Young Thais are drawn by the big city lifestyle
Home to golden beaches and fertile vineyards, Cape Town in South Africa is an old pro at capturing people’s hearts. It is also a top city to dine in, whether you’re after a simple braai or fine dining with a sea view.
Tourists, locals and TV stars love Mzoli’s, a busy butchery serving Cape Town’s tastiest grilled meat. First buy your meat and ask them to add their special sauce. Take it to the kitchen to be braaied (barbecued) and then find a table outside. Drinks are available from nearby vendors, but bring your own napkins as there’s no cutlery (00 27 21 638 1355; 150 NY111, Gugulethu; meal from £3).
Sit within arm’s reach of the crashing waves and the buzz of Kalk Bay harbour at Live Bait, one of the best options in Cape Town for a relaxed seafood meal. Large windows make the most of the sea view while the interior is nautically styled, with bright furnishings and striped fabrics. The same company runs the fancier Harbour House upstairs and the cheap-eats Lucky Fish takeaway (Kalk Bay Harbour; hake and chips £5).
Come to the neighbourhood local, Societi Bistro, to dine in the courtyard garden, with Table Mountain views, or in the atmospheric, brick-walled and wine-rack covered interior on unfussy bistro dishes, such as ostrich burgers or tomato fettuccine, all washed down with local wine or beers that have been expertly sourced. The restaurant also runs cooking courses, over three or five days (50 Orange St, Gardens; main from £5).
Savoy Cabbage, which first opened in 1998, remains a great place for inventive contemporary cooking. The menu changes daily to reflect the produce in season, but it often features game, such as eland and wildebeest. The artfully battered dining rooms are a visually stimulating environment ( 101 Hout Ln, City Bowl; closed Sundays; mains from £8).
Harald Bresselschmidt is one of Cape Town’s most consistent chefs, and Aubergine, his restaurant produces creative and impeccably realised dishes, such as ostrich tandoori and springbok with nectarines and foie gras. Aubergine has a lovely terrace, though there’s a great ambiance inside too, in what was once the home of the first Chief Justice of the Cape, Sir John Wylde (39 Barnet Street, Gdns; three-course menu from £28).
Overlooking Camps Bay, Roundhouse is situated in an 18th-century heritage-listed building in wooded grounds. The menu features local produce, and includes deer loin and freshwater crayfish. There’s also a tasting menu and vegetarian options. For a weekend breakfast or lunch, head to the outside terrace, Rumbullion ( Round House Road, The Glen, Camps Bay ; four-course dinner from £37).
The shady garden setting makes La Colombe at the Constantia Uitsig winery a relaxing place to dine. British chef Scot Kirton rustles up skilful dishes such as springbok loin, wild mushroom cannelloni and langoustine salad. The even more laid-back River Café sits at the entrance to the winery (Constantia-Uitsig, Spaanschemat River Rd; three-course lunch £17).
Tokara is renowned for its fine-art collection, excellent chardonnay and sauvignon blanc, as well as its upmarket restaurant. In summer, sit outside for mountain views and intricate dishes, such as Korean marinated beef fillet; in winter, cosy up by the fire with a dessert wine. There’s also a deli – make sure to try the olive oil made on the estate (Helshoogte Rd, Stellenbosch; mains from £9).
There’s enough to keep you busy all day at La Motte, a vast estate near Franschhoek. Taste a shiraz, then sit down for a wine-pairing dinner at Pierneef à la Motte, with dishes such as rooibos confit pork and braised beef cheek. The restaurant is named after South African artist Jacob Hendrink Pierneef, and his work is on display at the on-site museum (Main Rd, Franschhoek, 45 miles from Cape Town; mains from £10).
British Airways and Virgin Atlantic fly direct from London Heathrow (from £900); it is often cheaper to fly via a hub in Africa or Europe (from £650, via Amsterdam). A taxi into the city from the airport will cost around £15, and all the major car-hire firms have desks in the airport (from £16 per day). Buses and trains from Cape Town run to Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, to the east of the city and close to the wine region; or join a guided tour.