Whether you’re nursing a hangover or just getting the evening started, it’s hard to beat an old-school hamburger done right. These five Cape Town burger bars won’t disappoint.
1. Royale Eatery
Ask a local Capetonian where they had their first gourmet burger and chances are it’ll be Royale Eatery in Long Street, the party strip of Cape Town’s city centre. Arguably the pioneer of the top-notch patty, Royale’s menu stretches to more than 50 different burgers and there’s a nice buzz to the place. It’s really top notch, but is it the best burger in Cape Town? Maybe not any more, some may argue…
2. IYO Burgers
A strong contender for the title of best burger in Cape Town can be found up the road on Bree Street. Halfway down this hipster highway, IYO Burgers combines a superb burger with a sustainable ethos. Their meat comes from free-range grass-fed beef, the potatoes are organic and the vegetables are locally sourced. To top it off, the burgers are superb.
3. The Taproom
There are few better food pairings than a cold beer and a hot burger, and the Devil’s Peak Brewing Company in Salt River does both rather well. The Taproom offers all eight of the Devil’s Peak beers on draught, plus a few specialty beers on the side, while their burger is a generous patty topped with melted emmenthaler cheese. Also look out for their burger specials on Tuesday evenings.
Just down the road in Woodstock’s trendy Old Biscuit Mill precinct you’ll find another firm favourite. Redemption is about the size of a large broom cupboard, but that doesn’t stop them from whipping together a fantastic burger and bun. The sesame-topped roll is stuffed with a thick juicy patty topped with grilled cheese and – wait for it – a crispy deep-fried onion ring. There’s a chicken burger on offer too, but the beef is your best bet. There’s a good range of craft beers on tap, too.
5. The Dog’s Bollocks
Last but not least, there’s a local secret you should know about. It’s hard to find, it’s low on frills and the owner’s pretty grumpy. The upshot? The Dog’s Bollocks offers burgers that are, well, the name says it all. Open from 17h00, The Dog’s Bollocks dishes up enormous burgers and crispy fries in a cosy, quirky yard off Roodehek Street in the suburb of Gardens. Bring cash and a sense of humour and you won’t be disappointed.
Not so long ago it was “ABC” when it came to choosing white wine: “Anything But Chardonnay”. Times have changed, and the wine estates beyond Cape Town are producing world-class Chardonnay to teach Burgundy a thing or two.
In the world of Chardonnay, competitions don’t get much more prestigious than the Chardonnay du Monde. In 2015 this annual competition was held at Château des Ravatys in the heart of Burgundy, the traditional home of Chardonnay in France.
Can you imagine the Gallic unhappiness when a New World wine from South Africa beat the Burgundians at their own game? Judged against 800 entries from across the globe, Groot Constantia’s 2013 Chardonnay was judged the best in the world.
“Our Chardonnay has always been an over-achiever,” says Jean Naudé, chief executive of Groot Constantia, an estate with a wine tradition stretching back 330 years.
The vineyards’ sea views had plenty to do with the award, says estate viticulturist Floricius Beukes: “The summer breezes from the Atlantic Ocean have a big impact on our vineyards, keeping them healthy and retaining the amazing fruit character.”
The Cape vineyards are no one-trick-pony in the world of Chardonnay, though. Stellenbosch cellar Fleur du Cap bagged a gold medal for its Unfiltered Chardonnay 2014, while the likes of Boschendal, Glen Carlou and Tokara were awarded medals at the global Chardonnay showcase.
Beyond the mantelpiece of awards, also look out for Chardonnay from the likes of Elgin estate Iona, DeMorgenzon outside Stellenbosch, and the glorious unwooded Chardonnay from Robertson estate Springfield.
Like most major wine-producing regions of the world, the quality of wine produced in a specific year comes down to the characteristics of the vintage. Here’s what to expect from Cape Town’s past 10 years.
So you’ve explored the Cape winelands to your heart’s content, discovered your favourite local estates and now want to stock up before you travel home. But how do you know which years – or which “vintages”, in wine-speak – are best?
Well, it’s simple. Odd years good. Even years bad.
That, in a very over-simplified nutshell, is the rule of thumb when it comes to analysing vintages in the Cape winelands.
2015 is said by some viticulturists to be the best vintage in living memory, but most winemakers will tell you to wait and see what ends up in the bottle when the better wines are released in 2016 and 2017.
2014 was a cool wet vintage, with lower yields and generally less powerful wines.
2013, on the other hand, boasted the biggest crop on record, with excellent conditions promising exceptional reds and whites. You’ll rarely go wrong with a ’13.
2012 and 2011 were both tricky years, but the best producers managed to work their way through the variable wine producing conditions. 2010 was also a tough harvest for most winemakers, so taste carefully before buying.
2009? Ah, now we’re talking. Billed as one of the greatest ever vintages in Cape Town — actually in all of South Africa. Both white and red wines were superb this year.
2008 saw plenty of elegance in the red wines, while in 2007 it was the turn of white wines, although there was plenty of concentration in the red wines.
2006 remains one of the finest white wine vintages of the past decade or two, with Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin both exceptional.
2005 was forgettable in challenging conditions. Overly alcoholic red wines and pedestrian white wines. Rather buy more ’09.
New to South African red wine, or want to discover some of the best local vineyards? Respected wine judge and certified Cape Wine Master Winnie Bowman suggests some of the classic estates to visit in and around Stellenbosch in the Cape winelands.
“The very finest Cabernet Sauvignon in South Africa comes from Stellenbosch. It’s the best area for growing Cabernet, with a wide range of conditions. If you can, taste your way from the cooler Helderberg across to the warmer, inland Simonsberg.
Le Riche Wines must be number one on your list for Cabernet, but one of the most exciting Cabernets at the moment is from Stark-Condé: their Three Pines Cabernet Sauvignon is outstanding. It’s a modern style of Cabernet Sauvignon that can hold its head high.
The Cabernets from Grangehurst are also superb, as are those from Kleine Zalze.
Pinotage is obviously a big drawcard for visitors. L’Avenir and Kanonkop would be my two go-to producers for Pinotage. Kanonkop got incredible results at the recent International Wine and Spirits Challenge for their Black Label Pinotage, but even their regular Pinotage is superb. The wines from Beyers Truter, the winemaker at Beyerskloof, are also worth discovering.
Spier Wine Farm also makes an incredible range of Pinotage, from entry-level wines to their premium 21 Gables. They also make a range of niche wines that you can only taste at the farm. They’re all utterly drinkable and utterly collectable.”
Everybody likes a happy ending, and by that we mean a knockout dessert of course. Not sure which Cape Town restaurants will deliver a grand finale to your meal? We did some of the hard work for you…
Chef Scot Kirton has done well to put La Colombe on the culinary map with his multi-course tasting menus, but he’s also a chef who knows how to finish strong. Rounding out his Gourmand menu is a dish titled simply; ‘Strawberries and Green’.
Cucumber ice cream? Celery leaf? Verbena and cashew? Not what you’d expect from a memorable dessert dish, but the combination of flavours and textures of strawberries will amaze you.
Around the corner there’s more fine dining fare at The Greenhouse, where Executive Chef Peter Tempelhoff’s wizardry with a gateaux of Madagascan chocolate and pistachio is equally impressive.
Or, think classic, and there’s little that can beat a textbook chocolate fondant made using quality dark chocolate and cooked to perfection. Giorgio Nava at modern Italian restaurant 95 Keerom ticks both of those boxes with his legendary version of this classic bistro dish. Paired with an imported grappa it’s a dessert to remember.
Of course a decadent dessert doesn’t have to be complicated. A simple ice cream cone, done well, is perhaps the queen of desserts. Our favourite? Any one of The Creamery branches across Cape Town. The Mouille Point and Newlands outlets are your best bet, and both are open until 11pm Tuesday to Sunday.
Speaking of ice cream: you don’t want to miss the black sesame ice cream at Kyoto Garden Sushi on Kloof Nek Road. While the sushi and Japanese cuisine here is arguably the best in the city, they don’t disappoint come dessert time either.
The same goes for Tjing Tjing Torii in the city centre: expect delicious small-plate Asian dishes, wrapped up with a memorable dessert that pairs black sesame ice cream with creamy matcha ice cream and a pancake of red bean paste. Delicious.
Looking for a great old-school burger in Cape Town? Perhaps with a cold craft beer on the side? Matthew Ibbotson, publisher of web-based food magazine ‘Crush Online’, reckons you need to meet Jerry…
Jerry’s Burger Bar started in the Cape Town suburb of Observatory, but they have also opened up in Park Road, off Kloof Street.
It’s a really great burger bar with some of the best burgers in town. They’ve taken some of the American barbeque culture and brought it to Cape Town. Some of the burgers are quite over the top and they have burgers with cheese and other ingredients actually folded inside the patty.
They also have burgers named for the seven deadly sins; burgers you will need to repent for! Take your pick of Pride, Gluttony, Wrath and so on.
Compared to other burger joints in Cape Town I would say they are one of the best in the city. The portions are large too, so you’re not going to leave hungry.
They also have a really good craft beer offering, with a range of good beers on tap.
With dozens of great restaurants on the foodie highway in central Cape Town, it’s hard to choose just one favourite. But not for Matthew Ibbotson, publisher of web-based food magazine ‘Crush Online’…
One of my favourite spots is a place called Charango. Bree Street is the street to be on for good food, and this is one of the best.
It’s all about Nikkei cuisine, a blend of Japanese and Peruvioan influences.
It’s a style of food I’m really enjoying and it’s trending. At Charango the décor is amazing and tables spill out onto the street. It’s got a great vibe.
My favourite dish is definitely the seared tuna tataki; it’s a really delicious option. The prawn tostado with ponzu dressing is also really interesting, and they do tuna tacos, which are great. I also loved the way most dishes come with salsas and dips, offering small flavour bursts on the side.
Yes, Cape Town has the best restaurants in South Africa. Yes, the chefs are the best in Africa. But ask a local for traditional local street food and there’s only one dish you need to try: the Gatsby.
Every great dish has a good story behind it, and the Gatsby is no exception. In 1976, in the working-class Cape Town suburb of Athlone, a man by the name of Rashaad Pandy needed to give a group of workers some dinner. Pandy owned a popular fish-and-chips take-away restaurant in the area, but there was one problem. He was fresh out of snoek, a firm fish popular with Cape Town locals. No problem, he thought, so he sliced open a long roll, filled it with fried chips, polony sausage and spicy local chutney called atchar.
“This is a Gatsby smash!” shouted one impressed worker, inspired by the famous movie showing at the theatre across the road. And so, the Gatsby was born.
Famous as the ultimate hangover cure, the Gatsby can be filled with everything from calamari to sausage, but the classic version comes as a long bread roll crammed with slices of spicy steak, hot chips and salad. Ask for a full house and you’ll get a sandwich that could feed a football team.
A “half” is easily enough for two or three people, but make sure you order it in the right way: when the person behind the counter says “How many?” they don’t mean how many you want to order. Instead, they’re asking how many cuts in the long sandwich they should make. If you’re feeding three people, the answer’s “three”. Regardless of how many you choose, the middle slice is the best.
So now, where should you go to find the best Gatsby in Cape Town? Everyone has their favourite: the Golden Dish in Klipfontein Road in the Cape Flats suburb of Rylands is famous, while Aneesa’s Takeaways in Ottery Road, Wynberg is as legendary. Super Fisheries, where it all began, is still going strong in Klipfontein Road, Athlone but, like the Golden Dish, is a little far off the tourist track.
Your best bet for a taste of Cape Town street food is to eat with the locals at Mariam’s Kitchen in St George’s Mall in the centre of Cape Town. Now theres a Gatsby to write home about.