While everyone knows Cape Town is one of the top food capitals of the world with a hot restaurant scene, these days, foodies around the world are looking for immersive food experiences, something that extends beyond a simple sit-down, restaurant-order-from-the-menu type of affair.
We so get it, which is why we’ve rounded up some of the most memorable, immersive, off-the-beaten track food and drink experiences happening in Cape Town right now.
We have scouted for anything and everything delicious happening in the Mother City – ranging from long, lingering social table feasts, the best food markets, martini masterclass workshops and wild food foraging experiences to the best creative gems! If it’s tasty, fun, immersive and authentic, you’ll find it right here!
Cape Fynbos Tasting Experience
Experiencing this interesting tasting of the Cape region’s botanical edibles is a unique opportunity to engage with the diverse indigenous fynbos of this beautiful region. Fynbos is an ancient, indigenous vegetation typical of the southern Cape known as the most diverse of six globally recognised botanical kingdoms.
Hosted by The Cape Heritage Trust in the urban sanctuary of the Historic Cape Company’s Garden the setting of the Cape Fynbos Tasting Experience cannot be more appropriate.
The hour long fynbos tasting gets you immersed in laboratory-style making and taste testing of tea infusions, cordials, oils, vinegar tinctures, and salts and flavoured sugars of delicious Rooibos and Honeybush as well as health boosting plants such as Rhine bush, Cancer bush, Buchu and snow bush. Read more or book.
Cape Malay Cooking Class and lunch
Faldela Tolken is a local resident of the Bo-Kaap in Cape Town with a mighty fierce reputation for her delicious cooking. Lucky for us, she welcomes hungry locals and travellers into her characterful purple home with open arms for a delicious food experience.
If every you wanted to try your hand at the unique Cape Malay cuisine of the Mother City that blends the spices and flavours brought by the slaves from South-East Asia with the recipes of the Dutch settlers, then this is your moment.
Here, in her very own kitchen, Faldela shares her cullinary roots through a 3 hour long hands-on cooking class. Her cooking is as vibrant and spicy as the hot pink and zingy green houses of her neighbourhood that are piled up together on the slopes of Signal Hill.
A heady blend of spices feature in all dishes from ginger, fennel, and turmeric, to cinnamon and star anise. Spicy curry, flaky rotis, delicious crunchy samosas and syrup laden koesisters encrusted with desiccated coconut, take form through lots of laughs and chatter.
The feast is enjoyed family-style and washed down with rooibos tee (redbush tea) for afters. We suggest a stroll around the steep and narrow cobbled roads of the neighbourhood to walk at least some of it off whilst taking in the colourful display and beautiful views of the city. Read more or book.
Reverie Social Table
Whether you’re new in Cape Town and keen to meet foodie-minded folk or simply want to hang out with your best mates over an epic feast, chef Julia Hattingh’s Reverie Social Table Experience is the place to be.
Set in Observatory, the heart of her quirky space is a festive 18-seater table that, through the course of the evening, is the stage to five artfully plated, seasonally inspired courses – each beautifully matched with wines from local boutique estates.
You’ll have so much fun getting to know your new foodie friends, you won’t even be tempted to check your phone. Read more or book.
Secret Sunset Cocktail Experience
At the end of the day, when Cape Town gets ready to swap her sweeping blue mantel for a jaunty mid-night blue cape spangled with a thousand stars, the lingering reprieve of her magnificent sunset calls for a cold one.
But where to go? Well, if you are looking for the most awe-inspiring outdoor seaside sundowner spots all you need to do is follow in the footsteps of Henk Brand and Suna Symington. “Henk and I have always loved exploring and looking for isolated spots where few people go.
We found most of our favourites through sheer curiosity – we would look at Google Maps satellite images and try to find new places to enjoy sundowners. Then we’d go on elaborate adventures to access those spots, ” says Suna. These days, they have quite an impressive repertoire of go-to cocktail destinations which they enthusiastically share with fellow adventurers. Read more or book.
Wild Food Foraging with Roushana Gray
Did you know there’s edible seaweed bobbing all along our shoreline and that, when prepared right, it’s the umami ingredient of your dreams? Do you know the best time to harvest mussels or go mushroom picking?
Indigenous food expert and foraging fundi Roushana Gray is about to make you see your everyday surrounds in a whole new way, whether you head into the forests in search of pine rings after heavy rains; into the veld to pick indigenous fynbos or edible flowers; or to the beach to harvest kelp. After your excursion, she’ll help you transform your loot into a delicious 3-course meal, served with craft beer or a fynbos mocktail, for good measure. Read more or book.
Martini Masterclass at Hope on Hopkins Distillery
Shaken? Stirred? What’s the diffs? Best ask Leigh Lisk and Lucy Beard, the duo behind what is hands-down Cape Town’s coolest craft vodka and gin distillery, Hope on Hopkins. Rock up at their HQ in Salt River, and they’ll pour-and-talk you through the different types of martini: the perfect, made with their London Dry gin; the vodka martini, with their small-batch vodka; the sweet, with their Salt River gin, and the dirty, with their Mediterranean gin. You’ll also learn how ol’ 007 forever changed the martini-drinking game and why he always insisted on his shaken. Read more or book.
Oranjezicht City Farm Market
Sick of getting saddled with more packaging than food with your weekly shop? Time to get back to basics, bring a tote and stock up on some of the best organic fruit and veggies – sourced from the Oranjezicht inner-city farm and other small producers – plus free-range eggs and meat, at this weekly Cape Town institution.
Of course, it’s also the Saturday-morning social you won’t want to miss, with food stalls plying you with everything from gelato and gin cocktails (breakfast of champions!) to authentic Vietnamese bahn mi and American-style BBQ pulled pork and brisket. And of course lots of artisinal goodies just screaming to be part of your ultimate picnic basket! Come hungry, thirsty and with a full wallet. Read more.
Constantia Wine Route
If you’re only in Cape Town for a day or two and don’t feel like heading out into the actual winelands to replenish those Cab Sav and Chardonnay stocks, you’ll be well-chuffed to find out that the Constantia Wine Route is second to none.
It’s home to some of the oldest estates in the country, including Klein Constantia, producers of the legendary Vin de Constance – Napoleon’s tipple of choice while on exile on St Helena island! Each of the eight estates on the route offers its own special magic, from award-winning restaurants and boutique hotels to picnic sites and museums, plus of course, the best wines and bubbles in the biz.
Coffee Appreciation Experience at Truth
The coolest coffee-tasting you’re ever likely to have, Truth – named best coffee shop IN THE WORLD by the Daily Telegraph in 2016 – takes you through all the twists and turns of coffee production in this super-interactive experience.
It includes a tour of their Steampunk roastery, a look at their retrofitted 1940s Probat coffee roaster (where the magic happens), a tiny history lesson (don’t worry, it’s riveting), plus a cupping session where you get to make like a professional coffee taster and sniff, slurp and savour three different single-origin coffees. Read more or book.
Here’s a hot tip: get an Uber if you’re planning to go to First Thursday, because you ain’t easily going to find parking. Happening on the first Thursday of every month, the initiative sees participating inner-city galleries open their doors for punters to come and glimpse their goods free of charge.
Of course, all that cultural appreciation – and cheap glasses of gallery wine – is bound to work up an appetite, which is why you’ll find some of the hippest bars and restaurants on the walking route keeping their doors open and vying for the masses’ affections with artisanal pizzas, steak and chips, tacos and tapas, which is all great of course.
But we think the star of the show is the street food – cool food trucks lining the streets selling everything from deep-fried mac and cheese balls to bratwurst ’dogs. Read more.
Photography: Kleinjan Groenewald | Jenni Elizabeth | Liezel Norval-Kruger