For a truly local experience, head to one of the city’s many food markets. Here you’ll find fresh produce, artisanal goods, and street food from all over the world. If you’re looking for something more upscale, Cape Town has no shortage of fine-dining restaurants.

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Clarke’s Bar & Dining Room

PERFECT FOR: BREAKFAST BRUNCH

Clarke’s is an all-day breakfast spot in a retro diner space located on Bree Street, an area that is full of beautiful, interesting-looking people who likely self-identify as “creatives.” You definitely want to spend an afternoon people-watching and shopping on Bree Street, and Clarke’s is a great place to start.

Manna Epicure

PERFECT FOR: BREAKFAST BRUNCH LUNCH

As with a lot of Cape Town restaurants, the service at Manna Epicure can sometimes be painfully slow, but the homemade desserts and laid-back environment are the reason you’re here.

The Kitchen

PERFECT FOR: LUNCH

This casual lunch spot is just outside the city center in Woodstock, the artistic hub of the city where you’ll find the best art galleries, antique stores, and independent shops. This is an order-at-the-counter salad and sandwich situation, and the owner is a local celebrity who couldn’t be more welcoming. The Love Sandwich (a massive chicken sandwich stuffed with a lot of good stuff) is legendary, and the daily salads ranging from butternut to cauliflower to barley are great too. A lemon bar for the road is non-negotiable.

Superette

PERFECT FOR: BRUNCH LUNCH

Another fantastic lunch or brunch option in Woodstock, Superette is located inside The Woodstock Exchange, which is basically an incubator for local artists and businesses where you’ll find everything from fancy chocolates to jewelry to coffee shops and lots of other interesting things going on. The chicken sandwich at Superette is a favorite, but the all-day breakfast offerings, salads, and banana bread are pretty great too.

Hemelhuijs

PERFECT FOR: BREAKFAST BRUNCH LUNCH

Entering Hemelhuijs feels like stepping into a coffee table book about Nordic interior design, and by that, I mean that everything is incredibly beautiful and tastefully placed, and the food is as delicious as it is pretty. There’s a more sophisticated crowd that hangs out here, and it’s a nice place to come for brunch or lunch and pretend you’re more interesting than you probably are. The juices are great, and the menu has something for everyone.

Kloof Street House

PERFECT FOR: BIG GROUPS BIRTHDAYS BRUNCH CLASSIC ESTABLISHMENT GLUTEN-FREE OPTIONS LUNCH OUTDOOR/PATIO SITUATION VEGANS VEGETARIANS

Between the big leather chairs, candelabras, antique photographs, and outdoor garden with string lights, Kloof Street House looks like a Victorian-era dinner party thrown by Jay Gatsby. The menu has options for everyone – from an ostrich fillet to vegan risotto.

The Test Kitchen

PERFECT FOR: BIRTHDAYS FINE DINING SPECIAL OCCASIONS UNIQUE DINING EXPERIENCE VEGANS VEGETARIANS

The Test Kitchen is the best restaurant in Cape Town. Dinner here is elaborate and involves 16 courses, complimentary cocktails, and surprises like homemade, infused gummy bears or vintage South African brandy. Your table even relocates halfway through. But despite the fact that you’ll eat things like “a lime-compressed apple,” the Test Kitchen feels more like an extravagant holiday dinner at a friend’s house than a stuffy restaurant. It’s the hardest reservation to get in the city, so set an alarm for 8 am SAST on the first of the month, three months prior to your trip, and make sure to be on your neighbor’s extra-fast WiFi.

El Burro

PERFECT FOR: BIG GROUPS

El Burro serves fantastic Mexican food with a laid-back vibe in Greenpoint. The large tables make it a perfect spot for a boozy group dinner, but lunch on the elevated patio is a strong move too. A pitcher of their strong margaritas and an order of fish tacos or enchiladas, and you’re going to have a tough time finding a reason to leave.

Black Sheep

PERFECT FOR: DATE NIGHT

The menu (simple, fresh proteins and produce-driven stuff) here changes almost daily, but you can be sure that whatever is on the blackboard that day is going to be amazing. This is the sort of fun, relaxed restaurant where you’re going to want to spend the entire night, and given that a bottle of wine in Cape Town is about the same price as that bottle of Fiji you bought at the airport, ordering a few bottles to go with your meal and hanging around all night is encouraged. Definitely make a reservation here.

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Il Leone

PERFECT FOR: DATE NIGHT

Il Leone is a bit off the beaten path in Greenpoint and feels like a local hang. They know their pasta and their wines here, and while everything is really good, they don’t take themselves too seriously. Don’t be afraid to ask for help with the wine list – there are a lot of options and unless you’re an expert in South African wines, you’re going to be pretty lost.

Jerry’s Burger Bar

PERFECT FOR: CHEAP EATS

They have lots of options – everything from the classic to burgers stuffed with chorizo and cheese to veggie burgers – and lots of different local craft beers on tap. If you’re looking for a quick and easy meal, this is a great move.

Orphanage Cocktail Emporium

Serving fancy drinks on Bree Street, Orphanage is a great spot for a pre or post-dinner drink, especially if drinking a gin and tonic out of a plastic bag or watching the bartender light your drink on fire is your kind of thing. Even if they take themselves a little too seriously, the drinks are very good and it’s always full of people looking to have a fun time.

Tjing Tjing Rooftop Bar

Tjing Tjing is a half indoor, half outdoor rooftop bar with fun cocktails and a vibey interior. It’s a great spot to kick off a night out on Long Street.

Old Milstone Oude Moulen

If you’re in Cape Town on a Saturday, you go to Old Biscuit Mill. In addition to clothing and gifts, this outdoor market has vendors selling every kind of food imaginable from some of the best restaurants in the city. The mushroom skewers, pizzas, paella, mini pancakes, frozen margaritas, the Love Sandwich, and any baked goods that catch your eye, but I can pretty much promise that anything that looks good will deliver. Spending a few hours alternating between eating and shopping (a.k.a. getting hungry again) is how you want to spend a Saturday morning in Cape Town.

Codfather

PERFECT FOR: DATE NIGHT DINNER WITH THE PARENTS

Camps Bay is not a neighborhood I’d encourage you to spend too much time in, mostly because it’s overpriced and full of tourists, but you should definitely get over there once just for the views of the beach. And when you go, you should eat at Codfather. Codfather is all about seafood and serves some of the best you’ll find in Cape Town. The way it works is like this: your server will walk you up to a fish counter, show you all the fresh fish they have that day, you’ll pick the different kinds of fish and how much you want of each, and then the kitchen will cook them up for you while you drink your 16th bottle of South African wine that week.

The Roundhouse

PERFECT FOR: DATE NIGHT OUTDOOR/PATIO SITUATION

The Rumbullion is the more casual of two restaurants located on The Roundhouse estate (basically a country club that doesn’t require membership) at the foot of Table Mountain. You should order some pizza and sundowners, but the real reason you’re here is for the views. Only open during the warmer months, you eat in the garden overlooking the beaches of Camps Bay and the Twelve Apostles, and you’ll feel like you’re somewhere in the South of France.

Bistrot Bizerca

PERFECT FOR: DATE NIGHT DINNER WITH THE PARENTS

Offering a French-ish, meat-heavy menu that changes frequently, Bizerca Bistro is definitely a restaurant on the nicer side of things (which, in Cape Town, means it’s still pretty casual). As seriously as they take their food, the vibe manages to remain very down to earth and there’s nothing pretentious about this place.

Chefs Warehouse

PERFECT FOR: CLASSIC ESTABLISHMENT FINE DINING IMPRESSING OUT OF TOWNERS SMALL PLATES VEGANS VEGETARIANS WALK-INS

If you’re looking for a really special dinner but want to stay in the City Bowl (the center of town), Chefs Warehouse is the best spot. This place lands somewhere between a tasting menu and small plates restaurant, serving eight shared dishes across three courses for two people to split for R800 (a convoluted math problem that works out to $25 a person). They don’t take reservations, so it’s best to show up around 5:30 pm, put your name down before they close the list (which can be as early as 6 pm in the summer), then wait it out at their bar next door, No Reservations, or at Gigi’s Rooftop Bar a few blocks away.

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