Open Arms of Minnesota

Cape Town Travelogue: Part 4

Purchasing beaded art at Monkeybiz creates jobs in Cape Town. So does patronizing some of the MotherCity’s truly fine restaurants. Hands down my favorite continues to be Bukhara, an Indian restaurant located in the heart of City Bowl (near the shopping destinations of many of the stores just mentioned). I crave their butter chicken when I’m away from South Africa. The lamb rogan josh is nearly as good, and for something a bit less rich, the flavorful chicken tikka melts in your mouth.

Downstairs and around the corner from Bukhara is a newer restaurant called Haiku. There is no exterior signage, but look for the tables on the sidewalk and you will have found it. Haiku is a pan-Asian fusion restaurant with an extensive list of dim sum and entrees with South African mainstays like local fish and ostrich served with lip-smacking sauces. The service can be hit-and-miss, but when the service is good (ask to be seated in Dylanne’s section), it’s really good!

The best ostrich fillet I’ve had is at Five Flies. Located very near Bukhara and Haiku, dining at Five Flies is a tad bit more formal than other places in Cape Town, but the second floor bar is fun and relaxed, and a great destination for an after-dinner drink. The fish, seafood, and sushi at Wakame on

Beach Road

are stunning – as are the sunsets from the second floor outdoor dining area.

For lunch, drive ten minutes from downtown to the Rhodes Memorial and eat at the Rhodes Memorial Restaurant and Tea Garden. The food is not as good as the other places I have mentioned, but the views of the city and sea are incredible, and a walk around the monument, featuring a bust of Cecil John Rhodes and eight bronze lions is interesting – no matter what you think of this colorful and controversial man.

If you’ve had enough of fish and ostrich and are craving a basic burger or salad, head to Manhattan’s in the gay neighborhood of De Waterkant. (There is a second Manhattan’s on

Main Road

, but the original one in De Waterkant is much more fun.) Service at Manhattan’s is always friendly and the place has a neighborhood “Cheers” kind of feel to it.

Caveau features as extensive a list of wines by the glass as I’ve seen in Cape Town. The daily specials are reasonably priced and delicious, and the people watching is usually fascinating. Make sure to take a few minutes to explore

Heritage Square

, where Caveau is located, before or after your glass of wine.

If you simply must have a martini in Cape Town, I have found no place that comes close to the martinis at Beluga, located in the Foundry in Green Point. Beluga has the ambience (and sometimes the attitude) of any trendy eatery in any major city, but the food is always exceptional and the service generally top-notch. And the martini…well, if you can find a better one in Cape Town, let me know.

I have a former favorite restaurant that I have been boycotting for five years and I will continue to do so until they change one of their policies. The CapeColony, in the historic MountNelsonHotel, offers elegant dining in a quasi-colonial setting. I understand the menu has changed in recent years, but I was rarely disappointed in any of their dinner offerings. In fact, it’s one of the few restaurants where I’ve asked to take a menu so I could remember the meals I had eaten there. The CapeColony is also the only restaurant where I have ever eaten in Cape Town that does not allow diners to take their leftovers with them. In a city with rampant unemployment, hunger, and in some cases malnutrition, I simply can not accept the CapeColony’s policy of not allowing guests to take doggy-bags to give food to people who are hungry. It’s a waste to throw such food away every day.

Before leaving Cape Town, here are a few other destinations – each of which could take pages to describe – that are worth mentioning.

If flora is your thing (and even if it’s not) a trip to Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, especially if you are in Cape Town in the spring or early summer, is a must see. The Western Cape is home to more species of plants than any other country in the world, thus making Kirstenbosch one of the great botanical gardens on the planet.

If your schedule allows for some beach time, check out one of the four beaches in Clifton, or rent a chaise and an umbrella on the sand at Camp’s Bay. All are just a few minutes drive (except in the summer when traffic to the beach area can be at a standstill and parking limited) from downtown Cape Town.

Finally, if you want to take home a musical reminder of South Africa, check out some of Freshly Ground’s CDs. Their music has an African pop flavor that is different than much of the music you might associate with South Africa.

Accomplishing most of these activities will give you a taste of Cape Town and its surrounding neighborhoods. But you also must incorporate day excursions from the MotherCity into your itinerary.

Next entry…South Africa’s wine country.

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