Travel like a local: Your neighbourhood guide to the Cape Town CBD by night
The Cape Town City Centre is where it all happens. A combination of work and play, it is where everything comes together. During the day it is a hub of activity, but it is at night, when the curtain is drawn back, that the true soul of the Mother City is revealed. It is only once the sun sets, that the city truly comes alive.
WHERE TO EAT AND MAKE MERRY: RESTAURANTS AND BARS
The Cape Town CBD has a huge amount of restaurants and bars to choose from and to list them all would be nigh impossible! Here is just a selection of some of our favourites.
San Julian sets the tone for an unassuming and casual experience, and what makes it all the better is the inexpensive, authentic Mexican food that gets dispatched from the kitchen by the passionate Mexican owners. This is the most authentic Mexican experience in the city and it can all be washed down with the best margherita’s this side of Cancun.
A popular Bree Street restaurant, Bocca has a small, but diverse menu, with pastas, Neopolitan pizza and more. Perfect for a quick lunch or dinner with friends, Bocca is also a great place to gather for after-work drinks.
Villa 47, which oozes Italian flair, has a tapas bar and restaurant, serving creations with a mix of Mediterranean and Asian flavour in a slick, contemporary setting. They pride themselves in sourcing the finest ingredients from around the world and quality produce. They have a small menu but patrons seem to rave about the breakfast, lunches and dinners, so you won’t go wrong. Reserving a table in advance is recommended.
MEXICAN ON LONG
Located in the boisterous Long Street stretch, Mexican on Long is a favourite spot for revellers looking for a bite to eat, while not slowing down on the party. With plenty of tequila and Mexican cocktails on offer, the vibe here might not be authentic Mexican one, but the food is solid fare and non-pretentious set-up is a welcoming one.
NURI SUSHI FACTORY
It might not look like much from the outside – or the inside for that matter – but what Nuri is lacking in aesthetic value and ambience, it more than makes up for with the food. The quality of their sushi is right up there with more high-profile restaurant and for a lot less cash. The service is great and the owners are always welcoming. Parking can be a bit of an issue, but for those of you working in the CBD and willing to walk for you lunch, Nuri is a fantastic option.
BOMBAY BRASSERIE AT THE TAJ HOTEL
If you’re looking for Indian food in a luxurious setting, then this is the place to visit. Expect mouth-watering dishes that will satisfy your craving for something spicy. Situated inside the old Reserve Bank, there are high ceilings and design that gives an overall feeling of luxury.
Bukhara offers North and South Indian cuisines at an upmarket venue, specialising in succulent meats cooked in charcoal tandoor and aromatic curries. There are a few outlets so you have your pick of where to enjoy some great Indian food.
Situated on the bustling Long Street, Fork is a quaint venue with a wide variety of delicious tapas on offer. This is the ideal place for after-work snacks and drinks. There is lovely outdoor upstairs seating for those who wish to look over Long Street.
THE TWANKEY SEAFOOD, CHAMPAGNE AND OYSTER BAR AT THE TAJ HOTEL
This one is for the seafood lovers. Twanky offers up a variety of seafood tapas that can be enjoyed in a luxurious setting. The building was the ground floor of the Old Temple Chambers and has been fully restored to be elegant and glamourous.
LA PARADA BAR DE TAPAS
One of the many great restaurants on the ever popular Bree Street, La Parada is a celebration of the Spanish tradition of social eating. The long communal tables allow diners to sit close together for better interaction while enjoying the authentic Andalusian tapas that this establishment serves up.
Setting the ambience for this restaurant is the fact that its premises is an old building that’s said to date back to the 1980s. Aubergine is an award winning fine dining spot that is known for the lightness and balance of its cuisine and the inventiveness of its flavours.
A popular one on Long Street, Mama Africa specialises in African food accompanied by live local music. Traditional dishes on the menu include Zimbabwean Dovi or chicken in peanut sauce; lamb curry and Game Potjie or a rich, chewy stew plus much more!
ADDIS IN CAPE
Addis in Cape provides you with a unique Ethiopian dining experience right in the heart of Cape Town. The restaurant has traditional furnishings and a classic Ethiopian coffee ceremony to the serving of food. It’s a truly unique experience.
A Madame Zingara restaurant, Café Paridiso is the perfect restaurant for the family looking for a Mediterranean dining experience. Expect delicious food such as Morrocan pulled pork with minted tzatziki and grilled nectarines or smoked salmon, horse radish cream cheese, grilled artichoke and cucumber spaghetti plus much more. Café Paridiso is also pet-friendly.
SOUTH CHINA DIM SUM BAR
It may have started out as a basic eatery, but it didn’t take long for it to become one of the most popular Dim Sum bars on one of the city’s busiest and most frequented streets, Long Street. In addition to a small menu of regular dishes, there are also daily specials, with the braised beef short rib a firm favourite. Small and laidback, with wooden benches and crates for seats, bookings are reccommended with tables snapped up quickly.
The new hotspot on the Loop Street strip, the Village Idiot combines the aesthetics of an old English pub with hipster chic. The bar, which is plentiful, is watched over by Oskar the stuffed ostrich and the menu is proper South African braai fare with everything from a boerewors burger to braai boards served with chakalak and freshly baked roosterkoek.
TJING TJING ROOFTOP BAR
This trendy spot is great for get-togethers and is located just off Long Street. With stylish décor and indie tunes playing in the background, it’s perfect for winding down after a long day. The drinks menu is extensive with a wide range of beers on tap. If you get a bit hungry, there’s a tapas bar to see to that.
RICK’S CAFÉ AMERICAIN
The casual and laid-back atmosphere of Rick’s makes it a great spot for cocktails and beers with friends. The loft lounge and cocktail bar leads onto a roof deck and gives patrons a stunning view of Table Mountain.
So you like beer do you? Then Beerhouse in Cape Town is your utopia from the grind. There are 99 bottles of beer on the wall and 16 taps to help with the fall… Yep, I made that up, but there are genuinely no less than 99 bottled beers – from 13 different countries – and 20 taps for everything from pints to tasters. If you can’t find the perfect brew at Beerhouse, you obviously just enjoy trying to! There is also a food menu, which ties in nicely with the beery vibe, offering snacks paired with beers in-house and more substantial stomach liners as well.
A well-known boutique hotel in Long Street, the Grand Daddy is quirky and fun with its airstream rooftop trailer park and Sky Bar. From up here, you get great views of the city skyline while sipping drinks off a varied drinks menu under the protection of a Bedouin tent. It’s a favourite with the locals and is open Wednesday to Saturday from 12h00 to 20h30 in summer and 16h00 to 20h30 in winter.
PARK-INN SUNROOF TERRACE
This trendy rooftop bar is at the top of the Park-Inn hotel on the Cape Town foreshore. It’s the accompanying bar to the hotel’s RBG restaurant and offers up a variety of drinks for all to enjoy while soaking up panoramic views of Table Mountain and Cape Town.
STRAND TOWER HOTEL
Based in the heart of the CBD in Strand Street, the Strand Tower’s restaurant and bar sits on the pool deck and can be enjoyed with killer views of the city. It’s the perfect spot for some after-work drinks or an afternoon beer and cocktail.
THE WAITING ROOM
Most of the venue is inside, but if you grab a spot on a balcony, you get a cool view of the buzzing long-street and Table Mountain. You can catch some live acts here or listen to the DJ on duty while sipping your drinks. Trendy place for the urban cool kids of the city.
This stylish and sophisticated Club 31 has arguably one of the best views in the city. Situated at the top of the Absa Building on Adderley Street, you can look down on the city below as you party up a storm. The venue goes for a smart / casual vibe, so make some effort, with no guys U23 and girls U21 allowed entry. The party goes on late here, so don’t expect an early night if you’re hitting 31. In fact, you might want to make this your last port of call, because it tends to kick off a little later.
MOTHER’S RUIN GIN BAR IN CAPE TOWN
Opened in December 2014, and touted as Africa’s first-ever gin bar, Mother’s Ruin is quickly becoming one of the hippest places in town. So after centuries of being the opium of the masses and the drink of your grandparents, gin it seems, has found a new following as the sexiest, most interesting, and sought after spirit. The venue stocks 82 types of the spirit, pairing them with unique tonics and garnishes, with classic and reinvented gin-based cocktails on the menu. There is a small menu available, but here the real focus is on the gin!
THE FIREMAN’S ARMS
Established way back in 1864, this unassuming local is still massively popular, particularly on game day with people literally spilling out the doors as Cape Town’s sports fans descend on the venue. With nine 46-inch flat screen TVs and two big screens, you won’t miss a single tackle, pass or boundary hit, just make sure you get there early or you’re going to struggle to get inside, let alone to the bar.
LONG STREET CAFÉ
Found on the vibey Long Street stretch, Long Street Café is an institution and a great place for dinner or sundowners or both. Sporting the original Victorian facade and combining it with an open setting and relaxed décor, the venue attracts everybody from tourists to artists to lawyers and students.
THE PIANO BAR
This trendy, New York-inspired Revue Bar is something unique and the perfect spot to relax at with cocktail in hand. The venue prides itself on its large and varied wine menu and it also has a number commercial and craft beers on tap, along with a wide range of spirits and Cuban cigars for your pleasure. Open Monday to Sunday, the Piano Bar offers an intimate live music setting, with a great food menu to enjoy as well.
Tiger’s Milk in Muizenberg with its easy food and laidback vibe was already attracting everyone from the city, so it makes perfect sense that a new venue would open in the CBD to keep them from having to travel so far. Offering a similar menu and vibe to the Muizenberg Tiger’s Milk, the Long Street branch is destined to be a hit with its combination of proper food – pork BBQ ribs, steaks, burgers and more – and range of cocktails and artisan beers a winning one.
This bar/lounge/club is located on Loop Street and offers up everything from deep house to commercial music to hip-hop. Coco frequently has popular guest DJs on the decks with a packed stylish crowd on the dance floor. The regular events such as CocoFridays and CocoSaturdays keep the regulars coming back for more.
A popular Long Street club, Fiction has been around for seven years and continues to entertain patrons with all the alternative music that you can imagine. It sits in an old building that dates back to 1856. The interior, however, is anything but old with modern and minimalist décor. There’s even an upstairs daytime bar.
Always packed on the weekend Jo’Burgs is a very popular spot on the busy Long Street stip. It’s basically a venue with a few rooms where everyone can hang out and a main area with a bar, dance floor, DJ box and some booths for people to hang out in. If it gets too crowded head to Pretoria (the second dance floor) for some more dancing.
WIENHAUS + BIERGARTEN
Formerly &Union, this Bavarian haunt has long been a firm favourite with the cool kids in Cape Town. Situated on arguably the hottest street in the city, Bree Street, serves craft beers and ciders, a selection of wine and a menu ranging from grilled wurst to prego rolls. Perfect for an after-work drink and a quick meal before heading on.
WHERE TO STAY:
THE TSOGO SUN CAPE SUN
The Tsogo Sun Cape Sun lies in the centre of the Cape Town CBD and with spectacular views over Table Mountain, Robben Island, Table Bay and the Cape Town Stadium, you will be hard-pressed to find a better location in the CBD. Rooms are luxurious, spacious and offer all the amenities required to ensure a relaxing stay. Offering business travellers easy access to the Cape Town Convention Centre and other key business areas, the hotel also offers great appeal to holiday makers in search of an indulgent escape.
PEPPERCLUB HOTEL & SPA:
Situated in the Cape Town city centre, the Pepperclub provides a five-star experience designed to cater to guests’ every need. Among other things, the hotel offers a contemporary cuisine-themed restaurant, an intimate private cinema, a swimming pool with panoramic views, a fully-equipped gymnasium, a luxurious spa, 24-hour concierge service and security, and even sports a fleet of luxury vehicles used to ferry its clientele to business meetings, shopping excursions and sight-seeing tours. The hotel also connects directly to Long Street, one of the Mother City’s most vibrant and popular nightlife spots, meaning if you ever get bored with being treated like a celebrity or foreign dignitary, you can simply mingle with the locals.
Taj Cape Town is a luxury hotel set in the vibrant heart of Cape Town, offering guests a combination of refined hospitality and an authentic Cape Town experience. Out of the 176-rooms Taj Cape Town offers a selection of 11 room types. These include a two-bedroom, split-level Presidential Suite (TATA Suite) and 10 Heritage Suites. The Taj Club floor with its private lounge is served by a dedicated butler team, providing breakfast and evening canapés and cocktails. Within the restored historic buildings there are 20 Heritage Luxury rooms, with mountain views and a further 10 overlooking the city. The 17 new floors accommodate rooms with panoramic views of Table Mountain or the City. All the Tower rooms have a walk-out balcony.
The Townhouse Hotel and Conference Centre offers city-central, four-star luxury in the historic uptown heart of vibrant, cosmopolitan Cape Town. For business or leisure this intimate 106-room hotel, in a quiet corner of the busy commercial district, boasts deluxe contemporary-style comforts, gourmet dining, exceptional conference and function facilities, all within easy reach of the city’s top heritage sights, museums, shopping and nightlife and with Table mountain, V&A Waterfront and airport a taxi hop away.
Voted Lonely Planet’s best value for money hotel in the ENTIRE WORLD, South Africa’s oldest backpackers is also one of its most hip and happening – not to mention eco-friendly. Stylish décor is dedicated to promoting the vibe of the old Victorian setting, and with multiple communal areas for meeting your fellow world-wanderers, swimming pool, on-site café and travel centre, there’s no wonder it’s the wunderkind of the tourist talk. Add that to outstanding service and social upliftment projects, there’s nothing like The Backpack, situated just outside the City Centre, for getting in touch with the soul of Cape Town.
AIRSTREAM & PENTHOUSE TRAILER PARK AT THE GRAND DADDY HOTEL, CBD, CITY CENTRE
There’s nothing trashy about these trailers! The hotel owners brought seven vintage Airstream trailers over from the USA and put them on the roof of the hotel. As one does. Each trailer is individually designed with South African landscapes like ‘Rooftop Safari’ as theme.
HARBOUR BRIDGE HOTEL & SUITES
Situated on the Foreshore, Harbour Bridge is contemporary in style, has floor to ceiling windows, a rooftop pool with sundeck and views of the harbour. The hotel is located next to the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC), built over the Roggebaai Canal at the entrance to the V&A Waterfront.
An eclectic mix of old-world charm and sophistication, the Cape Milner boast Art Deco architecture – with some Victorian finishes – and a trendy new Glass Lounge. African design, textiles and crafts take pride of place in this boutique hotel just one kilometre outside the city centre.
On the first Thursday of every month, arts and culture in Cape Town has a late night, with dozens of art galleries and cultural events showcasing the wealth of talent that the Mother City has on offer. The event is completely free, with no structured tour, and no schedule to follow, you are free to absorb it all at your own leisure. To ensure your First Thursday can be catered to your own specific preferences, organisers provide a map and highlights of what is on show. From there it is all up to you.
Similar to First Thursday, but mobile, this event moves between areas to showcase some of Cape Town’s best art galleries, open studios, retail stores, music performances, and incredible food.
THE ARTSCAPE THEATRE
One of the biggest and most high-tech theatres in the city, the Artscape hosts a range of productions from opera to ballet to musicals and music concerts. It has a 1 187-seater opera house and a 540-seater theatre. There is also a 120-seater arena and a 100-seater cabaret venue.
This unique venue is based in the CBD and is an intimate performance venue. It’s separate from the Alexander Bar downstairs and the program can feature anything from drama, comedy, cabaret, jazz, readings and more.
Located within the historic Sacks Futeran building in Cape Town’s District Six, the Fugard Theatre is a little gem of a place. This 3335-seater theatre is often host to some of the biggest shows in the city including the Rocky Horror Picture Show and the upcoming West Side Story. Many of these shows come freshly off national and international stages to perform to a Cape Town crowd.
Nobody knows Cape Town better than a local. When you’re in town be sure to visit the local VIC in Burg Street where staff can help you really uncover the magic on offer in the CBD and beyond. Take a walking tour with one of two guides who depart daily from the Information Centre – Mon to Saturday. Call 0861 322 223 for more details.
Download the Voicemap App that gives you a variety of choices of audio walking tours in the city centre.
We will be unlocking two neighbourhoods every month to make sure you get to travel like a local – or live like a tourist – in the Mother City. Keep an eye out for these awesome guides!