The Barfly’s Guide to Cape Town

By: Maxine Sheppard

September 21, 2011

Our Flying Barman Marc Plumridge is back with another expert round-up of bar recommendations, this time for the beautiful city of Cape Town. With our seasonal flights resuming on the 19th October, now is the time to start planning your winter escape to the Mother City and with this list in hand, you’ll find no shortage of places to imbibe”¦


Cape Town calling

Cape Town is one of my favourite places in the world and a destination I could see myself actually living in one day.

The combination of climate, healthy living and sheer natural beauty (not to mention the glorious wine and food) make it a must-visit destination for anyone who enjoys the finer things in life. For me the ideal time to visit is at the peak of the South African summer, from around mid to late November.

Here are my top picks, along with those of my good friend Kevin Snyman, our Bacardi Ambassador for South Africa, who shares his experience and knowledge as a local man in the know”¦.



Wakame © Russell Smith Photography

Wakame © Russell Smith Photography


This is my favourite place to meet friends in Cape Town, slightly off the main drag (Mouille Point) and more of a locals’ watering hole than some of the more tourist-focused places generally found in Camps Bay. Climb the stairs to Wakame‘s bar on the top floor, where there’s a great little sushi restaurant sandwiched within (on the 2nd floor). Not only has this place got fantastic views but it has a more sophisticated vibe than other nearby venues. Decent cocktails and great wine are the order of the day as the sun goes down.

Wakame, Cnr Beach Rd & Surrey Place, Mouille Point, Cape Town



Asoka restaurant, bar and lounge © Asoka Cape Town

Asoka restaurant, bar and lounge © Asoka Cape Town


Considered by many to be the best bar in Cape Town, Asoka is known for its smart looks and the quality of its drinks. Housed within a Victorian townhouse on Kloof Street, this place serves up delicious tapas to nibble on and an ancient olive tree takes centre stage in the open-air courtyard where Feng Shui design principles prevail. It’s a soulful environment, the mood is always chilled and charming and the bartenders are very well trained so be sure to try the cocktails here. Good nights to go are Tuesdays, Thursday, and Fridays.

Asoka, 68 Kloof Street, Cape Town 

Café Caprice

Cafe Caprice, Camps Bay © 2011 Cafe Caprice

Cafe Caprice, Camps Bay © 2011 Cafe Caprice


Café Caprice certainly has location on its side. Literally a stone’s throw from the beach, this place is a magnet for the young, rich and upwardly mobile who flock from miles around at the weekends, parking their Ferraris and Lamborghinis outside. Here, an Ibiza vibe akin to Café del Mar always ensures this place is full to the rafters, serving up mojitos and refreshing citrus-led drinks all day long. Hit the beach in the afternoon and then head over for a people-watching session and a drink or two as the evening sun goes down.

Café Caprice, 37 Victoria Road, Camps Bay, Cape Town 

Tjing Tjing

Out of nowhere little Tjing Tjing bar has become one of the hottest places in Cape Town. Situated in an attic-style room on the top floor of a bakery/restaurant, this venue has a little outside area and it can be hard to get in, so get there early to avoid disappointment.


Tjing Tjing, 165 Longmarket Street, Cape Town


Fez Cape Town © 2011 Copyright The Fez

Fez Cape Town © 2011 Copyright The Fez


Hailed as Cape Town’s new superclub, Fez continually fills its floors with locals and tourists alike – and with the size of the place it is always amazes me how it becomes full.

If you fancy cutting some shapes on the dance floor along with your drinking, Fez is definitely the spot for you, and again, get there early to avoid the queues.

Fez Club, 11 Mechau Street, Cape Town

More recommended bars”¦

With so many great bars to choose from in Cape Town, we couldn’t just leave it there so try and make time for & Union for casual beers, drinks and eats, Power and Glory for a chilled and trendy early evening hangout, Blakes Bar, for sophisticated drinking and lounging over three floors, Neighbourhood on Long Street – a restaurant, bar and lounge with an upmarket pub vibe, and Planet Bar at the Mount Nelson hotel for the ultimate in elegant cocktails. For clubs, try Chevelle in the up-and-coming East City Design District with its myriad rooms and open air bar.

And for wine”¦

There are so many high quality wineries it’s almost impossible to pinpoint the best places to go. I like to try out a new one each time I’m in the region, and here are just a couple of recommendations for places I’ve personally visited and loved. I would definitely recommend heading to Franschhoeck; there is just so much on offer, from relaxed station pubs for a casual beer to world class restaurants like Ruebens or Le Quartier Francais.


Stellenbosch should also be at the top of your to-do list and my best advice is to pick an area and target 3-5 wineries you would like to visit, then choose one to eat at. You’ll often get caught up in the day and find yourself staying at just one place, but that’s all part of the experience. Check out and for more information.


Haute Cabrire

Haute Cabriere by Smath on Flickr

Haute Cabriere by Smath on Flickr


My first and best experience of a winery/restaurant so far and where I first learned how to saber a champagne bottle”¦fond memories! Tucked into the mountainside, this restaurant and wine tasting experience offers an intimate look at some of the Cape’s finest liquid offerings and in particular produces some superlative sparkling wines. The food on offer here is just sublime and when washed down with the wine there is truly nothing more you could ask for. Haute Cabrire is also just around the corner from La Petite Ferme, so why not combine the two…

Haute Cabrire, Pass Road, Franschhoek, Cape Town

La Petite Ferme

La Petite Ferme © 2011 La Petite Ferme

La Petite Ferme © 2011 La Petite Ferme


An extremely sophisticated offering and a little on the pricey side, but when you consider the views (which are simply phenomenal) you won’t mind. If you’re not in the mood for food, you can just sit outside on the open grass plains, order as much wine as you please, bask in the sunshine and feast on the views over the beautiful Franschhoek valley instead.

La Petite Ferme, Pass Road, Franschhoek, Cape Town Also recommended: Meerlust, Stellenbosch (great reds) Graham Beck Estates, Franschhoek, Stellenbosch and Breederiver Valley (for wonderful whites and sparking wines), The French Connection bistro-style restaurant in Franschhoek featuring chef Matthew Gordon, owner of Haute Cabriere, and the wonderdul Lanzerac Hotel and Spa in Stellenbosch, a luxury retreat and fine example of Cape Dutch architecture.

Virgin Atlantic operates a daily flight from London Heathrow to Cape Town in the summer season. Flights resume on 19th October, 2011. For the latest fares hop on over to For tailor-made trips visit Virgin Holidays.

Thanks to Flickr photographer Smath and to coda/Damien du Tout  for the beautiful header shot of Table Mountain.

For more, check out Lucy Corne’s previous posts on eating, drinking and sleeping in the Cape winelands.


Maxine Sheppard

Maxine is the co-editor of the Virgin Atlantic blog. Travel and music are her joint first loves, and despite having written for Virgin for more years than she cares to remember she still loves nothing more than jumping on a plane in search of new sights and new sounds.