When I was young, I had a very limited idea of what Cape Town actually was. My family fancied Kalk Bay (pronounced like ‘walk’, but with a k) as a holiday spot, so I was led to think that Cape Town was made up of the arty hippies who ran the antiques stores, organic clothing ventures and brightly painted restaurants that populate Kalk Bay and the surrounding Cape Peninsula.
As an adult, I realized that this was not the real Cape Town. The ‘real’ city, which is largely situated in neighboring Table Bay, is full of postcard-perfect views, historical sites, and a plethora of multicultural restaurants to dip into on your trip. You will never be bored or alone in Table Bay.
But the tourist character of Cape Town city just can’t compete with the unique face of somewhere like Kalk Bay and the Cape’s southern peninsula, where small businesses flourish and locals know each other by name.
The best way to get to know the vibe of this part of the Cape peninsula – and the thing most people do best when on holiday – is to eat your way through it.
So start at Knead in the surfing town of Muizenberg. The aptly named family bakery makes all their own goods on site every day and is the perfect quiet spot to stop for a cuppa and a bite after a walk along Muizenberg’s long beach.
Further along Main Road lies Octopus’ Garden in the suburb of St James. Local talk has it that the owner of this casual and quirky restaurant went travelling for a long time a few years ago, and everything you’ll find in the place was collected along the road by her. So you’ll know the “mad collection of knick knacks filling a brightly painted and fairy-lit, intimate, little living room, complete with wooden floor and a piano” is authentic!
Next along is Kalk Bay’s Cape To Cuba, right on the harbor beach. It’s an exotic and enthralling restaurant that doubles as a shop – most of the wares you’ll find on your table and surrounding it are for sale too. It claims to have served the first mojito in South Africa, and has a separate bar area if all you’re looking for is a cocktail and a cigar.
Lucky Fish is the most demure restaurant of the lot, but when you find it nestled away in Kalk Bay harbour and order fish and chips, you’ll understand why it’s got a special place in the heart of the locals – there never was a fresher cut of hake.
The Salty Sea Dog in Simon’s Town is your second best bet for fresh fish when you’re in False Bay. Here, the naval harbor juxtaposed with a small African craft and curio market always makes for an interesting wander along the pier.
By the time you’ve finished this palatable journey through the lesser-known side of the Cape, I challenge you to deny the place False Bay and the Southern Peninsula have wrought in your heart!