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October 23, 2013

Natalie Roos’s Top 5 nightlife spots for summer 2013

There’s always something going on in Cape Town, but the city really comes into its own in summer. The energy and vibe are contagious and you can feel the excitement in the warm air. In winter I tend to hibernate but now that summer is here, it’s time to haul out the dresses from the back of my closet and get out on the town. Anyone visiting Cape Town could easily be overwhelmed with the various options, so here are a couple my favourite spots to spend summer evenings to help narrow it down.

Cape Town comes alive on hot summer nights.

1. Long Street

Famous the world over for its legendary nightlife and shopping, Long Street is constantly buzzing with people – especially during the summer months. A couple of my favourite spots are Sgt. Pepper, which has a balcony overlooking the activity of Long Street life. Arrive early for a great pizza and early drinks on the balcony or dance until the early hours (they play the best music). Waiting Room is just across the road, where you’ll often catch local bands and DJ’s. If  you find that neither of these are exactly your vibe, just take a walk up or down the street and pop into the bars and pubs until you find what you like.

2. Bree Street

Just two streets up from Long, Bree Street has a completely different vibe. If Long Street is the party-mad, travelling youngster, Bree Street is the more sophisticated, slightly hipper older sibling. Clarke’s Dining serves some of the best burgers (and fries) in town and you can stay until late enjoying local wines, craft beers on tap and summery cocktails out on the deck. &Union is absolutely perfect for summer, since the cobblestoned courtyard is outside. Enjoy gourmet sausages, Bree Street burgers or prego rolls while you quench your summer thirst with some of the finest craft beers and local wines around. Just across the road you can find tapas and jugs and sangria worth mentioning at the newly-opened La Parada. If you’re into cocktails, you can’t afford to skip Orphanage, which is famous for its innovative cocktails.

3. Upper Kloof Street

Just up from the organized chaos of Long Street, you can find the Upper Kloof collective. Fat Cactus is a great vibe, where jugs of margaritas are the order of the day (or night). Not far from there, you’ll find Van Hunks and The Power & The Glory where craft beer, wine and well-dressed locals abound. The later you stay, the better. Both these places come alive with red wine-soaked joviality after hours. Just above P&G you can find Rafiki’s where there are pool tables, beer taps and a big balcony to cool your hot summer skin.

4.  Observatory

The bohemian heart of the city, Observatory is the perfect place to spend hot summer nights popping in and out of the bars and restaurants that line the streets. The vibe is eclectic and laid back and so are the locals. Stop at Pancho’s for really good tacos and jugs of margaritas before walking to Ganesh, Hello Sailor or Trenchtown. Basically, the whole of Observatory’s Main Road feels like one big, beautiful party.

5, “The Fringe District” – Harrington & Roeland Street

Within walking distance from each another you’ll find Kimberley Hotel and The Assembly. The deliciously dive bar-esque Kimberly Hotel makes you feel like ordering a double scotch on the rocks and selecting 80’s tracks on the jukebox – in a good way. The bar is smokey and the crowd is a mixed bag of interesting characters. Later you can walk over to The Assembly where there is always guaranteed to be good music and a good time. Local bands and DJ’s are almost always on the bill, just check their Facebook page to keep up to date. When everything else closes, make your way to The Shack, which is where everyone comes to after hours to keep the party going. 

BONUS: Green Point

For a long time Green Point was seriously lacking in the nightlife department, with no real bars worth mentioning. But this has changed with the opening of Cabrito, little brother to wildly popular Mexican restaurant, El Burro. Start upstairs at El Burro for, you guessed it, tacos and a jug of margaritas on the balcony before heading down to Cabrito for drinks into the night. 

If none of my favourite haunts sound like your kind of place, I suggest the Camps Bay strip, where you’ll find a cosmopolitan mix of locals and international visitors, spilling out onto the strip from more glam places like Caprice and The Grand and mingling under the palm trees in the sea breeze.

Of course when you're out having a good time, driving is out of the question, so make sure you know how to get hold of a cab when the time comes to end the night. There are two reliable and safe apps that you can download for iPhone and Android: Zapacab and Uber.

Both apps work by pinpointing your exactly location in the app and alerting several cabs in your vicinity. A cab driver is dispatched and a notification is sent to your phone to alert you that the driver is en route, along with their name and contact number. You can then track the progress of the driver on the map within the app. No need for phonecalls and you have all the info of your driver, which makes it a completely safe option. Zapacab outsources their cabs from several local cab companies, while Uber provides a very slick service in a fleet of black Mercedes CLK's. Avoid the temptation to jump into an unmarked cab, as there are a few illegals operating out there. 

So there you have a list of my favourite places to spend hot Cape Town nights. Enjoy your summer in the Mother City!

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