It seems that the locals in the Mother City have ditched the beach and started spending their Saturday mornings (and the occasional weekday evening) indulging in the fantastic local food markets.
From freshly harvested produce and organic wine to live music and delicious homemade food, foodies are flocking to give their tastebuds a treat. Here are a few local favourite food markets in Cape Town that you should try.
City Bowl Market on Hope
The usually quiet Hope Street, on the east side of Cape Town’s CBD, has turned into a hub of culinary delights with the introduction of the City Bowl Market on Hope. This market keeps things simple with food vendors who scatter themselves along triangle-shaped tables that line the walls of an old school hall, while market-goers enjoy their purchases at communal tables that fill the centre of the hall. As live music and aromas from the hot Cape Malay curries fill the air, so does the hall.
From traditional Turkish food from Lutfiye’s Cypriot Food to heavenly hamburgers (from a vendor called Heavenly Hamburgers), market-goers move from stall to stall trying to decide what to eat. Catering to dad’s beer belly at the Keg King, mom’s sweet tooth at La Petite Moo Brownies and a play area for the kids, this market has something for everyone.
Thursday evenings bring city workers to the market who come to enjoy an early dinner, drinks with colleagues or a quick takeaway. The Saturday crowd, who come from all over the city, treat themselves to a delicious breakfast or lunch.
14 Hope Street, Cape Town. Open every Thursday from 4 30pm to 8 30pm and every Saturday from 9am to 2pm
Earth Fair Food Markets
Earth Fair offers two markets in two completely different locations, but both cater to hungry lunchtime city workers and dinner-seeking suburban folk. With almost the same vendors at both, the market treats each crowd with delicious fare such as spicy curries, fresh juices, and decadent desserts.
Tokia Market: Located in southern suburbs of Cape Town between Retreat and Tokia, this Earth Fair Market is usually packed with families looking for a tasty dinner on a Wednesday evening or breakfast on a Saturday morning. This indoor market offers loads of parking, communal tables to eat at and a small tented outdoor area for hot summer days. A few of the vendors sell plates stacked with various vegetarian dishes for around US$6 per plate. And for dessert, chocolate and banana crepes from Lemon Moon Cafe is a must! While the kids enjoy playing in the play zone, the over 18s can enjoy craft beer or organic wine from the Laughing Crocodile Bar.
South Palms, 333 Main Rd Retreat. Open every Wednesday from 3pm to 8 30pm and every Saturday from 9am to 2pm
St Georges Mall Market: Every Thursday from 11am to 3pm in the CBD there is a ‘no meetings’ policy so everyone can come to this market. Before even reaching the open-aired venue in the centre of Cape Town, you can smell the mouthwatering aromas of paella, spring rolls (try the jalepeno popper ones for $1.20 each) and curries filling the air. With masses of hungry offices workers all heading to this popular weekly lunchtime strip, this market is always packed, especially on hot summer days when folks try to get their hands on Dr Juice’s freshly squeezed juices, or a scoopful of The Creamery’s unusually flavoured ice creams. On rainy days, the market moves indoors to Mandela Rhodes Place, also along St Georges Mall.
St Georges Mall, Cape Town (between Wale Street and Church Street). Open every Thursday between 11pm and 3pm
V&A Market On The Wharf
The V&A Market On The Wharf is located on the busy V&A Waterfront. This two-storey market space was once a restaurant and music warehouse, before being converted into the market it is today. One of the largest food markets in Cape Town, it is open five days a week for breakfast, lunch and early dinner or takeaway. There is a bar and big screen TV upstairs with tables where you can enjoy your food.
Brazilian food at Casa Brazil, samosas at Gourmet Samoosa, yummy Mexican food at Mex It Up, and Thai food from Thai Hut are just some of the tasty delights that can be enjoyed straight after purchase. Burgers from Woodie’s Burgers and and pizza from The Daisy Pizza Factory are also available for those who are not feeling exotic. This market is also one of the only places in Cape Town that sells bubble tea, so make sure to stop at Bubble Tea Company and get yourself a cup.
Bay Harbour Market
As the name suggests, this market has a permanent home at the Hout Bay Harbour, about 20 minutes outside of the city in the fishing suburb of Hout Bay. It comprises more than 100 stalls in a refurbished fish factory. Combining arts, crafts, fashion, decor and music with great food and an amazing vibe, the market is often packed. Be sure to get there early as their very limited parking and seating available.
The market caters for all palates, offering foods from around the world, including German food from Heike’s German Food, Chinese food from Tao’s Chinese Kitchen and Tunisian cuisine from Tunisian Foods. Market-goers can also try some traditional South African food, including koeksisters and and bunnychows, as well as some fresh seafood. There are also loads of veggie, vegan and raw food options to choose from. A large bar offers some of South Africa’s best wine, beers and cocktails.
31 Harbour Rd, Cape Town. Open every Friday between 5pm and 9pm and every Saturday and Sunday between 9 30am and 4pm
Housed in the trendy Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock (about 10 minutes outside of the CBD), the Neighbourgoods Market is the most popular market in Cape Town. Its setting in a beautiful old brick building is contrasted with modern food trucks massed in the parking lot, and brightly coloured fruit and vegetables. This market is definitely a social one, and market-goers often find themselves asking strangers “Where did you buy that?”
With over 100 specialty traders including local farmers, bakers, butchers, artisan producers and chefs, the market is a great place to do your weekly shopping, or just grab a bite to eat. You’ll find burgers, Indian food, paella, steaks and even pizza with an artisanal twist. Freshly brewed coffee, squeezed juices and craft beers are also available throughout the day, and homemade cakes, ice cream and crepes will satisfy those with a sweet tooth. With only street parking available, a spot can take up to 15 minutes to find — so get there early or take public transit.
The Old Biscuit Mill, 373 Albert Road, Woodstock. Open every Saturday between 9am and 2pm