table mountain

Get Cultured: Cape Town — A Gorgeous Guide to the City’s Coffee and Culture

table mountain

We caught up with Cindy Taylor, co-founder and editor of I Love Coffee, to get the local scoop on exploring Cape Town’s culture through its food, art, festivals and hip neighborhoods while stopping along the way to imbibe some of the city’s best coffee. 

On your first day here, seeing this is a must: The spectacular view of Cape Town from the top of Table Mountain. You can take the cableway up or if you’re feeling adventurous, slip on your trainers and take a walk ““ it’s a great way to get a closer look at the mountain, which was recently voted one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature. It’s about an hour walk up, so it’s not a bad idea to pack some snacks to enjoy with the view atop. If you’re legs are feeling a little wobbly from the climb you can pick up a ticket and take the cableway down. No one’s watching”…

mzolis place cape town south africaMost people don’t know this, but to get a true taste of the local culture“…head to Mzoli’s in Gugulethu; a township on the outskirts of Cape Town. South Africans are crazy about their braais, so much so that we’ve even got a day dedicated to it ““ National Braai Day, which is celebrated on Heritage Day, a public holiday in September. Mzoli’s started out as a butchery and local hangout. Today, it’s a celebrated institution where all walks of life meet up to enjoy a braai (you select your meat and then it’s cooked for you on the fire), a bit of kwaito and a couple of cold ones.

For a glimpse of daily life, I recommend this form of transportation: Walking is the best way to explore the city — there are tons of little nooks and crannies to explore and when you’re on foot your curiosity dictates your direction. You can also catch a MyCiti bus, which will take you around the city centre, or a minibus taxi.  Minibuses are a major form of public transport and connect the entire city. It’s exceptionally cheap to travel on a minibus and it’s also quite an experience, one that you don’t want to miss.

I had my best night’s sleep at: Daddy Long Legs Art Hotel. Situated on Long Street, this quirky boutique hotel boasts 13 uniquely decorated rooms that represent Cape Town’s contemporary cultural landscape. The owners selected a bunch of local creatives – artists, poets, photographers, designers and musicians, and allowed them to go wild with decorating the rooms. Daddy Long Legs also has a sister resort, a luxury airstream trailer park, in the beautiful Elgin Valley, a 45-minute drive from Cape Town.

The meal at this local eatery had me salivating for days: Cape Town is a melting pot of culinary delight. My absolute favourite is La Boheme Wine Bar & Bistro in Sea Point ““- the food is delicious, they’re reasonably priced, the vibe is great and they have an amazing selection of local wines and craft beer. For a smack of the sea, head to Kalk Bay or to the Chapman’s Peak Hotel in Hout Bay. Here you’ll find the best calamari in Cape Town, seriously, and furthermore it’s at the base of Chapman’s Peak, one of the most scenic drives you’ll ever take. For some Asian flavour head to South China Dim Sum Bar and for a burger fix, Clarke’s on Bree. Bombay Bicycle Club on Kloof Street never ceases to impress, too. *It’s not a bad idea to call ahead and make a reservation, especially over weekends.

market in cape town south africaBest place to find artisan handicrafts: For typically African pieces head to Green Market Square in the city centre — it’s open weekdays and Saturday mornings. On weekends, pop past the Neighbourgoods Market at the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock, the City Bowl Market on Hope Street or the Hout Bay Market at the Hout Bay harbour.

Local celebration not to be missed: We’re spoilt for choice of wine, food and music festivals in Cape Town. Regardless of what time of year you visit Cape Town there will always be something to celebrate – it’s what we do best. The Cape Town International Jazz Festival, the We Love Real Beer Festival and the Mother City Queer Projects (MCQP) party are firm favourites.

Favorite pastimes: Sussing out new coffee shops, surfing, photographing our vibrant city and enjoying the occasional food disco with good friends.

For a more bucolic/green setting I escape here: One of Cape Town’s pristine nature reserves. There are over 20 reserves in the immediate Cape Town area and it will take you between 10 and 15 minutes to get to one from just about anywhere in Cape Town. Kirstenbosch Gardens is also a great option and of course the Constantia Wine Route”…

The art/music scene is alive and well here: Woodstock is one of Cape Town’s oldest suburbs and over the past few years has undergone an amazing revival to emerge as the art hub of the city. It has an old Shorditch-like feel to it with heaps of vintage shops, coffee spots and little eateries. Galleries not to be missed are: WHATIFTHEWORLD on the corner of Albert & Argyle, A WORD OF ART at 66 Albert Road, Stevensen in the Buchanan Building on Sir Lowry Road and the Goodman Gallery also on Sir Lowry Road in the Fairweather House building.

&Union nightlife cape townWhere the locals get tipsy: Bree Street offers a great selection of trendy haunts. Visit &Union on a Tuesday or Wednesday night for one of their live “˜Real Music’ shindigs. Tjing Tjing Rooftop Bar, just around the corner on Longmarket Street, also provides for a good time out and The Power and the Glory on Kloof Nek is where you’ll tick off the “˜neighbourhood bar’ experience. At all three places you’ll find a great selection of local wine and craft beer and a fair amount of Capetonian-hipster watching.

Most ludicrous stereotype about the people here: Many people, especially those up north in Joburg, think that on Fridays when the weather is good us Capetonians spend all day on the beach.  This is completely untrue. We stick it out in the office until at least 3 p.m.!

If I had only 24 hours to explore Cape Town I would: Kick off the morning with a coffee at Deluxe Coffeeworks on Church Street before taking a stroll through the city centre to Jason’s Bakery on Bree Street for breakfast ““- the bacon croissant is to die for. From there, catch a minibus taxi to Woodstock for a morning of gallery hopping, some appetite-taming activity at Superette and a see-me-through-the-afternoon coffee at Rosetta Roastery. From here, the afternoon is your oyster. If you’re set on ticking off all the sites, jump on a City Sightseeing bus ““- it’ll take you past all the major attractions, or get in some exercise with a surf at Muizenberg ““- you can rent a board and wetsuit and they’ll give you lessons if need be. If you’re the adrenaline junkie type, take a walk up Lion’s Head and a paraglide down. Or”…you could just take it easy and see where the day takes you. There’s no need to rush because you know you’ll be back.

cindy taylor - ilovecoffee blogAbout Cindy Taylor

Cindy Taylor is a Cape Town-based photographer and writer. She studied a BSc with an honours in Psychology at Stellenbosch, but realised her calling when her rampant photo-snapping had friends likening her to a Japanese tourist. When she’s not shooting, she spends her time “doing research” experiencing SA’s steaming café culture for, slogging on her Masters and loving city life. She’s mad about The Rolling Stones, V8 vintage muscle cars, bubbly and making pasta from scratch. And coffee. Lots of coffee.

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The Culture-ist