South Africans love their red meat and there’s no shortage of great steak restaurants in Cape Town. Here are a few local favourites worth a visit…
You’ll never struggle to find a great slab of red meat in South Africa and even though Cape Town is known for its cosmopolitan globetrotting cuisine, it is also home to a number of top-notch old-school steakhouses.
In Cape Town’s southern suburbs the locals speak of one particular steakhouse in reverential tones: The Hussar Grill.
The Hussar first fired up the grills in 1964 and today the service and offering is as dependable as the retro gilded doors that open on to Main Road in Rondebosch.
Consistency is the watchword here and you won’t find foams, jus or fancy cooking; only solid cuts of meat at decent prices. There’s a charming old-school feel to the décor, and the service is unfailingly friendly. A rump steak with chips and onion rings is the default order for most locals, but also look out for special cuts and game meats on the chalkboard.
For something a little more stylish, try the Butcher Shop & Grill opposite the Mouille Point lighthouse. This trendy Johannesburg-based brand has quickly built up a fan base thanks to its upmarket décor and wide-ranging menu. Prime cuts are aged for up to 40 days, ensuring top quality meat, and with two wine cellars on site you’re assured of a great wine to go with your meal.
Down the road the V&A Waterfront shopping and entertainment precinct is filled with great restaurants, but if you fancy a steak Belthazar is your best bet. With the feel of a New York grillroom it’s a distinctly upmarket experience – with prices to match. There’s a good range of seafood on offer as well, but it’s the steaks you should be looking at. Fillet, rump, sirloin and T-bone can all be ordered in portions to suit your appetite, but the daily selection of game meats is most popular.
Belthazar also impresses when it comes to wine. Aside from boasting one of the best wine lists in the city you’ll also find over 200 wines by the glass.
There are plenty of old-school steak restaurants in Cape Town, but the very best steak in the city isn’t where you might expect it…
Giorgio Nava knows a thing or two about steak. He has spent decades in restaurant kitchens turning out some of the finest Italian food in Cape Town, he hunts wild game on the plains of the Eastern Cape province and he even farms his own herds of cattle.
This is a man who knows his meat, and it shows in the menu offering at his collection of Carne SA restaurants. Carne SA now has two restaurants in Cape Town’s city centre and one in the wealthy suburb of Constantia, 20 minutes drive from the city centre. The offering is much the same at each of his restaurants: you’ll find expert service, stylish décor, a great wine list and – most importantly – top-notch steak.
Nava sources most of his meat from his own farms and all steaks hang for a minimum of 28 days, some for up to three months, meaning they are packed with flavour.
Unlike most steak restaurants in Cape Town, Carne SA is also unique in offering a wide range of cuts; up to 28 different cuts of beef and lamb are showcased on a platter by the well-trained staff.
Nava was one of the first to offer the popular hanger steak in Cape Town, while the unusual ‘spider’ steak is a delicious cut Nava wants more diners to try: “After you’ve tried it you won’t touch fillet ever again!”
Aside from the unusual cuts, don’t be surprised if your steak is served rather, well, plain.
“The only sauce we use is a good olive oil,” says Nava. “Our meat has flavour, it has taste; there is no need for anything else. With that our customers discover something different. For the first time they taste the meat, not the sauce.”
You can add some chips or vegetables on the side, perhaps the excellent butternut ravioli, but Nava knows his meat so who are we to argue. One thing’s for sure: if you’re looking for the best steak in Cape Town, Carne SA is a good place to start.