You don’t need to be a foodie to fully appreciate the food and drink on offer in Cape Town – you simply need to be an eater. But if you do like to eat great food at reasonable prices, in remarkable settings and amid a day of epic sightseeing, there are few better destinations in the world to visit than the Western Cape. That’s because the province, with Cape Town as its culinary heart, is a melting pot of food and drink culture that caters for seemingly endless tastes and always seems to deliver some chart-topping surprises.
The Western Cape’s contribution to the global food scene is now famous, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you should set your sights on quaffing a fine wine over a decadent meal. Although, if we have our way, it probably will. Appreciating Cape Town cuisine can also mean something as satisfyingly simple as sipping a craft beer over a delicious burger or snacking on local favourites like biltong, boerewors, samoosas, and koesisters, each of which tells a story about this corner of the continent.
To fully appreciate the Western Cape’s food scene, it’s worth briefly understanding the region’s influences through the generations – which most good foodie tours in Cape Town will provide. Being perched on the very southwestern tip of Africa meant from an early age Cape Town saw an eclectic variety of people pass through its ports, many of whom chose, or were forced, to remain. This, paired with influences from people already established in the region for centuries prior, has led to a fascinating selection of dishes and some truly unique flavour combinations.
The arrival of colonisers to the Cape led to early international influences on local food culture from countries like Portugal, France, Netherlands, and Malaysia – which still dominate the local culinary scene. And although many menus at high-end restaurants are still influenced by European cuisine, there are also notable dishes distinct to Cape Town and South Africa that result from the Cape’s complex and dark history during the days of slavery and colonisation.
The great irony is that as a visitor to Cape Town, it’s often easier to find fantastic pasta, sushi, or French bistro-style cuisine than it is a traditional bobotie, braai, or gatsby – and it would be a shame to forgo either. Cape Town may be home to restaurants that make global lists, but many hidden gems remain closely guarded local secrets.
What makes the Western Cape one of the world’s best foodie destinations is precisely this mix of cuisines – available at multiple price points. It’s also a scene that’s deeply influenced through multiple generations – and yet exciting restaurants, bars, and coffee shops, the type of which wouldn’t look out of place in New York, Berlin, London, or Melbourne, are also frequently popping up on inner-city street corners.
So whether you’re a self-described foodie looking to savour some of the best internationally-inspired cuisines in the world, want to sample family recipes handed down through generations, or simply wish swill a flat white or local IPA in a unique coffee shop or bar, the Western Cape will have you covered.
Unsure where to begin? Take a look at our Wine, Beer & Biltong Safari, or book a spot on our Splendour in the Winelands excursion that offers a full day’s exploration of picturesque vineyards and their tasing rooms and restaurants. Or hop aboard our Cape Town Sights & Bites to taste your way around town and Constantia, or the Urban Safari for an authentic tour of Cape Town’s most vibrant and scenic neighbourhoods.