When you’re in Cape Town, a city renowned for its rich cultural tapestry and breathtaking landscapes, there’s one adventure you simply cannot miss – exploring the diverse world of “Must-Try Food in Cape Town.” In this tantalising journey, we’ll guide you through a culinary odyssey that showcases the city’s vibrant flavours, from time-honoured classics to exciting hidden gems. Whether you’re a seasoned local or a curious visitor, get ready to indulge your taste buds in a remarkable exploration of Cape Town’s gastronomic delights.
The Gatsby, a Cape Town staple, boasts a crusty, toasted roll brimming with a delectable mix: bologna slices, crispy fries, ketchup, lettuce, and fiery piri-piri sauce. It’s generously portioned, often divided into four servings, ideal for sharing among friends or family. Named after F. Scott Fitzgerald’s opulent novel, “The Great Gatsby,” this sandwich embodies both its grandeur and richness.
Today, the Gatsby has evolved with an array of filling options, from savoury masala steak to succulent calamari and flavorful sausages. This culinary transformation mirrors Cape Town’s ever-evolving food scene, offering something to tantalise every taste bud.
Where to get a Gatsby in Cape Town:
- The Golden Dish – Google Rating: 4.2
- Cosy Corner – Google Ranking: 4.1
- Aneesa’s TAKE AWAYS: 4.3
Whether you’re from the Western Cape or not, you’ve likely heard of bobotie—a cherished classic featuring beef mince curry topped with eggs, served on a bed of yellow rice. While eggs for dinner might seem unusual to some, this Cape Malay favourite is a delightful surprise for your taste buds. If you enjoy making curries, you likely have most of the ingredients at home.
Simplify your cooking process by browning the mince before adding onions and spices. Adjust the spice level with your choice of curry powder, typically leaning toward mild. For a more traditional touch, consider adding raisins to your yellow rice or sweetening the mince mixture with chutney or apricot jam to enhance that iconic bobotie flavour.
Where to get a Bobotie in Cape Town:
- Damhuis Restaurant – Google rating – 4.5
- Fynkos Kirstenbosch Tea Room – Google rating – 4.4
- Bo-Kaap Kombuis – Google rating – 4.3
3. Tomato Bredie
Experience the ultimate comfort on a chilly winter night with Tomato Bredie, the soul-satisfying African stew. This aromatic dish combines tomatoes, onions, cardamom, cloves, butter, chilli, cinnamon, potatoes, and your choice of cubed mutton or beef. Allow it to rest overnight in the refrigerator, and the flavours harmonise beautifully, just like the serene environment of Murambi Rose Cafe. Reheat it the next day, and you have a heartwarming meal that pairs perfectly with fluffy white rice.
Much like the inviting atmosphere of Murambi Rose Cafe, Tomato Bredie offers a comforting and delightful experience, making it a must-try for anyone seeking a taste of pure bliss on a winter evening.
Where to get a Tamato Bredie in Cape Town:
- Urban Playground – Google rating – 4.7
- JÉAN Restaurant – Google rating – 4.6
- Boskloof Restaurant – Google rating – 4.6
Conclude your Cape Malay taste tour with a South African delight, the koeksister. This doughnut-like pastry features a rich dough infused with cinnamon, cardamom, and aniseed, coated in syrup or honey. It’s a nostalgic treat for many locals and even has its own day, World Koeksister Day, celebrated every first Sunday of September.
For the best experience, enjoy koeksisters while they’re warm and fresh from the fryer. To explore Cape Malay cuisine thoroughly, take a private tour of Bo Kaap’s cobblestone streets. This immersive journey will deepen your understanding of this unique culinary tradition.
Where to get a Koeksister in Cape Town:
- Ouma Rooi Koeksisters – Google rating – 4.9
- Farieda’s Koeksisters cc – Google rating – 4.6
- Arpin Koeksisters – Google rating – 4.9
5. Fish and chips
Cape Town’s affection for fish and chips is indisputable, a culinary passion that has deep roots, whether it was introduced by the British or organically cultivated through the city’s rich seafood history. Consequently, one can easily find a plethora of fish and chips establishments, bustling with patrons eager to indulge in a plate of expertly deep-fried fish paired with handcrafted fries, accompanied by a side of tangy vinegar.
Where to get a Fish and Chips in Cape Town:
- Super Fisheries – Google rating – 4.5
- Ocean’s Twelve Fisheries – Google rating – 4.8
- Crispies Fish & Chips – Google rating – 4.6
Boerewors, or BOO-ruh-VORS, is a South African farmer’s sausage designed for the grill, a staple in the country’s barbecue tradition known as braai (pronounced brī). Its name originates from the Afrikaans words “boer” (farmer) and “wors” (sausage).
This unique spiral-shaped sausage takes the spotlight during braais, grilling to perfection alongside other flavorful braai treats like sosatsies (sweet and smoky meat kebabs) and braaibroodjies, a gourmet South African grilled cheese sandwich with a twist featuring tomato and onion cooked on the grill.
Where to get a Boerewors in Cape Town:
- Biltong & Deli – Parklands – Google rating – 4.9
- Father Of Two’s Kitchen – Google rating – 5.0
- Boerie Express – Google rating – 4.7
7. Snoek Braai
Snoek, a beloved fish variety, particularly thrives in South African culinary culture. Its delicate flakiness, albeit with a profusion of bones, necessitates the use of a foldable grilling grid for a successful braai experience. To achieve the ideal result, continuous basting of the fish is key, and when your coals are precisely at the right temperature, each side should require just around 7 minutes of cooking time. Complementing this iconic dish is the roasted sweet potato, a side dish that lends itself beautifully to the grill; simply encase it in foil and place it directly on the coals for a delectable accompaniment.
Where to get a Snoek Braai in Cape Town:
- Dial-A-Braai – Google rating – 4.8
- The Braai Corner – Google rating – 4.4
- Braaivleis Centre Bellville – Google rating – 3.5
Shisanyama, akin to a braai or barbecue, originates from South Africa’s townships, bearing the Zulu name “Shisanyama,” literally translating to “burn meat.” It began as a strategy for local butchers to boost weekend sales but has since evolved into one of South Africa’s most flavorful and communal dining traditions. Expect lively music, impromptu dancing, ample beer, and the tantalizing scents of meat grilling over an open flame.
You handpick your preferred cuts from the butcher’s counter, pay by weight, and savour the atmosphere as skilled chefs tend to your selection. Authentic shisanyama always involves a wood fire—no charcoal or gas grills allowed. When mealtime arrives, relish accompaniments like pap (maize meal), chakalaka (a spicy relish), salads, and mielies (corn on the cob) that perfectly complement your grilled meat.
Where to get Shisanyama in Cape Town:
- The Duncan Shisa Nyama – Google rating – 4.2
- Jabulani’s Chisa Nyama- Google rating – 3.9
- PAPA RONS SHISA NYAMA – Google rating – 4.2
The beloved melktert, affectionately known as ‘milk tart’ in Afrikaans, represents a timeless South African dessert. It boasts a delectable combination of a delicate, sweet pastry crust enveloping a velvety custard made from milk, flour, sugar, and eggs. This delightful creation is meticulously baked in a round pie tin and, as a finishing touch, generously dusted with fragrant cinnamon.
Milk tart enjoys an enduring presence throughout South Africa, gracing the tables of church bazaars, bake sales, home industries, supermarkets, and bakeries alike. Its ubiquity is further underscored by its prominence in the culinary sphere, where South African food bloggers have eagerly showcased its delicious charms. Notably, even renowned chef Jamie Oliver once catapulted SA’s milk tart to international fame when he shared it on his Instagram account.
Where to get Melktert in Cape Town:
- Off the Gluten Path – Google rating – 4.8
- Limnos Bakers – Google rating – 4.2
- The Creamery Café Mouille Point – Google rating – 4.5
Biryani, a delightful mixed rice dish hailing from the Indian subcontinent, boasts a captivating blend of aromatic spices, fragrant rice, wholesome brown lentils, and your choice of meat, be it chicken or, in some variations, without any protein. Often accompanied by crispy fried potatoes and occasionally graced with the presence of soft-boiled eggs, Biryani promises a harmonious culinary experience that beckons to your senses.
Where to get Breyani in Cape Town:
- Eastern Food Bazaar – Google rating – 4.3
- Bihari – Google rating – 4.3
- Vintage India – Google rating – 4.4
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