Looking for authentic South Africa food in Cape Town can be quite challenging because South African cuisine is a delightful mix of colonial influences and indigenous tribal foods. The European colonizers arrived in South Africa around the 16th century. Prior to this, there were tribal groups in the country like the San, Xhosa, and Bantu-speaking natives.
The Rainbow Cuisine
Many restaurants in Cape Town serve South African foods that have Dutch influences. These dishes would be the potjiekos, bredie, melktert, and koeksisters (which are a pastry covered in sweet syrup). From the Boers, local cuisine adopted the famous Boerewors sausages and a grilling cooking method called braai. Then, from the Indians and Malays who were brought in to be slaves to the Dutch, the country’s cuisine gradually included curries, roti, bobotie, and smoorsnoek white fish. From the Indian influence comes the household dish called Bunny Chow.
Other dishes falling under the Rainbow Cuisine title are sosaties, biltong, frikkadelle, snoek pate, Gatsby, Walkie Talkies, and Moashonzha which is very unique since it is made of caterpillars sautéed in spices, curry, tomatoes, and onions.
South Africa also has its share of fast food chains, the most popular of which are KFC and MacDonald’s. However, life in South Africa would be incomplete without a visit at least once to these genuine South African restaurants.
The Real African Food in Cape Town: Bebe Rose, Little Ethiopia
Bebe Rose is a one-of-a-kind restaurant that is more of an eatery with South African “soul food”. It is found in Long Street’s African Women’s Trading Market and does not even have a signboard. However, ask around for the “African restaurant” and you’ll find it easily by looking for a sign that says “Ethiopian Restaurant.”
The specialties of Bebe Rose, who is also the chef and owner are vetkoek balls served with fried beans, spicy pap, Doro Wot, Achu, Kondre, pundu, ndole, and crispy fried chicken.
Little Ethiopia is probably the tiniest restaurant in Cape Town with the barest décor. It’s an experience that’s exotic, unique, and unexpected. Owned by Yeshi Mekonnen who makes her own spices, you won’t be given cutlery and you certainly won’t need condiments since the food is absolutely and perfectly seasoned, African style…
Your utensils are replaced by sourdough bread, injera, which you use to scoop up the food with your hands. Her specialties are meat or vegetable wot, like to doto wot (chicken) and misir wot with lentil. The menu is difficult to understand so be guided by 2 words: beyeaynetu means a vegetarian dish, and mahberawi which is a meat dish.
Finally, an upscale African restaurant in Cape Town is Addis in Cape. Owned by Senait Mekonnen who is an expat, Addis is one of Cape Town’s most delightful dining secrets. Her first restaurant is in Tanzania which was opened over 15 years ago. The specialties are alicha for a mildly spiced dish or the barbere for a really spicy dish with side dishes of ayeb (cottage cheese) and azifa (lentil salad). The ambience is more luxurious and spacious than Bebe Rose or Little Ethiopia and many of the regular clients are expats and visitors to the city.
Other Great Local Restaurants
You will not have any difficulty finding other outstanding local restaurants in Cape Town. Some of these are the Hussar grill, and the South Africa food chains, Steers and Nando’s. With all these culinary delights on offer, one could hardly be blamed for researching apartments for rent in the Cape Town area based solely on the demands of your taste buds.