One Bite at a Time: Eating in Cape Town, S. Africa

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Cape Town

Eating in Cape Towncape town table mountain

Cape Town is the largest city in South Africa and serves as the provincial capital of the Western Cape and the legislative capital of the country.

Cape Town is situated at the base of Table Mountain and it’s breathtaking harbor is world-famous. It is also one of the most multicultural cities in the world, having been settled by the English, Dutch, French and German, who all brought their cuisine with them.

So, with all the being said, it is no surprise that you will find amazing and diversified food and people here. However, before the area was colonized, indigenous people ate predominately nuts, fruits, leaves, and game (meat).

Let’s dive in!

Meat in Cape Town

Since meat is a huge part of the diet on the southern tip of Africa, most traditional meals contain some form of it. Here are some popular dishes.

Braai (barbecue) Cape Town barbecue

The word braai (plural braais) is Afrikaans for barbecue, or grill, and is a social custom in South Africa. The word braaivleis means grilled meat.

Most families will have a braai every weekend, in the same tradition found around the world. Friends and family gather, bringing dishes to pass.

Boerewors  is a popular sausage, thicker than most and is traditionally braaied.

Sosaties (we call them kebabs) are grilled, marinated meat on a skewer.

Biltong (dried meats)Cape Town biltong

A salty dried meat most often eaten as a snack.  Biltong is usually made from beef or kudu, but you can find springbok, ostrich or even rhino.


Malay in origin, Bobotie is like meatloaf with raisins and baked egg on top, and is often served with yellow rice, banana slices, and chutney.


A traditional Afrikaans stew, made with meat and vegetables and cooked over coals in cast-iron pots. Tremendously fun and easy to prepare.

Waterblommetjie (Water flower Stew)cape town pondweed

Meat stewed with the flower of the Cape Pondweed. Sounds strange, but very delicious!

Vegetarian Food in Cape Town

We thought it only fair to list some traditional foods that don’t contain meat, although they are often serve with meat. Cape town bunny chow

Bunny Chow. Despite its name, it does not contain rabbit meat. It is a hollowed out half loaf of bread stuffed with curry; known as Kota by the locals. A small version of bunny chow uses only a quarter loaf of bread is called a kota (“quarter”).

Chakalaka. A garnish or food accompaniment made of Indian/Malay origin, made of mixed onion, garlic, ginger, green pepper, carrots and cauliflower, spiced with chilies and curry.

Chutney. A sweet sauce made from fruit, usually poured on meat. However, it is sort of like a condiment and is used with a lot of different dishes.

Fish in Cape Town

Smoked SnoekCape Town Snoek

A regional game fish that is a thin species of snake mackerel. Snoek is smoked or used in dishes including smoorsnoek, snoek breedie, fish bobotie, and snoek pâtés.

Bokkomscape town bokkom

Bokkoms are commonly known as “Harders” (Mullet) and are a popular delicacy from the western coast of South Africa. This salted fish is dried in the sun and wind and is eaten after peeling off the skin. In some cases it is also smoked. It is sometimes referred to as “fish biltong”.

Desserts and Sweets in Cape Town

Rusks. A rectangular and hard , dry biscuit eaten with tea or coffee, similar to biscotti.

Melktert. A milk-based tart or dessert.

Malva Pudding. A sweet spongy Apricot Pudding of Dutch origCape town Koeksistersin.

Koeksisters. Afrikaans koeksisters are braided pastries that are deep fried and heavily sweetened. Kind of like a big, braided doughnut.

One more thing….

While you are off visiting amazing cities and trying exotic food, we hope you are being careful. But accidents do happen and if you get hurt or sick you will want to get back home. Do you have a plan to afford medical transport home if you need it?

Don’t have a plan?


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