Discover the Flavours of the Mother City

Posted on Fri June 21, 2024.

Cape Town, affectionately known as the Mother City, offers a diverse culinary landscape. With a rich tapestry of influences ranging from indigenous African traditions to Dutch, Malay, and British colonial heritage, we can guarantee that your visit will take you on a gastronomic journey like no other. Vibrant, generous and celebratory, the culinary scene offers fine dining experiences, local markets, and many hidden gems. We put together a succinct guide to help you navigate every delicious offering.

1. Cape Malay Cuisine

Cape Malay cuisine is a cornerstone of Cape Town's food culture. Known for its aromatic spices and bold flavours, this cuisine originates from the Malay slaves brought to the Cape by Dutch settlers.

Must-Try Dish: Bobotie – A spiced meat dish baked with an egg-based topping, typically served with yellow rice and sambals.

                                                                             Bobotie

2. Seafood

With the Atlantic Ocean on its doorstep, Cape Town is a seafood lover's paradise. From fresh oysters to line-caught fish, the city's seafood offerings are plentiful and delicious.

Must-Try Dish: Kingklip – A local fish that is often grilled or pan-fried to perfection.

3. Wine and Dine

Pairing local wines with gourmet dishes is a quintessential Cape Town experience. Cape Town is surrounded by some of the world's most renowned wine regions, such as Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, and Paarl. Allow expert sommeliers to guide you through the subtleties of pairing wines with different cuisines.

Must-Try Experience: Wine Tasting Tour – Spend a day exploring the vineyards tasting award-winning wines and building your collection.

Must-Try DishBiltong Salad by Chef Luke Dale-Roberts. Chef Luke uses thinly sliced gourmet biltong made from game meats like springbok or kudu with salad components such as microgreens, roasted butternut squash, and pickled red onions. This is served drizzled with a balsamic reduction and a touch of honey.

                                                                 World Class Wine Tours

4. Street Food and Local Markets

For a more casual and eclectic food experience, Cape Town's street food and local markets are a must-visit. These venues showcase the city's vibrant food culture and offer a variety of tastes and textures.

Must-Try Dishes

Truffle Polenta with Biltong. Creamy polenta is infused with truffle oil and topped with shaved biltong (dried cured meat). The dish is then garnished with a poached egg, crispy sage leaves, and a drizzle of truffle oil, adding layers of flavour and texture.

Ostrich Carpaccio: Thinly sliced, cured ostrich meat drizzled with truffle oil, sprinkled with microgreens, and topped with Parmesan shavings and a balsamic reduction.

Visit these food markets:

  • The Oranjezicht City Farm Market. Located at Granger Bay at the V&A Waterfront, this market is known for its fresh local produce and artisanal products, drink and eat with a view of the ocean and Table Mountain.
  • The Mojo Market. Located at Sea Point, this market combines food stalls with live music.
  • The Neighbourgoods Market. Located at The Old Biscuit Mill, Woodstock. Expect a wide array of gourmet food stalls, fresh produce, artisanal bread, cheeses, live music and more.
  • The Stellenbosch market, also known as the Root44 Market. Located at Audacia Wines, this market features an extensive array of gourmet food stalls offering everything from traditional South African dishes to international cuisine. It is set amidst vineyards and oak trees, providing a picturesque and relaxed setting.

5. Fusion and Contemporary Cuisine

Cape Town's culinary scene is constantly evolving, with innovative chefs blending traditional flavours with modern techniques to create unique dining experiences.

Must-Try Dish: Bunny Chow – Originally from Durban 9KZN Province), this hollowed-out bread filled with curry has found its way into Cape Town's fusion cuisine. Be sure to also try the deconstructed version by renowned Chef Reuben Riffel. Instead of a loaf, artisan bread rolls baked with herbs are used and the curry, made with premium ingredients, is served separately from the bread bowl, allowing diners to pour the curry into the bread themselves and thereby maintaining the crispiness of the bread.

Therese’s Restaurants & Eateries Recommendations:

  • La Colombe – this fine dining restaurant is located in the heart of Constantia and frequently finds itself in the top 10 list of S.Pellegrino’s World’s 50 Best Restaurants.
  • Elgr – located in Kloof Street in the city, this restaurant is where Chef Jesper Nilsson and Sommelier Le Roi van de Vyver work their magic.
  • Vrymansfontein – located in Paarl in the Cape Winelands and home to Chef Kevin Grobler.
  • Upper Union – located in a heritage building in Kloof Street where Chef Amori Burger will dazzle you with flavours.

6. Sweet Treats

No culinary guide to Cape Town would be complete without mentioning its delectable desserts and sweet treats.

Must-Try Dishes:

Koeksisters – A sticky, sweet doughnut-like treat that is deep-fried and soaked in syrup.

Melktert Milkshake: Inspired by the traditional South African milk tart, this is a sweet, creamy beverage. It is made with vanilla bean ice cream, cinnamon, and a hint of nutmeg, topped with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar.

                                                                         Koeksisters

7. Foraging

Foraging as a cuisine in the Western Cape is more than just a trend; it’s a way of life that celebrates the region’s natural beauty and ecological richness. Several local chefs and foraging experts offer guided foraging tours. This is an immersive and educational experience where you learn to search for, and collect wild food resources, such as plants, herbs, mushrooms, and shellfish, directly from nature.

The ingredients are then transformed into a seasonal, fresh and truly one-of-a-kind meal that reflects the terroir of the Western Cape

Cape Town's culinary landscape is as diverse and captivating as its natural beauty. The city's food scene offers local and international talent, promising an unforgettable experience. So, pack your appetite and get ready to embark on a culinary journey through the Mother City.

Bon appétit!