The food scene in Cape Town is as bold and vibrant as the city itself. Every meal I had was full of color and flavor, and a lot of them were almost too pretty to eat. Almost. I spent a week and a half there at the end of February soaking up the summer sun and exploring the coast. Below are a few of my favorite restaurants in the city.
The food here was next-level gorgeous and crazy unique. The lunch menu (R245 per person) includes six tapas-style plates. You can also add a bread board for R35.
The dishes included:
Smoked Potato Panna Cotta – tuna tartare / leek / lentil soil
Boerenkaas Croquettes – curried aioli / shaved radish
Tomato Salad – smoked buffalo curd / Bhaji / tamatie smoor / chive oil
Free range chicken – sweet corn / crème fraiche / chive oil/ quail’s egg
Organic Beetroots – whipped goat’s milk yoghurt / black rice / onion powder
Roasted Cauliflower – purée / sambal / coconut curry / pistachio / fennel seeds
You'll find this one atop almost every single "best restaurant" list in Cape Town. It's a huge hit, and I get why. But it's also a little overly expensive. The pork belly changed my life it was so good, but the goat cheese and parm fries were way too rich. While several of the restaurants on this list serve tasting menus that allow you to sample a little bit of everything, The Pot Luck Club is more traditional.
Pork belly, Jerusalem artichoke relish, pecan butter, parmesan and celeriac foam–R170
Lamb rib, pomegranate and harissa marinated tomato, cauliflower and buffalo yogurt puree, sultanas and preserved lemon dressing–R180
Goat cheese and parmesan tries with aioli and tomato ketchup–R75
Mint and chocolate ice cream sandwich–R90
Absolutely everything I ate at Janse & Co blew my mind. It was by far and away one of the best meals I've ever had. You can get as many plates as you want, but I chose to do three for R385.
My three courses:
Tomatoes: Dr. Weiss, striped german, sweet currant, consomme
Mussels, papino melon, charcoal butter, chives
Raw Dexter beef, oyster emulsion, linseeds
This is probably the best bang for your buck. If there was a set menu, I wasn't aware of it. The waiter just kept bringing out plates, it was delightful. The lunch tasting experience was R350 per person. I also got a gin cocktail with Barker and Quinn hibiscus tonic, fresh berries and thyme for R80.
To start, they brought out chicken liver parfait with a fig compote.
Then impala carpaccio, garlic marinated tomato, crispy garlic, olive oil and parsley with Kabous #2 (a type of bread they make) croutes on the side.
Next, they served a local hake dish
Followed by Karoo lamb
To finish, I had ice cream and fig financiers with cream and toasted pecans
And lastly, a special shout out to Reverie Social Table, where 18 strangers crowd around one long table to enjoy a 5-course meal and tons of wine. It was incredible in every way, but I didn't take a single picture because I was so busy talking to the people around me.
I ate supremely well in Barcelona. Before my trip, I'd never been to a Michelin star restaurant. I never thought I was the type of person who could afford such luxury. But then I discovered lunch menus, and a whole new world of culinary bliss was opened to me.
Sure, the concept of lunch isn't new. But at a few of the city's best restaurants, mediodía (midday) tasting menus are €50-100 cheaper than regular tasting menus, and it's much easier to snag a table.
Lunch at the following Michelin starred restaurants cost between €35 and €50 per person. That's not the cheapest meal, but it's on par with what you would pay at most good places in Barcelona. If I splurged on lunch, I would typically balance it out with a cheap dinner from the market: shaved ham or salami, cheese, a baguette and a cup of cherries for less than €5. Spain is great.
Though there are often empty seats available at lunch time, it's always best to make a reservation so the chefs can prepare. Michelin star dining is a whole production. Unfortunately, if you have dietary restrictions or severe food allergies, these restaurants are probably not for you as the menus are specialized and set.
Wednesday-Saturday, 1:30-3:30 pm
This place was so good I actually ate there twice. I recommend sitting at the bar–it's fun to watch the chefs prepare the plates, and it makes the whole thing feel a little less formal. The menu changes every week depending on what's available at the market. So I had two different meals, but they followed the same structure:
Via Laietana, 49 (Hotel Ohla Barcelona) Barcelona 08003
Tuesday-Friday, 1:00-4:00 pm
€38 "Executive Menu"
Unlike most of the other restaurants on this list, Xerta doesn't reveal what's on their "Executive Menu" online. Once you order it, the wait staff recites your options. But this is the structure:
Còrsega 289 (Ohla Eixample Hotel) Barcelona, 08008
Monday-Friday, 1:30-3:30 pm
By far the most expensive meal I had in Barcelona, but also easily the highest quality. There wasn't a single weak course, and it felt like the perfect amount of food. Angle is helmed by famed chef Jordi Cruz, one of the stars of MasterChef Spain. Cruz's other restaurant ABaC has earned three Michelin stars and is way out of my league (no cheap lunch menus there).
One thing I liked about Angle was that the menu spelled out exactly what they were serving. Usually these restaurants bring you a few extra things like the amuses-bouche and petit fours, but Angle put it all on the menu:
Carrer Aragón 214 Barcelona, 08011
Monday-Friday, 1:30-3:45 pm
The daily menu is updated regularly, but it follows this structure:
Carrer de la Granada del Penedès, 14, Barcelona, 08006
Thursday-Saturday, 1:30-3:30 pm
While this place was exceptional, it was also confusing. After you're seated at the sushi bar, a waiter offers you a choice between three different tasting menus: one with eight plates, one with 18 and one with 21. They don't tell you the price of each option and it feels weird to ask. I chose the smallest one, thinking eight plates sounded like a lot, but it wasn't really. This is the only restaurant I left feeling anything less than completely satisfied. It was also one of the most expensive. The food was great, but you get more bang for your buck at the other restaurants listed here. The chef was there changing up the menu on the spot that afternoon, so I assume it's pretty flexible from day to day. My dishes were:
Carrer d'Elisabets, 9, Barcelona, 08001
Monday-Friday, 1:30-3:30 pm
It's hard for me to review Nectari because while I think the food was great (and it's the cheapest meal on the list!) I got crazy nauseated after the starter course and suffered through my main, dessert and the petit fours in an effort to both maintain decorum and get home and go to sleep as quickly as possible. I swear the food was good! My memory of it is just coated in agony.
A glass of cava was an extra €7.50. I declined coffee (which would have been extra) and fled.
Carrer València, 28 Barcelona, 08015
This looks great, right? Nice view, glass of champagne--it would've been a perfect afternoon if I hadn't paid $4 each for these oysters. Sydney's rock and Pacific oysters are smaller than the Gulf oysters I'm used to, but cost more than twice as much at every restaurant near the harbor. Recognizing this injustice, I set off on a search for The Cheapest Oyster in Sydney™. It didn't take long at all because happy hour was right around the corner and, as it turns out, more than a few places offered $1 oyster deals. I went with Riley St. Garage because it was nearby, and it didn't disappoint.
Join them for "Oyster Hour" from 5-6 pm Monday through Saturday, and never pay full price again.