Restaurant Of The Week: Buena Vista Social Cafe, Cape Town

In a lively location right on Long Street, Buena Vista Social Cafe is one of a number of “Cuban” restaurants around Cape Town. I use the term loosely, as many also are geared for tourists – there is a decidedly Che Guevara and colorful Caribbean theme throughout, but the menu is more Mexican-meets-international-pub than Cuban. Still, the food at Buena Vista was surprisingly good. I went in with a friend, not expecting much, and was pleasantly surprised.

We sat in one of the comfy cushioned chairs on the side of the restaurant. It was a corner that was quiet enough for conversation, but also visually appealing with a big window looking out on the bustle of the street beyond.

buena vista social cafe

Photo by Becca Blond

When it comes to ordering you can go with a variety of different tapas choices including calamari, Cuban-style chicken wings and jalapeño poppers. Mains focus on either burritos (which are spelled wrong on the menu – they are called “borritos,” and we don’t think they are being ironic) or nachos, plus some salad and wrap choices. My dining companion had one of the burritos, pictured here, and I was surprised at how nearly authentic it tasted – it’s pretty hard to find anything close to Mexican food in South Africa. There was no guacamole, but there was sour cream and the cheese on top was done properly.

I had a chicken salad, which was absolutely delicious. The chicken was perfectly seasoned and blackened just right. I also enjoyed the crispness of the lettuce and the dressing.

Overall this was a fun place to have lunch. The only downer was the service, which was very slow – it took forever to get our check and second round of drinks.

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