Cape Town is considered to be the premier fine-dining destination of South Africa – making a culinary tour of the country’s foodie hotspot nothing short of a memorable experience. From world-class restaurants to unique gastronomic experiences, there’s something out there for everyone! In just a quick 7 minute read, find out what spots are worth a stop on your next car hire Cape Town adventure – whether you’re looking for a few quintessential Capetonian dishes or just a couple of the unmissable restaurants, this guide has got you covered!
Top 5 Unmissable Fine-Dining Experiences in Cape Town
Cape Town is home to most of the best restaurants not only in South African but on the entire African Continent. If you find Yourself in the Mother City for any amount of time, there are a select few restaurants and grub-joints you’d be silly to pass up. If you’re looking to top-off your holiday with a special fine-dining extravaganza, this list has what you need to elevate your car hire Cape Town experience to the next level:
• The Test Kitchen: This spot is arguably the reason why Cape Town is on the international fine-dining map in the first place! The Test Kitchen, Run by chef Luke Dale Roberts, has been around since 2010 and has since become a favourite of several esteemed chefs and food critics around the world. Characterised by intelligent, innovative and exciting cooking, The Test Kitchen will provide you with nothing short of a once-in-a-lifetime culinary experience. You can expect a bold array of stunning contemporary dishes – with an optional wine-pairing (almost everyone would recommend!). As the only South African restaurant to consistently appear on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards – there is no questioning why it’s at the very top of our list. Reservations open quarterly and so booking early is absolutely necessary if you want a greatly sought-after spot at one of The Test Kitchen’s branches.
Contact Details: +27 21 447 2337
• Thali: If you’re looking for a feast of Indian flavours and aroma, Thali is the spot for you! Set inside a gorgeous old Victorian house and run by Chef Liam Tomlin, the atmosphere of Thali is just unmatched, with a series of stunning sharing plates meant for the family, Thali offers a unique communal gastronomic experience. With sambals, poppadum’s, tandoor and more up for offer, what’s not to love? Indian culture has, over the last several decades, integrated to become a big part of South African culture too, and so the fragrant curries combined with exotic indoor lighting and décor will transport you to the streets of Delhi whilst remaining authentically and quintessentially South African at the same time!
Contact Details: +27 21 286 2110
• The Pot Luck Club: Designed to showcase the big five flavor profiles (salty, sweet, sour, bitter and umami), the potluck club is considered a pioneer or its kind in the Cape Town culinary scene. Situated on the sixth floor of the Old Biscuit Mill’s old flour silo, The Pot Luck Club boasts a breath-taking 180-degree view of the Mother City – a sight destined to serve as the cherry on top of any car hire Cape Town adventure! Known as the sibling-venue to the famed Test Kitchen and second creation by star-chef Luke Dale Roberts (which we raved about earlier) – The Pot Luck Club is equally guaranteed to leave a lasting impression on any of its diners! From the New York loft – style vibe to the funky staff uniforms, The Potluck Club is nothing short of intriguing.
Contact Details: +27 21 447 0804
• Hemelhuijs: With a combination of modern yet homely food and an ever-changing and whimsical décor and atmosphere, Chef Jacques Erasmus at Hemelhuijs offers a unique and welcoming ambiance – it’s the kind of place you’ll never want to leave! Boasting a highly creative seasonal menu, Hemelhuijs is home to some unforgettable gems of culinary genius such as the homemade potato rösti with smoked trout or the wide array of all-day breakfasts. You can expect nothing short of a comforting yet exciting experience, with stunning floral installations coming down from the ceilings to generous platefuls overflowing with nostalgia – Hemelhuijs is like a small slice of home to compliment any car hire Cape Town culinary escapade.
Contact Details: +27 21 418 2042
• La Colombe: Situated high up on the slopes of the Constantiaberg mountains (which makes for a great drive in your car hire Cape Town rental) – you will fine La Colombe, by chefs Scot Kirton and James Gaag, situated in the heart of the Silvermist Wine Estate. Much like The Test Kitchen, La Colombe is one of those highly sought after spots where you’ll need to secure a reservation well in advance. The whimsical and inventive French-Asian inspired tasting menus available at La Colombe are unlike any other gastronomic creations you’ll find in Cape Town – this truly is the epitome of the fine-dining experience. Each plate showcases an immense amount of detail and thought, no matter if the star ingredient is common or a delicacy, at La Colombe each ingredient is a show-stopper.
Contact Details: +27 21 794 2390
Top 5 Notable South African Chefs and Their Kitchens
Much like South Africa, and specifically the Cape of Good Hope, is home to some of the best restaurants on the continent, the region is also known to produce some outstanding world-class chefs. If you’re more of a food connoisseur than an amateur foodie, this list is for you – a guide of the best the Cape has to offer, listed by the chefs that put the Cape on the map. If you are fascinated by the wondrous world of gastronomic expertise and innovation, then tracking down the following chefs and their famous kitchens is the perfect activity for you in your car hire Cape Town rental:
• Chef Kobus van der Merwe at Wolfgat: Chef, expert forager and award-winning restauranteur – van der Merwe makes waves in the culinary world with his unique and intriguing approach to food and fine-dining. Wolfgat was awarded first prize at the inaugural World Restaurant Awards in Paris, 2019, and has since become an essential must-try spot for any contemporary and technical food-lover around the world. Situated in the sleepy seaside town of Paternoster on the west-coast of the Western Cape – just an hour and a half’s drive from the city in your car hire Cape Town rental, Wolfgat is a small, 20-seater, immersive dining experience where each and every guest has several opportunities for one-on-one interaction with Chef Kobus. On his seasonal tasting menu, you can expect to find a unique array of stunning dishes made up ingredients which Kobus forages for himself on a daily basis along the shoreline. Reservations at Wolfgat are incredibly hard to attain, and sold out months in advance so your best bet is to plan far in advance to secure a spot for a once-in-a-lifetime experience with a world-renowned chef and his edible art.
Make a reservation at: https://www.wolfgat.co.za/
• Chef Reuben Riffel at Reuben’s: Reuben Riffle is seen as a culinary superstar in South Africa after years of successful practice in gastronomy – he is oved far and wide. Reuben’s, which is situated in the small French-settler valley town of Franschhoek – about a 45-minute drive from the city in your car hire Cape Town rental, is known for its comfy and cosy yet classic fine-dining experiences. Chef Reuben is known for his simple yet elegant and absolutely delicious plates. The wine list which accompanies the a-la-carte menu is sure to impress any wine lover and make for beautiful pairings with any of chef Reuben’s masterpieces.
Make a reservation at: https://reubens.co.za/#contact
• Chef Bertus Basson at Overture Restaurant: Situated at the heart of the Hidden Valley Wine Estate in Stellenbosch – which offers a stunning route to explore iny our car hire Cape Town rental, Chef Basson brings a unique and contemporary twist to classic and widely-loves South African dishes to the table at Overture restaurant. The tasting menu, made up of six inventive and equally delectable dishes is a must-try and chef Basson’s personal recommendation. You can expect to find culinary creations often using venison, seafood and other meat-driven dishes on the menu – a South African staple! With a menu consisting of masterpieces made with only the best fresh and local ingredients, Overture offers an unforgettable trip down the lane of quintessential South African cooking.
Make a reservation at: https://bertusbasson.com/
• Chef Farrel Hirsch at Greenhouse Restaurant: Chef Hirsch is known for his innovative cooking technique of trying to combine flavours that you wouldn’t imagine go well together, but they do! Focussed on ingredient conservation, foraging and telling cultural or historical stories with food, is what makes chef Hirsch and his team at Greenhouse so special. Situated in Constantia Heights, dinner at Greenhouse is guaranteed to provide you with a lasting memorable experience and a new appreciation for the food grown in South Africa’s rich soil.
Make a reservation at: https://www.greenhouserestaurant.co.za/
• Chef Fergus Henderson at La Tête: Known as a nose-to-tail cooking legend with innovative ideas and excellent executions of technical-cooking techniques, Chef Henderson serves up classic French masterpieces at La Tête on Bree Street in the heart of Cape Town. Chef Henderson’s nose-to-tail cooking style (in which the entire carcass of an animal is used – nothing goes to waste) is very much in line with his farm-to-table food philosophy, something which is prevalent on La Tête’s menu. The 1930’s art-deco style building and family-vibe amongst the service staff really gives La Tête a special feel and makes for a culinary adventure you won’t easily forget.
Make a reservation at: https://latete.co.za/
Top 3 Must-Try Cape Town Foodie Staples
If you’re not so much a connoisseur but rather just someone looking for some good grub, there’s plenty available in the Cape. Like every other country in the world, South Africa has got its unique set of must-try dishes – but this varies from province-to-province, and we can assure you the Western Cape has the best. Whether it’s a quick bite, a sit-down meal, or something that’ll give you bang-for-your-buck, this list is the quintessential meals and snacks you can’t miss on your car hire Cape Town adventure:
• The Gatsby: First things first, this is probably the best sandwich you’ll ever eat. There are few foods that are as classically Capetonian as a good old Gatsby. Originating from the Cape Flats, an area overflowing with rich history and culture, and dating back to the 1970’s, the Gatsby is a large sub-style sandwich that’s filled to the brim with a variety of fillings, but most importantly and vitally, tjips (chips, or french fries if you’re American). The sandwich is typically crammed full of a variety of meats, sauces, chips (slap-chips usually) and whatever else floats your boat. The beauty of this Capetonian delicacy is in the price, it usually only costs a couple of rands if you’re getting it from a local corner-shop – which is honestly where you get the best ones – and they’re easy to eat in the comfort of your car hire Cape Town rental!
• Bobotie: This Cape Malay traditional dish is the epitome of Cape cultural and fragrant cooking. It consists of a minced beef kind of casserole which is topped with a custard made of eggs and milk – but fear not, it isn’t a sweet custard! The dish is flavoured and spices with a variety of Malay spices and dried fruit, resulting in a brilliant sweet, salty and slightly spicy flavour. Bobotie came about in the 17th century when Indonesian slaves were brought over to the Cape of Good Hope, and has been a staple in every Capetonian kitchen ever since!
• The Humble Braai: It seems so simple yet it takes so much skill, you haven’t experienced Cape Town, or any part of South Africa, fully until you’ve had a braai. The best one’s are always around the fire at your friend’s place, but if you’re a foreigner, there are several stunning braai-style dishes available at a variety of price ranges almost anywhere you go in the Western Cape!
Any one of these eateries and their talented chefs can be reached with the help of a car hire Cape Town rental, courtesy of your go-to car hire Cape Town agency – AroundAboutCars!