With our braai culture, South Africa is one of those countries – like Argentina with its Asado or the USA with their BBQ – that sees itself as the home of meat. We take great pride in it and it serves as a backstory to many of the cultures that make up our country, from nyama-fuelled warriors of legend to modern sportsmen (especially our rugby team the Springboks) who look like they were raised on a diet of meat and meat alone.
If you are a fan of things green and plant-based, that carnivorous reputation might make you think twice about visiting, but fear not. A visit to Cape Town, arguably South Africa’s most diverse and cosmopolitan city, means you have plenty of choice when it comes to food. And, if you are a true vegan, we have plenty of options for you too.
You’re vegan but that doesn’t mean you only want to survive on smoothies, salads, curries and stews, right? Some of Cape Town’s most famous destination hotels and restaurants and their celebrated chefs cater specifically for vegans:
The Planet Bar at The Belmond Mount Nelson
The grand old dame of Cape Town’s hotels, The Mount Nelson, is a great place for drinks (and dinner) in style. Head chef Rudi Liebenberg has added a vegan tasting menu to his usual repertoire of offerings. Bonus Vegan Fact: The Nellie’s famous high tea is now vegan-friendly too.
With a view of Chapman’s Peak, arguably the most scenic drive in the world, Tintswalo Atlantic has an incredible position for sundowners and dinner. They now boast a vegan tasting menu and have opened dinner reservations to non-hotel guests too. Hot vegan date in Cape Town? You’d struggle to beat this.
Azure Restaurant and The Twelve Apostles Hotel
“Challenge accepted!” says The Twelve Apostles, a stunning hotel on the scenic drive between the affluent suburbs of Camps Bay and Llandudno. The sun goes down on that side of Cape Town, so if you’re looking for a vegan high tea that can turn into sundowners, this is the spot. Fancy something a little more substantial? The Twelve Apostles’ Azure restaurant now also sports “Taste of the Earth”, a vegan tasting menu.
FAST & FRIENDLY
Even when you’re on holiday in Cape Town, sometimes you just want a casual bite to eat. The following is our top selection of relaxed, friendly (and most importantly, tasty) vegan restaurants.
The Hungry Herbivore
It’s all right there in the name. For hugely satisfying dishes packed with flavour, The Hungry Herbivore is one of Cape Town’s best. From bowls (we recommend the Protein Deluxe option with crispy BBQ tofu, broccoli, red kidney beans, avocado and teriyaki sauce) to burgers (our vote goes to the OH-SWEET-KIM- V2.0 burger which consists of two sweet potato, quinoa, kimchi and lentil patties with caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms and cashew cream cheese). Don’t forget the sweet potato fries!
Addis in Cape
The sister restaurant of the hugely popular Addis in Dar (in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania), Addis in Cape serves up brilliant aromatic Ethiopian food. While they do also serve meat dishes, most of the menu is vegan friendly a d they have specific vegan platters and vegan combos. Dishes come out on a layer of sourdough pancake called Injera, are upended on to the base, which you then use to pick up food with your hands. So in effect, you eat the plate. Trust us, it makes sense.
Veganism is often criticised for coming with a “holier than though” attitude to health. However, the bunch at Lekker Vegan make no bones about their food – it’s junk food, good and proper. It’s just gourmet vegan junk food. Expect soft serve, burgers, snacks and Gatsbys (South Africa’s answer to the submarine sandwich). If you’re health focused, treat this as your cheat day.
What’s a meal without dessert?
A dessert café (the kind of establishment we’d like to see more of) Jessy’s Waffles specializes in, you guessed it, waffles, but these are not your run of the mill waffles. They’re gluten-free vegan waffles. Ehrmhagherd. On the sweet side, we favour the My Sweet Captain – a vanilla base topped with cococaramel, hazelnut sauce, chocolate chips and a crack of sea salt. From the savoury waffles we can recommend the Frittafle, made with a courgette base with tomato, avo and beetroot hummus.
Honest Chocolate Cafe
One of Cape Town’s favourite brands, Honest Chocolate’s products are almost all vegan. Their Chocolate Café features a range of delicious sweet things from dairy-free milkshakes to the truffles and their renowned hot chocolate (perfect for a treat on a winter’s day).