The Foreign Exchange

The Foreign Exchange Bar in Cape Town

Open Mon - Tue from 16:00 - 23:00
Wed - Thu from 15:00 - 23:00
Fri - Sat from 14:00 - 00:00
 
+27 (0)21 448 0083
92-95 Station Road | Observatory
oliverhagan@gmail.com
The Foreign Exchange

The Foreign Exchange Bar in Cape Town

The vibrant Observatory-based pub centred on global mixing and mingling

Walking into The Foreign Exchange bar in Cape Town’s Southern Suburbs is like stepping into some sort of United Nations-style establishment for the young and fun. American and Dutch accents meld with Xhosa clicks, multilingual chatter moves back and forth over beer mugs and colourful stories of faraway countries are swapped over spirited games of backgammon.

You see, this welcoming, at times wild, pub deals in the currency of different cultures. Appropriately situated in the diverse, international suburb of Observatory, Forex, as it’s commonly known, is both a base for expatriates looking to celebrate their national identities and an easygoing spot where those from abroad and those from Mzansi can mix, mingle and trade thoughts and customs.

“It’s a place for locals to meet foreigners and vice versa,” explains Vermont-born co-owner Oliver Hagan; he opened the nightlife haunt with business partner and friend Sean Walpole in June 2013. “It’s a win-win situation for South Africans wanting to break out of the typical Cape Town scene and for visitors keen to get to know the local landscape.”

Hardly by coincidence, the two founders also run a Mother City-based internship programme, which, in fact, helped to plant the seed that blossomed into the Observatory bar. Overseeing hundreds of international students in Cape Town each year, the duo saw the need for a space that would give these diverse visitors a mutual gathering point, and so The Foreign Exchange was created. Their aim was also to craft an environment that would appeal not only to those eager to explore new cultures, but to those who like to play as hard as they work.

“Forex is for people who aren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves and work hard to achieve things, but who also enjoy a good party, like to live in the moment and aren’t scared of a few tequilas,” Oliver adds, smiling mischievously.

And on the summery Thursday night I’m visiting the large, second-storey joint, the space is filled to bursting point with those keen to live it up a little. Rowdy games of beer pong bounce around, strangers natter merrily with new-found friends, young business-types take shots of green liquid at the bar and everyone looks ready to settle in for the rest of the evening– all features of the venue that exude an enticing hostel-meets-frat house feeling.

In fact, this is a big part of the allure of Forex: it’s so laidback and so centred on a sense of community that it really starts to feel like home. The easygoing, lived-in atmosphere is further created by the comfy couches, fireplace, bookshelves, beanbags and board games that are found in the cosy, wooden inside area.

But, in the height of the sweltering season, it is the enclosed outside deck that draws the crowds. Peering out over a sea of rooftops and on to the distant horizon, this beach-style balcony is the idealperch for sundowners or a moonlight tipple. And it’s here where I find myself sipping white wine on tap – yes, they sell a draught Sauvignon Blanc and red blend – while watching ping pong balls plonk into cups of golden ale.

Apart from free-flowing vino, the pub serves up almost anything necessary to keep guests well oiled: there’s plenty of craft beer on tap (think Boston Lager, Lakeside American Pale Ale, Van Hunks Pumpkin Ale, Stellenbrau Lager, Devil's Peak First Light Golden Ale and many more), an artisan ale tasting board, a medley of classic cocktails, premium tequila, top rums, whiskies and liqueurs and, of course, 2-L college-style pitchers of brew meant to be shared with mates.

The bevvies are complemented by a selection of bites that go down swimmingly with booze. With a strong emphasis on Mexican dishes, the food menu features items like burritos, nachos and enchiladas as well as Mozambique Chicken Kebabs, Oregon Cheesy Fries and tramezzinis, and I find the butter chicken samoosas so crispy and flavourful that they’re reason alone to return.

It’s this combination of good eats, great drinks, interesting company and electric vibes that make this Southern Suburbs bar a prime night-time option. And, of course, when it comes to a pub that’s globally diverse and anything but cliquey, Forex gives all other Mother City watering holes a real run for their money.

Tip: Forex is the place to be to commemorate any big foreign national occasion, like Bastille Day, Halloween, Saint Patrick’s Day or Fourth of July. It’s also a great spot to celebrate a birthday as the owners will treat anyone hosting a bash to a special birthday concoction and to the honour of designing the drink of the night.

The Bill: Despite its foreign focus, prices are tailored to the South African pocket. Food goes for between R30 and R75 for a full plate, cocktails cost from R35 to R45, draught craft beer rings in at R30, the artisan ale tasting board (it includes five beers) is R25 and wine on tap is priced at R18 for white and R20 for red. During happy hour, which runs every day between 5pm and 7pm, prices are slashed further: cocktails are all R25, craft beers cost R20 and SAB draughts go for R17.

---

Looking for a place to stay in the multicultural suburb of Observatory? Read more about African Heart Backpackers.

---

Also, don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, join our Google+ circle and check out our Pinterest boards for updates. Not to mention, subscribe to our newsletter to keep up to date with what's hip and happening in our pretty city.

Cape Town Events Calendar
October 2014
SUN MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT
1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31

Red Bull LionHeart Trail Run Cape TownRed Bull LionHeart

Test your mettle in one of the most demanding trail runs in Cape Town!

Franschhoek Open Gardens 2014 Franschhoek Open Gardens

Take a walk through some of the French Corner’s most beautiful gardens and ...

Perdeberg Festival in Paarl 2Perdeberg Family Festival in Paarl

Kick back and relax at this family-friendly festival situated in the heart of ...

Halloween Party at Shimmy Beach ClubMurder Mystery Dinner & Halloween Party ...

A four-course whodunit supper and a ghoulishly fun fancy dress jol await at ...

Tuning the Vine 2Tuning the Vine Festival in Cape Town

Tune into this hip and happening inaugural wine and food tasting extravaganza ...

Bonnievale Bonanza in the Breede River ValleyBonnievale Bonanza

Gear up for the Breede River Valley’s family-friendly weekend of fun runs, ...

Halloween at MavericksHalloween Party at Mavericks

Dress to kill for a ghoulish party at the CBD’s exclusive gentlemen’s club

Renegade Bloody Bingo Halloween Cape TownRenegade Bingo in Cape Town

OoOoOoO! Ghouls and goblins, prepare for a night of spooky bloody bingo this ...

Maboneng Township Arts Langa TagThe Langa TAG Township Arts Gallery Tour

Take a gander at local creations along this Cape Town township’s first ...

Festive Ideas MarketFestive Ideas Market at Simondium

Kick-start your Christmas shopping with this yearly gift market in the Cape ...

The Galileo Open Air Theatre KirstenboschThe Galileo Open Air Cinema at ...

Enjoy cult classics and award-winning films beneath the Cape’s starry skies ...

Horrorfest-2012-3South African Horrorfest Cape Town

Prepare for the annual blood-curdling, bone-chilling and fear-inducing film ...

Barney at Mama Magic Baby ExpoMama Magic Baby Expo

Mamas, papas and babas! Get ready for the largest parenting and baby exhibition ...

Halloween-2012-1Halloween in South Africa

Discover the origins of All Hallows’ Eve and how it evolved into the ...

Halloween Mofunk Party Green PointMoFunk Party at Jade Champagne Bar & ...

Boogie on down, Soul Train-style at this swanky Green Point bar

Banff Mountain Film FestivalBanff Mountain Film Festival World Tour

Grab your popcorn and enjoy the world’s most inspiring and thought-provoking ...

Rocking Hollywood 5Barnyard Theatre’s Rocking Hollywood ...

Have a musical trip down memory lane with the brilliant cast of Rocking in ...

Murder Mystery Dinners in Cape TownMurder Mystery Dinner Parties Cape Town

Intrigue, secrecy and cold-blooded killings are the order of the day at these ...

Julep Cocktail BarHappy Hour Cocktails at Julep Bar

This speakeasy-type watering hole offers up a late-night drinks deal in Cape ...

Abbott Nu Jazz Band at SotanoFriday Jazz Dinner at Sotano

Start the weekend in style with soulful beats and supreme fare at this Atlantic ...

Wembley Tap Bar Craft Beer Beer Pong at Wembley Tap Bar

Mix ping pong with artisan ale at this industrial-chic house of beer every ...

Rocky Horror Picture Show FugardRocky Horror Show at the Fugard Theatre

The timeless musical returns to Cape Town to give fans another round of racy ...

Cascades on The Promenade dinnerBistro lunch at Cascades on the ...

Discover the hidden gem that’s serving up some of the Atlantic Seaboard’s ...

HQ Friday night DJ Dance partyFriday Night DJ and Dancing at HQ ...

#AfterDark with DJ Rene: start the weekend with a steak dinner, stylish ...

Battlefield Live Corporate LogoTeam Building with Battlefield Live SA

Corporates become commandos in this adrenaline-inducing, morale-boosting laser ...

Waterford wall 1Wine and Chocolate Tasting at Waterford ...

Pair sterling vintages with sweet treats at this world-class wine farm

Dutch Haven BarAfter-work Drinks and Live Music at ...

Enjoy an authentic Holland-style borreluur every Friday evening at this ...

The Springbok Experience Rugby Museum LogoThe Springbok Experience Museum’s ...

Visit this world-class Waterfront attraction and enjoy a free Castle draught at ...

Wine Flies Forgotten Route TourThe Forgotten Route Train Tour to ...

Take the road less travelled on a two-day adventure to the Klein Karoo

Richard's Bistro supper and stage Kaapstad“Kaapse Stories” at Richard’s ...

Supper and Stage make for a delectable evening’s entertainment

ACC City Desired Exhibition at City Hall Cape TownCity Desired Exhibition at City Hall

Contemporary Cape Town exposed: encounter the Mother City in a whole new light ...

Dinner at Dish Restaurant Inn on the SquareBraai Lunch Special at Inn on the ...

Friday is braai day at this Cape Town accommodation’s laidback eatery

Vibe at the Hout Bay Harbour Market in Cape TownFriday Night at The Bay Harbour Market

Ring in the weekend with live music, craft beer, hearty fare and happy shopping ...

Jabula Hair Cape TownJabula Hair Weave & Extension Special

Buy hair extensions a weave or a wig and get your do done for free

Free Biltong online shopping South AfricaFree-range Fridays in Cape Town

Celebrate your weekend freedom with ethically produced biltong and droëwors

Magents Shoes & Apparel Labels4lessMagents Sneakers & Clothing Sale in ...

Internationally acclaimed South African brand relaunches with a R50 discount ...

Glenelly 1Meat and Cheese Platters at Glenelly ...

A Stellenbosch wine tasting with true French finesse

Bright Day Art Classes in WoodstockCreative Corporate Team Building with ...

Harness the power of creativity at an edgy customised workshop

Langaro Spa exteriorSlimming and Firming Special at Langaro ...

Get a more toned and sleek appearance thanks to a ‘CoolSculpting’ ...

Cozier Wine Shop LogoFree Wine Tasting at Cozier Wine Cellars

Sample sublime reds, whites, pinks and more for mahala right in the bosom of ...

Food and wine tasting at La MotteFood and Wine Pairing at La Motte

Discover a match made in the divine tasting room of this Franschhoek estate

WeatherGiveawaysTravel Tips