Earth Fair Market: the place to go for farm fresh goods in the inner city

Food markets may conjure up images of country farms and chickens clucking underfoot, but on Thursday afternoons the country comes to the city centre at Cape Town’s delightful Earth Fair Market on St George’s Mall.

At most hours of the day St George’s Mall – the pedestrian boulevard that runs almost the length of the centre of Cape Town – is abuzz with commuters and office workers. Pigeons flap underfoot and hawkers sell T-shirts and African artworks to tourists.

But come Thursday midday, the end of the mall closest to the St. George’s Cathedral and Company’s Garden is transformed into a vibrant food and produce market that draws locals and tourists alike.

Perhaps the closest thing to a European-style street market you’ll find in the city, stalls line the mall offering up wonderful baked goods, fresh vegetables, charcuterie, cheese and meats.

Along with plenty of great produce to take home, there are also stalls selling delicious street food: either enjoy it in the mall, or grab a take-away and wander into the scenic Company’s Garden.

The market runs from 11h00 -15h00 every Thursday in St George’s Mall.

My best food market? Easy: Oranjezicht Farmer’s Market

There’s no shortage of wonderful food markets to explore in Cape Town. But Dax Villanueva, the writer behind local wine, lifestyle and travel blog Relax-with-Dax, has no problem picking out his favourite.

The Oranjezicht Farmers Market is definitely the best food market in the city.

These days it is based at The Lookout in the V&A Waterfront precinct. It is undercover but also has open spaces so it’s ideal for both rainy or sunny days. The view of the ocean adds a unique element.

It’s probably the best market for getting fresh veggies, but there are a lot of great stands selling things to take home.

When you’ve finished shopping there are plenty of food stands to grab a bite at and take in the vibe. There is normally music playing and the place is humming. It’s very social.

My top midweek food markets in Cape Town

Cape Town comes into its own on the weekends, but that doesn’t mean you won’t find a great food market during the week, reckons Dax Villanueva, the man behind local food, wine, lifestyle and travel blog Relax-with-Dax.

There are not many midweek food markets: there is Earth Fair Market in Tokai (Wednesdays), the Earth Fair Market at St George’s Mall (Thursdays) and the Noordhoek Community Market (Thursdays).

But I reckon the best midweek market is the City Bowl Market (Thursdays) on Hope Street in Gardens. This market is more about food on Saturdays, while the mid-week market is seriously festive. With over 30 traders plying their wares, the City Bowl Market offers a good mix of food, fashion and accessories. Look out for authentic Durban-style curries, locally-produced limoncello and fantastic Chinese cuisine.

Neighbourgoods Market — Cape Town’s most famous food market

Want a taste of Cape Town’s booming food markets? The Saturday market at the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock should be your first stop.

Food markets are flourishing in Cape Town, and every weekend hungry locals and tourists flock to wonderful food markets across the city to pick up fresh produce from local farmers, meet food producers turning out artisanal products, and settle in for a lazy Saturday morning of fine food and (perhaps) a little wine.

The Neighbourgoods Market in the Old Biscuit Mill precinct in the vibrant suburb of Woodstock is perhaps the most famous Saturday market in Cape Town – and well worth a visit if you can stand the crowds.

If you can’t, get there by 08h30. Either way you’ll find a market with a split personality. Upfront is a dizzying array of fresh produce, from leafy greens to locally grown mushrooms to raw-milk cheeses.

Hungry visitors head for the back, with food stalls selling Alsace-style pizza, craft beer and chunky steak sandwiches worthy of your hangover. Take your pick.

Don’t forget that Cape Town markets mostly operate on cash, although a few vendors accept payment via the smartphone app SnapScan, which app allows you to process card payments by simply scanning a QR code. It’s becoming widely used in Cape Town, so worth installing if you’re visiting.

Shop, sip and party in Hout Bay harbour

The Bay Harbour Market in the fishing village of Hout Bay — a 30-minute drive from the Cape Town’s city centre — takes a littler insider knowledge to discover, but it’s well worth seeking out.

Let’s be honest: the fishing harbour of Hout Bay is unlikely to win any awards for glamour. With ‘fragrant’ fishing trawlers and rusted warehouses, it’s a working harbour that values function over form.

This makes the Bay Harbour Market, hidden in an old warehouse on its fringes, such a wonderful surprise each weekend.

Open Friday evening and almost all day Saturdays and Sundays, the market is a happy blend of retail therapy, delicious food and a place to hang out with friends and family.

A range of arts, crafts, clothing and bric-a-brac greet you at the door, but a few steps takes you into the food hall that is the heart of the market. Grab a plate of sushi, rustle up a Middle Eastern shwarma, or step outside for fresh fish off the grill. In the morning, you’ll find great coffee and fresh pastries on offer to get you started.

It’s a family-friendly spot, but come nighttime the volume gets turned up a notch. The tables are packed with merrymakers, craft beers flow freely and the stage in the corner is filled with live acts from across Cape Town. It’s a market. It’s a bar. It’s a restaurant. Simply put, it’s just a great place to while away a Cape Town weekend.

There’s always country fresh fare at Root 44 food market

If you’re heading out of Cape Town’s city centre and exploring the Stellenbosch winelands, it’s worth stopping in at Root 44 for a taste of country life.

The Root 44 market, situated on Audacia wine estate (on the R44 road that links Stellenbosch and Somerset West, about 30 minutes drive from the city centre), has something for everyone.

Get there early and browse the plentiful stalls laid out with antiques, jewellery, children’s clothing and handcrafted homeware.

Getting thirsty? Audacia wines are on offer, alongside delicious local craft beers. And all that shopping and drinking will no doubt work up an appetite, so take your pick between wood-fired pizza, traditional ‘roosterkoek’ (bread grilled on an open flame), spicy local curry and a wide variety of other options.

There’s no shortage of great produce to take home either… the home-baked breads, charcuterie and local cheese is particularly good here, though.

While there’s live music and plenty of space for adults to kick back and relax, it’s also a child-friendly market. You’ll find funfair entertainment, outdoor jungle gyms and lawns for children to burn off some energy. A hit with the locals and a gem of a find for tourists, Root 44 is well worth a visit on your winelands wandering.

The market is open every Saturday and Sunday from 10h00 to 16h00.

This bustling market serves up fresh bounty from the Oranjezicht City Farm

With city farming on the rise, the Oranjezicht City Farm and its popular Saturday market is at the cutting edge of sustainable produce in Cape Town.

Set high on the mountain slopes above the centre of Cape Town, the Oranjezicht City Farm transformed a derelict sportsfield into a bountiful urban farm, revitalising urban space and providing employment.

When red tape got in the way of their successful produce market, locals breathed a sigh of relief when new premises were found alongside the V&A Waterfront shopping precinct.

So although the Oranjezicht Farmers’ Market is no longer located at the farm that inspired it, you can expect the same ethos throughout this scenic seaside market. The market takes place every Saturday from 09h00 to 14h00 and offers a wonderful mix of food to take home and dishes to enjoy on site.

Local artisanal produce reigns supreme here, with fresh vegetables from the farm, handmade cheeses and a wealth of pickles, preserves and cured goods to add to your holiday picnic pantry. The fresh artisanal breads are excellent too.

This market attracts a more laidback gathering and is usually less crowded than the Neighbourgoods market in Woodstock, one of Cape Town’s oldest suburbs on the Eastern Boulevard. Plus, the sea views are hard to beat and there’s even free Wi-Fi.

You’ll find family-friendly fare at the Tokai Forest Market

While the trendy markets of Woodstock and the Cape Town city centre are venues to see and be seen, the Tokai Forest Market is a relaxed, family-friendly affair where you can mingle with the locals.

It’s hard not to love the buzz and atmosphere of Woodstock’s Neighbourgoods Market, or the chic seaside appeal of the Oranjezicht Farmer’s Market – but for locals living in the southern suburbs of Cape Town, it’s the Tokai Forest Market that ticks all the right boxes for lazy weekend shopping.

You won’t find many views, or too many hipsters, at the Tokai Forest Market in the leafy suburb of Constantia, but it’s a great opportunity to experience life like a local.

This family-friendly market has a more limited array of food on offer, but the bacon-and-egg rolls with a good flat white coffee are a fine way to start your weekend. Look out for the excellent bakery and cheese stalls. And, unlike the ever-crowded Neighbourgoods market, there are plenty of places to enjoy it all under the pine trees.

Families with children are well taken care of here too, with a large play area and pony rides on offer. There’s even an arts and crafts section to keep children entertained while adults browse the range of food, drink and design stalls.

Unlike most Cape Town markets, the Tokai Forest Market is open on both Saturday (from 09h00) and Sunday (from 10h00) until 15h00.