Best sundowner spots in Cape Town
By Emma Odendaal, 16 January 2015
Location counts for a lot but restaurants with a great setting or spectacular views often become complacent. It’s not the case with the establishments below.
Beau Constantia, Constantia
Perched on the Constantia side of Table Mountain, Beau Constantia’s ultra-modern tasting room building looks out over vineyards, mountains and the city’s southern suburbs. Floor-to-ceiling glass windows take full advantage of the views. Upstairs the tasting room serves meat and cheese platters and sandwiches by day, while downstairs Sushi Box makes magic.
Sushi is deep fried in tempura batter, marinated in sake ponzu or drizzled with teriyaki – no regular maki here! Prices are excellent value considering the portion size and all dishes have suggested Beau Constantia pairings available by the glass or bottle. Book a table outside (ask for a day bed) and leave small kids at home. Parking is limited and awkward.
Brass Bell, Kalk Bay Harbour
On the water’s edge, Brass Bell is something of an institution and you’ll love it or hate it – the vibe is definitely laidback, some would say seedy. It’s a sprawling place, and you’ll find the odd sticky table or rowdy kid (or grownup). There are seven seating areas with different menus available depending on which area you’re in – book a table on the terrace for dinner or mingle with partygoers on the Bikini Deck that spills out into the tidal pools. The wine list has predictable names (Durbanville Sauvignon Blanc at R135 a bottle, Wolftrap Red for R135 and Lanzerac Pinotage R355) but you’re here for the vibe and views.
De Grendel, Plattekloof Road, Durbanville
Vineyards, sea and Table Mountain all in one view. Throw in award-winning wines, and what more could you ask for? For sundowners purchase a R50 tasting of the full range of wines from the tasting room. It’s open until 7pm with casual seating outside. Delicious cheese and meat platters are available. Good sundowner spots are hard to come by in the Northern Suburbs, so the tasting room can get busy and service is not always speedy. For a guaranteed spot, book a table at the restaurant.
The Grand Café Beach, Granger Bay
This is the place to see and be seen. If you don’t mind inconsistent service (it can be down-right atrocious) and can stomach slightly overpriced food, the setting makes up for it. The bar and lounge area in a restored dockside warehouse and tables are laid out on a deck and private beach. Dip your toes in the sand, watch million-dollar yachts cruise past. R200 gets you a delicious foot-long, wafer-thin crispy margherita pizza with anchovy and artichokes. There are tapas-style starters too, seafood platters and a few pasta and steak options. The wine list features top labels such as Teddy Hall, Meerlust, Antonij Rupert and Bouchard Finlayson. Also try their exclusive vodka infusions. Come wearing your designer labels.
Sotano, Mouille Point
On the trendy Mouille Point strip, café-style seating spills out of the restaurant onto the pavement. Everyone from cyclists to barefoot beachgoers and Atlantic Seaboard families stop here for seriously good tapas and equally decent, well-priced wine list. Inside is plush with dark woods, concrete finishes, leather and dramatic lighting, but for sundowners you want to be outside on the busy terrace watching dog-walkers and joggers. The two-for-one lamb burger special on Wednesdays is worth a go. Otherwise tuck into lamb koftas, squid tentacles, grilled prawns and flat breads. There’s a good range of wines by the glass.
Shimmy Beach Club, V&A Waterfront
Rub shoulders with the jet set. Shimmy is slicker than the rustic-chic Grande Café, but similar in setting, with private beach right on the water. The menu is extensive – pizza, sushi, tapas, dim sum, pastas, salads, steaks and seafood – as is the wine list with everything from Krug Grand Cuvee at R4 300 a bottle to Splattered Toad Sauvignon Blanc for R165 a bottle. There’s whisky and vodka tasting rooms, a restaurant and the Beach Club itself with its pool bar private beach, expansive deck and loungers. It’s surprisingly family friendly – kids have a ball in the rimflow pool and there is a supervised kids play area. For partygoers, sundowners turn into late nights of dancing.
Tjing Tjing Rooftop Bar, Cape Town CBD
On the rooftop floor of a 200-year-old building on Longmarket Street, Tjing Tjing attracts the inner-city work crowd and hipsters for drinks and seriously good bar snacks. There’s a cosy attic space where you can nibble on pork belly skewers and risotto balls, and an open area that takes in the city lights. A short, but well-thought-out wine list features a couple of interesting finds, such as the Swartland’s Antebellum Chenin Blanc and Rooi Oxx.
- Emma Odendaal was deputy editor of Wine magazine and managing editor of Getaway and is now doing cool stuff at Fresh Living. She contributes to various food and travel publications.