Greetings, Internet Stranger, and welcome to the best Cape Town Food Tour! Cape Town is famous for its natural beauty, but it should be just as famous for its amazing food scene. You can get a world-class meal in Cape Town for very reasonable prices.
Now, I wish that I could physically drag you along with me for the best Cape Town food tour ever, but science hasn’t made that possible yet. Instead, I’ll just give you some tips and tricks, and you can take that tour on your own! Let’s not waste any more time!
Best Cape Town Food Tour
Where to Stay?
Since we’re going for the best Cape Town food tour, why not start the day at a hotel that serves an amazing breakfast?
And for my money, the best hotel breakfast in Cape Town is at the Cape Heritage Hotel. I mean, the Cape Heritage is more than just an amazing morning meal. It also has gorgeous rooms, one of the nicest hotel bathrooms I’ve ever seen, and a staff that mailed me my beloved jacket when I stuffed it in the closet and forgot about it because I was so jetlagged when I arrived.
But the breakfast is indeed sublime, and this photo is all the evidence I need. Look at those luscious grapes! And the fresh yogurt is the perfect start to the day because it won’t fill us up. (But they also make a yummy hot breakfast to order as well.)
Best Cape Town Food Tour
What to Pack
- Stylish and comfy sandals so even when your tummy is bursting, your feet will be comfy
- Cute boots in case you’re visiting in colder or rainier months. These are waterproof but you can’t tell from looking at them.
- An umbrella that won’t break under the pressure of Cape Town winds
- A cell charger so you can take all the sweet food pics you want without your battery going kaput
- The best travel adapter so you can charge that cell phone battery in the first place (if you are not South African)
- A wind breaker with a hood because Cape Town really can get crazy windy
- My favorite guide book to Cape Town
- If you want to know more about South African food, you must try In Bibi’s Kitchen, which is about the food of South African grannies, as well as women from other African countries.
- And try The Cape Town Book, which is probably the best book-length introduction to the city.
Best Cape Town Food Tour
Morning: Cape Town Food Tour!
So for the first part of our day, we’re going on a guided best Cape Town Food Tour. We’ll then do our own little self-guided food tour in the afternoon and evening. But there’s nothing better than being squired around an unfamiliar city by a knowledgeable local who can show you hidden gems you’d never find on your own, including her grandmother’s bobotie recipe.
That’s why I suggest you book the Cape Town Essentials tour straight away! You’ll have an amazing time; our group gave it 5 out of 5 stars. But enough of my blather! The proof is in the Malva pudding, as they say. So let me entice you with…
Approximately Top 5: Best Cape Town Food Tour
1) Coffee Time!
Our first stop was at Origin Roasting where they use an extremely complex method of preparing the brew called siphoning. Apparently it comes from Germany in the 1840s even though it looks like something invented by Bunson and Beaker that would explode in the Kermit the Frog’s face.
But the important part is how it tastes, and the answer is bold and delicious. Truly you should not have any milk or sugar with this. There’s no bitterness, just bold and magical coffee flavors.
3) Bobotie Time!
The next stop on the best Cape Town food tour was at Cafe Charles for bobotie, one of South Africa’s most distinctive dishes. This is a savory/sweet dish made with minced meat and rice, topped with egg custard, and served with a tangy chutney called monkey sauce. (No monkeys were harmed in the making of this chutney.)
I know bobotie sounds a little strange, but it’s actually amazing. At the end of the tour, most people said that this dish was their favorite. And our guide, whom I shall call Charlize, said that many South Africans have a favorite recipe: their grandmother’s. Awww!
3) Fine Dining Time!
After some grammie cooking, it’s time to get a little elegant with some champers! South Africa is famous for its wine, but they can’t call their wine Champagne because it’s not from the Champagne region in France, and we all know how the French feel about their regions.
We were served this non-pagne at a glam place that I believe is called Beluga. They specialize in seafood, but instead of fish, we feasted on some springbok carpaccio, which is made out of a local animal who is very cute and tastes even cuter. Believe me, you’re not going to find much springbok carpaccio growing outside of South Africa.
We also had some hearty potstickers, which Charlize said were to show the Asian influence on South African food. (We’ll see much more of that when I take you to Durban in later posts.) But the potstickers also had peanut butter in them, which is quite popular in African cooking. So these really are a perfect Asian-African fusion food.
4) Brewski Time!
You might be thinking that they’ve fed us enough, but I assure you we will keep going! The best Cape Town food tour has not yet begun to fight. Besides, we have much more drinking to do, so let’s head to the Cape Brewing Company for some of their choice drafts.
We all got a gentle lager, a fruit Weissbier, and a hoppy IPA to sample. (One woman didn’t like beer, so she got gin instead, which she seemed pretty pleased with.) Charlize explained that brewing beer wasn’t allowed during the South African water crisis, so thank goodness that’s over.
Of course, it’s not the best Cape Town food tour without a snack, so we were given some flammkuchen: a light bread covered with onions, lardons, and creme fraiche. Apparently this treat arrived in South Africa before pizza. I’m not sure whether to be happy or sad for South Africans about that information. Let’s just stay neutral about it.
5) Meat Time!
Charlize explained that while there are some vegetarians in South Africa, meat eating and preparation remain a huge part of the culture. That’s why she wanted to take us to Butcher Man, so we could sample some of Cape Town’s finest meat products.
Our first Meeting of the Meats was billtong, which is like jerky only actually edible and delicious. It’s so important to South Africans that they actually make it with a special drying cabinet.
But even better than the billtong was this plump and manly sausage made from steak. It’s just perfect for bringing to those famous South African barbecues known as braai. (You might notice all these meat products are made from beef. Charlize said it’s the most popular meat in SA, partially because South Africa has a large Muslim population.)
6) Drinks Time!
The final stop on the best Cape Town food tour was Cause and Effect, one of the most original cocktail bars I’ve ever seen. They actually make cocktails using local South African plants called fynbos, so every drink here is truly a one-of-a-kind you can’t get back home. (Unless home is SA, natch.)
We had one of their fizzy and fab spritzes called a Spekboom which sounds like the nuclear device from a quirky Cold War-themed comedy but tastes like the Garden of Eden.
And then chased it with some South African award-winning brandy and a creamy and sweet malva pudding made with local fynbos that was probably foraged by the bartender on his lunch break. It’s that kind of place.
Best Cape Town Food Tour
Afternoon: Zeitz MOCAA
Zeitz MOCAA sounds like the name of a villain in an episode of Dr. Who, but it’s really the Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, and it’s a must-see when you’re in Cape Town. After all, we need to take a slight break from the best Cape Town food tour to feed our minds, so our tummies don’t explode. I recommend buying tickets to MOCAA in advance online here because it’s quite popular.
Because it’s a museum of contemporary art, and new contemporary art keeps happening every day, I can’t guarantee that you’ll see what I saw when I was there. But I can show you…
Three Fun Facts: Zeitz MOCAA
1) What is the regular collection like?
My favorite part of the regular collection was an exhibit featuring a film about a fictional matriarchal African country. The surrounding art showed African communities that look fantastical or Afrofuturist in some way.
For example, this piece was shot using a dancer performing in Ouagadougou, the capital of the West African country Burkina Faso. It does look like it was shot in an abandoned place from a Twilight Zone episode. Contemporary art doesn’t always resonate with me the way classical art does, but I like it when contemporary art combines two different genres.
2) What About the Special Exhibits?
You can’t take photos in all the special exhibits, but you could in the exhibition of the work of South African artist William Kentridge. Kentridge works in fluid genres like collage and animation, and he also takes pictures of his work as he makes it, so the spectator can see how the work changes over time.
It makes sense that a South African artist would be so interested in depicting the process of change, since South Africa is a country that has gone through enormous changes in the last few decades (and maybe it would be more accurate to say centuries). My favorite pieces were the drawings he did over maps. Maps are so beautiful. We should think of them as works of art more often.
3) What’s the Coolest Work of Art in the Museum?
It might be this mobile representing the story of a man named Noor who lived in District 6 and was evicted from his home by the apartheid government. After he moved, his pigeons went missing, and he found them lurking around the spot where his old house had been. They still believed it was their home.
Or it might be the lightning bird.
Oh yes. It’s the lightning bird.
24 Hour Treat
After MOCAA, I went back to Cause and Effect because I was curious about their fancy experimental cocktails, and I obviously had not had enough to drink on the food tour. Sure enough, I found a nice Aussie couple from the food tour there, so we enjoyed some VFDs (Very Fancy Drinks together). They became my new best friends, though I now can’t seem to recall their names at all.
The drink above is called a Table Mountain. As you can see, it’s served in a glass that is shaped like Cape Town’s famous Table Mountain, where we are going tomorrow, and it’s made with all local ingredients. But the Aussies had some drinks that were in glasses shaped like a rocket and filled with Bacardi. Up to you to decide which you would prefer!
Best Cape Town Food Tour
Evening: Grub and Vine
Now, I can’t say I’m giving you the best Cape Town food tour without dinner, can I? And Grub and Vine is one of the most celebrated places to get dinner in all of Cape Town. It’s perfect if you’re looking for fresh, local food with a chill vibe and spot-on wine pairings. The amuse bouche was a one-bite explosion of prawn cocktail and a crispy little cauliflower arancini.
I seem to have done something horrible to the photos of my two starter courses, but I do know they were a refreshing tuna tartare with watermelon and cucumber–seriously the perfect summer starter–and a warm onion tart. The contrast between the tartare and the tart was fab. The onion tart seemed like the perfect main course for a vegetarian because it was so umami you would feel totally satiated.
And the food photos are back online! The fish course was a hake with corn and mussels. It tasted utterly of summer, which was hilarious to me because it was January, and I’m from New York City where January is depressing and cold as the Ice King’s lair. But of course it Cape Town, it’s the depths of summer.
And time for the meat course: lamb with scallions and potatoes. The sharpness of the scallions was very necessary here because the lamb is so rich. Plus, this dish would actually be totally perfect for New York City in winter, when the slush fills the streets and the frost brings branches crashing down on your fire escape.
And for the final dish on the best Cape Town food tour: the very British sticky toffee pudding. (Remember, South Africa used to be a British colony.) But this was an extra-decadent version because the toffee pudding was topped with marshmallows, an idea whose time has truly come.
That’s the Best Cape Town Food Tour!
What would you like to do on the best Cape Town Food tour? Why are the South Africans so good at meat? And is that a lightning bird behind you? Please leave your thoughts below!
Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that while each article is about how to spend 24 hours in a place, that doesn’t mean you should ONLY have a one day in Cape Town itinerary.This post contains affiliate links. That means if you purchase something using one of the links on this post, I may earn a small commission. But I would never recommend anything unless I loved it, dahlink!