Cape Town’s natural setting is what first drew me and my family in—the city overlooks the brilliant blue of the Atlantic Ocean, while Table Mountain rises in the background. But we soon discovered that the city’s beauty is only a backdrop for its rich culinary scene, steeped in international flavors and traditional delicacies.
Originating in the South East Asian community, the Cape Malay cuisine features a range of samoosas, atchars, and sambals, while Cape Town’s Indian community offers regional staples like bunny chow (a hollowed-out loaf of bread filled with curry). If you’re lucky, you’ll score an invite to a braai—a barbecue with friends and family, typically featuring springbok (antelope) and boerewors (a traditional spiced sausage).
Here are my tips for three food-fueled days in the city.
Cape Town can be a city of extremes, so be prepared for the month you visit, and don’t get blown away by the wind.
If you only have time for one thing, wander through the Bay Harbour Market to find fresh seafood, traditionally-made biltong (a form of beef jerky, often made from ostrich or antelope,) and live music on the weekends.
Begin your adventure in Greenmarket Square, a bustling market filled with art stalls. Breakfast is coffee and a koeksister (similar to a doughnut). The city center is filled with history that provides context to the diversity of the culinary scene. Check out the Iziko Bo-Kaap Museum, which outlines the history of the city’s Muslim population, and District Six Museum, which highlights the effect of apartheid on the city’s residents.
A short walk away is the Eastern Food Bazaar—a casual restaurant where you can try local favorites, such as bunny chow and samoosas.
Spend this morning at the historic [V&A Waterfront]( V&A Waterfronthttps://www.viator.com/Cape-Town-attractions/Victoria-and-Alfred-Waterfront/overview/d318-a6145#overview) harbor. Take a short cruise and sample fresh seafood, such as crab curry or barbecued fish. Afterwards, pick a spot or two for wine tasting, enjoying offerings from the nearby Stellenbosch and Franschhoek wine regions—Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Shiraz are particular specialties.
In the evening, discover Cape Town’s quirky underground while bar-hopping between downtown cocktail lounges or delve into traditional cuisine with an evening of dinner and drumming.
No visit to Cape Town is complete without an excursion to the surrounding wine regions, which boast idyllic rolling vineyards and Dutch Colonial architecture. The industry has a history of exploiting workers in order to produce affordable wines, but thankfully this is beginning to change.
I recommend checking out the Solms-Delta Wine Estate in the Stellenbosch, which shares land and equity with its workers (their sparkling Shiraz is a personal favorite), or the historic Groot Constantia Estate in the Cape Town suburb of Constantia (whose wines were served to Napoleon in exile), which functions as a not-for-profit company. Rent a car or opt for a tour to access these areas.