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Cape Town Restaurants

The Africa Café
108 Shortmarket Street
Cape Town
South Africa 8001
Tel: 27 21 422 0221

"In Africa, we like to eat with our fingers. You should feel free to do the same," explains a waitress at the Africa Café, a restaurant located a few minutes' walk from Cape Town's Greenmarket Square. Like the atmosphere, the decor here is festive (mosaics, ceilings decorated with animal engravings, feathered light fixtures), although you'll hardly notice it once 16 traditional Ndebele, Xhosa, and Zulu dishes start arriving at your table. The meal rings in under $30 per person, and you're allowed to order more of your favorite dishes (ours was the Cape Malay Salomi, ground beef seasoned with curry and wrapped in a roti pancake), but chances are you'll be sated sans seconds. It's worth overlooking the restaurant's touristy elements, such as the gift shop and the face painting, because, surprisingly, when the servers dance through the seven dining rooms, banging drums, stomping so hard that the floors shake, and singing heartfelt tribal songs in haunting harmonies, it doesn't feel corny or contrived. It all just reminds you of how far you are from home.—Josey Miller

Open daily 6:30 until 11:30 pm (closed Sundays during low season).

Belthazar Restaurant & Wine Bar
Victoria Basin
V&A Waterfront
Cape Town
South Africa
Tel: 27 21 421 3753

Has Belthazar's star fallen? This beloved restaurant and wine bar, opened in December 2003, cellars 600 vintages and has the largest selection of wines by the glass in the world. We enjoyed the sweet but hearty flavor of the complimentary tomato-based sausage starter, as well as the massively plump mussels on the reasonably priced surf 'n' turf menu, but it didn't compensate for Belthazar's upscale chain restaurant vibe (appropriate for its shopping mall location, but not for its chichi reputation) or the attitude-drenched staff coasting on a seemingly outdated reputation for excellence (it was voted best steakhouse in South Africa in 2005). Aside from the novelty of picking a wine off the impressively long list, we think Belthazar is skippable; if you do go, request an indoor table to avoid the dissonance of dueling street performers along the water.—Josey Miller

Open daily noon to 11 pm.

121 Castle Street
Cape Town
South Africa 8001
Tel: 27 21 426 2368

Tables are hard to get at Ginja, an intimate restaurant serving international fusion food close to the V&A Waterfront. This spot has no ocean or mountain views—think instead of a rather urban location with a narrow alley that leads to the front door. But once inside, it's the perfect spot for a romantic dinner, with low lighting and loads of ambience. (You have to walk through the open kitchen to the bathroom, so the energy in chef Mike Bassett's kitchen can be observed firsthand.) A reservation is essential; if you can't get a table, resist the offer of one at Ginja's sister restaurant, Shoga, upstairs (the kitchen crew and menu are different). For starters, try the Around the World Spoons appetizer, where dishes such as baby squid with Italian ricotta are served up in one delicious mouthful. The menu changes regularly, but a standout staple is the rack of lamb that's marinated in a Chinese barbecue sauce and filled with a spicy, curried apple chutney.

Open Mondays through Saturdays 7 to 10:30 pm.

The Grand Café at Granger Bay
Haul Road, off Beach Road
Granger Bay
Cape Town
South Africa 8000
Tel: 27 21 425 0551

Cape Town's cool kids—and, in some cases, their kids—camp out at the Grand Café at Granger Bay, where South Beach meets South Africa. Housed in a converted warehouse with a secret clubhouse–like location down a gravel road, the industrial-meets–Parisian bistro dining room decor includes rusted chandeliers, candelabras, nude sketches, and lots of red roses. Pull up a wicker chair and flip through the menu, which is designed to look like a newspaper, in a Sunday morning manner. There are pastas, salads, and seafood, but go for the flatbread pizzas fired in a wood-burning oven. Well-crafted cocktails, such as the sweet but potent Brazi (fresh grapefruit and lime, cachaca, and Cointreau) and the Back Porch Lemonade (vodka, lemon juice, cranberry juice, ginger syrup, and ginger ale), pair well with a breezy spot in the cabanas out on the deck or on the man-made beach.—Josey Miller

Open Tuesdays through Sundays 12 pm until late.

50A Burg Street
Cape Town Centre
Cape Town
South Africa 8001
Tel: 27 21 424 7000

The steamed dumplings alone warrant a visit to this Asian tapas joint in the center of Cape Town. Some of the best dumplings are the spinach and creamed cheese and the prawn. The dishes are meant to be shared, though each person must order at least three selections. Peking duck is the house specialty and arrives with a basket of feather-light moo shu pancakes. Irritatingly, Haiku has two sittings, at 6 pm and 9 pm, but parking is easy at the Mandela Rhodes House garage just opposite.

Open Mondays through Saturdays noon to 3 pm, dinner seatings at 6 pm and 9 pm daily.

Jardine Restaurant
185 Bree Street
Cape Town Centre
Cape Town
South Africa 8001
Tel: 27 21 424 5640

Jardine quickly made a mark on the Cape Town dining scene with Scottish chef George Jardine's focused, unfussy food. The menu has a number of tasty winners, including the beet and horseradish tart with pickled vegetables and a double herbed antelope loin. There's also a five-course tasting menu that changes daily. Reserve a seat at the window for a fabulous view of Table Mountain or a table next to the open-plan kitchen to see Jardine in action. A small bar and lounge downstairs cater to the drinks crowd.

Open Mondays through Saturdays 7 to 10 pm.

La Colombe
Constantia Uitsig
Spaanschemat River Road
South Africa 7848
Tel: 27 21 794 2390

For a sublime French dinner, head 20 minutes out of the city to the Constantia winelands to one of the city's most beautiful wine estates, Constantia Uitsig. It's always hard to get a table at La Colombe, one of Constantia Uitsig's three restaurants (Uitsig and the River Café are the other two), because the food is superb and the service excellent. It's the kind of place where a shared starter is presented on two plates, diners are escorted to the bathroom, and rose petals are strewn over the table to celebrate a special occasion. The è la carte menu changes every couple of days, and appetizers might include king crab, home-cured salmon, and salmon caviar. For entrees, try the catch of the day, such as kinglip with prawn and asparagus risotto, or gemsbok (oryx) carpaccio.

Open daily noon to 2 pm and 7 to 9 pm.

La Petite Ferme Restaurant
Franschhoek Pass Road
South Africa 7690
Tel: 27 21 876 3016

Lunch at La Petite Ferme, a mountainside restaurant, inn, and winery in food-centric Franschhoek, an hour outside Cape Town, puts us in a Great Gatsby frame of mind. With fans whirling overhead, faded terra-cotta tiles underfoot, white linens, white chairs, and white rosebushes, plus a great lawn that stretches to rolling vineyards, La Petite Ferme's sun-drenched veranda calls for a cloche hat and a long strand of pearls, or pinstripes and suspenders. Lunch is the only meal served here, but don't plan to eat lightly. The Mediterranean-African-Middle Eastern fusion menu changes frequently but might include crispy duck with saffron gnocchi, mushroom ragout, and a roasted onion and pear vinaigrette; venison medallions accompanied by a Moroccan vegetable crumble and a tagine jus; and an outrageously rich dark chocolate mousse with Morello cherries, orange Topfen ice cream, and a web of spun sugar. While there is no sommelier, the wine list—which includes several homegrown vintages—does offer pairing suggestions.—Josey Miller

Open daily noon to 4 pm.

Mama Africa
178 Long Street
Cape Town Centre
Cape Town
South Africa 8001
Tel: 27 21 426 1017

Mama Africa caters shamelessly to tourists, and many Capetonians look down their nose at it. Nonetheless, it's a lot of fun. The zany design includes a vast chandelier of broken Coke bottles and faux-mud walls. The bar is not your typical elbow parking lot: It's shaped like a snake. Friendly servers dish up vast portions of African food, such as hunter's stew with springbok, okra, and pumpkin. There is energetic live music most nights (jazz, marimba, African), sometimes enticing patrons to get up and dance—a great way to work off the delicious samosas.

Open Mondays through Saturdays 7 to 11 pm.

Shop 1, The Promenade
Victoria Road
Camps Bay
Cape Town
South Africa 8005
Tel: 27 21 438 0404

On the sunset strip of the Camps Bay beachfront, Paranga attracts a glam crowd of scantily clad sun worshippers and after-work partyers. Some conduct trysts in the intimate back booths; others sprawl on the terrace's comfy couches. The chic interior features sandy tones, hand-blown glass vases, and brightly colored candle holders. Everything in the place is carefully selected, from the high-quality wine glasses to the handsome waitstaff. The eclectic selection of international and local dishes—everything from steak to sushi to Karoo lamb chops—is boldly flavored and dramatically presented. The bar boasts South Africa's most extensive Champagne list.

Open daily 9 am to 10:30 pm.

Salt Restaurant and Bar
Ambassador Hotel
34 Victoria Road
Bantry Bay
Cape Town
South Africa 8005
Tel: 27 21 439 7258

Salt's location, poised on a cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean in Bantry Bay, is spectacular; ask for a table at the window to get the benefit of a glorious view through the floor-to-ceiling windows. The food is not as impressive as the view, but the sauté of squid, chorizo, butter beans, tomato, parsley, lemon, and garlic is deliciously hearty. Since you don't get the benefit of the view at night, come instead for lunch.

Open Mondays through Saturdays 12:30 to 10:30 pm.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.