Cape Town’s geography means it has some of the best and freshest seafood in South Africa. Sitting on a peninsula in the South Atlantic Ocean that’s positively jumping with sea life, you can rest assured that the seafood you eat is sourced directly from its surrounding waters. There are seafood restaurants aplenty in the city serving up everything from traditional fish ‘n’ chips to Cape Town favorites Kingklip, snoek and hake, as well as sushi galore. Since you’re on a student budget, here’s our roundup of the best cheap seafood restaurants in Cape Town.
If you’re living by the sea, fish ‘n’ chips should be a staple in your weekly diet. Rather than frequent the more pretentious fish restaurants downtown, head to the cute fishing village of Kalk Bay (in the suburbs of Cape Town) for some no-frills fish and chips. Sitting right on the pier by the water, Kalky’s is considered a Cape Town institution by the locals for its cheap seafood that’s literally just been fished out of the water. They offer a menu of battered or grilled fish, calamari, crayfish and other seafood, served with a hearty portion of slap chips (South Africa’s answer to the French fries that are bathed in vinegar and twice fried to make them soft on the inside and crunchy on the outside). You can get takeaway, sit inside in the laidback bistro or find a picnic table outside and spot seals on the harbor as you tuck into your fish and an ice-cold beer.
Sushi isn’t always the cheapest food option in Cape Town (or any other city for that matter) but if you have an urge for that wasabi burn and some ocean-fresh raw fish then take advantage of Asian fusion restaurant Manga’s all-day 2-for-1 sushi deal every Tuesday. The deal includes all the sushi classics, including maki, sashimi, California rolls and nigiri, washed down with a healthy pour of Saké. The restaurant features floor-to-ceiling glass windows that look out over Mouille Point promenade so you’ll be satisfying your sushi craving aside some spectacular views.
Another hot spot for freshly caught fish is Hout Bay, a scenic little fishing town just beyond the Table Mountain range. Located right on the harbor is one of Cape Town’s most iconic fish ‘n’ chip shacks.Previously a fisherman’s supply store back in 1951, the family-run business has been in business for nearly three decades and has built a loyal following for its consistently good ocean grub. Hake and chips is their specialty but they also serve other fish and seafood grilled and fried. Go with a group and work your way through the 24-prawn combo while listening to the familiar sounds of seagulls overhead.
Tucked away down a side street of Camps Bay away from the strip of swish restaurants, The Codfather is a foodie institution, which serves up a feast of freshly caught seafood at bargain prices. There is no menu so just tell the waiters your budget and they’ll take you to the wet bar and talk you through the seafood offerings of the day (priced by weight). Think fishy delights such as seared tuna steak or grilled tiger prawns, always served with potatoes or rice and veggies. If you’re still hungry, there’s also a sushi conveyer belt.
With three locations across the city, this gourmet fast food joint does great budget fish and chips. They have a strictly no frozen fish policy so you know you’re getting only fresh catch. They stick to a simple menu of fried hake, grilled or fried calamari, snoek and prawns, all served with crunchy fries and salad. For those on a health kick, there’s also a fresh line fish of the day served with salad. Their concept seems to work as there are always long queues out the door.
Panama Jacks, situated close to the V&A waterfront, is well known for its bargain seafood menu at lunchtimes (their evening menu is a little more expensive). Here you can munch through large sharing platters of delicious grilled seafood for less than USD 10 per person. While the décor is nondescript, the place makes up for it with quality food and a great service and atmosphere.
Alternatively, do like a Capetonian and braai at home
The Capetonians also like to braai (grill) their fish at home. For the freshest catch-of-the-day, buy direct from the fishermen off the fishing boats at Kalk Bay and Hout Bay harbors. Fish 4 Africa in Hout Bay is another great spot to buy fresh fish such as Kingkilp, hake, and even fresh tuna on the right day.
Have you discovered any other great spots for cheap seafood in Cape Town? Tell us about them in the comments below!