40 foods to eat in Cape Town, recommended by locals

We've hit our friends up for their fave foods and places to eat, and come up with what we think is a pretty comprehensive list of what to eat and where to eat it, whenever your tummy starts rumbling at the bottom of Africa.

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  1. Snacks - eat them on the go
  2. Mother City meals and cool places to eat
  3. Desserts & puddings
  4. Drinks - how to wash it all down

Let's kick things off by trying to solve that all too common travelling dilemma - on the road snackage.

1. Snacks - edible travel companions

1. Droëwors – dried, spiced sausage. 

St Marcus SA Food & WineDroe Wors, or Dried Sausage - St Marcus SA Food & Wine

2. Biltong – dried, salted and spiced strips of beef or game (springbok, kudu and ostrich are common).

Nick WebbMaking biltong - Nick Webb

.. and the end result:

WmJRBiltong - WmJR

3. Niknaks – bright orange maize snacks.

SimbaNik Naks - Simba

4. Top Deck – a two-tone milk and white chocolate bar from Cadbury. 

CadburysTop Deck - Cadburys

5. Chuckles – malted puffs, peanut, raisin or shortbread coated in chocolate (at Woolworths). 

WoolworthsChuckles - Woolworths

6. Bacon maple croissants from Jason Bakery in Bree Street.

Jason BakeryBacon Maple Peanut Butter Croissants - Jason Bakery

Jurie Senekal, all rights reservedJason at his bakery - Jurie Senekal, all rights reserved

7. Freshly-baked muffins, particularly the cappuccino ones, at the in-house bakeries at Spar supermarkets. 

8. Rusks – Dip a buttermilk or condensed milk Ouma rusk in your morning coffee.

OumaOuma rusks - Ouma

2. Must-try meals in the Mother City

9. A monkeygland burger or steak at the Spur. No monkeys were harmed in the making of these.

Stark & WhiteMonkeygland Burger - Stark & White

10. Boerewors (farmer’s sausage) rolls from street vendors.

Eat Out - 35 Food Trucks to FollowThe Wors Rol Food Truck - sausage specialists - Eat Out - 35 Food Trucks to Follow

Lewis ClubYour classical Boerie Roll - Lewis Club

11. Calamari – have it grilled or crumbed. Hout Bay, and specifically the Chapman’s Peak Hotel, is a good place to taste it. 

Chapmans Peak HotelCalamari - Chapmans Peak Hotel

... which goes well with this:

Chris PreenChapmans Peak - Chris Preen

12. Waterblommetjie bredie – a lamb and pondweed stew (it’s delicious, honest!).

Karen BekkerWaterblommetjies ready to become bredie - Karen Bekker

Karen BekkerThe end result - waterblommetjie bredie - Karen Bekker

Sticky Fingers BBQSticky Fingers Ribs - Sticky Fingers BBQ

13. Ribs at Sticky Fingers in Obs – half price on Tuesdays.

Sticky Fingers BBQCape Town's famous rib joint - Sticky Fingers BBQ

Russel WasserfallThe Kitchen - home of the Love Sandwich - Russel Wasserfall

14. The Love sandwich at The Kitchen in Sir Lowry Road - Woodstock and Michelle Obama's favourite Cape Town lunch spot.

The KitchenKaren Dudley, owner of The Kitchen, Love Sandwich inventress - The Kitchen

The KitchenMichelle Obama experiences the Love Sandwich - The Kitchen

15. Giant burgers at The Dog’s Bollocks in the city centre.

The Dogs BollocksThe dogs bollocks - The Dogs Bollocks

16. Snoek – this local fish is often braaied (barbecued) with apricot jam, or smoked. Dried and salted, it’s known as bokkoms. 

Hooked on AfricaFreshly hooked snoek - Hooked on Africa

17. Springbok carpaccio – try it at Beluga in Green Point. 

BelugaBeluga in Green Point - Beluga

18. Cheese and wine tastings at wine farms – Fairview near Paarl is fantastic, or make a quick hop from the city to Constantia or Cape Point Vineyards in the South Peninsula.

Cape Point VineyardsGreat wine with a view - book through Cape Point Route - Cape Point Vineyards

FairviewFairview is famous for it's wines, cheeses and goats - Fairview

19. Fish and chips at Snoekies in Hout Bay or Kalky’s in Kalk Bay.

Luke Hardiman & Rosie the SchnauzerKalk Bay Harbour seen from Trappieskop - Luke Hardiman & Rosie the Schnauzer

Yuppie ChefKalkys - Yuppie Chef

20. Steers chips (fries) – this South African fast food chain uses a delicious and unique seasoning salt.

21. A braai (barbecue). For an unforgettable experience, head out to Mzoli’s in Gugulethu for a DIY shisa nyama. Braais can also include boerewors (farmer’s sausage), pap (maize-based porridge) and braaibroodjies - tomato, onion and cheese sandwiches toasted over the fire. 

Ian BarbourBraai - meaning outdoor, open fire meat feast - Ian Barbour

Cape Town MagazineSex, drugs & sausage rolls at Mzolis, Gugulethu - Cape Town Magazine

Valentino BarriosetaMzolis Meat - fine, meaty dining in Gugs township - Valentino Barrioseta

22. Braai pie – SA’s YouTube sensation, Suzelle, shows you how to make one of these yourself.

23. Anything and a beer at the Brass Bell in Kalk Bay.

Bas LeendersBrass bell - Bas Leenders

24. Breakfast at the Bay Harbour Market in Hout Bay.

Bay Harbour MarketHout Bay Harbour w/ market circled, Chapmans Peak behind - Bay Harbour Market

25. Gourmet and artisan tasties every Thursday evening at the Cape Point Vineyards Community Market.  

Cape Point VineyardsCape point vineyards community market - Cape Point Vineyards

Cape Point VineyardsNoordhoek Community Market - Cape Point Vineyards

26. A steak gatsby (meat and fries sandwich) from the Wembley Roadhouse. 

Ian BarbourGatsby - Ian Barbour

27. The Cape Malay Estate tasting plate at Jonkershuis restaurant, Groot Constantia. 

28. Pastries, bread and breakfast at the Olympia Café in Kalk Bay. 

Olympia CafeBreakfast the olympia cafe way - Olympia Cafe

29. Bunny chow – no, no rabbits involved. This is a hollowed out half-loaf of bread filled with curry.

Cook SisterBunny Chow - Cook Sister

30. A prego steak roll at Chippies in Observatory. 

31. Bobotie – a Cape Malay dish made with spiced, ground meat and topped with egg custard.

32. Sushi at Willoughby’s – this restaurant’s location in the middle of a mall thoroughfare is immaterial when you’re eating their delicious creamy rock shrimp maki or 4x4 rolls.

33. Ceviche at Keenwa, currently Cape Town’s only Peruvian restaurant.

34. The lunch plates at Café Frank in Bree Street.

Cafe FrankCafe Frank - Cafe Frank

3. For Dessert - Perfect Puddings

35. Peppermint Crisp – the chocolate itself, or the dessert layered with tennis biscuits, caramel and cream. 

The Squashed TomatoRock n' Rula Peppermint Pudding - The Squashed Tomato

36. Artisan ice lollies from Las Paletas, available at various stockists. Guava cheesecake or roast peaches and coconut, anyone?

Las PaletasArtisanal Ice Lollies - Las Paletas

37. Gelato at Gelato Mania in Green Point – particularly the watermelon sorbet. 

Gelato ManiaVaschetta-Versatilita flavour - Gelato Mania

38. Koeksisters – fried doughy treats soaked in lightly spiced syrup. The round ones found in Bo Kaap are wonderful, but the plaited ones in the supermarkets are yummy too. 

Jochem KooleKoeksisters - Jochem Koole

Project NamaKoeksisters - Project Nama

39. Ice cream from The Creamery in Newlands, Salt River and various markets.

The Creamery (Instagram)Ice Cream - The Creamery (Instagram)

the CreameryTeamery - the Creamery

40. Malva pudding – a hot sponge dessert; sweet and delicious comfort food. 

Aninas RecipesMalva Pudding - Aninas Recipes

4. Bonus Round - What to wash it all down with

You probably already know about Cape Town’s world-class wines, and reputation for being a coffee-lover’s paradise, but the locals want make sure you don’t miss out on these drinks too:

41. Rooibos tea – ‘red bush’ tea, grown in the Cederberg region, is a caffeine-free, anti-oxidant packed national treasure. Try it black (red!) with lemon, or order a cinnamon and honey-topped red cappuccino or latte. Bos ice tea is a great cold version. 

BowkerbRooibos tea - Bowkerb

42. Dom Pedros – vanilla ice-cream blended with whiskey, Kahlua, Amarula (see below) or other liqueurs. 

43. Amarula – African animals get intoxicated on fermented marula fruit but we recommend this cream-based liqueur version. Drink it straight or in a Dom Pedro. 

44. Vin de Constance from Klein Constantia – this sweet dessert wine has been discontinued but if you can find some, try it. 

45. Springbokkie shooter – Amarula is layered over mint liqueur to make this patriotic drink. The colours represent the green and gold kit worn by SA’s rugby team. 

Tsotsi ShebeenSpringbok Shooters - Tsotsi Shebeen

And if you’re staying in self-catering accommodation, look out for this in the grocery stores:

46. ProNutro – This energy-boosting breakfast cereal that many South Africans grew up on has mysterious ability to absorb crazy amounts of milk.

Ryk NeethlingPronutro - Ryk Neethling

Many thanks to all who contributed to this article: Andrea, Adeleida, Belle, Peter, Lynn, Sam, Coralie, Mongezi, Jaclyn, Jackie, Jacqueline, Ian, Simone, Judith, Alice, Emily, Belinda and Nicolas.

Did we miss anything? Share your Cape Town must-eats in the comments below.

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