Albert Dock on the waterfront. Classy bar with booths and lounge for glammed up crowd. The best reason for visiting is the huge bay windows that at night show a lit up albert dock with the Liver Building in the distance.
Albert Dock, 10 mins walk from Liverpool Lime Street
It might well have been because the week leading up to my visit had been extraordinarily tough, but this hotel was a godsend.
Greeted by musicians in Tibetan dress, you enter the main lobby decorated by miniature stupas: from the enormous main window you can see the eyes of the Boudannath peeping over the rooftops.
Fantastic buffet and underground bar too, all for about £70 a night.
PO Box 9609, Taragaon, Boudha, Kathmandu Tel: 00 977 1 4491234
An old theatre converted to a bohemian style cafe, this South-Peninsula haunt is well-known to locals. The atmosphere is lively, friendly and irreverent, but the real treat is the food. Sumptuous cooked breakfasts, delicious baked breads and pastries, as well as fresh Cape seafoods from the harbour across the road and beyond.
Main Road, Kalk Bay Phone: +27 (21) 788-6396
A quaint and vibrant area, perfect for a sunday stroll, right on the seafront with a view across False Bay to Gordon's Bay and Strand. It is jam packed with brilliant restaurants (Brass Bell, Cape to Cuba, Polano to mention a few). And it has the best ice cream in town plus wonderful antique, art, jewellery and other assorted (but interesting) old shops to browse through (including a nursery) and, best of all, is easy to access by car or train.
It is on the route for a drive to Simon's Town/Cape Point and near to Muizenberg beach for those who want to swim or stroll on the sand. The best place for a meeting of old friends.
Road: Past Fish Hoek on Main Road (heading towards Simon's Town), just before Boyes Drive intersects with Main Road.
Train: the train track runs right past and there is (as far as I know!) a station at Kalk Bay
Calamari that melts, absolutely melts, in the mouth. There is not a five-star restaurant in Cape Town that can beat them for fried/grilled calamari rings. Fish and chips that are the best in Cape Town because the fish is delivered quite literally off the trawler a mere two-minute drive away. Seafood platters include calamari, hake/snoek, mussels, prawns and loads of golden deep fried chips. Generous portions. Dirt cheap.
Unpretentious and not fine dining by any means, it's the best-kept secret in Cape Town. The locals don't tell you about it because they don't want the place overrun with tourists. I myself have even spotted the W Cape Premier, Ebrahim Rasool there, queueing like everyone else. Best to visit during the week as the weekends are insane. Only drawback is that they are not open at night.
For coffee lovers out there, it doesn't get any better than Vida for fabulous real espresso and lovely Portuguese pastries. The Kloof Street location is frequented by model types - a bit pretentious but good for people watching.
Local chain - Kloof Street, city bowl, Waterfront.
Prater Garten is a biergarten at Kastanienalle Prenzlauer Berg, the best bier, the best ambient for families and groups. It has great food and location, you must go.
www.pratergarten.de at prenzlauerBerg Berlin in the middle of the funky suburb of Berlin (east)
Minato may be housed one of Cape Town’s more interesting buildings — decorated by artists Beezy Bailey and Koos Malgas - but this is no place for people who like their sushi served up in designer surroundings.
You are instructed to ‘order only once’ to avoid confusion and irritation but no-one adheres to this rule, so go wild with a superb selection of sushi, sashimi and tempura and a good selection of oriental beers. Surprisingly reasonable prices - makes a change from the more fashionable sushi restaurants in town.
4 Buiten Street, CBD. 021 423 4712
The West Coast is only now starting to be discovered by tourists. Yes, the water is cold and yes, the wind can blow but the views and of course, the seafood, more than make up for it!
Paternoster has a great beach and a lovely, unspoilt fishing village feel. Head to the hotel for some of the best 'honest' seafood you'll find in the Cape.
Head up West Coast Road for about 80kms
Scarborough is still relatively tourist free despite the great scenery on offer on the drive there - head along the coast and over the pass from Noordhoek, past Misty Cliffs and into Scarborough. Cobbs itself is situated just back from the beach and offers great food and even better views. After your meal drive over Red Hill for the best views of Simon's Town on offer!
By far the best pub in Cape Town. From the deck you have views of Chapman's Peak rising on the one side and views of 9 Mile Beach on the other, the fact that they serve a great pint and decent pub fare is a bonus.
Cnr Beach & Pine Road, Noordhoek
(021) 789 1783
You can sample food from all over Africa at the Africa Cafe on Shortmarket Street. The food is amazing and the decor is stunning - there are seven individually styled rooms and service is always with a smile! Afterwards, head for a drum circle where everyone is given a djembe and drums the night away!
The sessions are well facilitated and at the end of the evening, you will all be drumming together - great fun and worth the inevitable swollen hands and fingers afterwards.
It is a very cool cafe. People can have a drink there and listen to music or poetry. There is also a huge outside terrace with a stage where concerts take place. It's very cosy and the staff are nice.
Lovely youth hostel near the coast on the island of Orust. Good accommodation, shared or family rooms (largest about 5 people) in old buildings, or hytter in the garden. Summer restaurant.
Walk down the garden to the sea, or into the village nearby to buy fresh fish, crab or lobster. Alternatively cross the road into the coastal woodland.
There are excellent public transport links to local towns (Ellos, Mollusund and Henan), and ferries to the islands of Gulholmen and Karingdon for swimming, sunbathing, walking and people watching or eating fresh Dublin Bay prawns.
Accessible from Goteborg by public tranport (bus stop 50m). If you arrive late (by car), they will leave your key to collect in the porch. It may be worth getting YHA/HI membership as the supplement for non-members is 45 SEK (£3.50) per night.
For most visitors to Cape Town, the Wembley – a legendary roadhouse which serves the tastiest Indian and Cape Malay food for miles – is a little out of the way. It's in the heart of Athlone, one of the city's largest suburbs, officially on the other side of the railroad tracks during apartheid (it was designated “Coloureds only”). But for those who live in Athlone and its own suburbs – Belgravia, Rylands, Gatesville, Surrey Estate and beyond – the Wembley is the center of the culinary universe of take outs.
The beauty of a roadhouse, of course, is that you don't really take the food out. You take it to your car, parked a few feet away, and gobble the delicious, piping hot food, which steams up your windshield as you watch the ebb and flow of the crowd around the take-out counter.
The Wembley is a beacon at night, a brightly lit temple. Cars of all types come and go, carrying happy families. It's their Friday night out. You can wait in your car for a waiter to appear at the window – he will take your order, dash off, and return with your food on a tray, and a smile of apology for being a little late.
Or you can step up underneath the take-out awning – don't be shy to push to the front – and order your meal from one of several harried-looking women who front the engine of the operation. The kitchen: a noisy, organised chaos. Note the colour of the post-it note which she writes your order on. The pink or yellow or green scrap will disappear into the kitchen, then resurface in 10 – 15 minutes next to foil-wrapped lumps, which is your food.
The place recalls 1950s America as seen in movies like Back to the Future. The difference, of course, is that you're in South Africa, in a township, and all the eats are halaal. Groovy. Over the years I've honed the perfect take-out order, which I recommend to all first-timers:
1 Masala Steak Sandwich (the supreme Wembley creation, with french fries on it)
2 mince samoosas (spicy ground beef triangular pastries)
1 koeksister (aniseed-infused doughnut)
1 small faloodah (indescribable – a sweet drink which requires both straw and spoon)
For vegetarians, the food is no less delightful: eat a vegetable curry with rice and 2 veg samoosas, then proceed to the koeksister. Vegans are not catered for – probably not even heard of.
To see what the Roadhouse looks like, check out the 2002 video, “Starbucks”, which the British band “A” shot in Cape Town. The Wembley was sacrilegiously transformed into a generic fast food joint for the shoot, and features throughout. See the video at Rock-Sound.net, among other sites.
The Wembley Roadhouse, 23 Belgravia Road, Athlone (at the corner of Denchworth), is open from 11am to midnight each day. Closed Friday 1-2pm for mosque; call for hours during Ramadaan. (021) 697-1435.
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