Capetown probably has one of the best-hidden food scenes in the world. Creative chefs making the most of all that ocean cooking up seafood in purely indulgent ways. The Western Cape, the region surrounding Cape Town is also home to South Africa’s famous wine country and while the vineyards slow down during the winter months of June, July, and August.
it’s actually what makes it all the more enticing. Here are our must do's for a winter visit full of noshing.
Owner Gregory Zeleny begins each night with his carefully crafted guest list of patrons who pile into a nondescript loft space right in Capetown’s colourful Bo-Kaap neighbourhood. He greets each person personally alongside the night’s guest chef with a huge smile taking just enough time out for small talk but not too much to keep you from the Cards Against Humanity game waiting at your table.
Each night a top South African chef or young, rising star creates a custom 4- or 5-course menu, complete with wine pairings, that is a complete surprise to the diners of the night. On Wednesday’s, Spasie hosts Pocket Watch Wednesdays or #PWW, it’s a gourmet street food mashup from the hunky chefs at Santa Anna’s (our favourite Mexican food on the continent) and the good folks at The Chef’s Bench.
Taking things up (or down) another level, there’s a custom built twister board built into the floor. Once the pinot gets poppin’ you’ll find guest wrapped up onto each other between meals — it’s just that kind of party.
Foodies on Foot
It’s not often that we shout out a proper tour — most times we can’t imagine having to wake up and be anywhere at a specific time however the good folks at Bites and Sites have put together a half-day food hop in Stellenbosch that is just the right start to exploring wine country.
Hanli and her team take you through the town’s myriad of food artisans tasting everything from creamy South African cheeses, organic olives and hand-pressed balsamic, and of course Biltong - beef jerky’s sexier cousin. The tour also gives you a quick pass around Stellenbosch’s historic district where you can pinpoint where your bar crawl for the night will begin.
Terroir at Kleine Zalze Estate
For those of you looking for more of a white glove service, Terroir restaurant at the Kleine Zalze Wine Estate just outside of Stellenbosch is where the proverbial buck stops. Well recognized as one of the premier gourmet restaurants in the Winelands, Terroir packs a bunch of style with those white tablecloths.
Just one of many amazing restaurants to explore in the region, Terroir make our must-do list for it’s innovative, non-stuffy approach to gourmet and amazing wine pairings (especially the Shiraz). You’re in wine country so you might as well go a little high brow for at least part of the experience!
You know who you are, have no chill, try anything once traveller concerned that the winter water temps might be just too cold for you to swim with the sharks on this trip. Take it from the surfer’s at Jeffrey’s Bay, the water temperature is the last thing you need to be worried about if you’re trying to get up close and personal with a great white.
Here are a few things in and around Capetown that’ll definitely keep you on your toes.
Abseiling Table Mountain
So you’re definitely going to have to give yourselves 3–4 days wiggle room to make this happen, the winds at any given time of the year mean that scaling the mountain with a rope isn’t always going to turn out well so your itinerary has to be flexible enough to wait out the weather conditions. Abseiling is an epic way to experience the views of Capetown from the top of the mountain’s vertical drop.
One of our favourite people in the world, Kent Lingeveldt brought longboard culture mainstream in South Africa. From making custom boards for Desmond Tutu to getting drop-in visits from the King of Crunk (Lil’ Jon) himself, the photographer, boarder, and owner of Alpha Longboards definitely knows a thing about the thrills of a board with four wheels.
Born and bred in the Cape Flats, Capetown’s version of Compton, Kent has probably ridden just about every inch of road in the Western Cape. A downhill pro, you might find him at high speeds coming down Signal Hill or the storied Carnage Hill.
With a landscape like nothing you’ve ever seen before, Capetown is a perfect place to catch the “air up there”. Leaving from Signal Hill at Lion’s Head Mountain, you can sail through the air over Capetown’s many neighbourhoods, beautiful coastline, and even catch Table Mountain if the wind cooperates.
With no training necessary this is definitely a YOLO moment to feel a bit like Icarus on your vacation (without the whole wing burning situation).
Just because it’s obvious doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go. The place that imprisoned Tata Madiba, as he’s affectionately called by millions worldwide is a must do when you’re in Capetown. You have to go by ferry (don’t fall out the waters are shark infested) and it takes about 3 hours to explore the island, visit Nelson Mandela’s cell, and listen to some uncomfortable truths about South Africa’s recent history. It’ll be chilly so you’ll need a hoodie or light jacket in order to enjoy the experience and not cry cold tears of ice.
District Six Museum
South Africa’s racial system of classification has left a legacy imprint on how people are identified even up to today. Black South Africans are called Black, Afrikaners or Boer descendants are called White, and people of mixed, indigenous, and African descent are called “coloured”. This doesn’t even include the various Asian populations that have settled in South Africa over the years.
Capetown is probably the place in South Africa where these structures are most obvious with the Black and Colored populations having been moved out of the central area of the city and into what’s now known as the Cape Flats. The District Six Museum explores the rich history of the mix of slaves, merchants, blacks, and coloureds that lived in a bustling in town district before being forcibly removed by the Group Areas act of 1950.