Cape Town people love eating fish and chips. Whether enjoying it in one of the many restaurants that have it on their menus, or picking up some from the local take away, people of all classes enjoy comforting fish and chips. The most popular fish by far is good old Hake, but the firm fleshed snoek , a type of barracuda, is a great alternative.
Kalk Bay, a little False Bay fishing village, is a popular weekend destination for Cape Town people and visitors alike. It is always bustling on weekends because of the many interesting shops, market, galleries and restaurants as well as the working fishing harbour. Because it is a fishing village you will find plenty of choice to eat seafood and some of the reputedly best fish and chips in Cape Town. The Brass Bell restaurant has a wonderful location right on the sea and a long-standing reputation as “the” place to go. Whilst there are many delicious items on their menu, we have been constantly disappointed by their fish and chips and would recommend that one pursue the goal of finding the best fish and chips within the fishing harbour. The prestigious Harbour House restaurant has an affordable outlet in their “Lucky Fish”, but the cognoscenti are unanimous that Kalky’s is amongst the top places to find great fish and chips. Don’t expect much by way of décor; at best it can be described as humble; you eat off enamel plates with plastic utensils and will sit at wooden tables and benches where you have a great opportunity to rub shoulders with a cross-section of the people of Cape Town at leisure. On sunny days it is a pleasure to sit outside watching the fisherman going about their business. Large portions of flaky, sea fresh hake are enclosed in a delicious crispy batter, while the chips are robust and chunky. Best of all is that it is one of the cheapest places to eat. Beware that on weekends it is very busy and you may have to wait a while for a table.
Simonstown: We rate the Salty Sea Dog as consistently serving the best fish and chips in Cape Town. It is situated in an old building dating back to 1925, which was a fish market until the apartheid regime moved the coloured people out of the town. Now it is an idyllic spot on the
View from Salty Sea dog
wharf at Simonstown where one can dine and enjoy the views of the little waterfront, the yacht basin and the Naval dockyard, and enjoy fish, seafood, local beers and wines. Their Hake is served in a light, crispy batter with no trace of oiliness permeating the fish, while the chips are golden fries with crisp outer and soft inner. Portions are huge, and the fish and chips inexpensive. Their popularity may be attested on weekends when they don’t attempt to serve tables, but just give you a number which you keep until they call out that your order is ready. Diners are asked to share their tables with anyone needing a seat- who knows but you might make a new friend while eating at the Salty Sea Dog.
Hout Bay is another popular seaside village with a working fishing harbour. Because of this, there is plenty of choice and you may find your own personal favourite fish and chips outlet here. Mariner’s wharf in Hout Bay precedes the famous Cape Town V&A waterfront by some years and , whilst it may not be as large, it is very popular because of its location next to a beautiful white sand beach with the backdrop of the mountains. The Wharfette bistro is a bustling outlet serving a range of take-out seafood, but the most popular is their fish and chips. One dines outdoors at wooden benches and tables where you can not only enjoy watching people playing on the beach but most likely also a seagull swooping to take titbits from somebody’s hand. This place is hugely popular on weekends because the food is so good and inexpensive. Their kitchen knows how to deal with the crowds and one seldom has to wait more than a few minutes to get piping hot hake in crispy batter with real restaurant style chips. Snoekies in the harbour claims to be the oldest fish and chips outlet but, with other choices, we recommend that you bypass this dingy and uninteresting eating place. At the end of the harbour road, perched right on an platform of rocks at the edge of the sea you will find “Fish on the Rocks”, which is reputed by some to serve the best fish and chips, while they have a number of other specialities including grilled yellow tail; a delicious local line fish.
Within the harbour is the popular “Look Out” deck restaurant which also serves top quality fish and chips, albeit a lot more expensive than the
Look out deck Hout Bay
other outlets mentioned. If you want to enjoy sitting on their deck looking right into the fishing harbour, perhaps listening to live music, it is worth paying the extra. Sunday afternoons are very popular because a local band plays foot tapping songs from the 60’s and 70’s, from about 4 pm to 7 pm, and patrons are encouraged to get up and dance in the aisles. One couple who stayed with us loved this place so much that they ate there every night for a week.
Kommetjie: near our Noordhoek holiday accommodation is a historic farm, known as Imhoff’s farm, where there are a couple of restaurants and other attractions. The newest of these is the “Pickled Fish, where you can enjoy a range of fish and seafood. Their current winter special on Tuesday night is fish and chips for only R30. For this small sum you will be treated to a large piece of battered hake, crisp chips lightly spiced with a small salad whose delicious dressing is put up with fresh parsley and coriander. We found the batter a little too thick and stodgy but if you want to eat out inexpensively, they cannot be better value for money anywhere in Cape Town.
Finally, if you want an economical eat-in option, Fish Hoek Fisheries on the Fish Hoek Main Road has been dishing up crunchy battered hake ever since I can remember. Their tasty batter encloses a huge piece of fried, flaky white hake with no oiliness, although we don’t personally care for the chips. These are large and soft, known in South Africa as “ slap” chips, but many love them. That this outlet is constantly popular can be seen in the long line of people waiting for their food on any night, but Friday night is the busiest and most crowded of all, but you will not have to wait very long. The turnover is so fast that both fish and chips are always freshly prepared.
All of these restaurants and outlets are a short drive from our self-catering Noordhoek accommodation and will offer an inexpensive opportunity to dine out and see some of the best of our coastal villages.