A few weeks ago, I returned from a five-week stint from South Africa. I volunteered for three weeks at an eco-lodge, and travelled the rest of the time along the Western Cape, home to the city of Cape Town. It was my first solo travel experience, and my thirst is even greater now that I have had a taste of the good life.
It was eye-opening to see how Cape Town has embraced creativity in every corner: independent shops, cafés, art galleries and artisan products offered everywhere. It was “a foodie/hipster/art-types paradise”, as described by a Melbourne native I met during one of the Cape Town Free Walking Tours I attended. Special dietary requirements were (notably) well-catered for too, with soya milk alternatives found in many of the regular cafe chains (a sugar-free carob drink was endorsed too), and vegan/veggie options on menus of take-away giants Wimpy and Steer’s.
I was greeted by a number of sought-after eating establishments and stores, some of which I thought was worth sharing.
Wellness Warehouse is similar to Holland and Barett’s in terms of products offered, but boy, was it much cheaper. Litres of kombucha, fresh soup and raw bars lined their shelves; I was in (health) foodie heaven. Natural and organic beauty, as well as supplements, were in abundance too.
I recommend: their kale chips aisle, nut butter shelves (ButtaNutt spreads, I love you!) and vegan-friendly mushroom biltong. My travelling pals did not approve of the faux biltong they had on offer, however.
An upmarket grocery shop and department store which sells great quality goods, and stocks some of the Waitrose range. It is worth a visit if you fancy splashing out for dinner, or for souvenirs to take back home. Also, they sell packed cauliflower rice. Unfortunately, I did not get some as I already planned my dinner for that evening. But hooray – perfect for those always rushing about like myself!
I recommend: Everything… but try their cauli rice (for me). Their rooibos tea is not too shabby either.
84 Shortmarket Street.
During one of the walking tours aforementioned, I learned that streets and alleyways just off Greenmarket Square seemed to be the one of the central hubs for food enthusiasts (the other, I’ve been told, is the upcoming Bree Street – which I barely touched on, I’m afraid). The avocado on toast offered at House of Machines was the best. Admittedly, it’s not something I’d normally pay for, but when you’re hanging out with your new travel/foodie friends… it was justifiable.
My friend’s The Reuben looked like #foodporn material.
I recommend: Avocado on toast. They also offer raw pizzas on Fridays.
Crush was also off Greenmarket Square, a vegetarian restaurant with vegan-friendly options. I treated myself to a ‘Moringa berry blast’ smoothie (minus the stevia) and a ‘Sesame seaweed salad’ for lunch – all for about R 120, which is less than £10 for a “superfood”-packed meal.
Crush was unapologetically reigning on the trendy “superfood” glory; the salad was fresh and filling – the fresh ginger was too overpowering for me though – but the smoothie was fantastic! It was thirst-quenching with a fantastic consistency and texture.
I recommend: their smoothies!
Icon Building, cnr Loop and Hans Strydom Street.
A few minutes’ walk from Crush in St. George’s Mall is The Food Lover’s Market. A worth-while visit if you’re a foodie, vegetarian or not. Compared to the Wellness Warehouse, it is less raw and “superfood”, and more good quality oils and patisserie. I bought a mill of their pink Himalayan salt… because you will not get it in the UK for a mere £1.50 (if so, kindly inform me where please!).
Unlike other supermarkets, Food Lover’s had a well-stocked salad counter and a buzzing sushi bar attached to it too. The lunchtime rush is real here, when Capetonians stock up on their gourmet sandwiches and bakery goods; it is worth a visit during these hours to get a glimpse of yuppies in their local environment.
I recommend: something from their bakery and foodie ingredient aisles.
Upper St. George’s Mall.
On Thursdays at St George’s Mall is the weekly Earth Fair Market. Stalls of street food feasts, home-made nut brittle, free-from meals and cakes, and fresh produce line the square opposite the cathedral. I tried a scrumptious brownie from Against The Grain one week, and a loaded vegetarian Hungarian flatbread on another occasion. Meat-lovers,conscious-eaters, cheese-enthusiasts and thrill-seekers all gather here every Thursday. The stalls vary weekly, sending your taste buds on a frenzy.
I recommend: trying a bit of everything – share meals with friends to get the best of all worlds. The stalls offering coated nuts was superb!
8 Buiten St, nr. Loop Street.
Before visiting Plant on my penultimate evening, I have never step foot in an all-vegan restaurant before. The interior was casual and simple, sticking to a monotonous colour scheme; the diners and meals seemed to decorate the place nicely. I had a glass of their Cabernet (because I’m in South Africa), their double-decker bun-less black bean burger, and a slice of brownie. My dinner and wine were tip-top, however, the brownie was slightly dry for my liking. I had my suspicions that I may have gotten the hard, bitter end of the batch – a taste of their raw avocado-based chocolate cheesecake did make up for it; their desserts are refined sugar-free.
I recommend: the burgers, and tacos (incredible looking salsa-y towers).
The Old Biscuit Mill, 373 Albert Road, Woodstock.
A Saturday, hungover brunch at the weekly Neighbourgoods Market located at The Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock happened. The food market itself was bustling with yuppies and young families, willing to push their way through the hangry crowds, looking for their next foodie fix. It was a recommended ‘to-do’ by many people I met, and Neighbourgoods did not disappoint. Chances are, if you are craving it, it was probably buried amongst the crowds: smoothies, made-to-order sushi rolls, dairy-free chocolate and game burgers were just some of the offerings. A fruit and veg stall at the entrance welcomed you, a conventional indoor market component for an otherwise unconventional affair.
I recommend: share with friends and try everything. This blog post seems to have a theme running through it; sharing is caring, so make friends with sensible food choices when travelling solo.
9. Cocoa Fair
The Old Biscuit Mill, 373 Albert Road, Woodstock.
Away from the crowds stood Cocoa Fair, a chocolate factory nicely tucked away by the clothing and leather goods stands. They use sustainable ingredients, and operate with social responsibility in mind. I bought a bar of their 95% dark chocolate with nuts to take home. It served as a nice reminder of what I learned during my time in South Africa, and the ethos and morals I want to incorporate into my life since visiting: ethical and sustainable living with charity in mind. Their amazing work is inspiring; learn more about it here.
I recommend: their 95% dark chocolate, and chocolate with chilli (NSFTW: not suitable for the weak).
I know that I have barely scratched the surface of the Cape Town foodie scene; I hope to return very soon to try some of Bree Street’s delights and some of their more niche establishments – dim sum while you do your laundry, anyone?
Peace and love, Julia.