura, shitake mushrooms, spinach, tofu bean curd and a poached egg) or the refreshing and slightly piquant Tataki Roll (seared tuna and avo). A great experience in a small corner that reflects the chef's delight and passion in food.
Cosmopolitan Sea Point lies between Mouille Point, Green Point and Bantry Bay. Its vibrancy is created by the multitude of shops, restaurants, cafes and its splendid beach front promenade (featuring many children’s playgrounds and jogging tracks).
The iconic Ritz Hotel with its 360° rotating restaurant is still in operation on the dividing line of the main road, above which are the large private villas on the slopes of Signal Hill, below which are the luxurious beachfront apartments lining the promenade.