Cape Town Bucket, Spade and Sand Castle List

I have (devastatingly recently) returned home to the UK, after a wonderfully adventurous three-and-a-bit year stint in Cape Town. During those few years, I found that my past-time mostly included eating, drinking and being merry. As such, I feel it is my duty to put pixel to page and create the ultimate restaurant and cafe bucket list, for anyone who plans to visit the Mother City and wants more than whats on offer from a tour guide.


Sushi 🍣

BelugaAn upmarket restaurant nestled in The Foundry in Greenpoint. Don’t let the white linen tablecloths fool you – this place is exceptionally reasonable. Though they have an excellent and extensive menu, Capetonians go to Beluga for a very specific reason: Half price sushi, dim sum and cocktails (before 7pm everyday and all-day on Sundays).

Recommendation from a local: Try the Tuna Crunch. I absolutely garuntee it will blow you mind and rock your tastebuds👌🏼

Sevruga – Similar look and feel to Beluga except Sevruga is situated in the Victoria and Albert Waterfront on the water’s edge. You’ll also enjoy the same half price special here 🙌🏼

Recommendation from a local: Always make a reservation and ask to be seated outside. You’ll get a great view of the ocean and all the passersby and it has a lighter and more open feel than the inside section.

Izakaya Matsuri – A hidden gem that I discovered far too late. This place is quite literally hidden in every sense of the meaning. It’s quite tricky to find it as it’s tucked beneath the Rockwell Hotel in Greenpoint which is also hidden from the main road. This unique spot doesn’t even have a front door – you need to unzip the canvas side to get in! Once you’ve finally found it you’ll be welcomed by cozy feel and friendly ambiance. Unfortunately you won’t find a half price deal here but the quality and imagination of the dishes is worth it.

Willoughby & Co – Situated inside the V&A Waterfront‘s shopping mall, this place is a strange one. Whilst the sushi is considered the best in Cape Town, the dining atmosphere leaves much to be desired. It’s worth a visit at least once to try their signature dish: The Four By Four.

Nuri – We’re about to take the ambiance down about 70 notches but bear with me. Nuri is situated in the middle of the hustling, bustling CBD and it looks like a large takeaway place – which is exactly what locals use it for. The food at Nuri is on par with the fancier sushi spots and wonderfully reasonable.

Recommendation from a local: You can whatsapp your order to them. Yes. Whatsapp. It’s excellent. Here’s their number: +27 21 461 8719 don’t say I never do anything for you.

Andy’s Sushi – Another ‘sushi dive’. Andy’s was opened by the former Willoughby’s chef who wanted to create the same high quality dishes for a fraction of the price. It’s a small restaurant that looks like a regular Chinese takeaway spot – think plastic chairs and exotic red things that dangle. It’s a fun and unpretentious spot to sit back and enjoy something delicious after a taxing day on the beach.

Recommendation from a local: They’re unlicensed so bring your own drinks – corkage is free. I’d suggest a bottle of Pierre Jourdan Tranquille (+- R70 a bottle)


Sundowners🍹

The Grand – If you want to watch the sunset or while away a couple of hours in the afternoon, this is your spot. You can sit back, toes in the sand, cocktail in hand, overlooking the stunning Granger Bay. The Grand is essentially a fancy (if slightly pretentious and borderline tacky) beach bar.

Recommendation from a local: Go there for a cocktail. The menu is extensive and they are reasonably prices (R50 – R70 per cocktail). The food is palatable but not worthy of the price or the service. The draw card for this place is the beautiful view and the ambiance – so sit back, relax and spare a thought for those in the office while you’re watching yachts jet across the ocean. ⛵️

Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 4.52.07 PM.png

Bungalow – Another great place to sit back, sip on something cold and naughty, and take in the beautiful sights of the atlantic ocean. Sit there long enough and you may see a couple of brave paragliders landing on the grass in front of the restaurant.


Madame Zingara ✨

Cafe Paradiso

Sidewalk Cafe

Cafe Manhattan

The Bombay Bicycle Club – Another one for my bucket list. Part of the Madame Zingara group: think glitter, think props, think awesome décor.


Mexican🌮

El Burro – I am obsessed with Mexican. After being spoilt for choice in America I felt very deprived when I hit the shores of South Africa. Portuguese? Sure! Italian? Fine! Mexican? Try your luck elsewhere, honey. That is, until I discovered El Burro. They make fish tacos that are to-die-for and their tequila menu is extensive. Make sure you make a booking though, this place has been a secret that Capetonians haven’t kept too well!

Fat Cactus – More Mexican! This place is very Tex Mex and it has a cool vibe. I’m a huge fan of the enchiladas.

Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 5.01.53 PM.png

El Taqueria –


 

 

Tashas

Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 4.54.42 PM.png

 

Superette

Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 4.59.40 PM

The Kitchen – Karen Dudley got something really right when she opened up this little restaurant. The Love sandwich is incredible and I have never enjoyed a salad so much in my life.


Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 4.57.49 PM.png

Just like Granny’s kitchen!


Burgers 🍔

Hudsons The Burger Joint – Porky Poppers, half price cocktails and EVERY BURGER EVER. Hudson’s is always full – there’s a reason for this.

Royal EateryThey describe themselves as “serving burgers that make your soul tingle and your dreams come true.” Well, if your dreams include an assortment of deluxe burgers, and, massive milkshakes set your soul alight, then they’ve got you covered. It’s situated on Long Street so make an evening of it and go bar hopping.

Village Idiot

Tiger’s Milk

Dropkick Murphy’s

The Dog’s Bollocks – This place is really bucket list material – my bucket list! I haven’t been before and it is down my road… What is wrong with me?! Every single person that has been here that I have spoken to raves about it!


Decadent Dinner 🍽

Kloof Street House

Hussar Bar and Grill – I can confirm that Hussar makes the best steak in the world. They have an extensive selection of on and off the bone pieces of meat – all aged to perfection. There are a couple of restaurants around the Western Cape (including Camps Bay, Somerset West and Paarl) but I’d recommend trying the Rondebosch. It’s been there since my dad’s University days, he’ll tell you “I used to pay R40 and they’d give me a meal every day that week!”

 

La Parada –

Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 5.12.40 PM.png


 

Cape to Cuba – My favourite restaurant in the world. The décor is spot on, the location is sublime and the food is just exotic enough. I will happily make the drive to Kalk Bay just to go here for a coffee, it is that unreal!

Olympia Café – Olympia is so simple, rustic almost, but it is phenomenal. The menu is written each day on a chalk board and you can pretty much guarantee that anything you order will be excellent.

IMG_6727 View from outside of Olympia Cafe

The Brass Bell – Sundays were made for The Brass Bell. A place with a view made for eating, drinking and good company.

Palana – This place is a very nice restaurant that moonlights as a club (after 10). The selling point? It is smack bang on the water: if you sit next to the window you will get wet from the spray of the ocean. How wonderful!


 

Now we’re talking good food, but better yet good drinks in a setting that you feel like you could waste your whole afternoon and evening in:

Eastern Food Bazaar – Cheap, cheerful and very filling. Think bunny chow, shawarmas and curries.

 

Beleza – You walk through the doors onto the porch and you feel like you are in the middle of an American indie movie circa 1958. Wonderfully eclectic decor and all of the waitresses wear funny flowery frilly aprons. The breakfast is awesome. I find myself here on most of my hangover days. Also, it is very competitively priced.


Coffee ☕️

Just after a quick cuppa? Cape Town certainly has you covered here. You can forget about the likes of Starbucks and Costa because Cape Town is all about quirky, unique and home roasted when it comes to coffee.

10270753_10152987296870993_9217409110491266554_n.jpg

Haas Coffee Collective – As I gushed about in a previous blog post – this place is awesome. The food is pretty reasonable for a light lunch too.

Origin Coffee – I haven’t tried the food here but I can confidently state that Origin makes the best Iced coffee in Cape Town, either at their stand at The Biscuit Mill’s Neighbourgoods Market or at their coffee shop on Hudson Street off Strand

Truth – The first coffee shop that I blogged about and still a firm favourite! They also make a flipping good breakfast. Bacon jam anyone?

10933968_10152987297650993_3173493734892273837_n.jpg

Photo by my very talented friend: @EmmaBrahamDesigns

Tribe

Cocoa Oola – Coffee to die for, the best dirty Chai in Cape Town and a wasabi chicken sandwich that was created by angels.

Giovani’s – The best hot chocolate I have ever drunk. In my life. Ever. They have an array of food that you can choose bits and pieces from. I find it hard to resist temptation to stop in this place every time I drive through Greenpoint.

 

Oh America

Until now I have focused on my transition from England to South Africa and all the exciting new things that I have discovered in the process. But as promised in the ‘about’ section I do want to give America a little mention. Mid-West, College-Town America, to be more specific. I spent my second year of university in America studying at Iowa State University, and what an experience I had! I decided before I boarded the plane that I was going to make the most of every single American experience that I possibly could. I went with another friend from Exeter, Rebecca and we became a little family.

IMG_1375Rebecca and I the day after we arrived in Iowa – ready to rush!

At first we were put into Halls just off campus, ominously named ‘The Towers’ – where they stick all of the transfer students and study abroad kids. Luckily Becca and I didn’t spend much time there in the first week – we were too busy going through Rush. “Rush?” I hear you say, “sounds like something from a movie” well have you seen legally blonde? Becca and I were embarking on our biggest cultural shock yet, Greek Land. Rush is the week before university starts and it is the biggest interview process of your life. You visit all of the sororities in Greek Land and talk to millions of girls to figure out which sorority you want to join, while they figure out if you should join them or not. Each day gets more intense as the list of possible houses to join gets smaller and you spend more time in your chosen houses. After an exhausting week Becca and I joined a sorority – Sigma Kappa.

46051_427479211878_4388057_nThe ladies of Sigma Kappa on the day that Rebecca and I got our bids (invitations to join the sorority)

We chose to move into the sorority house as quickly as possible, fondly known by the women of Sigma Kappa as the White Castle. Living in a sorority reminded me of what I imagine living in a boarding school to be like. You share a room with either one girl, two or even three – completely different from England where you have a room to yourself. I absolutely loved it. Our sorority had a bedding situation that was entirely peculiar to me, and when I tell people about it now they still don’t believe me. Rather than having beds in our rooms we all slept in massive rooms called cold airs. Cold airs are ALWAYS dark and ALWAYS cold. It’s a massive room with a lot of bunk beds, everyone has their own bed and is in charge of getting their own linen etc. In the middle of Summer all of the windows are always closed and the air conditioner is in full swing. The first night I slept in cold airs in the middle of August, while it was about 35degrees outside I froze underneath my sheets. In the middle of winter they open all of the windows. Let me tell you something about Iowa – in the winter you freeze.

IMG_6454A casual freezing walk on Campus in the middle of winter

The first thing anyone would tell me when I asked about winter was “you’re going to need a North Face” these brand-loyal Americans were not wrong. My North Face jacket absolutely saved my life. Back to cold airs – picture the scene: pitch black -30degrees outside and it’s snowing, you’d think we would close the windows right? WRONG. Cold airs – always cold.

1174697_10151536568031879_1321986768_nThe White Castle – our Sorority house 

There were lots of other awesome aspects about living in a sorority though. You were always with friends, there was always food in the fridge and always many an activity occurring. There were also fun little aspects to it that made you feel like you were in a club, that you really shared a bond with these women – every Wednesday everyone in Greek Land would wear their letters. Any piece of clothing that had the Sorority or Fraternity name or letters on it counted. That being said, everyone wore their letters all the time anyway! I still have so many items of Sigma Kappa clothing that I find myself in all the time. Also, in any photo opportunity the girls would make the Sigma Kappa hand gesture urging the other girls to “throw what you know”

221756_1759909995691_1177260072_3089248_7640757_n“One Heart One Way” – The Sigma Kappa Motto

Each semester different events happen like Homecoming and Greek Week, where the sororities and fraternities are paired up and compete against each other. We did things like Yell Like Hell which involved a skit, a routine, stomping and a lot of shouting. Another fun event was Lip Sync which also involved a skit, a routine, some interesting costumes and can you guess it? No yelling this time, lip syncing to a previously recorded tape.

207842_10150121407181879_3190374_nMe as Hermione Granger in Lip Sync for Greek Week 

All of these events were taken very seriously in the Greek community and there were committees in place to make sure that everything ran smoothly. One thing was for sure though – it all added to the spirit that is always felt in Greek Land. Becca and I are now alumni of Sigma Kappa but I know that this chapter of our lives will always hold an incredibly special place in both of our hearts. Though there is no equivalent in either England or South Africa there are a couple of similar opportunities to get involved with and experience that school spirit.

198501_1932517196880_1360780971_2226059_5309263_n

IMG_9155

IMG_9140Sigma Kappa ladies and Fiji gentlemen competing in the Greek Olympics

In England the sports teams with their initiations, Wednesday night partying and formal dinners remind me of Greek Land. And in South Africa what I have heard about going into Res sounds quite similar too. The best thing that Sigma Kappa taught me was the value of getting involved. I was able to get involved in so many philanthropic events and meet amazing people at the same time. I urge you to volunteer, try it out, make a difference, and never be embarrassed.

216125_10150153675511879_3889269_nBecca and I getting ready for Vespers – the Greek land Oscars

Fearless as a Lion

photo (1)The stunning Lion’s head from my bedroom taken the morning before my climb

One of the first Local Tourist experiences that I had in Cape Town was the absolutely stunning climb up Lion’s Head. I went with my oldest friend Chelsea (we were born weeks apart in the same hospital in Durban).  Having never been up Lion’s Head, I assumed that it would be like a fun trail up to an awesome view. Well, I got the second part of that assumption right. As I was so freshly reintroduced to wild South Africa and had come from a very health-and-safety conscious England I had forgotten what freedoms South Africans’ were used to. Half way up the climb I realized that South Africans are pretty fearless, I also realized that I have vertigo. Not wanting to hold the group back I pushed through, clinging for my life onto various steel ladders, chains and handles that had been inserted into the rock. I rock climbed – no harnesses or funky coloured bits of plastic jutting out of faux rock, no no, I climbed up rocks – big rocks. And let me just say what an exhilarating experience it was.

photo (3)I made it to the top!

I made it to the top, no martial in sight. I saw people toasting glasses of wine (I almost feel off my chair – that climb and then getting tipsy?! Only in Africa), one guy was meditating, people had brought their dogs and some people had run all the way to the top. Wow. The panoramic view of Cape Town was spectacular. I have subsequently climbed it again, and let me tell you – that view is as spectacular the second time as it was the first!

IMG_6013Catching our breath at the top

When my friends and family come to visit me in Cape Town the first thing I will do is take them up Lions Head. First and foremost to show off the impressive Mother City from this birds eye view, but secondly because this would NEVER fly in England! If this magnificent peak were situated in the Queen’s Country firstly you would probably have to buy a ticket from the National Trust just to get near it. Secondly, if you were allowed to climb it, I am fairly sure you would have to wait in a queue for a martial with a rock climbing certification to guide you up.  Thirdly, I guarantee there would be boot hire and harnesses involved at some point. And finally, if you made it all the way to the top, most of the peak would be cordoned off because it would be too dangerous and who would be liable if someone died?!

photo (4)An example of England’s heath and safety concerns at it’s finest – I saw this by a coffee shop this Summer

Such restrictions are not even considered in Africa. If you want to do something, you get up and do it, potential dangers aside. South Africans are incredibly lax when it comes to health and safety. Fitting six people in the back of a truck (bakkie) and driving Chapmans peak road just to check the view is all part of life – no seatbelts.  What I love most about this attitude in South Africa is the complete sense of freedom that you feel. One of the most wonderful aspects of  the South African mentality is that people live to enjoy life. As I continue my travels through life I hope that I can always keep this wonderful disposition.

photo (2)Early morning climb – the BEST way to start a Saturday! 

Goodbye England

I wrote this post a couple of days before I flew back to South Africa. In hindsight – 24 hours of travelling sucks.

1149023_10151518541451879_408208506_n

Chasing the sun from London to Dubai to Cape Town

As my time back home in England draws to a close and I start to say all of my goodbyes I am constantly reminded that I am using borrowed time. I was initially meant to fly out last Saturday but as fate would have it, the roads towards the airport were completely grid-locked and I ended up missing my flight by an hour. Nonetheless my mother and I went to the airport to see what we could do. The very nice lady at the Emirates desk told us that as it was Ramadan in the Middle East (and my flight goes via Dubai) all of the flights to South Africa were completely full until the 24th. A week and a bit later then I intended to head back. As glad as I was to spend some more precious time with family and friends in sunny England I am all too aware that this time comes at a price. My time in South Africa is drawing to a rapid close. Once I graduate from Red and Yellow I will be left with a decision about whether to start my career in glorious South Africa or prestigious London. I am fortunate enough to have both passports so I can come and go as I please. I always hoped that I would come to South Africa, get back in touch with my roots and then at the end of my course my dream job would present itself… But what if it doesn’t? Well if it doesn’t then I will hop on a plane and my great South African adventure will be over, for now. My point being that we think that we have all of the time in the world. My generation in particular seems to think that we will be in our 20’s forever. While this attitude suggests that we want to party forever, it is detrimental to the carpe diem attitude that we should have. So often at university friends would complain about writing essays and studying for exams claiming that they couldn’t wait to get out of education and into the real world. The ‘real world? ’ We are in it my friends! Every single day is another day in the real world, it’s a journey, a lesson, another chance. We need to stop wishing for tomorrows and living in the memory of yesterday. Now is absolutely our time to shine. Particularly as a Local Tourist, there is no time to do that thing that you wanted to do tomorrow. Do it today! I get to spend another amazing week at home but I’m losing an amazing week in South Africa. So this weekend I am heading into London to try and do every single thing that London can offer me in this glorious weather and as soon as I touch down in Cape Town you can bet that I am going to soak up every opportunity that comes my way. I guess what I am trying to say is that no matter where we are living there are amazing experiences to be had all year round. We need to make the most of these incredible opportunities that are on our doorsteps.

1000417_10151471836701879_106018453_n

My goodbye committee 

I have been back in South Africa for 2 weeks and I have most definitely embraced my second semester. I did a Lion’s head trail, went to the wine festival Grape Day Out in Stellenbosch, saw local South African band P.H. fat launch their new album, tried lots of new amazing coffee shops, but most eye-opening and awesome of all – I got to go on a township tour (blog post to follow). Hello Cape Town! Thank you for welcoming me back, it’s good to be in my home away from home.

1014364_10151504964121879_1376361479_n

The view of Table Mountain from my apartment 

Cape Town to London – The Good, The Bad & The Sunny

I am at a pivotal point of my time as a Local Tourist – I have left the windy Mother City and returned home to the British Summer.

Let me take this moment to point out a few reasons why Captonians have it so good. We have a myth in England, every year it is the same – we worship the memory of her, anticipate her sweet return, we know that any hardships in our lives will be resolved if only she were with us again – her name is Summer and she is a cruel cruel mistress. She will give us a cheeky wink in the early morning, a promise if you will, that she is here to stay. Sadly, by the time you have your wits about you and have gotten ready for an outdoor pool adventure, a picnic or even a quick tanning session she has fled the scene only peeking through the clouds every so often to check that you are still missing her. Though this lady is elusive, sometimes she graces this small Island with her benevolent presence and when she does the British public are amazing at making hay while the sun shines! Yesterday it hit tropical temperatures of 26°C and Clapham Common in London was filled to the brim with opportunist tanners. They even have a paddling pool for the children of the City. I must confess that I got a little sun burnt, in the British sun! Who would have thought?!

600489_10151450668651879_1301255038_nThe people of London enjoying a blissfully sunny day on Clapham Common

945609_10151450668521879_2076322960_nThe children’s paddling pool on the common

1003277_10151450668566879_683740775_nMy friends and I enjoying a picnic in the tropical weather

Though I might sound like I am dramatizing our British Summer my point is that a day of pure sunshine in England is like gold dust, whereas in South Africa it is taken as a given. Don’t think for a moment though that I am suggesting that South Africans don’t appreciate the sun – far from it! Cape Town is the sun worshipping Capital of the World and I could not love it more. Think of sun downers at the top of Lion’s Head or a full day of fun and frolics on Llandudno beach, I can’t think of anything better. Rather, my point is that England spends three quarters of the year waiting for the sun to appear so even when it doesn’t we still need to act like Summer is in full swing. We will take any opportunity to sit outside and have our iced coffee; one ray of sun and we will all be wearing our sunglasses and those slightly-too-short shorts. Finally, I honestly believe that there are more convertible cars on the small Island of Britain that in the whole of California and South Africa combined and you will see people driving down the motorway, roof down trying to ignore the intermittent drizzle that characterizes this wonderful Country!

While we like to think that we have it bad in the Cape Town Winter, I’d like to point out that it is not dissimilar to the British Summer. So rather than anticipate how windy and rainy it’s going to be, lets not wait for the storm to pass but rather learn to dance in the rain.