Meet the Queen of Prawns at Carla’s in Muizenberg

Posted on 28 March 2012

I first walked past Carla’s in Muizenberg during the day about a year ago. The restaurant was only opening much later in the day, but it looked so intriguing that I vowed to return. Spending a night in Muizenberg recently gave me the opportunity to do just that and it is one of my restaurant ‘bucket lists’ that I am glad I finally got to do.

My friend and I walked over the railway line from Surfers’ Corner into York Street in the early evening and were guided to our destination by the cheerful little twinkling lights that circle the entrance of Carla’s restaurant. Two round tables, each with two chairs were on the side of the door, the name ‘Carla’s’ was in Broadway lights and there was an old-fashioned ‘welcome’ sign at the door. The gate clicked open and we stepped into an unpretentious bohemian world where we were made to feel exactly that. Mozambican decor lined the walls, the menu was on a chalkboard swathed in flower lights and the tables were covered with cheerful plastic tablecloths. We were immediately enchanted. Both with the restaurant and the carefree owner, Carla.

When people bump into Carla they all say, ‘Do you still make those delicious prawns?’ To which she responds, ‘Yes I do! Where have you been?’

Carla has been cooking prawns and welcoming patrons to her Mozambican restaurant for just over eight years. Many of her patrons are locals and she seems to remember almost every face that walks through the door. She makes time to have a chat and open your bottle of wine before taking your order and going to check on her chef in the kitchen. A short while later she returns to your table with a bowl (for the prawn shells) and a heap of serviettes. Some more chatter follows and then it’s back to the kitchen. The next time she returns it’s with a plate of Mozambican prawns, their beady black eyes staring at you from under a handful of coriander next to a mound of rice and some olives. ‘Enjoy!’ she says cheerfully and goes off to chat to a table of four that’s just arrived.

‘Enjoy’ is an understatement. We relished every minute. We pulled off heads and scooped out flesh. We licked sauce off shells and fingers and licked our lips. The bowl for shells filled up rapidly and our pile of serviettes diminished along with the last tail. Before we knew it, our plates were empty. Not a grain of rice or an olive to be seen. Perhaps a feeler or two if you really looked. We glanced up from our empty plates and realised that in the space of half an hour the restaurant was full. Just like that. And just like our tummies.

So what’s on the menu? Prawns and more prawns! Although you will find a few other dishes on the chalkboard (including mussels), prawns are Carla’s speciality. She is affectionately known as the Queen of Prawns after all! She says on a busy night she can serve up to 10kgs of prawns. All the prawns are imported from Mozambique and she makes her own sauce (which is a secret recipe and delicious). So if you love prawns, then Carla’s should be on your restaurant bucket list. If you are unfortunately allergic to shellfish, you could have steak, egg and chips, or Caldo Verde (potato, spinach and olive oil soup) or a tossed salad with chickpeas, olives and coriander. We had the Chocolate Mousse Cake for dessert (the only dessert on the menu) and I highly recommend it if you feel the need for something sweet.

As for the charming hostess, she’s from Mozambique, has a ready smile and loves to chat. When she bought the restaurant 8 years ago (it was originally a coffee shop), she was told that it would probably fail as Muizenberg was in the throes of being taken over by gangs and druglords. ‘With these 8 tables, I bought my house’ she says proudly. Proving that if you do something with passion, you will do it well and do well. Carla should be an inspiration to us all.

As we are about to leave, Carla adds that she hasn’t changed her prices in 6 years. We hope she doesn’t change anything else either. It’s a perfect little piece of prawn heaven in Muizenberg where you get to lick your fingers with the locals.

Restaurant hours
16h00 til late, Monday to Saturday.

Contact details
7 York Road, Muizenberg, Cape Town.
Tel 021-788-6860, email [email protected].

Need to know
House wines and beer are available, but you are welcome to take your own bottle of wine.
Carla keeps it simple – cash only, no credit cards.


For accommodation in Muizenberg, visit Getaway Accommodation for some great options.

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