3 May 2022
Cape Town is famous for its endless summer days of beach visits, braais and al fresco dining, so it’s often with some reluctance that locals face the colder months. But social lives need not grind to a halt over winter when the city and its surrounds are full of intimate dining spots boasting delicious food and drink for all moods – complete with the ambience only a flickering fire can deliver.
The perfect way to spend a beautiful, crisp winter’s day is to take the family on a little road-trip up the coast and The Thirsty Oyster in Gordon’s Bay is the ideal destination. This seafood tavern has a spot for all kinds of weather, from an enclosed deck to an indoor dining room and an upstairs deck for breathtaking views of the bay and Table Mountain. The seafood on offer ranges from traditional dishes like grilled hake through to innovative offerings like Butterfish Espetada and oyster shots. Fish is often delivered straight from the boat to the kitchen, making it some of the freshest fare available, but meat-eaters are also catered for, steaks, burgers and ribs and a selection of tapas to build your own platter.
If you’re after truly local cuisine, you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for at Lelapa in Cape Town’s oldest informal settlement, Langa. Run by a mother and daughter team, this establishment has reached critical acclaim all over the world for its wholesome ingredients, uncomplicated cooking, and warm, homely ambience. You can look forward to meals like kudu shanks and ostrich stroganoff, paired with simple sides like carrots tossed in lemon and herbs, cabbage and brinjal and marrow. Pop in for dinner after a day’s winetasting and enjoy the storytelling and marimba music that makes this cozy spot so popular with South Africans and tourists alike.
Nothing says long leisurely lunches like ancient trees, sprawling vineyards and delicious, comforting Cape Malay food. Jonkershuis is an ideal location for outings like this, and is set in the scenic, historic Groot Constantia Wine Estate. You’ll have a choice of world-class wines as well as delectable options like charcuterie boards, fragrant curries, and gourmet sandwiches. You’ll be pleased to note that on icy days the double-sided fireplace roars to life, inviting you to stay a little longer.
Winter might put us off leaving the house, but it’s also a big sporting season for South Africans. If you’re looking for a great spot to catch the game, with family and friends, you will be hard-pressed to top Forrester’s Arms. ‘Forries’ as it is affectionately known is nestled beneath the mountain in moody Newlands and is an institution for locals, sports-lovers and students. Easy eating options like burgers and pizzas will keep energy up and kids can run riot in the playground while parents keep an eye on the TVs. You won’t feel the cold either, with a broad, central fireplace to emphasis that British pub feeling.
Situated in a heritage building under a canopy of leaves is The Hollow Tree, a family-friendly, intimate restaurant in Bellville. Starched white table linen, wooden chairs and exposed timber beams set the scene for a warm and home-style dining experience in front of a large fireplace. With generous portions that are well priced, the menu includes dishes like pizzas, pastas, ribs and schnitzel as well as tapas for those high-stakes sport fixtures. On warmer days you can also enjoy breakfast outside in the courtyard and a two course Sunday lunch special for when you’re after some country comfort food.
Open from Monday to Sunday, this super trendy ‘entertainment boutique’ offers patrons the ability to dine, connect over drinks and kickback across three different floors of the establishment. The rooftop is designed as a lounge for customers to relax with champagne, cognac, or whisky as they take in the view of outlying Khayelitsha – a great spot to migrate to after enjoying a meal on the first floor. The restaurant delivers semi-fine dining and a selection of seafood, light meals, and grill options. The ground floor is now a liquor store, where you can grab a bottle of wine to enjoy upstairs or a tipple to take home.
The vibrant suburb of Bo Kaap is distinct for so many reasons – colourful houses, strong community bonds, cobbled streets and a uniquely Capetonian cuisine. Owned by two born-and-bred Bo Kaap residents, the Bo Kaap Kombuis celebrates the eclectic and fragrant Cape Malay cooking which is prepared fresh daily and has been host to many celebrities. You can choose between delicious traditional dishes like Sugar Bean Curry and Beef Tomato Bredie and snack on starters of samosas and dalchies, all whilst overlooking the Mother City in a laidback and homely environment.
If you find yourself peckish after a blustery beach stroll in Simonstown, you’ll want to head straight to the Lighthouse Café on St George’s Street. Light and airy, the space is as welcoming as it is relaxed, giving diners the feeling that they can connect with friends or bury themselves in a book to while away an afternoon. The menu is efficiently short, allowing for easy decisions between choices like mussels, fish and chips, burgers, mezze platters, pizzas and pastas. A perfect choice for a grey winter’s day, the Lighthouse Café will lift the spirits with its cheerful and cosy ambience.
The ocean can be as beautiful in winter as it is in summer and makes the perfect backdrop for a dramatic dinner party. Gather your friends together at On the Rocks in Bloubergstrand and feast on fresh sushi, oysters and seafood platters with an excellent wine and cocktail list. When it’s too nippy to enjoy the sea spray (which you can literally touch from the terrace) retire inside to enjoy the beautiful Venetian fireplace.