Hungry? Thirsty? We round-up the Cape’s best food/farm markets
South Africa took a while to catch onto both international food trends and the fact that we are sitting on a veritable cornucopia of fresh produce and small producers. About 15-20 years ago, something as innocuous as rocket or basil was seen as a ‘fancy’ addition to a restaurant plate, booze was generally dominated by the behemoth beer and wine companies and co-ops, and grocery shopping was done almost exclusively at the supermarket.
Then, in keeping with a global movement towards SLOW food and supporting the little guy, slowly but surely markets started popping up in the Cape Town area. Initially they were all called farmers markets and yes, some of them even featured farmers. In time, they just became markets, weekly markets that blend together elements from all over the world and of course, South Africa. There will be someone making bread that would be the envy of a Provencal baker, olives that would be good enough for any Italian mama’s puttanesca pasta sauce, dumplings that would not be out of place at a Hong Kong food stall, cheeses, honey, nougat, ice cream, samoozas, curry, samp and beans, sushi, coffee, clothes, music, beer – you name it, the markets tend to have it.
South Africans take a little time, but eventually we get there and when we do, well, we do it well. Whether you are trying to stock the grocery cupboard for the next week, or simply looking to pull up a hay bale or a bench to devour a smashing breakfast on a Saturday or Sunday morning, these are the best markets in the greater Cape Town area. And yes… we easily tailor make our different tours to incorporate a stop at a market.
If one market can lay claim to starting the food market movement in Cape Town (and possibly even South Africa as a whole because they also have a Joburg market), it would be the Neighbourgoods Market at the Old Biscuit Mill. As the industrial suburb of Woodstock gradually becomes gentrified, the epicentre of development and regeneration was and is the Old Biscuit Mill, which also houses The Test Kitchen and The Pot Luck Club (two of South Africa’s best restaurants). The Neighbourgoods Market was there right from the start, offering city slickers the chance to try real bread, charcuterie, beer, wine and cheese, grab fresh produce and smash an excellent breakfast, often dished up by an award-winning chef on his or her day off. If you are visiting Cape Town and are staying at a central location with no concrete plans to visit the winelands, this is THE market to visit. www.neighbourgoodsmarket.co.za
Hout Bay Harbour Market
One of Cape Town’s most picturesque coastal suburbs, Hout Bay thinks of itself as its own republic. With a food market this good, they would probably be ok if they were to erect a border wall. Keep an eye out for Master Chef judge Pete Goffe-Wood’s steak sandwiches, the Mac Factory for outstanding Mac ‘n Cheese and a babelas (hangover) Bloody Mary from Naked Drinks. https://bayharbour.co.za
Cape Point Vineyards Market
Probably the most scenic food market in the Cape, the Cape Point Vineyards Market sits overlooking a lake up among the vines of Cape Point Vineyards with views over Noordhoek and Kommetjie. Held on a Thursday (a nice change from all the weekend markets) it’s a fantastic place to go for a post-work drink or meal. We recommend Master Chef judge Pete Goffe Wood’s Kitchen Cowboys steak sandwiches. For the vegans, Sunshine Food’s Vegan burgers and Something Simple’s Vegan Sushi will hit the spot. We like the entire range of wines at Cape Point Vineyards, but if you want something special, try the Isliedh Sauvignon Blanc. http://cpv.co.za/community-market
Blaauwklippen Family Market
Just off the R44, right in the heart of the wine country between historic Stellenbosch and Somerset West, the Blaauwklippen Family Market is one of those weekend gems Capetonians are willing to drive out for (and trust us, Capetonians generally don’t like to drive far for anything). Once you get there, you’ll understand why. A historic wine farm, a thriving market, live music, and great food offerings from German Flammkuchen to kebabs, Chinese dumplings and a classic breakfast roll, everything is on offer and can be enjoyed under the fig trees. Be sure to do a wine tasting too as Blaauwklippen is renowned for their Zinfandel. www.blaauwklippen.com
Root 44 Market
Not far from Blaauwklippen on the R44 opposite the giant strawberry (it’s a thing, ok?), you’ll find another cracking market at Root 44. Equipped with marquees so rain never gets in the way of market day, there’s an impressive array of grub from the mushrooms at Funki Fungi, Silk Road Dim Sum, Tunisian Delights and Legendairy Creamery. Grab a coffee from Genesis Coffee and once you’ve got the caffeine running through your veins, try Audacia Winery’s boutique sulphur-free red wines or the range of craft beer on offer. But be warned, if you thought you’d do this and tick off a bunch of wine farms, it’s very easy to settle in and forget about your other plans. Stay strong. https://root44.co.za