A mountain, an ocean and rolling wine estates, while beautiful can pale in comparison to the sight of a beautifully prepared meal staring back at you. Ambience, good company and a liquid accompaniment when perfectly combined all come together to make more than a meal, and it is what makes Cape Town more than just a city but an experience. Desire without direction is meaningless, so feast your eyes on this list of the lesser known gems that escape the headlines but keep the customers coming in; our guide to Cape Town’s low key foodie faves.
Words: Tshaimo Seape
Bascule Bar – Cape Grace Hotel
Whisky connoisseurs make sure you’re sitting down – Bascule Bar is your new mecca. Located in the stunning Cape Grace Hotel offers an upscale sipping experience backed by one of the biggest whiskey collections in the Southern Hemisphere. In an atmosphere that does justice to the fine selection of spirits, Bascule Bar impresses on arrival. In addition to the whiskey on offer, patrons can also sample classic bar sides like biltong and olives or an inexpensive tapas menu. Super fans can even book a whisky tasting for groups or discerning individuals.
He Sheng – 269 Main Rd, Sea Point, Cape Town
Chinese cuisine is ubiquitous in its abundance so standing out – or even being worthy of mention – is no small feat. He Sheng manages this with style and authenticity. The owners of this Seapoint cult favourite are masters in what they deem ” real Chinese food”. Forget sweet and sour pork, orange source and even fortune cookies He Sheng is serving up the real deal – all prepared from scratch. The menu is extensive so you’ll need to walk in with a plan. This usually means reading and re-reading the menu or showing up with a big entourage of your nearest and dearest to share the decision making burden. If sharing is the route you take, then you won’t go wrong with dim sum. The leek pancake is especially delicious; an underrated standout on an already impressive menu. If you’re feeling adventurous, pickled cabbage and intestine or the pork tongue are two dishes you’re unlikely to see being duplicated anywhere else.
Obi Restaurant – 14 Long Street, Cape Town
Obi is the OG. In a city as food famous as Cape Town the prevalence of Ramen restaurants, at least until recently, was surprisingly low. Noodles, sure. Real ramen? Not so much. Enter Hatsushiro Muraoka, fondly known as Papa San, the serial restauranteur and the maker of the only ramen you need to concern yourself with. Foodies in the city will no doubt be familiar with Minato and Takumi, his previous restaurants, but it is his latest foray into ramen that we are most in love with. Obi restaurant – a singular achievement located on Long Street ( a place not known for such cultural achievements) is a slice of far-east heaven. The Shoyu ramen is a triumph, coming complete with a delicate broth and what must be the world’s softest pork cheek. The tempura and sushi menus are extensive enough to keep you coming back and are an exercise in excellence with the toro maki taking first prize. Obi is something special. Make yourself a regular, you won’t be able to help it.
The Chicken Shop – 162 Main Rd, Sea Point, Cape Town
The best chicken restaurant in Cape Town is the aptly named Chicken Shop. Those who’ve tried it swear by it and for good reason. This joint doesn’t skip a beat when it comes to quality. Grilled or fried, Chicken shop has the best birds in town. The cafeteria-style set of the restaurant means whatever meat you in the mood for can be mixed and matched with your choice of traditional sides like chips, veg etc in addition to a number of their in-house specialities including a number of salads, mac n cheese and potato bake to name a few – it’s the worlds heartiest pick n mix. Whether you’re feeling peckish or trying to pig out, you have this writer’s guarantee that a visit to the chicken shop will not be your last.
Vascos Taverna – Schiebe St, De Waterkant, Cape Town
A local favourite for good food and great games. As far as pub fare goes, not much in the greater western cape region trumps the taverna. This open plan restaurant in the heart of Greenpoint gives off an unimposing atmosphere and lets patrons discover its charms for themselves. Hearty portions like their per-peri half chicken or traditional Portuguese classics like espetada and trinchado might have you pining for the old country (regardless of where you call home). Fill up, catch the game and make yourself at home; and, if you’re lucky, you might even get to see one of its owners, Graham Smith – what’s not to like.