The Capetonians love a good braai (BBQ) and their diet is very meat and fish heavy so being a vegetarian or even vegan in Cape Town can sometimes be a challenge. However in recent years, a wave of new restaurants and cafes have opened up that promote healthier living and cater to the meat-free and dairy-free diets with some innovative offerings. Here’s our round up of the best vegetarian and vegan restaurants in the city.
This vegetarian version of the Maharajah chain of Indian restaurants in Cape Town draws in crowds of vegetarians and veggie lovers for its healthy, flavorsome Indian meals. The menu offers tasty samosas, curries, paneers, biryanis and kormas and our top picks include the deliciously creamy (but vegan) Palak Paneer and the Butterbean Curry Wrap. Most dishes are also vegan friendly and, if they’re not, the kitchen is willing to make them so on request. If you’re in need of a sweet treat at the end of your meal, the vegan muffins are dangerously moreish.
6 Rondebosch Court, Fountain Square
From modest beginnings as a small Bo-Kaap café in 2013, Plant became one of the first gourmet vegan restaurants in Cape Town. The owners focus on solely plant-based vegan meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner with innovative dishes that will tempt even your most devoted carnivore friends, such as the Dirty Mac & Cheese, Tagliatelle Carbonara, veggie hot dogs and their own smoked tempeh ‘bacon.’ The dairy-free ‘cheese’ and eggless mayo are also surprisingly good, not forgetting their vegan-friendly pain au chocolats. The socially responsible restaurant also donates a percentage of its profits to human and animal-based charities.
8 Buiten Street
The concept behind Hungry Herbivore is healthy, clean and honest comfort food that’s 100 percent vegan. The owners have created an impressive menu of plant-based yet delicious offerings that includes great snacks, pizzas, pastas, burgers, salads, smoothies and raw food desserts. We recommend trying the Oh-Sweet-Kim burger (the patty is made from lentils, sweet potato and quinoa kimchi) and the Waffles & Ice cream. The cozy establishment is located in the central business district and they also still have a stall in The Mojo Market, where the company first started out.
11 Orphan Street / Shop 20, The Mojo Market, 30 Regent road, Sea Point
Spirit café focuses on seasonally driven dishes and farm-to-table produce and their vegetarian and vegan-friendly menu puts the fun in healthy eating while satisfying any gluten-free, sugar-free and meat-free diets. There are now two branches in the city and they serve a range of healthy but filling breakfast options for people on the go including chia pots and crustless quiches, and a communal buffet for lunch of delicious options that change daily. The Buddha bowl is also a solid lunch option and there’s an impressive (and imaginative) list of juices and smoothies to work your way through that will cleanse and nourish you. Oh, and they claim that their organic coffee will make you roar.
Shop 10A, Constantia Village, Constantia / 26 Dunkley Square, Gardens, Gardens
Who says vegans can’t eat junk food? Vegan food isn’t just about fruit and vegetables and the newly opened Lekker Vegan aims to deliver ‘gourmet vegan junk food’. Think burgers, Gatsbys, nuggets, chips and soft serve ice cream but better than normal junk food because it’s animal cruelty free (and a little bit healthier). Believe it or not, most of the diners that frequent this place aren’t even vegan which means it’s worth the visit. This place gets added bonus points too because 95% of the packaging is environmentally friendly.
37 Barrack Street, Zonnebloem
This laidback bohemian café and juice bar is hidden away in an old converted garage decked out with hanging plants and other greenery and welcomes an eclectic mix of people fresh from the beach or the office, as well as their canine companions. It’s a great spot for a healthy breakfast smoothie and acai bowl, or a yummy vegetarian sandwich (with vegan options available too). The owner sources all her ingredients from local farmers and strives to save the planet and promote environmentally friendly living wherever possible. She also sells her own juice cleanses to take home with you that come in one-day, three-day or five-day packages.
Corner of Kloof and Hof Streets, Gardens
These small artisan chocolate makers offer pure, unadulterated, melt-in-your-mouth organic chocolate and their cute little café with a sunny courtyard serves up tasty raw-cacao treats as well as cakes and pastries, coffees, teas and hot chocolate. All their chocolate bars and truffles are 100% vegan and many of the baked goods are also vegan. Honest’s secret is that they use unroasted cacao beans from ethical farms in Ecuador and Tanzania, which contain higher levels of antioxidants and they don’t over-flavor or over-sugar their chocolate so you can appreciate the natural flavors. Their other signature must-tries are the dairy-free milkshakes and their Coconut Dream drink. There’s also a Secret Gin Bar in the courtyard by night.
64A Wale Street
Been to any other good veggie or vegan restaurants in Cape Town? Share your recommendations in the comments section below.