12 top spots for lunch in Cape Town City Bowl

Posted on 5 February 2014

12 top spots to go for lunch in Cape Town City Bowl. Great for those days when a peanut butter sandwich just won’t do, or you already ate it for breakfast.

Also read: Find top spots for lunch in Durban and Johannesbur


Lunch in Cape Town's city bowl

Where to go for lunch in Cape Town?

There are plenty of places to grab a bite to eat in Cape Town’s city centre, no matter your budget or dietary preferences. Here are a few of my recommendations (in alphabetical order). Most of these places also have free Wi-Fi, so if you are feeling guilty about leaving the office for lunch, you can take your laptop and catch up on your emails while you are there.


Top spots for lunch in Cape Town City Bowl

1. Bird’s Café, 127 Bree Street

Sitting under the gum trees outside Birds Café is a great way to spend a lunch in Cape Town. They have two long tables on either side of the door so you are encouraged to mingle with others who may be sharing the table with you. If the wind is howling you can also retreat inside where there is plenty of seating available.


Birds Cafe lunch spots cape town

Birds Cafe in Bree Street.

Bird’s Café is well-known for it’s chicken pie so I had to try one of those. It certainly was one of the best pies I have ever had – flaky buttery pastry wrapped around what seemed like an entire chicken. There was a lot of chicken in there! In fact I almost couldn’t finish it so don’t let the size fool you (and I have a good appetite!) The chicken pie comes with a side salad and a mushroom sauce and costs R68. It was a toss up between the pie and the bangers and mash (homemade pork sausages with granny smith, fennel, lentil ragout, truffle mash and onion relish) for the same price. I shall have to try those next time! My friend enjoyed her Moroccan chicken sandwich on rye bread with hummus, grilled eggplant and harissa relish (R58) and we both had to decline the cinnamon pancake offer as we were both just too full. I can recommend you have their homemade lemonade or their Moer farmhouse koffie if you need to wake up for the afternoon shift.

You can see why Bird’s Café has been popular with the locals for over a decade. The combination of sitting under the trees at a giant table and eating wholesome homemade food makes for a pleasant afternoon out of the office. There’s just one thing: they don’t sell their home-cured bacon and I really think they should!

Tel 021-426-2534, email [email protected], www.facebook.com/BirdsCafe.


2. Café Mozart, 37 Church Street

Café Mozart was a favourite lunch spot of mine when I worked in town so I jumped at the opportunity to see what they are like a few years later. Turns out nothing has changed. It’s still a charming spot in the middle of busy street that has antique sellers and street performers, all trying to earn a pretty penny. While I was there patrons were entertained by amusing buskers and a talented group of acrobats.


Cafe Mozart cape town lunch spot

Cafe Mozart in Church Street.

Every week sees a special on the menu and while I was there it was steak served with fries and a salad. It was so tender that I thought it was a fillet when in fact it was rump. The burgers look really good too and are popular, which is always a good sign. February is the perfect time to try out their Table of Love where you can tuck into a buffet of tempting salads (did I just say tempting salads?) and breads between 12h00 and 14h00 for just R42. When I was there it was almost all gone, so get there early as it’s popular! Otherwise there’s the already-mentioned Mozart Royale Burger with chicken, bacon, avo, garlic mayo and onion jam encased in lettuce and tomato on a sesame seed bun, gourmet sandwiches with fillings like chicken with cranberry mayo and steak with mozzarella, capsicum salsa and garlic aioli and a whole array of salads and light meals, including chicken pie and fish and chips.

Take a seat under the trees or inside if you wish (the dining area and lounge upstairs is filled with antiques and interesting things) and relax while the animated and creative staff take care of you. It’s all to be expected considering Madame Zingara have taken over Café Mozart and are weaving their magic into this adorable space in Church Street.

Tel 021-424-3774, email [email protected], www.themozart.co.za.


3. Crave, 54 Shortmarket Street

Crave came highly recommended for  lunch in Cape Town, so I popped in to have a look. It was after lunch and most of the take-away items had been snapped up which is always a good sign! It’s also good to know that they make all their sandwiches, salads and wraps from scratch every morning using fresh ingredients and whatever they don’t sell that day gets donated to charity.


Crave in Shortmarket Street lunch spot cape town

Crave in Shortmarket Street.

Apart from sandwiches, gourmet wraps and pesto/Asian salads they also serve hot dogs (R30), burgers (R50), burritos (R45), gourmet pizza (R50) and Butter Chicken Curry with Rice (R50), along with smoothies, coffee, juices and soft drinks.

If you choose to eat in there is seating both inside and outside. If it’s a nice windless day I would sit outside and watch life go by in Greenmarket Square.

Tel 021-424-6171, email [email protected], www.cravesa.com.


4. Earthfair Food Market, St George’s Mall

Every Thursday between 11h00 and 15h00 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 Hallaumi 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.


Earth FairMarket, St George's Mall

Earth FairMarket, St George’s Mall.

I recommend you sit on the stairs of the Bishop Gray monument and watch all the goings on before heading back to work. Note that it’s best to get there fairly early as the stalls start packing up from 14h30.



5. Eastern Food Bazaar, 96 Longmarket Street

I am amazed at how many people have never been to this interesting and incredibly budget-friendly spot housed in the Wellington Fruit Growers building. While you make your way through the jostling bazaar in search of lunch your senses will be overwhelmed with the smell of samosas, roti’s and curries while your tummy will growl in anticipation. I highly recommend the bunny chow (let me know if you manage to finish it) and the tikka chicken with naan bread. It’s a no-frills joint, but at R20-R30 for a massive helping of stir-fry from China, an Indian curry or a schwarma from Istanbul it’s worth a visit.


Eastern Food Bazaar, Longmarket Street

Eastern Food Bazaar, Longmarket Street.

It is popular, so you’ll be lucky to find a seat during peak times. But when you do, you’ll probably find yourself sharing a table with a lawyer, a mother or a student. People from all walks of life who are in the know about good food on a budget can be found here!

Tel 021-461-2458, email [email protected], www.easternfoodbazaar.co.za.


6. Food Lover’s Market, 122 St George’s Mall

This place is huge with loads of places to sit and eat your lunch once you’ve decided what to have (which could take a while).


Food Lover’s Market, St George’s Mall

Food Lover’s Market, St George’s Mall.

The Sandwich Deli has massive panini’s and baguettes that start at R23, while a slice of pizza from the Pizzeria will cost you R15. Pasta’s from R40, gourmet burgers from R42, calamari and chips with a salad is R40 and a Portuguese steak with a fried egg and chips will set you back R60. On top of all that there are green salads and fruit salads, hot meals (pay by weight), biltong, sweets and a bakery with rolls, loaves of bread and muffins. Whatever your budget you are likely to find something to fill your tummy here!

By far the most impressive section for me was the Sushi Lounge. It’s modern and bright and the sushi is well-priced too. In fact you can get half-price sushi from 15h00 Monday to Friday and all day on Saturday (excluding platters). Not sure about you, but that seems like a good deal to me! It’s eat-in only, but with a setting like that, I could stay for a few hours.

Tel 021-424-0294, email [email protected], fruitandvegcity.co.za.


7. Giancarlo’s Italian Deli, 22 Bree Street

Giancarlo may have been born in Eritrea, but he grew up in Italy, so he knows a thing or two about Italian cooking! Having always wanted to own an Italian café he finally took the plunge in October 2013 when he opened Giancarlo’s Italian Deli. It’s a small, but cheerful spot with pictures of Italy on the walls and cookbooks dotted around. A bright red board displays the menu and as Giancarlo says ‘What you read is what you get”.


Giancarlo’s Italian Deli, Bree Street

Giancarlo’s Italian Deli, Bree Street.

The menu includes bacon and egg croissants (a steal at R22), Panini or wraps with cured meat of your choice topped with mozzarella cheese and tomato (R43), pasta with a chorizo, bolognese or vegetarian sauce (from R49), as well as Giancarlo’s homemade tiramisu and various muffins, cakes and biscuits. There are specials from Tuesday to Thursday and these are displayed on the chalkboard outside. I had a panini with prosciutto as my meat choice and not only was it delicious, it was a rather large portion so I had the other half for breakfast the next day. Giancarlo’s also stocks a range of Italian products in the deli, most of which come from local suppliers while some are imported. There is a liquor licence in the process as well, so before long you’ll be able to enjoy local wines and craft beers with your pasta.

This authentic slice of Italy may be a newbie on the Bree Street block, but once word gets out I reckon you’ll have take lunch early to find a spot to sit. Perhaps get there at 08h00 when it opens and enjoy a croissant with coffee for breakfast (apparently the best coffee that side of town).

Tel 072-467-6170, email [email protected], www.facebook.com/Giancarlo.Italiandeli


8. The House of Machines, 84 Shortmarket Street

If you like your lunch in Cape Town with a side serving of bikes and tattoos, this is another newbie in town to check out. The House of Machines has been serving breakfast, lunch and holding Prohibition Nights since opening their doors in August 2013. Their lunch menu is small, but I can heartily recommend one of their sandwiches, which are served on a tin plate. I had The Big Pappi – beef salami, mozzarella cheese, red pesto, slices of artichoke, tomatoes and rocket served on rye bread and washed it down with a pint of their House Lager. Needless to say after all that food and beer I desperately needed a nap!


The House of Machines, Shortmarket Street

The House of Machines, Shortmarket Street. Photo by Rachel Robinson

While you are there take a look at the merchandise on sale, including bike accessories and helmets, men’s’ facial products from California and interesting shirts made from Japanese cotton. The cabinet at the back holds some fascinating items including beard incense! Have you ever? If you are lucky there could be a custom-made motorbike on show as well.

Not really lunchtime fare, but it’s worth noting that the bar holds an impressive selection of tequilas, bourbons and brandies, along with craft beers. They also make cocktails and are open in the evenings on Thursdays and Fridays from 17h00 for Prohibition Nights, hosted by an award-winning cocktail barman. There are also coat/bag hooks on the walls, which I thought was a nice touch.

The House of Machines is the sort of place that you are likely to get stuck in so perhaps a late lunch would be a good idea. Clientele have been known to stop in for breakfast and find themselves late for work – you have been warned!

Tel 021-426-1400, email [email protected], www.thehouseofmachines.com.


9. The Kimberley Hotel, 48 Roeland Street

The Kimberley Hotel has been one of my favourite watering holes since it was revamped a few years ago. It oozes history (you step back in time from the minute you walk through the door), you are very likely to chat to someone interesting over a pint (there’s a backpackers upstairs as well) and the food is delicious while being ridiculously reasonably priced (I hope it stays that way).


The Kimberley Hotel, Roeland Street

The Kimberley Hotel, Roeland Street.

They are currently running a pub lunch special from Monday to Friday between 12h00 to 14h00 where you get a Jumbo Burger (with a genuine homemade beef patty) with fries and onion rings, served with either a Guinness or a Windhoek draught for R49. Really, you can’t make it for cheaper than that and a pint of Guinness generally sets you back around R30 anyway. If you don’t fancy the draught, the burger will cost you R40.

The burger and draught special is a complete steal, but there are also other items on the menu for good prices, including toasted sandwiches from R16, fish and chips for R35, curry and rice for R45 and nachos served with guacamole, sour cream and salsa from R32. Quite frankly I doubt the diamond hunters paid much less back in 1895 to fill their tummies before leaving for Kimberley.

Tel 021-461-2160.


10. Lunchworks, 22 Waterkant Street

This too came highly recommended and I can see why. With its checkered floor, fresh striped walls and fridges brimming with good-for-you stuff I almost forgot that I had actually eaten lunch already.


Lunchworks in Waterkant Street

Lunchworks, 22 Waterkant Street.

The day I was there they had a wide array of specials on the chalkboards (displayed on a beautiful Aisan-style room divider) that all sounded delicious and not badly priced either. Think chilled tomato & basil soup (R35), gnocchi with bolognaise sauce & parmesan (R55), crumbed chicken schnitzel & new potato salad (R59), roast chicken & crispy bacon caesar salad with croutons & parmesan (R55) and a cajun chicken, chorizo & roast red pepper salad with balsamic dressing (R59). They also do burgers using free range beef and chicken (R45), while vegetarians can enjoy a sweet potato & quinoa burger with avo & tomato salsa (R49).

If you are in a hurry you can have a take-away (they also deliver), but there is seating both inside and outside. The chairs inside looked super-comfy and there’s a lovely long wooden table to share with friends or perhaps make some new ones while munching on a burger.

Tel 021-418-3118, www.lunchworks.co.za.


11. Orinoco Flavours of Latin America, 17 Bree Street

To be honest I went to Orinoco on a Friday evening, but they are open for lunch. I loved sitting on the sidewalk listening to Latin tunes and feeling like I was in Cuba. There’s also seating inside at wooden tables with vases of fresh flowers and well-used candles in bottles, while pots of plants and hanging baskets adorn the entrance. It’s all rather quaint and bohemian and I loved it.


Orinoco in Bree Street

Orinoco in Bree Street.

When you go to a Latin American restaurant that is owned by a Venezuelan, you know are you are going to get the real thing. I happily got stuck into items from the tapas menu, which would be a perfect option for lunch. The Argentinian beef empanadas were my favorite (yes, I do like pies!), but the mushroom sops with goats cheese and caramelized onions were delicious too, along with the Spanish tortilla filled with spinach, onion and tomato. The tapas come in three’s (so if there are two of you there may be a squabble over the last one) and the prices range from R18 to R60, or you can get a South American Street Food Platter For Two at R120 with empanadas, burritos and tacos served with relishes and sauces. Plus, you really like their sauces, you can buy them from the fridge inside (there are tasters too).

If I got a rand for every person who said, “Oh, I love Orinoco” or “I have been dying to go to Orinoco,” I would be a lot wealthier today. It really is gorgeous and quite frankly, if I was ever asked where I want to go for a date, it would be there. Without a doubt one of my favourite finds!

Tel 021-418-4544, email [email protected], www.orinocoflavours.co.za.


12. The Waalford Centre, 109 Plein Street

On my way home each day I would walk past the Waalford Centre and it was actually the slightly amusing sign above it that caught my attention. Where else could you have lunch and hair extensions at the same time? The blackboard at the door spoke of coffee, juices, sandwiches and muffins and when I finally decided to have a look, I made a delightful discovery.


Waalford Centre, Plein Street

The Waalford Centre.

The building dates back to 1929 and has recently been renovated. What you’ll find is a tiny shopping mall with a few shops (Whites Health Store being one of them and a braiding hairdresser being another) and a little coffee shop called Caffè Delight. The best part of it all was the décor in the mini-mall. There are lampposts painted onto the walls with hanging baskets of geraniums (with a real light at the top) with tables for two alongside them, while the outside area leading to the toilets has pot plants along the walls. It was like stepping into a mini Venice!

I didn’t order anything from Caffè Delight, but their menu has toasted sandwiches with homemade bread (from R20), muffins (R15), croissants (R10) and cake (R20 a slice), along with coffees, soft drinks and freshly squeezed juices. They also have a loyalty card.

I love places like this and hope more people support them, because if we don’t they will simply disappear and we will be left with nothing but chain-store restaurants. So do me a favour and pop in to the Waalford Centre and let me know what your sandwich and coffee was like.



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