If there is one thing I love about travelling, aside from discovering the culture, history, and people of a foreign place, is the food. The food a city offers is intertwined with the three aforementioned facets that I already love traveling for. A city’s food scene is representative of the culture therein, with history imbibed in some dining experiences, and tells a lot about the locals & their passion for good food. And this is where surprisingly Cape Town did not fall short of. Apart from being rich in culture, having inspirational history, and amazing people, they have an impressive selection of top-notch food. Spending 16 days in the city, we had a few favorites, which we just had to return to twice or thrice – yes, I’m this type of diner, a fact I might have already mentioned a few times here – so here’s a summary of places to try while in Cape Town, all but one are located in the V&A Waterfront.
1) V&A Food Market
First on my list, although not a specific restaurant, is the V&A Food Market. Located in the city center is this two-level food hall with an extensive selection of dishes & fresh finds, like one of my favorites depicted below. In addition to that, the price points are very reasonable, which is why it is no wonder that this is a neighborhood favorite among tourists and locals. We probably had lunch in the V&A Food Market at least five times, so it goes without saying that it’s a must-visit when in Cape Town. V&A Food Market
The Old Power Station, Building 19 Dock Road
Pier Head, V&A Waterfront
You might have seen or even tried Nando’s somewhere else in the world – be it in Asia, Europe, North America, or Oceania, but what you might not know is that this casual restaurant chain specializing in peri-peri chicken originated in South Africa, and has now expanded to 35 countries all over the globe.I first tried Nando’s in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, then again in Washington, D.C. (where they first opened in the US) – both standalone restaurants, so I was surprised to come across Nando’s in the food court of Victoria Wharf Shopping Centre in the V&A Waterfront on my first day. Since we don’t have Nando’s in the Philippines, I, of course, did not pass up on the chance to eat Nando’s chicken again.Nando’s, Victoria Wharf
Shop FC01, Dock Rd
3) Karibu | South African Dining
With a wide array of restaurants to choose from, our favorite area for dining was no other than the V&A Waterfront, specifically the outdoor area, where there are enticing restaurants lined up, like Karibu and the restaurant next on this list – Balducci’s.That night, steak was on my mind, so that’s what we ordered instead of having a locally cooked viande, but we did have local sides: Putu & Chakalaka with the steak. Putu is like porridge, while Chakalaka (rolls off the tongue, right?) is like the South African version of Korean Kimchi. It’s made out of different seasonings and vegetables, and is a local staple. Needless to say, the steaks served to us were fantastically cooked. The ambiance of the place was great as well, but the service even more-so.
156, Victoria Wharf
Branding itself as an Italian chic restaurant, Balducci’s is only two or three doors down from Karibu. It prides itself in European elegance, coupled with trendy & stylish interiors. I had such a great time dining herein that I missed-out on taking photos of the dishes we ordered, though we did have the antipasti advertised in the photo below, as well as pasta & pizza – musts when having Italian cuisine. Indeed, the dishes and drinks we had were of such quality, making Balducci’s a must-try when in Cape Town. Balducci’s
6162, Victoria Wharf
Breakwater Blvd, V&A Waterfront
5) Willoughby & Co.
Having Asian food no matter where in the world I am is a given, with Japanese topping the charts of my favorite cuisine. So when I heard about Willoughby & Co. from one of our tour guides who strongly recommended their sushi rolls, we immediately had to try it. True enough, they were to die for! While they do have other mains, such as meat, pasta & other fresh seafood, we prioritized the sushi rolls, but we did have this plate as our starter.
Our first dining experience in Willoughby & Co. was so enjoyable that we went back for two more times. And yes, still prioritizing the sushi rolls all throughout, with my main recommendations noted below, although I believe all their sushi rolls must be excellent.
I didn’t get to take a photo of it, but for their dessert, don’t miss-out on their Bread Pudding, which we ordered all three times we dined there. Willoughby & Co. has been dubbed as the best sushi experience in the country, and although I didn’t try any other Japanese restaurants in the city, I can still surely attest to that.
Willoughby & Co.
Shop 6132, Victoria Wharf
19 Dock Rd, V&A Waterfront
6) Kloof Street House
Yet another restaurant strongly recommended by the same tour guide who suggested Willoughby & Co., we gave Kloof Street House a go, despite it being beyond the V&A Waterfront. I had to put this last on the list, because of the many photos I took of both the food & the restaurant. True to its name, it’s located on the vibrant mile-long Kloof Street, home to some of the trendiest places in the city. The facade is already luring enough to get excited about what you’re in for as you enter, together with the blackboard that welcomes you, noting the live music performances scheduled. In this gorgeous Victorian house lies the dining oasis that is Kloof Street House, this gem of a restaurant, offering both indoor & outdoor seating. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves, as the decors, the color schemes, and even the furniture therein embodied such character that’ll make diners feel as if they’re in another time. We loved Kloof Street House so much that even if it was a taxi ride away from our hotel, we found ourselves there twice: both for brunch & dinner. And here’s a photo of how the ambiance is at night, quite perfect for a romantic date or a night-out with friends. The food they offer deserves its own narrative, as their menu is a reflection of artistic flare bundled with dynamic flavors – a fusion of dining dreams. From soups, sandwiches, pastas, meats, and seafood – everything we tried was absolutely perfect in flavor, presentation, and taste. Even their carefully-curated drink selection was great!I’m obsessed with bread pudding, so after loving the one we had in Willoughby & Co., we decided to order Kloof Street House’s version; and yes, just like everything else about the restaurant, it was to die for!Obvious as it is, Kloof Street House is a Cape Town attraction in its own right – the complete package when it comes to hoping for the perfect dining experience, and must never be missed while in the city.
Kloof Street House
30 Kloof Street
Gardens, Cape Town
If there is one thing I’d like to end this post with, it would have to be this: aside from the fact that the dining scene in Cape Town is excellent, the fact that the service was world-class anywhere we went was the highlight that contributes quite a chunk in making this city a surprise foodie destination. I’ve said this about a place far too many times: I’ll be back in this city one day; but this, I have not said before: I’ll certainly be back in Cape Town one day, but not just for the city, the culture, the people & the history, but most definitely for the food.