Tapas-style food has taken Cape Town by storm. While “tapas” is traditionally a Spanish appetiser, the style of eating has inspired all types of cuisine. Capetonians love to come together to serve platters of food, no matter the cooking style. Here is where to find the best tapas-style dining experiences in town.
Thali is the Indian-style tapas restaurant opened by renowned local chef, Liam Tomlin. The décor is worth visiting for alone, with mosaic details and copper touches. The outside courtyard is like a little oasis, while the indoor seating is moody and dimly lit. The curry-spiced oysters are sublime and unique, and the fish tacos (served in taco-style poppadoms) are fresh and flavourful. Consider ordering the set menu so you don’t miss out. They don’t take bookings, but there is ample space so you shouldn’t have trouble getting a table.
Rick’s Cafe Americain, Gardens
Rick’s is a casual restaurant and bar, serving some more traditional tapas. Try the empanadas and the kofta, or order a mezze platter to snack on over some great cocktails. The rooftop area has ambient lighting and comfy cushions, and it’s located just off the trendy Kloof Street.
Chef’s Warehouse and Canteen, City Bowl
The Chef’s Warehouse does tasting menus, with a number of tapas servings to sample. They’re famous for their risottos, but you really can’t go wrong with any of the dishes. The menu changes daily, and features calssic dishes with gourmet flair. They don’t take bookings, so arrive early to secure a spot.
Foxcroft is another fine-dining spin on the tapas tradition. They’re all about fresh, seasonal ingredients and bold flavour. The menu changes regularly, and the set menu includes two tapas, one main, and one dessert.
Foodbarn Deli, Noordhoek
The Foodbarn Deli serves up some fantastic fine-dining style tapas in the evenings. It’s a great place to sample a variety of delicious dishes with fine local wines. The menu is huge, with highlights including steamed mussels, pork belly, and a gourmet take on bunny chow. The deli shop also stays open until 9pm, so you can grab some groceries, wine, and baked goods for the morning.
Lucky Bao, Hout Bay
Lucky Bao is a tiny eight-seater food bar located in Hout Bay, so if you want to try it out make sure you book. The star of the menu is the bao, but the yakatori and gourmet hot-dogs are also worth sampling. The menu changes daily, and the counter has a great view of the kitchen where the chef prepares the tasty Asian fusion dishes. It’s a great venue to book out for small group dinners on special occasions.
Potluck Club, Woodstock
The Potluck Club takes fine-dining tapas to the next level, under the leadership of Luke Dale-Roberts. It’s located up above the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock, with great views of the city and harbour. The menu is divided into flavour profiles: salty, sour, sweet, umami, and bitter. Guests select their dishes by marking them down on the paper menus, and then the chef decides on the serving order. You really can’t go wrong with any of the menu items. They also do a Sunday brunch with a set menu and bottomless bubbles. Book here for a special, memorable meal.
Cheyne’s, Hout Bay
Cheyne’s takes fusion food to a new level, with bold flavour combinations and gorgeous platings. The menu is arranged by category—sea, land, earth, and happy endings. Expect bright Asian and umami flavours, along with a carefully curated wine list.
Bistro Sixteen82, Tokai
The setting at the Steenberg Estate alone makes this spot worth a visit, with high ceilings, rolling lawns, and modern fixtures. Choose any of the tapas dishes and rest assured that you’re in for a treat. The pork belly is succulent and soft, and the bruschetta is surprisingly bold for a seemingly simple dish. Pair it with a bottle of the estate’s own Steenberg wine, and remember to save space for the desserts: they’re a highlight.
Fork, City Bowl
Fork is a tapas and pinchos bar, serving simple, bold sharing plates on the bustling Long Street. The menu is split into five categories, arranged by price tiers. The menu changes occasionally, but look out for their pork belly and beef fillet, which are firm favourites. You can order cocktails by the jug for the table, and take your time navigating the menu. Each plate is arranged with four or more small servings, so sharing is the name of the game.