Need a winter warmer? If you enjoy a good curry, here are 18 restaurants in Cape Town worth visiting. Most are Indian while some are Malay, but all have either been personally tried and tested or come highly recommended. From opulent six-course tasting menus to the more cheap-and-cheerful options, you’re bound to find something to suit your tastes.
Personally tried and tested curry restaurants in Cape Town
1. Bombay Brasserie @ The Taj, City Bowl
Opening times: Monday to Sunday, 18:00 – 23:00
What you can expect to pay: R100 – R200 for a main course, Chef’s Menu (5 courses) R625 per person / R890 with wine pairing
Contact: Tel 0218192000, tajcapetown.co.za/dining/bombay-brasserie/
An evening at the Bombay Brasserie is a truly opulent one: from the valet parking to the plush, peacock-embroidered chairs (imported from India) and huge shimmering chandeliers above your head. After you’ve taken all that in, you can munch on their complimentary Indian snack platter, while going through their menu. This will take some time as how does one decide between the fenugreek flavoured “Tariwala” chicken curry and a Prawn “Kadipatta” masala?
If you’ve got a big appetite, I can recommend the set menu where you can enjoy an appetiser, a soup, two starters, two mains with four sides and three desserts. Be warned though, you need a good appetite for this choice! If you feel like a wine pairing with your dinner, then you are in extremely good hands with their charming sommelier, Pearl Oliver, who not only knows her stuff, but is good fun too. If you are having trouble choosing from the menu, I can recommend the Karoo lamb cubes simmered in a saffron curry, the sautéed spinach with golden fried garlic and the roasted yellow corn soup, served with turmeric popcorn (I am never making croutons again!)
2. Cafe Soul, Kalkbay
Opening times: Monday to Friday, 10:00 – 21:30, Saturdays 12:00 – 21:30
What you can expect to pay: R80 – R150 for a main course
Contact: Tel 0785064466, or visit their Facebook page
How could you not want to try out a restaurant with an endearing name like that? If the name or the promise of a plush window seat or a spot by the fireplace doesn’t get you through the door, their Balti curries definitely should! Balti curries hail from the nomadic people in Pakistan and at Café Soul they make the real thing using plenty of marinated meats, fresh vegetables and spices.
The Moong Dhal Curry was a firm favourite at our table as was the Balti Jafrezi Chicken and the Balti Masala Lamb. You are also encouraged to eat with your hands as this is the traditional way of eating curry and they bring you warm and delightful-smelling facecloths to use during and after your meal. Tip: Keep an eye on their Facebook page for special offers, such as a three course meal for a mere R135.
3. Masala Dosa, City Bowl
Opening times: Daily 12:00 – 22:30
What you can expect to pay: R70 – R90 for a main course
Contact: Tel 0214246772, or visit their Facebook page
My first experience at Masala Dosa was many years ago when I attended an Indian cooking course. We learnt about spices and how to mix them, made a few dishes and ruined a few dishes, rolled out heaps of naan bread and drank Indian beer. It was so much fun I vowed to go back, as we always do. I am glad I did eventually return as Riyaz Mir (owner) is still as charming as ever, in his quiet way, and he still brews a mean pot of Masala chai. He also serves up fine street food from South India, and it is all very reasonably priced. Vegans will also be pleased to know that they are most welcome, because, as Riyaz pointed out, “Indians have been vegan or vegetarian for centuries.”
4. Thali, Gardens
Opening times: Lunch on Tuesday to Saturday, 12:30 – 14:30, dinner on Monday to Saturday 17:00 – 21:00 (bar opens at 16:00)
What you can expect to pay: Tapas for One (lunch) R180, Tapas for Two (dinner) R650
Contact: Tel 0212862110, thalitapas.co.za
Owned by Liam Tomlin (of Chefs Warehouse fame), this is another fine dining affair, complete with interesting Indian décor and impeccable service. The interior is warm and snug with darker hues, while the courtyard is a more colourful affair with bright tile-topped tables, red chairs, chains of lights and vintage Indian signage. Even the boards on which the menus are attached are engraved with an Indian-style design. That same attention to detail goes into their dishes and whether you go there for lunch or dinner, you are in for a treat!
Thali has set menus for both lunch and dinner, with lunch being a set menu per person and dinner being tapas for two. I was there for the lunch affair, where you can choose one of six main dishes which is served with five side dishes, including dhal, basmati rice, a garlic butter naan bread, a tomato salsa and a cucumber and pomegranate raita. Main dishes include butter chicken, butter paneer, yoghurt lamb curry and a panch phoran fish curry (the fish and the lamb are highly recommended!) If you order dessert, you get a rather charming little surprise too (a reward for eating so much!) They also have some interesting takes on traditional Indian drinks, including Dirty Lassis that sees the addition of rum to this Indian milkshake classic. Tip: If you like oysters, do not pass up the opportunity to tuck into their take on this seafood delicacy with a Cape Malay dressing.
5. The Charles Café, De Waterkant
Opening times: Mondays to Fridays 07:00-22:00, Saturdays and Sundays 08:00-15:00
What you can expect to pay: R70-R100 for a main course, Malay Tasting Menu (5 mains, 2 desserts) R225 per person
Contact: Tel 087743 2359, www.thecharles.cafe
Simply put, The Charles Café feels like a friend’s home where you are welcomed through the front door and into the dining room where there’s a fireplace with a roaring fire, plushly refurbished antique chairs, candles and delightful wallpaper. The indoor dining area at this establishment in the bustling Waterkant Street is tiny, with seating for only about 15 people at a push, but that makes it perfect for cosying up in winter. We got a spot right by the fireside when we popped in for their Malay Monday (every Monday from 12:00 – 22:00). We opted for the tasting menu (R225 per person for 5 mains and two desserts) and there was a lot of food! Our favourites from the tasting menu were the bobotie (they only use Farmer Angus pasture-reared beef), the butter chicken and the Cape Malay lamb curry topped with toasted coconut and sliced banana. There are three desserts to choose from, including a Cape Malay koeksister, an orange & poppyseed malva pudding and a very traditional boeber, served in a teacup (our favourite). If the weather’s not too bad or there are too many people vying for the fireplace, you can also sit upstairs on the balcony and enjoy a wonderful view over the city: they do have heaters and blankets.
6. Vintage India, Gardens
Opening times: Daily from 12:00 – 15:00 and 18:00 – 22:00
What you can expect to pay: R60 – R100 for a main course
Contact: Tel 0214625106 or visit their Facebook page
Looking at the restaurant from the outside, if you didn’t know better you’d probably give it a miss. But once you step through the doors, it’s a whole different world! A world filled with beautiful paintings, richly coloured fabrics and magnificent wall panels, all of which have been imported from Mumbai. You’ll find five pages of different curry styles, with vegetarian, chicken, fish, lamb, prawn and paneer (Indian-style cottage cheese) options. The best way to enjoy a meal here is with a group of friends where you can each order a different item off the menu and share. I do suggest you try their lovable sandwich (a deep-fried spicy Indian delicacy with paneer) and their malai kulfi ice-cream (it comes in little blocks, much like fudge, and is wonderfully sweet and creamy). You can buy alcoholic beverages here, including Indian beer, but if you wish to take your own bottle of wine you are welcome to do so (R40 corkage fee). They also serve colourful tiny sweets and fennel seeds as your after-dinner-mint.
7. Mink and Trout, City Bowl
Opening times: Monday to Saturday 12:00-15:30 and 18:30-22:30
What you can expect to pay: R99 for a three-course curry dinner (Tuesdays, until end of August)
Contact: Tel 0214262534, or visit their Facebook page
Mink and Trout used to be known as the very popular Birds Cafe in Bree Street. They are open for lunch and dinner, with a varied menu, but it’s their Tuesday Curry Night that I was there for! It’s not often you find a three-course meal at a renowned restaurant for R99, so I had to find out what you got for for such a bargain. The starters include samoosas, chilli bites and an onion bhaji, you then choose one of four main courses, which is followed by pumpkin fritters for dessert. We had the Thai mussel and pork curry (an interesting combination with a rich and tasty sauce) and the mother-in-law masala beef with potato (it is spicy, but not as hot as the name would lead you to believe) with the other two options being a butter chicken with cauliflower and roasted cashew nuts, and a vegetarian cauliflower and chickpea curry. However, the Tuesday Curry Night is only on until the end of August, so phone and book now – you can always move Date Night from Monday to a Tuesday!
8. Bo-Kaap Kombuis, Bo Kaap
Opening times: Tuesday to Thursday and Saturdays 12:00 – 22:30, Fridays 14:00 – 22:30, Sundays 11:30 – 16:00
What you can expect to pay: R80 – R100 for a main course
Contact: Tel 0214225466, bokaapkombuis.co.za
I originally visited this delightful family-run restaurant in 2012 (see full review of Bo Kaap Kombuis) and it has been a favourite of mine ever since. Originally a coffee shop, the Bo-Kaap Kombuis serves a wide selection of delicious Malay dishes and all with a magnificent view over the city. Their Denningvleis is highly recommended, but their butter chicken and butterbean & lamb curry are good too. Above all, this is a warm and welcoming spot that you will find yourself returning to again and again. Note: It is a good idea to book in advance as they often host private functions and tour groups.
9. Bukhara, City Bowl
Opening times: Daily, lunch from 11:00 – 15:00 and dinner from 18:00 – 23:00
What you can expect to pay: R200 for a dinner main course, R100 selected dishes from 11:00 – 15:00 daily
Contact: Tel 0214240000, bukhara.com
Did you know that the owner of Bukhara is a real-life rocket scientist? I bet you also didn’t know that you can enjoy a selection of their delicious North Indian dishes for less than R100 from 11:00 to 15:00 every day of the week! Which is good news for those who would love to have a meal in this upmarket restaurant, but feel the average price of R200 for a meat dish is a little too much for their wallet to bear. There are two kitchens (one preparing North Indian dishes and the other Tandoori dishes using Tandoori ovens from India) so it is not surprising that a culinary experience here is going to be memorable.
It all starts when you unravel your embroidered napkin to discover that it is actually a bib. They definitely expect you to tuck in with relish! Every table gets a complimentary dish upon arrival (I had poppadums with a homemade tomato and chilli sauce) which you can enjoy while perusing their leather-bound menu with a wide array of halaal dishes, including chicken, lamb, seafood and vegetarian. Their lunch deals include a veg thali; lamb keema biryani; paneer dosa; a selection of curry dishes, wraps and salads, along with a brunch menu – all for under R100. I can heartily recommend the veg thali (which carnivores will even enjoy as it’s so tasty) and you are in for a real treat with their parantha! I was a bit confused at first, but it turns out that while paratha is the word most widely used in India, ‘parantha’ is specifically Punjab. And as my waitron said, “Parantha is like the croissant of naan breads.” Expect plenty of buttery, flakey crumbs down your Bukhara embroidered bib! Note: If you are a party of 10 or more, you will be required to have one of the set menus, starting at R299 per person.
9. The Eastern Food Bazaar, City Bowl
Opening times: Monday to Thursday 11:00 – 22:00, Fridays and Saturdays 11:00 – 22:30
What you can expect to pay: R30 – R50 for a main course
Contact: Tel 0214612458, easternfoodbazaar.co.za
Fine dining the Eastern Food Bazaar is not, but it has never failed me for an affordable and tasty bite to eat. Plus the portions are so huge that you can make two or three meals out of one helping. From Turkish kebabs to North Indian curries and tandoori dishes, the whole spectrum from Bombay to the Bo-Kaap is covered under one roof. There are ten outlets to order from and you can have anything from a portion of chilli bites to bunny chow to vindaloo. To be honest, it’s probably more of a takeaway spot, but you can sit at one of the tables and you never know who you’ll meet over your chicken korma!
Highly recommended curry restaurants in Cape Town
11. Bombay Chilli, Muizenberg
Opening times: Mondays and Tuesdays 17:00 – 22:00, Wednesday to Sunday 13:30 – 22:00
What you can expect to pay: R60 – R100 for a main course
Contact: Tel 0218366748, bombaychilli.co.za
This popular restaurant by the sea has both eat-in and a takeaway option. Their menu includes starter options, rotis, naans and breads, chicken tikka and various biryani dishes (served with raita or sambals), along with seafood, chicken, lamb and vegetarian curries. Vegan options are also available.
12. Bihari, Newlands
Opening times: Daily from 12:30 to 15:30 and 17:30 to 22:30
What you can expect to pay: R100-R200 for a main course
Contact: Tel 0216747186, bihari.co.za
Situated in The Southern Sun in Newlands, Bihari consistently remains one of the best places to get a good North Indian curry. There’s a full bar and lounge with a central fireplace, a private cellar and an outside seating and entertainment area. Food is prepared in the restaurant’s tandoori ovens on hot open coals and then served on heated clay plates or in pots, adding to the overall experience. The menu includes vegetable, chicken and tandoori starters, samoosas, a choice of no less than seven naan breads and shami kebabs while main dishes include a variety of curries and Indian tandoori options. If you want to impress your guests at your next party, then book their catering option, complete with a portable Tandoori oven.
13. Indian Oven, Hout Bay
Opening times: Tuesday to Sunday, 12:00 – 22:00
What you can expect to pay: R50-R100 for a main course
Contact: Tel 0217914805, or visit their Facebook page
The Indian Oven is highly rated by locals in Hout Bay. Dishes here are prepared the traditional way in an authentic clay Tandoori oven, using ingredients sourced from local markets, farms and suppliers. As everything is prepared to order, meals here are an unrushed affair so nibble on their bhajis, pakora or a naan bread while you wait. Main dishes include lamb rogan josh, chicken tikka masala and palak paneer, along with biryani, bunny chow and kebabs. You can choose to sit in (outside and inside tables available), order a takeaway or opt to have your food delivered to your home if you are having friends over to dinner.
14. MoKsh, Durbanville
Opening times: Tuesday to Sunday 12:00-22:00
What you can expect to pay: R70 – R120 for a main course
Contact: Tel 0219795505, mokshrestaurant.co.za
The branch in Durbanville is so popular that I couldn’t get a booking for that evening on the two occasions that I phoned. So it’s clearly a popular Northern Suburbs option for a good curry! MoKsh means freedom or liberation. It also means to attain the highest level of satisfaction which is something MoKsh take great pride in doing when it comes to their North Indian cuisine. The menu includes a wide choice of chicken, lamb, seafood and vegetarian curries along with Tandoori options straight from their Tandoori oven. MoKsh also has branches in Wegelegen, Paarl, Worcester and Somerset West. Probably a good idea to book long in advance!
15. Biesmiellah Restaurant, Bo-Kaap
Opening times: Monday to Saturday 11:00 – 22:00
What you can expect to pay: R100 for a main course
Contact: Tel 0214230850, biesmiellah.co.za
I haven’t personally visited this iconic Bo-Kaap establishment, but it is on my list of places to eat. Apart from Cape Malay dishes and various curries, they also serve breakfast items, tramezzinis, burgers, salomies, pastas and grills. Being halaal, you won’t find any alcohol in here, but try having a lassi or a falooda (a traditional Indian drink comprising of milk, rose water, almonds, and ice cream) instead.
16. Sundoo Indian Tapas & Bar, Sea Point
Opening times: Daily 12:00 – 23:00
What you can expect to pay: Lunch menu from R50 for a main course, dinner from R60 – R120 for a main course
Contact: Tel 0214330542, seelan.co.za/sundoo/
As the name suggests, Sundoo serves up Indian tapas with a lunch menu and a dinner menu. The lunch menu sees bunny chow, vegetable tali, a masala chicken breast sandwich, roti wraps, lamb kebabs and a Bombay lamb burger, all for under R100. The dinner menu offers samoosas, bunny chow and roti trios, clay oven dishes, breyanis and a selection of curries. They also serve cocktails, wine, ciders and craft beers in a chic environment.
17. Taj Mahal, Hout Bay
Opening times: Daily from 12:00 – 22:00
What you can expect to pay: R60 – R150 for a main course
Contact: Tel 0217904711, tajmahalrestaurant.co.za
The Taj Mahal offers a halaal menu and has been serving a wide range of dishes since 2010. They also offer a buffet option at R250 per person where you can eat as much fish masala, chicken biryani, lamb curry and more as you like. Their a la carte menu includes soups, salads, samoosas and bunny chow, along with seafood, lamb, chicken and vegetarian curries. There is also a takeaway menu available if you prefer to eat at home, but don’t feel like cooking.
18. Mumbai Café, Rylands
Opening times: Daily from 10:30-22:30
What you can expect to pay: R40 – R100 for a main course
Contact: Tel 0216379486, www.mumbaicafe.co.za
When I attended an Indian cooking weekend away late last year, I asked the couple who ran the course which were their favourite restaurants serving the most authentic Indian food. The first on their list was Mumbai Café, so it’s top on my list of places to go next! You’ll find Chaat (Indian streetfood), masalas, tandoori dishes, biryanis, sweet treats, snacks and more at very reasonable prices.
Do you have a favourite curry spot? Let us know in the comments below!