When it comes to watering holes, there’s no shortage of them in the Mother City. These are our favourites. From speakeasy-style dives and boisterous pubs to swanky hotel lounges and rooftop gardens, we’ve rounded up the coolest bars in and around the Mother City, for all tastes and occasions.
With tasselled, velvet-covered bucket chairs, herringbone wooden floors with layers of Persian rugs, leather booths and marble tabletops, this sophisticated watering hole feels like a dream you can touch. Housed in a restored three-storey heritage building dating back to 1900, it’s home to three bars and a restaurant. Drenched in history, the building once served as an underground speakeasy of sorts where people from all walks could socialise (without being arrested for violating the Group Areas Act during apartheid).
As for the food (Mediterranean-style tapas), it’s excellent, as is the service and ambience.
Situated on the rooftop of the super-cool Gorgeous George Hotel (one of 300 privately owned hotels in the Design Hotels global stable), this chic 80-seater watering hole has been exquisitely decorated by a curated selection of the city’s hottest design talents, who’ve added their creative mark to the heritage building.
Outside, an emerald-green glass-panelled swimming pool, and views of whitewashed heritage buildings, give the pool deck a slick design edge, but the vibe here is oh so easy, with lots of noise and chatter. At the bar, in-house mixologist Jody Rahme creates wild, tiki-inspired cocktails that hit the spot. Feeling hungry? The wide array of breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner options are sure to satisfy the pangs from sunrise to sunset.
Hidden in a former warehouse at the back of an 1894 storefront, this roaring speakeasy in Cape Town’s East City takes its cue from the prohibition Twenties, an era during which illegal establishments thrived on high society’s debaucherous lifestyles. As such, you’ll find Mae West and Al Capone lookalikes enjoying the vibe – and the tipples (dress code is not obligatory).
The drinks Mixology god Brent Perremore is behind some of the best cocktail menus in Cape Town, and has upped the ante with a selection that has as much substance as it has style. Alas, the best does come at a price. Cocktails range between R120 and R160.If you’re hungry, we recommend the charcuterie and cheese platter. It’s divine.
Tucked neatly behind Honest Chocolate Café in the CBD, this dedicated gin bar is all about quality rather than quantity. The menu consists of five House Remedy Gin & Tonics (Hope, Head, Heart, Ambition and Soul). For the purists, create your own classic G&T with one of the many gins and tonic waters available (the owners believe that the accompanying tonic is just as essential to the mix as the spirit is). Or, go for a dry martini. There’s a charming central courtyard with two ground-floor bars and extra seating indoors on the mezzanine area of the historical Mortuary building.
Located on the third level of a 200-year-old building in Longmarket Street, the rooftop bar at Tjing Tjing is a great spot to watch the world go by. The ice-cool beats and Japanese snacks make this metropolitan locale perfect for a relaxed sundowner or a celebratory drink.
Good to know At street level, you’ll find Torii, where the pulsating pace, ultra-cool electro-indie beats, Harajuku-inspired decor and on-the-ball service are the perfect backdrop for flavour-popping, Japanese street food.
The first floor is home to the low-slung, reservations-only Momiji Lounge & Bar, and the cool and composed Momiji restaurant, where diners can enjoy a multiple-course menu that pays homage to the seasons.
When chef Arno Janse van Rensburg and his pastry chef wife, Liezl Odendaal, opened Janse & Co in December 2017 city slickers flocked to the supremely stylish eatery for its outstanding food. And now we have another reason to visit it – a recently launched outdoor bar. Situated in the shaded courtyard, under a leafy canopy, the bar lends itself perfectly to pre-dinner drinks, post-work tipples and weekend catch-ups in a relaxed yet vibey atmosphere. The menu features an array of curated cocktails, along with an extensive range of wines, spirits and beers – and, of course, delicious bar snacks such as pork crackling, spiced nuts, squid-ink fish crisps and homemade charcuterie boards. We know where we’ll be this summer!
Chefs Warehouse & Canteen is widely known as a gastronomic treasure trove where guests are guaranteed sensational canteen-style fine-dining. But that’s not all… owners Liam and Jan Tomlin recently added a vibey wine bar to the mix that serves, as you’d expect, a selection of top-notch tipples in a laidback yet sophisticated setting. The cherry on top? You can order any of the delectable dishes prepared by head chef Nanda Cardoso to accompany your bottles.
This original branch of La Parada, which opened its doors in 2013, was one of the Bree Street’s forerunners, tempting passersby with the prospect of cool cocktails and tantalising tapas. Now, six years later, not much has changed.
The bustling interior overflows onto the street, where convivial visitors dot the pavement with shared plates and tipples to wind down the work day.
Good to know While La Parada Bree Street offers the perfect innercity experience, La Parada at Constantia Nek provides spectacular views of Constantia Valley (their Sunday Fundays are an absolute must), while La Parada V&A Waterfront offers a buzzy harbourside vibe, and let’s not forget the recently-introduced (and oh so popular) La Parada at Century City.
Shrouded in greenery, Yours Truly is a chilled bar-café on ever-buzzy Kloof Street, which allows revellers to truly feel the rhythm and energy of the Mother City. Situated next to a backpackers’ lodge, it’s a popular hangout for locals and international visitors alike – and anyone who enjoys delicious pizzas (the Deluxe is a personal favourite), tasty sandwiches, and cold beer on tap.
As the sun starts setting and the place fills up, move on up to the Up Yours rooftop terrace, where super-cool local and international DJs and live acoustic sessions take things to the next level (pun intended). If you’re lucky, resident bulldog Molly, who is just the cutest, might make a guest appearance.