The one thing my husband and I wanted to overindulge in when we went to South Africa was seafood. And we weren’t disappointed. There’s nothing better than looking out to sea, while devouring the freshest oysters, fish and shellfish. We really couldn’t get enough.
If you’re not a seafood fan, then all is not lost. South Africa is also a nation who love their meat, particularly beef – which is why braais (barbecues) are so popular. We ate some decent steak, and we also tried biltong – which is a dried cured meat similar to beef jerky and quite delicious, although Monkey refused to give it a go!
But it doesn’t stop at just seafood and meat. We found a real eclectic mix of different cuisines from Japanese and Thai to Indian and African and every restaurant we ate in delivered on taste – I would go as far to say we really didn’t experience one bad meal.
However, when you have young children, their needs also have to be taken into consideration – and while we are lucky that our two eat most things, we couldn’t choose anywhere too left field.
Whenever we go away, I am never overly concerned about going out to eat. Do I research specifically family-friendly restaurants or do I tend to go with the flow? The latter usually, as I do find that nowadays – and whichever country you’re in – that most eateries do welcome kids.
More often and not it comes down to common sense. If you spot a fancy candlelit restaurant which has eye-watering prices, then you’ll know that they probably wouldn’t want noisy children and babies ruining the ambience for other paying customers. However, walking past a crowded and noisy café with lots of other families dining – you’re going to be okay.
Of course, it never is as black and white as all that. When we were in Cape Town there were a few evenings where we’d go out and the baby would be awake – which, is never as simple as all sitting down and enjoying a quiet meal together. And when you’re starting to get hungry, but also want to experience something other than a fast-food chain, then a sense of panic can begin to creep in.
In the end, we worked out that it was much more relaxing for us to have the baby sleeping in his pram before we ventured out in the evenings, which meant we only had to keep Monkey entertained.
Not that we found any Cape Town restaurants to be non-child-friendly. Staff and other diners found the kids fascinating – some even asking to hold the baby on occasions, where we happily obliged! Much like the continent, children aren’t seen as a nuisance in South Africa, which is so refreshing.
As you can imagine there are hundreds of restaurants in Cape Town, and while I can’t profess to be an oracle on where to eat in the city, I am only too happy to share our culinary experiences, so that if you’re looking for some family-friendly restaurant recommendations for lunch or dinner, you’ll be able to go to some that serve up decent fare. While most offered children’s menus and high chairs, those that didn’t were happy to make child-size portions from their main menus.
Craft Burger Bar
Although the branch we went to in Sea Point isn’t huge, the staff were only too happy to find us a spot that would also accommodate the pram. What we all loved was being able to create our own burger by ticking off our own individual menu sheets – offering choices such as what condiments, to how many beef patties. I went for a Monterey Jack cheese, pickles and salad in my burger accompanied by fries and it was really good, juicy and seasoned well. Meanwhile, Monkey was delighted to slurp his chocolate milkshake and we were happy drinking our craft beer, Wild Honey Blonde. Informal and lively, we really enjoyed our dinner and it was also good value.
Craft Burger Bar 82 Regent Rd, Sea Point, Cape Town
Our first night saw us not straying too far from our hotel – and as we wandered up and down Regent Road, we realised that it might have been more prudent to have reserved a table seeing as it was the weekend. Luckily, we stumbled across pizzeria Goloso. Johan the manager was only too happy to help us even though the restaurant was busy. After finding us a space, we shared an antipasti starter which was filled with all sorts of delights including artichokes, olives, Parma ham and prosciutto. My husband went for a pizza which he told me was light, and delicious, while Monkey and I went for homemade pasta. The portion size was so huge, I couldn’t finish my Puttanesca, which was punchy with anchovies and capers.
Goloso 90 Regent Rd, Sea Point, Cape Town
Harbour House Restaurant
The Victoria and Alfred Waterfront is home to many dining options. You really won’t go too far wrong by walking around and seeing what takes your fancy. The Harbour House Restaurant takes centre stage near the water’s edge, which affords diners a great view of the sea and the boats bobbing in the harbour. The crisp white linen tablecloths, perfectly aligned glassware coupled with the modern open interior added to this waterfront dining experience. This was one of the more ‘finer’ dining establishments we went to, and I was quite surprised the restaurant had highchairs. While my husband went for oysters and a sushi platter, I opted for the seafood pasta which was rich and creamy and filled with calamari, prawns and mussels. Monkey and Peanut were content chowing down on salmon sashimi and chips. If you’re looking for somewhere a little special, then I would highly recommend.
Harbour House V&A Waterfront, Cape Town
JARRYDS espresso bar and eatery
When we first heard that JARRYDS was the place for brunch, we hot-footed it down there with the kids and then saw the queue – and it was a big one, full of hipsters and hipster children waiting for tables. After turning around and going elsewhere, we returned the following morning. JARRYDS is the epitome of trendy: the staff all have tattoos and stylish beards; the decor is dark and metallic and, while the MTM family aren’t cool in any way, I was enamoured by the menu, which was pretty extensive. From eggs with smashed avo, to Turkish eggs and hummus, the choice was endless – so much so that our waiter had to explain all of it to us. There are no kids’ options, but Monkey was only too happy to try the pancakes. There are no highchairs here for young children, but there were plenty of families enjoying hearty breakfasts. And for me, the coffee was excellent.
JARRYDS 90 Regent Rd, Sea Point, Cape Town
Life Grand Cafe
Interestingly, the Life Grand Cafe at the V&A Waterfront started out life as a post office when back in 1902 the space was commissioned by Queen Victoria and was officially opened by Prince Albert. This goes some way in explaining the grandness of the building now, which has been designed sympathetically to honour its historic roots. Inside the brightly coloured banquette seats, and gold finish make it feel grand indeed, while the large doors open up to a huge decking overlooking the harbour. It’s has a certain buzz about it, and while you may not first think the Life Grand Cafe is child-friendly, it offers up highchairs, colouring books and crayons for kids as well as a children’s menu. The staff are friendly but we did find the service a little hit-and-miss. However, the atmosphere and inspiring setting more than made up for it. We liked it so much that we ate there twice and we can heartily recommend the mussels and frites, as well as the fish and chips.
Life Grand Cafe 2 Pierhead Road, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town
Okay so this one isn’t quite in the city – it’s actually in Hout Bay. But if you’re looking for areas close to Cape Town, then it’s more than likely you’ll head 25-minutes out this popular seaside neighbourhood. The beach is beautiful, and after heading to the harbour we stumbled upon Muriel’s. It’s a restaurant with no bells and whistles enclosed within a sea container, but we knew we were onto a good find because it was heaving with customers. We managed to find a table and ordered the family platter – far too much of us, but we’re a greedy lot. The fried hake in batter was so good, as well as the proper chips chips and fried calamari. Plus owners Muriel and Walter were so lovely and engaging, they made us feel very welcome.
Muriel’s Munchies Hout Bay Harbour, Opposite the Yacht Club
Codfather Seafood & Sushi
Camps Bay is one of Cape Town’s most scenic spots – what with the beautiful beach framed by 12 Apostles of Table Mountain and with it, a plethora of restaurants, bars and cafés. Luckily, we had been recommended the Codfather, which meant we didn’t have to wander aimlessly looking for somewhere to eat. Our meal was one of the best we had in South Africa and I had the lucky job of going up to the fish counter and choosing the seafood, which was then cooked on a grill and served with vegetables and potatoes. The kingklip fish melted in my mouth, while the langoustines, prawns and calamari were fresh and delectable. Even Monkey and the baby happily tucked into our fishy feast. It isn’t one of the cheaper establishments in Cape Town, but our dinner was worth every penny (around £85 including wine). And, in comparison to London prices, we really got a lot for our money.
Codfather Seafood & Sushi 37 The Drive, Camps Bay, Cape Town