THE MILLENNIAL’S GUIDE TO CAPE TOWN PART ONEJul 26 , 2021
Cape Town is perhaps one of the most millennial-friendly cities in the world. Although, as a born and bred Capetonian, I am probably a tad biased.
I spent the last five years roaming my beloved urban hub, so I like to imagine myself a bit of a connoisseur on all things Cape Town. As a student – and a millennial – I had sporadic amounts of free time and a drive for chronicling every outing. I certainly conform to the stereotypical trope of “did it even happen if you didn’t share it on social media” – a privileged state to be in. Yet despite critique on this kind of mindset preventing one from living in the moment, there is something to be said for it getting you out of the house and away from Netflix. I believe social media reawakened my love for outings and photography by giving me an easy platform to document it on – along with an unfortunate case of FOMO. I have explored my city and its surroundings with the verve of a tourist and taken pictures with an annoying enthusiasm.
After seven months of living abroad, I was recently able to go home and re-experience Cape Town through the perspective of my somewhat stretched horizons. Cape Town is a city of beauty: beautiful people, beautiful scenery and often beautiful lifestyles. Of course, there are harsh realities to be faced with on a daily basis, but it is impossible to deny this place’s ability to compete with some of the most stunning cities in the world.
I have an insane itch to share my glorious hometown with tourists and locals alike, and it was only a matter of time before I attempted to compile something of a mini bucket list of all my favourite hang-outs and adventures. I like to describe what follows as a love letter to Africa’s most southern metropolis. So after litres of artisanal coffee, and camera rolls full of photos of food, here is my take on a Millennial’s guide to Cape Town.
PART 1: PHOTOGENIC EATERIES
In an experience-obsessed town, Instagram-friendly atmosphere and decor is non-negotiable for cafés and restaurants hoping for success. Cape Town is completely pre-occupied with every trend in health and gourmet, and you can find nearly any dietary whim catered to here. That well-documented and seemingly unending Millennial obsession with caffeine has also seen a ton of micro-coffee roasteries spring up across the city.
In Part 1 of my Millennial’s Guide To Cape Town, find recommendations for charming hang-outs – “good vibes”, photogenic food and good lighting included. Of course, this is by no means an exhaustive list of all the good places to eat and drink in Cape Town. This is simply a compilation of my personal favourite finds.
Now I need to mention that hype comes and goes, and trendy places open and close, sometimes at an alarming rate in Cape Town, as in most cosmopolitan cities. So, my incredibly stressful and intense – wink, wink – research that consisted of eating good food and relaxing in beautiful spaces, might be wasted on a spot that could already have closed down by the time you read this.
Us millennials are true suckers for neon signage. Arcade’s “youth has no age” sign has featured in many Instagram posts and stories over the years. This Bree street fixture offers good burgers, pizza and the usual Cape Town day-to-night jol*. Arcade is also particularly packed on First Thursdays (a Cape Town tradition wherein everyone gathers on the first Thursday of every month with stores and galleries staying open late).
*I was recently made aware that apparently this word doesn’t exist to non-South African English speakers. I has the same meaning as the word party, but it is much better.
Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel
The Mount Nelson is the very definition of millennial pink. Their high-tea is a Cape Town right-of-passage – although it is very hard on the pockets of the young working class. A stroll around the gardens will provide you with certain Instagram material and reignite your love for the city from a tourist’s perspective.
During my stint as an art student, I spent many a lunch hour at Clarke’s. This is perhaps where you might find the highest concentration of hipsters in the city. Situated on the trendy Bree Street, the space and menu are pretty straightforward and the vibe is decidedly good.
Located in Seapoint, Fuego’s famous tacos and aesthetic decor make them worthy of a mention.
Giulio’s is a veritable brunch heaven. In hues of white, beige and pink, this café stands up to Capetonian standards of coffee and breakfast foods.
Grand Cafe & Beach
This sandy café is a Cape Town classic for locals and tourists alike. Sipping cocktails whilst watching the sun set over the ocean is one of the most special and unique experiences that the Mother City has to offer.
This poke bar has cool branding and a pretty exterior – again with that trendy neon-lighting. But it is the food that truly makes it worth the trip to the grittier Adderly street area of Cape Town. They have a wide range of hawaiian-inspired poke bowls (which is basically deconstructed sushi), as well as the option to build your own, if you are one of those particularly particular millennial eaters (like me).
This chocolate bar/café holds a special place in my heart. Their iconic green velvet couch used to be where I would celebrate with coffee and chocolate truffles after stressful deadlines. As a bonus, they turn into a gin bar in the evenings and are particularly packed on First Thursdays. Like most things in Cape Town, Honest Chocolate checks all the buzz-word boxes: artisanal, ethically sourced, local…
Jarryds Espresso Bar + Eatery
This breakfast and lunch spot is one of those places that people feel strangely loyal to. This Seapoint favourite’s delicious menu caters to all of those trendy dietary whims with low carb, vegan and pretty smoothie bowl offerings. They also come through with those fair trade, locally sourced, ethical labels that the caring generation likes to support so much.
Lily’s is a classy and sophisticated restaurant in the more upmarket Mouille Point neighbourhood. Offering a view of the Seapoint Promenade, this eatery has something to offer for any meal of the day.
This sophisticated De Waterkant café has atmosphere and tall ceilings that allow you to breathe and relax while snacking on the city’s best sweet potato fries (in my opinion).
Mulberry & Prince
When this restaurant with their fabulous, much-photographed pink door opened they were booked months in advance and only offered dinner. Now you can enjoy an imaginative brunch menu there on Sundays – and it is not to be missed.
Roeland Street’s palm-printed, neon-lighted diner seems to offer the perfect Instagram backdrop. But like most things in this digital era, it does look a tad better in photos than in reality. The food is tasty, the customer base is loyal and the decor conforms to stereotypical millennial tastes.
The Silo Hotel
This new hotel revamped from actual abandoned grain silos has drawn many international bloggers and celebrities in the short time since its been open. The artistic interiors convey a distinctive South African flavour, which, along with the accompanying Zeits MOCAA (Museum of Contemporary Art Africa) housed within, feel unique and tasteful. The Granary Café, Willaston Bar and The Silo Rooftop offer amazing views of the waterfront and our beloved mountain if you feel particularly lavish.
Situated at multiple locations across town, Skinny Legs serves a basic café menu, along with some generous gluten-free and vegan options. The minimalistic white decor and photogenic food explains its presence on this list.
This beautiful restaurant located in the Loop 99 art gallery is both stunning and tasty. Unfortunately it has strange, seasonal opening hours so be sure to check before you pop by.
This is one of those strange places that somehow successfully manages to be both bar and breakfast joint. Facing Kloof Nek, on a sunny day you can drive past and see Capetonians drowning their sorrows at this Millennial-friendly hang-out spot.
The Stranger’s Club
This recent addition to the Cape Town café scene is situated in central Greenpoint, but somehow gives the feeling of getting away from the city’s hustle and bustle. They serve the most beautiful smoothie bowls I have yet encountered.
This stereotypically hipster hang-out has both food and drinks, and is the very definition of “good vibes” at night.
I was in two minds about whether or not to include this one, as it is extremely mainstream – the antithesis to the millennial mindset (eye roll). I am personally not the biggest fan of the notorious Long Street (your phone will doubtless be pick-pocketed here), but as a tourist, or simply a local looking for a good selection of beer, Beerhouse is a Cape Town staple, and I always somehow end up dancing at Sergeant Pepper across the street after a night of bar-hopping.
With a few locations around town, Bootleggers offers a more humble café menu – hipster branding and atmosphere included.
This burger bar truly has the best burgers in Cape Town (debatable, I suppose). Despite it’s 2014 hipster-inspired branding, it’s not really an Instagram space, but rather just a good vibe for after work drinks and tasty food.
Just off of trendy Bree street, HQ is perfect for a date night and a bar night. They serve delicious steak and are particularly lively on First Thursdays.
Kloof Street House
Kloof Street House is one of my favourite options for a special night. They have a romantic atmosphere, an old library space dedicated to pre-dinner drinks and a well-crafted menu.
The Bree street location is a classic fixture on the monthly First Thursdays. This Spanish inspired restaurant and bar has a tasty tapas menu and a good atmosphere for after-work drinks. The Del Mar location facing Camps Bay beach is a great spot to watch the sunset, and the Constantia branch is perfect for day drinking on a Sunday.
Orchard on Long
The Long street smoothie and health food bar is a staple for many a Instagram-model, offering everything you would need to do a detox or juice cleanse.
This rooftop bar offers views of the sparkling Cape Town city lights.
Truth Coffee is a Cape Town icon, with coffee heralded by many as the best in the world. They serve great breakfasts, but be warned that on weekends it can be nearby impossible to get a table.
Situated on the lower end of trendy Bree street, Villa 47 is a beautiful, sophisticated restaurant and tapas bar, which again has a great day-to-night atmosphere.
That brings us to the end of this indulgent post, which is perhaps the very epitome of “first world problems”. But if you do love social media, sipping wine and taking in our beautiful city, perhaps these recommendations will allow you to keep seeing life through those rose-coloured glasses, which in this case, are coloured a particular shade of Millennial Pink.
Photography: Yolanda Senekal, with contributions by Jade Williams, Carlien Koster, Lana Koster, Louise King and Dani Bossanger who joined me on some of these adventures.
Words & Layout: Yolanda Senekal
*Look out for Part 2: Adventures coming in the next post.