5 low-key Cape Town eateries with a focus on standout food
These small, fairly priced restaurants are hidden gems ... for now!
Walk through the Hanging Noren at 83 Loop Street and you'll find minimalist Marrow, a broth bar owned by the self-confessed soup addicts Dennis Williams and Jeanne Marais.
The interior, with counters and low stools flanking each wall, is specifically designed to encourage swift in-and-out foot traffic while delivering a prime experience.
The offering is simple: four broth types that are prepped and beautifully presented by the talented trio in the kitchen. Choices are the clear (Asian style), the white (vegan with coconut milk and veg), the green (dashi-based pescatarian option with umami flavours) and the brown (inspired by North African spices with meaty flavours).
You would kick yourself if you missed: The clear bowl, a bone broth seasoned with soy sauce and served with roasted chicken, chorizo, spring onion and julienne carrots.
Plop a turkish delight square into your mouth afterwards, made from ginger, tamarind and other secret ingredients.
• 83 Loop Street, Cape Town CBD. Visit marrowbroth.co.za or call 079-556-3647.
2. LITTLE ETHIOPIA
Opened in 2011 by Ethiopian Yeshi Mekonnen, this is in the heart of the CBD and hailed as the go-to spot for simple, traditional fare.
On offer are marvellous meaty stews that come with gluten-free injera (spongy pancakes) on the side. For vegetarians, try the gomen (collard greens), and kik alicha (split pea dish). Great finger-food and meal sharing at its most satisfying.
You would kick yourself if you missed: The doro wot, a spicy chicken stew made with berbere (Ethiopian chili paste), kibe (spiced butter) and garlic.
• 76 Shortmarket Street, Cape Town CBD. Visit littleethiopia.co.za or call 021-424-8254.
3. LUCKY BAO
Lucky Bao in hip De Waterkant is the second outlet for chef-owner Cheyne Morrisby. Ever on his Asian A-game, he has created a cool street-side kiosk with a menu he describes as "Japanese junk food with a Korean kick".
In the kitchen, the chef produces pillowy bao dumplings filled with delectables like soft shell crab and crispy duck. For the veggie brigade there's the tofu and mushroom bun or switch to noodles and order the miso and roast aubergine ramen.
You would kick yourself if you missed: The Lucky Wagyu Burger made with a Hokkaido milk bun, Korean BBQ sauce, crispy bacon, and kimchi.
• 12 Jarvis Street, De Waterkant. Check out @LuckyBaoBar or call 079-067-4919.
4. MAX BAGELS
Banters best give this New York-style bagel bar on Bree street a wide berth. Made with stoneground flour, boiled in water spiked with malt syrup, perfect hole with soft and chewy texture and blistered crust, this is the real NYC deal according to aficionados.
Owners Andrew Kai and Matthew Freemantle offer a small range perfect for the mid-morning munchies, snacking or a light lunch.
You would kick yourself if you missed: The B.A.T is the favoured frontrunner, stacked with cream cheese, bacon, avocado, tomato and mayo.
• 120 Bree Street, Cape Town CBD. Visit maxbagels.com or call 073-811-8245
5. THE GENERAL STORE
The idea of this unpretentious eight-seater luxe deli owned by Collette Robert was to create a friendly local, based on the grocery store concept of yesteryear.
Sit down or take away, Roberts provides healthy contemporary breakfast and lunch options (vegetarians are catered for), and an array of ridiculously good-looking salads that will have you salivating on sight.
You would kick yourself if you missed: All the food, all of the time, and the chocolate brownies that have a cult following.
• 22 Bree Street, Cape Town CBD. Call 021-418-2305.