Last week I introduced you to my ultimate Cape Town adventure and talked about Table Mountain and the Cape Peninsula tour. If you missed it, you can read about it HERE. This week, I will finish this adventure by talking about all things food and wine and tell you all my favorite places to stay.
I love food tours as a way to learn about a new destination, and Cape Town’s foodie scene is outstanding. Food tours allow you to slow down live like a local, are great for people watching, and learning the essence of the local people, culture and history. We literally walked around and ate ALL DAY, so below is just a small sample of all we did. I wish I had room for it all!
Our first treat was the best pan au chocolat (from Tamboer’s Winkle) I’ve ever eaten followed by a stop at a hole-in-the-wall place called “Our Local” – old mechanic’s workshop-turned-eatery for the best mushroom grilled cheese sandwich I’ve ever had!
Our walking tour took us down Kloof Street, a restaurant row that at one time it had 50 restaurants. Due to COVID, it is now down to 20. Our next stop was Oswald’s Bakery (Tom is the baker, and his dad, Pete, started it). We tried sourdough bread and cinnamon twisties. Yum! Next door was a place called Kloo Ker where we sampled dried beef (biltong), droëwors stick (beef), bacon (spicy), but they also make it from kudu (an antelope with twisted horns).
The recently-opened Egghead is known for pork bun, hamburgers, Eggs Benedict, and other bruch stuff! We tried the Portuguese egg tarts here, and they were fantastic! They became very popular because in the past, egg whites were used to starch Nun habits. So, they started making Portuguese tarts to use up the egg yolks and raise money for the monastery.
Further down the street, we met a new coffee shop owner named Mondi (who build his place in a shipping container during the pandemic). The shop was named Molweni (which means “hello everyone” in the Xhosa language).
Next stop is Ansia, located in the Company’s Gardens (a cool park in the middle of downtown in the shadow of Table Mountain), for a local tea tasting with sweet treat. We sampled a rooibos tea made from fynbos (pronounced “fain-boss”), vegetation unique to the Cape, also used in medicine, tea, and for decoration, grown here in South Africa’s Western Cape. Rooi means “red” and bos means “bush.”
A vibrant area known as Bo Kaap (meaning “Upper Cape”) has been the spiritual home of the Cape Malay community since the abolition of slavery and is known for its colorfully painted homes. The area’s 11 mosques have a call to prayer 5 times a day, but gentrification happening now so not just Muslims who live here anymore. Typically, blue collar workers lived here, and in the 1990’s, the government allowed them to purchase their homes, so they would paint them with the paint colors that they had left for the day, resulting in a colorful array of row homes.
It was in the Bo Kaap neighborhood that took us to our next stop, Faeeza’s Tea Garden. The chili bites (made from pea flour, spinach onion and spices-turmeric, chili, onion), Samosas, and Roti-Naan bread with chicken and curry (Cape Malay food) were to-die-for, and Faeeza and her husband were gracious hosts.
Bo Kaap Deli served traditional donuts rolled in coconut (called Koeksusters) which are only found in and around Cape Town.
As we were winding down the tour, we walked through a cool place called Heritage Square Local, a collection of little eateries, that reminded me of some of the tapas places in Barcelona. You can pick and choose which dishes to get at each place (appetizer at one, entree at another, glass of wine at yet another) and choose a table anywhere to enjoy your feast. The oldest vine in the Southern Hemisphere still grows here (and produces 5 bottles of wine a year)!
We ended the all-day eat-fest with cocktails at a bar called the House of Machines where bartender Brian demonstrated how to make an old fashioned. One thing is for sure, you’ll never go hungry in Cape Town!
The Taj was built in the old Reserve Bank Building. It’s city-center location across the street from Company’s Gardens makes it very walkable to many of the city’s attractions. There are two restaurants at the hotel. The first is called Mint (an homage to its past as a bank), and second is called Bombay. Bombay is closed at the moment.
One thing I noticed right off the bat was the phenomenal service from every employee. They call this “Taj-ness” where everyone is treated like Indian royalty. Our room faced the iconic Table Mountain, and we were greeted each morning by this incredible view!
Cape Grace was built 24 years ago in a working harbor. The décor has a nautical theme with antique artifacts everywhere. The hand-painted curtains are a nod to the Dutch heritage of the city. The 4th floor is private – you only get access if you are staying there.
In addition to 120 rooms, they have 2 and 3-bedroom suites for families and friends traveling together. The main restaurant is called Signal, and the Bascule whiskey bar serves 400 different kinds of whiskey (they also do wine tastings). South Africa’s national flower, the King Protea (meaning “transformation”) can be found in arrangements all over the hotel.
Located on the Atlantic Ocean and at the base of the Twelve Apostles geological formation (and as a historic landmark, nothing else can be built on the land), this 5* boutique hotel offers comfortable well-appointed rooms with views of either the ocean or fynbos (and the smell of the flowers was amazing!), afternoon tea and gin tastings, and guided hikes on the many trails on property.
There is also a helipad for those transferring from the waterfront to the hotel via helicopter. It may seem far from downtown, but there is a complimentary shuttle from 8am-9pm on the hour to the waterfront via Camps Bay, so you have plenty of opportunity for shopping and restaurants off-property.
There is a cinema at the hotel where you can schedule a screening complete with popcorn and candy, and the recently-renovated spa has seven treatment rooms and 2 outdoor gazebos.
One really cool offering for guests (especially if you are traveling solo) are staff members known as “Sports Buddies” who can go with guests so they don’t have to go alone for golf, shopping, hiking, running, cycling (they can even supply the road bikes).
Built 121 years ago, this timeless iconic hotel was the first 5* hotel in Cape Town and features Victorian exteriors, elegant rooms and fine dining – it is the city’s most prestigious hotel.
The Mt. Nelson is also famous for their afternoon tea experience (a Virtuoso amenity that you need to book WAY in advance). The Chef’s table allows a maximum of 12 in kitchen for a 5-course tasting with or without wine pairings. The Chef presents each item and they require a minimum of 48 hours to book in advance. Please allow 3 – 4 hours for the experience.
While not technically CW, Constantia is the closest wine region to Cape Town (20 min away) and is the oldest wine valley in South Africa. It is home to Groot Constantia, the oldest estate in South Africa, known for its old-world Cape Dutch architecture nestled amongst the vineyards.
Despite the several hundred year history of winemaking in the Cape Winelands, it is considered “new world.” Franschhoek Valley’s picturesque vineyards, breath-taking scenery, and world-class wines/cuisine offers some of the best boutique family-owned wine estates. All vineyards are located within 3 hours from Cape Town and the Mediterranean climate here has lots of micro climates which are perfect for growing wine grapes. Franschoek is known mostly for sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, and a few good reds like Pinotage (only found in South Africa), and merlot. Cool southeasterly winds reduce stress, resulting in more balanced sugars and limited alcohol content, and superb wines!
Our day started at Le Lude, one of the few cellars in South Africa exclusively used for making Cap Classique sparkling wines.
South Africa’s oldest town is known as the central point for exploring the region known as Cape Winelands. It is also more known for red wines and is the most famous of the South African wine regions. Boschendal Wine Estate dates back to 1812, and is home to a premier wine tasting experience.
Are you ready for your own South Africa experience? Reach out to us HERE to start planning now. Availability for 2022 is already becoming fairly limited as folks who deferred their 2020 and 2021 trips are rescheduling for next year, so don’t wait! If you would like to join my private group to Cape Town/Victoria Falls/Botswana in mid-2023, click the link above and get on the list, and we’ll send you the details when they are finished (hopefully by the end of 2021)!
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