Cape Town has organic food markets, vintage markets, night markets, pop-up markets and flea markets. To help you make up your mind about which ones to visit, I’ve put together a list of my favourite markets in Cape Town. They’re in alphabetical order, and as the markets often have many of the same vendors, I’ve included one thing that I found unique to each.
The best part about markets is that while you are enjoying something to eat and drink in a relaxed atmosphere, you are also supporting your local farmer and the entrepreneur next door. This move towards going local and meeting your neighbours has resulted in thousands of people flocking to community markets over weekends and in the evenings, and new markets are popping up regularly.
Pet owners will also be pleased to know that nearly all of these markets are pet-friendly so you can take your dog along too (on a leash of course).
1. Bay Harbour Market, Hout Bay
After standing derelict for six years with no roof, it took a two-year labour of love to turn the old Sea Harvest factory into the place it is now. A building that holds over 150 local trader stalls (carefully selected so no two are alike), a stage for live music and comedy acts and, best of all, a huge fireplace that is perfect for those icy winter nights. There is a lot to see and even more to eat and drink. Browse through wall art, woolen hats, beaded jewellery, prints, paintings, photographs, frames, home decor and perfumes. You can also get your hair braided, have your face painted and enjoy a back or shoulder massage. When you are feeling peckish, there are burgers, breakfast rolls, wraps, steak rolls, fish and chips, home-made soup, flame roasted lamb ciabattas, spring rolls, potjie, bunny chow, sandwiches, hotdogs, pizzas, quiches, cheesecake, koeksisters and Italian ice cream. If you build up a thirst there’s a bar with plenty of beer on tap, plus bottled craft beer and soft drinks. There are also cocktails from Naked Drinks and a selection of teas, coffee and hot chocolate. Most of all, this market is so very proudly South African with countless small touches and boundless creative energy.
Unique find: The ladies toilet has a door handle in the form of a fabulous leopard-print stiletto!
2. Bluebird Garage Market, Muizenberg
I visited the Bluebird Garage Market towards the end of last year and loved it. I found some things to be a little pricey for me, but having said that, I do understand that buying something original from a craftsman is worth paying more for. The market was filled with beautiful items, from clothes to jewellery, books to stationery and body products to candles and flowers. Above all, the whole place has an arty, quirky feel to it which is part of what makes it so appealing. The food market section, with its surfboards and writing on the tables (more arty stuff), has everything – burgers, tacos, spring rolls, potjie, wraps, pizzas, plant-based foods and more. If you’re in need of a end-of-week drink, you can enjoy a range of craft beers and wine (the bar area is always busy!). There’s also a dedicated area for kids so they can have a good time too.
Unique find: I remember being in awe of the incredibly original jewellery creations. There are some very talented people out there! They are your neighbours, so support them if you can.
3. Cape Point Vineyards Community Market, Noordhoek
In my mind, if there was a ‘Best Market in Cape Town’ award this market would win it. The view alone is worth the drive, not to mention the lush green lawns (with plenty of spots to sit and have a picnic) and the dam with its circular wooden platform (where you are also welcome to sit and enjoy a bite to eat). You are spoilt for choice when it comes to what to have for supper, with everything from falafels to souvlaki, pulled pork burgers to steak and stout pies, chilli con carne to lentil bobotie, fish and chips to sushi, peri-peri livers to dolmades and flammkuchen to prego rolls. If you have a sweet tooth there’s Tony’s Artisanal Chocolates, vegan-friendly slices of cake from Angel Chefs, Sweet Dreams fudge, chocolate-smeared crêpes from Sweet Crêpes and raw honey chocolate and chocolate-coated nuts from Native. It’s the perfect place for a group of friends to meet for dinner where you can share a bottle of wine or a bucket of beer. Families will love the tables near the jungle gym, but there’s also a huge tank with koi fish that keeps the littlies entertained for ages. The vendors only take cash, but if you run out you can swipe your bank card in the office and get vouchers in return. Whatever you don’t spend, you can use next time or cash them in at the bar.
Unique find: Owl-shaped soaps from Jade Woo, who also hands out small bars of soap offcuts for free.
4. City Bowl Market on Hope, CBD
I hadn’t been to this market for some time and when I popped in recently we found it to be a little quiet and with fewer stalls than I remembered. But in all fairness, it was on a First Thursday so everyone was probably elsewhere that evening. It still has more of a local community feel to it and as it is an indoor market you’ll probably find this one to be a good option in winter where you keep warm and dry while tucking into a potjie or a curry. There’s also organic salads, delicious-looking gourmet veggie burgers, Banting burgers, hotdogs, sushi and ice-cream. You can shop for vintage clothing, quirky purses and wallets, fresh vegetables, brownies and home-made bread. Drinks-wise, you can enjoy a craft beer, local wine, cocktails (they even have a cocktail happy hour) and a shot of liqueur in a chocolate shot glass – I recommend one of those!
Unique find: Not in the actual market, but on your way in there’s an art gallery on the left-hand side that’s well worth a snoop if you like art that’s a little offbeat and unconventional.
5. Earth Fair Food Market, St George’s Mall
Every Thursday the Earthfair Food Market comes to town and St George’s Mall (near the cathedral) is abuzz with market stalls and students. Join in the festive atmosphere and grab something tasty to eat from pies to halloumi bread and homemade Portuguese food to Argentinian fare. There’s also wine tasting and you can shop for bunches of flowers, fresh fruit and vegetables. We recommend you sit on the stairs of the Bishop Gray monument and watch all the goings on before heading back to work, but note that it’s best to get there fairly early as the stalls start packing up from 14h30.
Unique find: When I asked the vegetable vendor if the veggies were organic he laughed and told me not to be silly. Non-organic vegetables at a market – now that is unique today!
6. Earth Fair Food Market, Tokai
If you don’t feel like cooking on Wednesday evening, then swing by this market and either have supper there (while enjoying a local band), or take it home. There’s something here for every budget and there’s also gluten-free, Banting-friendly, vegetarian and vegan-friendly options available. If you fancy a snack there’s spring rolls, calamari cones, German sausage hotdogs, sushi, mini fritattas, homemade pies and pancakes. If you have a bigger appetite, you’ll be spoilt for choice with pizzas (with a cauliflower base option), various potjies from Oded’s Kitchen, moussaka from Anna’s Greek Kitchen, halaal curries from Cumin Catering, fillet steak with chips and salad from The Famous Bunga Bunga Grill and bun-less vegetarian burgers from The Sunshine Food Co. There’s fresh fruit juices and smoothies, while those who prefer a beer or a glass of wine can head to The Laughing Crocodile for a cold one. There’s plenty of seating both indoors and outside and a lovely corner for kids where they will be kept occupied with all sorts of activities. Don’t forget to grab a bunch of flowers, a loaf of home-baked bread or some fresh vegetables on your way out.
Unique find: Sandy’s Sharpening Services, where you can get your knives, scissors and garden tools sharpened while you wait.
7. I Love Big Bay Market, Big Bay
Held once a month during summer, this is the only market where you are likely to spot a surfer strolling past a food truck, board in hand. It takes place right on the promenade at the Big Bay Surf Lifesaving Club so after browsing through all the goodies for sale indoors, you can grab a drink from the bar, a bite to eat and watch the sun set from one of the tables outside. There’s also seating out the back under fairy lights which adds to the feel-good summer vibe. The four food trucks aside, you’ll find bratwursts, hotdogs, cheese grillers, schwarmas, burgers, bitterballen, calamari and tacos. Take plenty of cash along as there’s a lot of lovely handcrafted items for sale including jewellery, cushions, clothing, pictures, ceramics and arty airplants.
Unique find: A steampunk minion (have you ever?) from Steams Up.
8. Jolly Carp Market, Retreat
This market wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but I rather liked it. The Jolly Carp Market is what markets used to be… a place where a community comes together and in between catching up on the gossip and planning the neighbour’s wedding, they sell their homegrown vegetables, farm eggs, jams, spices, old books and knick-knacks. While the grown-ups are either cooking or chatting, the kids play outside on the swings, climb the trees and cuddle the bunnies (or ‘rabbits’ as I was corrected by a 10 year old). They can also have their faces painted for free. There aren’t many stalls, but everything is a bargain price and while there isn’t much shopping to be had, there’s plenty of good home-cooked and ridiculously budget-friendly food to get. Think bacon or savoury mince pancakes at R10, cheese & tomato or chicken & mayo jaffles at R20, a plate of breyani for R20 (I can personally recommend this) and calamari & chips or steak & chips for R35. Breakfast is popular and I can see why – French toast with bacon and syrup for R25, spinach omelette with toast and salad for R25 and the Farmers Breakfast (two eggs, bacon, baked beans, toast and a salad with tea, coffee or juice) for a mere R35! There’s even a bar tucked away in the corner where they unlock the door and you can choose your beer or cider from the small bar fridge. It’s delightful in its simplicity and you feel that you really are supporting the local community when you visit this market.
Unique find: A huge bag of green beans for R15. I don’t think you can grow them yourself for cheaper than that!
9. Market at the Palms, Woodstock
Being a huge indoor market that takes over the central area of ground floor of The Palms, this one would be a good option in the winter months when it won’t matter if it’s raining or miserably cold outside. There’s plenty on offer, including wraps, French toast, burgers, hot dogs, schwarmas, nachos, samoosas, calamari, pies, lasagna and mushroom kebabs. Deli meats and cheeses are also available, along with honey, olives, relishes, pickles and herb plants. There was wine from Arumdale and craft beer from Drifter Brewing Company, along with fresh juices and teas and coffees. As with many other markets you can also buy bunches of flowers and fresh vegetables (including the biggest marrows I have ever seen). There are a few tables with red checked cloths to sit at and while you are there you can also have a look through some of the shops that are open on a Saturday. It may be indoors, but it’s open and airy, which is a good thing as it can get extremely busy. Undercover parking is free which is another bonus.
Unique find: Ice cream made right in front of my eyes by iScrape Fried Ice Cream. Available in peanut butter, Turkish delight, liquorice, candy floss and pina colada (to name but a few flavours) and downright delicious.
10. Milnerton Flea Market, Paarden Eiland
There’s that famous saying about one man’s trash being another man’s treasure and this is never been more evident than on a sidewalk in Paarden Eiland. In fact this market has grown so much in popularity over the years that they had to build a parking lot especially for it. It’s a place where you are almost guaranteed to sell the contents of your garage in one morning and find something you probably don’t need but want anyway. Where else are you going to find a set of kudu horns lying next to an old Singer sewing machine and countless old cups and saucers alongside a teddy bear and a Micky Mouse toaster? If you are feeling peckish you can have a boerewors roll, a burger, hot chips, calamari, something from the bakery or an ice cream. There’s bargains to be made and bargains to be found at this market and it’s well worth a visit. Just make sure you don’t go when there’s a black South Easter because you will not only be blown away by the bargains.
Unique find: Apart from the Micky Mouse toaster already mentioned, a pair of tortoise salt and pepper pots for R20.
11. Neighbourgoods Market, Woodstock
I remember when this market first opened and it was THE place to be on a Saturday. It still is, but in my mind is now very overcrowded. That said, while many of the locals may give it a miss, it’s still very popular, especially with overseas tourists. They have changed the layout to cope with the number of market-goers which makes it a bit more breathable, but if you don’t get there shortly after it opens you may battle to find a place to sit. It is choc-a-block full of wares and there’s no shortage of food offerings. Shoppers can buy flowers, hand-painted porcelain items, hand-made soaps, essential oils, sprouting kits, seed blocks, herb plants, herbal teas, artisan chocolates and more. Scoff your way through rotis, chilli poppers, cupcakes, cakes, kebabs, dim sum platters, potato cakes with smoked salmon, pretzels, hot dogs, bitterballen, paella and Wagyu burgers. There’s also plenty to drink including wine, craft beer, sangria, cocktails, fruit juices, smoothies and iced tea. It’s still one of the best markets because it has so much to offer, If you don’t mind being bumped while you browse.
Unique find: The Grizzly Beard range of beard oils made me giggle – talk about a captive market! I have since found them at other markets, but this was the first place I saw them. Long may the beard be fashionable!
12. Oranjezicht City Farm Market Day, V&A Waterfront
The new venue for this popular market is outstanding. It’s spacious with different sections for different things and the view of the ocean from Granger Bay makes it picture-perfect on a summer’s day. As you enter the market you are inundated with choices to make. Should you try the oysters or have a slice of vegan cake? Perhaps a taste of citrus whisky salami or a butternut & coriander samoosa? It’s here that you can purchase free range chickens along with eggs, grass-fed beef and yummy accompaniments like homemade garlic mayonnaise. The next section sees a huge range of organic vegetables and fruit, including interesting items like baobab seed pods and purple podded pole beans. Take your basket along and fill it with good food while supporting your local farmer at the same time. The third section is where you can find something substantial to eat, like paella from The Little Spanish Kitchen, eggs benedict from Lunchworks, a Banting breakfast from Good Eggs and a gluten-free vegan lunch buffet from Spades and Spoons. There’s also picnic boxes, hotdogs, burgers, wraps and crepes along with fresh juices, natural cordials and smoothies. You can choose to sit at benches inside, or take a seat outside to enjoy some fresh sea air and an ocean view.
Unique find: The potjie pies from Oded’s Kitchen are utterly delicious and the best R15 I have spent in a long time.
13. The Range Foodmarket, Tokai
If you like food, food and more food, then this market is just the place to spend a chilled Friday evening. There’s also wine, beer and cocktails, entertainment for the kids and live music. It’s perfect for start-of-the-weekend sundowners with supper. The food options are almost overwhelming, but the great thing is that whether your budget is R20, R50 or R200, you’ll find something to eat. You’ll also find plenty of vegetarian options and Banting choices. You can also buy bunches of flowers and there are a few vendors selling chocolates, preserves, pickles and jams. While you are enjoying your supper and wine (or beer), you can watch the sun set behind the mountains while kids play outside. There is also a table in the marquee with crayons and paints etc to keep the little ones entertained, so it’s a great spot for families. The live music, happy chatter and clinking of glasses definitely make for a good Friday night vibe.
Unique find: The preservative-and gluten-free sausages from Pierre’s Meats are beyond delicious and surprisingly affordable. I recommend the Rauchwurst – smoked pork with mixed herbs.
14. Tokai Forest Market, Tokai
This market has also been around for quite some time and is probably one of the most leisurely of the Saturday markets, complete with cute bunting in between and overhead the stalls, plenty of dogs enjoying a morning out and families sharing tables with couples. You’ll find cheesemakers, bakers and chocolate-creators, preserves, jams and gourmet toffee apples alongside hand-painted porcelain bowls and wooden vegetable boxes. You can have your face painted and your tarot cards read. Once you’ve built up an appetite, tuck into a schwarma, breakfast bun, pumpkin fritters, empanadas or a steak roll. Wash it down with a glass of wine or a moer coffee. There’s also a great spot for kids to play, making it perfect start to the weekend for families.
Unique find: The Wonderbag – a slow-cooker made using colourful shwe-shwe fabric with a foam filling that allows you to spend less time in the kitchen and use less electricity. Very useful in South Africa!
15. V&A Food Market
There’s plenty of food and drink options, as you would expect from the V&A Waterfront, and you can choose to eat outside at benches indoors at various spots both upstairs and down. There’s crêpes, waffles, toasties, crushed ice smoothies, bubble tea, dim sum, sushi, fresh juices, burgers, biltong, cheeses, honey and gluten-free and vegan options. You can also opt for world cuisine from the Thai Hut, Mex It Up, Tunisian Delights or the Exotic Marigold Eatery. If you want to go all-out-African, then Kubu Cuisine on the ground floor has zebra & warthog kebabs, crocodile carpaccio, venison burgers and marinated mopane worms. There’s a bar upstairs that offers craft beer and wine and you can take your drinks outside.
Unique find: A range of African-inspired soaps from Khulu Soap that offer beauty & good fortune, physical strength & attraction and the removal of skin impurities & bad spirits.
16. Vineyard Oval Market, Kenilworth
Many people say that this market was better when it was at The Oval, but as I hadn’t been to the one there, I had nothing to compare it with. What I found was a small market (still in an oval shape) that had a little bit of everything and a lot of food trucks! There were racks of vintage clothes, wallets and purses, jewellery, gemstones and other knick-knacks to browse through while sipping on a Zimbabwean coffee from Caturra or a craft beer from the bar (they have local beers, wines and soft drinks too). There were no less than 11 food trucks there, including Didi’s Bitchin’ Burritos, PitMasters, Wahine, Wok Your Way, Eezy Eetery, Syriana, Rack n’ Grill and Sugary Sensations. Other options included chicken kebabs and wings, burgers, hotdogs, curries, empanadas, nachos, Greek fare, a vegan stand and Banting dishes. You can either sit at a table, or relax on rather unique seats fashioned out of pallets with a cushion.
Unique find: Henna hand tattoos.
I will be adding to this list as I visit more markets along the way. If there are any you think I should be visiting, please let me know in the comments below.