ECONOMY

Where and how to eat in Cape Town, South Africa


Don’t laugh, but basically you want to eat in the restaurants with the beautiful women.  And with the views of the waterfront.

You may recall those are usually the opposite of the correct recommendations.  But in Cape Town, there is no coherent “mom and pop” restaurant sector, based on either recent Asian or Latino immigrants, or based on an existing middle class.  You simply want to go to the nice, fancy places.  And you don’t need my list, many sources can tell you which ones those are.

The economics of that are simple.  There is a well-defined class of people with a lot of money, and the best restaurants do everything they can to target them, including seaside views.  That is by far the best way to get good food here, arguably the only way.  You cannot in fact “arbitrage against the inequality,” even if you think you might wish to.

Usually you should order seafood, and (as in Chile) be suspicious of any menu item with a cream sauce, which will be overdone on the creamy side.  You may see batches of Afrikaans words on the English-language menus, don’t worry just pull out your ChatGPT app and enjoy the feeling of strangeness.

I did have one meal of grilled meats and bbq in a black township, and it was not bad.  But I would say you are going for the sociological experience more than for the food.  You’ll also get some South African side dishes, such as the corn meal, that may not pop up in the fancier restaurants.  So do that if you can, I also found the experience to be safe and not stressful.

Prices here are very low, and an excellent meal can be well under half of the comparable cost in the United States or Europe, maybe even 3x lower.  Wherever you go, make sure they give you a seat looking out on the water!



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