Having spent pretty much all my adult life in London, I totally understand the importance of pubs and bars in daily life. We have our two locals that we frequent and everyone has their favourite spot for after work or Sunday lunch. People also use them as landmarks which means it’s very rare to give or get directions to somewhere in London without mentioning a few pubs along the way – “If you pass the Park Tavern you’ve gone too far” for example. Sadly more pubs are disappearing every year but hopefully the pub culture will always be a big part of London life.
Of course, in Cape Town there isn’t that uniquely British pub culture. But there are nice pubs and bars and I’ve managed to discover quite a few diverse ones that we now like to visit regularly. They all offer their own particular charm. Here are my favourites – in no particular order as I tend to visit them depending on what mood I’m in. Let me know what you think and what I’ve left out – a new bar to try would make my day.
The Rose Bar in the Alphen Hotel, Constantia
This outdoor bar and terrace is set overlooking the pool and gardens. It has comfy couches, great cocktails and a sushi and snack menu. It’s a good place for a pre-lunch drink on Sunday – our lunches tend to start late because the men are playing golf – so it’s the perfect quiet and peaceful place to catch up over a Bloody Mary or G&T before heading to the restaurant.
The Sky Bar in the Cape Royale Hotel, Greenpoint
Views don’t come better than this. Set on the roof terrace of the Cape Royale Hotel in Main Road, Greenpoint, the Sky Bar and pool deck has 360-degree views of Cape Town, including the sea, stadium and mountain. It’s perfect for sundowners and also serves sushi and snacks. The hotel has a great spa downstairs which makes it the perfect place for an indulgent morning followed by chill out time up on the roof.
Wafu, Beach Road, Mouille Point
Wafu is above the popular restaurant Wakame, and has stunning 180 degree views of Robben Island and the coastline. It can get pretty crowded at night when you will find yourself shoulder-to-shoulder with Cape Town’s beautiful people. I love it during the day for a chilled out dim sum lunch and glass of rose. Keep your eyes on the sea as it’s very likely you’ll spot dolphins at play.
Tjing Tjing, 165 Longmarket Street
This intimate little roof-top bar is in the city. Be careful to pay attention as you’re walking down Longmarket Street as it’s hard to find. You climb the stairs right to the top to discover a modern quirky bar with a dinky terrace. I like to go there for a pre-dinner G&T before heading out for something to eat in trendy, lively Long Street and the surrounds. The last time we went there was a free wine tasting and there’s also a tapas menu if you can’t wait until dinner time.
&Union, 110 Bree Street
Somewhat bizarrely situated on the edge of a car park, this popular bar has a great atmosphere. It serves handcrafted beers and its menu is sausage heaven. It also serves substantial hamburgers and prego rolls and there are live bands several times a week. Outside tables soon fill up so make sure to get there early to grab your spot. We recently went there for a girls’ night out and it was the perfect choice. Who’d have thought rose and sausages would go so well together?
Fireman’s Arms, Buitengracht Street
The Fireman’s Arms was established in 1864, as it proudly displays on the door. We love it for its Thursday night pub quiz which is professionally run, truly competitive and fun…although last week the questions were just too hard for our team and we only managed to come 10th. We all left feeling dejected (and a bit stupid if I’m honest!) but the good news is we are determined to go back and do better. It’s also a good place to watch sport as there are plenty of flat screen TVs, oh and the food’s really good too.
Peddlars on the Bend, Constantia
Peddlars is a famous Constantia landmark. It’s a large, rambling bar and restaurant with a huge outside area and a comprehensive and tasty menu at good prices. The relaxed atmosphere makes it the perfect place to pop in to for a light lunch (I’ve had an amazing fresh tuna salad here recently) and it’s also buzzing at night. They have a quiz night on Thursdays which I’m yet to try. Their power lunch Monday to Friday is great value at R110 for two courses or R140 for three with a complimentary glass of their wine of the month.
Foresters, or Forries as it’s known to locals, is in Newlands at the foot of Table Mountain. It’s one of the oldest pubs in South Africa and opened in 1852. Every generation who’s lived in the area has their Forries stories, I think there must be a book in there, one I’d happily research and write! There’s a massive outdoor area shaded by huge oak trees and a play area for kids. The pizzas and ribs are very good and on Sundays there’s an impressive carvery to tuck into.
So there we go, eight watering holes that I love visiting. Would love to hear from you with other suggestions.