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Things the locals know

Five Cape Town neighbourhoods and the best things to do there

For vintage shopping, old-favourite eateries and lots of other quirky spots, check out our insider's guide to some of Cape Town's coolest hoods

24 July 2022 - 00:01 By Ilse Zietsman
The Sea Point Pavilion pool.
The Sea Point Pavilion pool.
Image: sunshineseeds / 123rf.com


Sea Point has myriad restaurants and bars, a promenade frequented by walkers, cyclists and skateboarders and the Pavilion swimming pool, dating from the 1950s.

Arthur’s Mini Super has the retro feel of a corner cafe yet on its shelves you will find CBD oil for dogs and Tajin spice blend from Mexico. It’s also a great place for breakfast (15 options including a “Wimpy breakfast” available).

Waiting for George is a vintage shop that sells clothing, collectibles and bric-a-brac. 

Cafda Book Shop has been selling a vast array of second-hand books at giveaway prices for decades.

Fancy a makeover? Wim Coiffeur is a hair-and-nail salon with over-the-top décor. 

Want to show off your new look? Head to Grand Pavilion with its seductively named Harry’s Bar, no doubt inspired by the illustrious Venetian bar with the same name. Their gnocchi is the best I’ve tasted. 


Cape Town City Hall.
Cape Town City Hall.
Image: michaeljungsmall / 123rf.com

Love of Stuff is a thrift store with preloved furniture and oddities such as pastel prints of Venice, silver teapots and Lalique jewellery. Venture upstairs to Kaap Diem for thrift clothing with style.

Hungry? Culinary cognoscenti flock to The Cousins Trattoria for fresh-made pasta, bread and tiramisu. Their signature dish is tagliolini with cream, mushroom and thyme tossed in a Parmesan wheel. 

If you find yourself on Darling Street, do pause outside the Cape Town City Hall. It's a sight to behold and you can wave at the life-size bronze of Madiba waving back at you from the balcony.


Image: Bee Mulder

Both are great places to stroll and enjoy the gigantic murals and cutting-edge graffiti art. Discover its secrets for yourself or book a walking tour.

Stardust Theatrical Dining is no ordinary restaurant — this is the home of the singing waiter. As they say, “Make sure you get your waiter's name — it’ll be written in lights one day.” The food is Mediterranean-style, the waiters have great voices and the shows are distinctly feel-good. 

The warehouse façade of CollectMeAStory belies the cornucopia that awaits you inside ... it's a scratch patch of antiques, collectables, books, movie props, furniture and “junk” where you are bound to find something to buy if you're willing to spend some time. 

Gilles de Moyencourt Haute-Antiques is filled with quirky antiques and collectibles. Open Saturdays 10am-2pm or by appointment. 


Vroom Vroom Records and Vintage.
Vroom Vroom Records and Vintage.
Image: Fred

At Voom Voom Records and Vintage and Never New (shared premises at 15 Lower Main) you are not spoilt for choice, provided you are looking for something out of the ordinary. A dead giveaway is that when it’s time for AfrikaBurn, there’s a queue outside the shop. 

Grand Funk's selection of curated vintage clothing is more exclusive but still relentlessly groovy, as is the mural inside that reads, “Be Cool Honey Bunny.” 

The family-run Observatory Liquor, in a building built in 1925, is one of the oldest bottle stores in the Cape. 70 Lower Main Road.

If you're into healthy eating or experimenting with unusual ingredients, Komati Foods is your kinda place. Shop alphabetically, from alfalfa seeds to zaatar. The friendly staff are always ready to advise on how to use each ingredient.


The Brass Bell.
The Brass Bell.
Image: Bas Leenders / flickr

Whatnot & China Town has more milk jugs and tea sets than you've seen under one roof. If you're a trifle clumsy, take extra care not to break anything in this chaotic shop. 

Artvark is a gallery and gift shop rolled into one. Feast your eyes on — and take out your purse for — folk art, bespoke jewellery, decorative steelworks, fabrics and more. 

Quagga Rare Books & Art with its cabinets of curiosities, ancient sea charts and the odd skull or sea shell is worth a wander. 

Opened in 1997, Olympia cafe and Bakery is an institution. As the people of Olympia say, “It was the coffee wot dunnit. And the delish and decadent fare wot won it.” If seared yellowfin tuna is on the daily menu, don’t give up your seat — no bookings are taken. 

The Brass Bell restaurants and pubs started off as a tea room run by the local council back in 1939. Today it encompasses nine different dining and events venues, all with a dramatic sea view and relaxing atmosphere.