Chef Matt Manning serves up a two-, three- or five-course brunch every Saturday between ...
Top Romantic Restaurants in Cape Town
Our pick of dreamy Mother City dining spots for lovebirds
Last Updated: 19 March 2019
Whether you’re dining out on a first date or in celebration of a wedding anniversary, you’re likely going to be on the lookout for a rather special spot. The last thing any starry-eyed pair wants is an eatery with no ambience, lacklustre décor and run-of-the-mill food. Rather, couples are looking for a venue that warms the heart and enhances the bond with an atmosphere that’s intimate and an offering that’s truly memorable.
The dining venues below fall into this category – for different reasons, these romantic restaurants in Cape Town all promise a fairy-tale lovers’ eating experience. You’ll note that many of the inclusions are more upmarket options (unfortunately romance often comes at a high price), but we’ve tried to feature a few more affordable gems too. Either way, these top hotspots are as ideal for an ordinary date as they are for marriage proposals and other very special occasions.
GET AWAY FROM THE CROWDS
Sit under the soft glow of the chandelier in this intimate eatery hidden away in Orphan Street in Cape Town’s CBD. What’s more romantic than sharing a bottle of wine and a tasting board comprising a variety of bite-sized meals at Jéan-Luc’s Kitchen.
Romance factor: It’s a cosy setting, so you can have a relaxed conversation without any distractions. Also, get a tasting board and a bottle of wine for R300 every Wednesday and Friday with their date night special.
11 Orphan street | Cape Town CBD | +27 (0)21 204 4636 | bookings@Jeanlucskitchen.co.za
WINELANDS BISTRO UNDER THE OAKS
Favoured by top Franschhoek chefs, for being open on Mondays and their remarkable farm-to-table food, La Paris Bistro is an experience. Farm-fresh ingredients sourced locally and used to create meals that are traditional SA with a modern twist. It’s situated on one of the most spectacular wedding and function venues in Franschhoek.
Romance factor: Come and experience the vibe on the deck, under the oaks at Friday live music nights at La Paris Bistro in Franschhoek.
R301, Wemmershoek Road, Franschhoek | +27 (21) 8670171 | email@example.com
Romance factor: This restaurant is ideal for a stylish evening out with your loved one. Pigalle offers guests with live entertainment from the dance floor. Every detail speaks of professionalism and the atmosphere is filled with friendliness.
Style of food: Pigalle is renowned for fresh seafood and Chalmar steaks. The menu has a range of classic dishes with subtle Portuguese flair. This diner offers a slectio of champagne, local bubbly and South African wines, to wash down the delicious food.
Price: A bit more expensive than the average restaurant.
Opening hours: Monday - Saturday: 12pm - 7pm
57A Somerset Road | Green Point | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 421 4343
Romance factor: This authentic Italian restaurant on Bree Street will warm the hearts of any pair looking for a relaxed romantic meal amidst a rustic setting. The unfussy osteria is home to rough, bare brick walls, candlelight in the evenings and an owner that not only speaks the language of love but also cooks dishes worth falling head over heels for.
Style of food: Real Italian food handmade the way mamas prepare it in the back alleys of Bologna and Tuscany. The lunch offering is permanent, but the dinner menu is ever-changing and lovebirds can share dishes like spinach and ricotta gnocchi or risotto with porcini mushrooms and Sicilian sausage.
Price: A little more expensive than most other Italian eateries, but still a relatively affordable meal.
Opening hours: Tuesday – Friday: 12pm – 3pm, 6pm – 10pm; Saturday: 6:30pm – 10:30pm
15 Bree Street | City Centre | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 418 7655
Four & Twenty Café & Pantry
Romance factor: The idea for this delightful Wynberg-based patisserie was born in Paris, so needless to say, the young owners have imbued their little spot with the amorous charm associated with the French capital. The space is dotted with delicate roses and painted with splashes of pink; black-and-white silent movies screen on one wall; and a cosy window seat and quiet back courtyard make for perfect little retreats for lovebirds.
Style of food: Four & Twenty is a breakfast and lunch spot, so it’s ideal for those who want a romantic meal that isn’t an expensive dinner. The fare is a mix of favourite classics and innovative creations, and the pastries are particularly dreamy – think treats like a dark chocolate and raspberry cupcake or a heart-shaped lemon and ricotta cake with almond shavings.
Opening hours: Tuesday – Saturday: 8am – 5pm (hot kitchen closes at 3.30pm); Sunday: 9am – 4pm (hot kitchen closes at 2:30pm)
23 Wolfe Street | Chelsea Village | Wynberg | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 762 0975
De Grendel Restaurant
Romance factor: Based out amidst the serenity and scenic beauty of the Durbanville Winelands (20 minutes from Cape Town), the upmarket restaurant at the historic, family-owned De Grendel wine farm offers an intimate and elegant dining experience that’s elevated well above the norm. Though, the most poetic part of a meal at this contemporary eatery has to be the fact that diners get to enjoy one of the most spectacular sunsets in the Mother City. Wrap-around glass windows yield a dramatic view of Table Mountain in the distance and, according to many, it’s just heavenly to watch the skies surrounding the Cape’s iconic peak turn shades of pink and orange come dusk.
Style of food: The De Grendel Restaurant specialises in seasonal modern South African cuisine that borders are fine dining in its gourmet execution but is still accessible and filling. Though the restaurant does offer lunch, dinner is more suitable for a romantic meal and visitors can opt for two or three courses or can indulge in the five-course tasting menu (call ahead to book this).
Price: Save a little for this one – prices are quite high.
Opening hours: Tuesday – Saturday: 12pm – 3:30pm, 6:30pm – 9:30pm; Sunday: 11:30am – 2:30pm
De Grendel Wine Farm | Plattekloof Road | Durbanville | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 558 7035
Romance factor: This stylish seafood restaurant perches right on the rocks of Kalk Bay’s harbour, and its incredible setting and floor-to-ceiling glass windows – they’re regularly splashed with sea spray from waves crashing below – enhance the drama of any meal and add that special something extra to the ordinary eating out experience. Darlings can soak up panoramic views of False Bay while they indulge their appetite, and during the winter months, they can enjoy the warmth of a log fire burning inside and the occasional sighting of a whale in the waters just beyond the windows.
Style of food: Beautifully prepared seafood pulled straight from the surrounding ocean is the order of the day at the Harbour House; though, if you’re not in the mood for succulent Cape crayfish, smoked paprika calamari or Mozambican tiger prawns, you do also have the option of meaty masterpieces like three-bone rack of Karoo lamb or grilled beef fillet.
Price: Relatively costly – this is a special occasion sort of eatery.
Opening hours: Monday – Sunday: 12am – 4pm, 6pm – 10pm (if you want a window table, arrive at 12pm, 2:30pm, 6pm or 8:30pm)
Main Road | Kalk Bay | +27 (0)21 788 4133
Romance factor: From its discreet perch in a quiet Gardens neighbourhood, Aubergine restaurant has been turning out unforgettable eating experiences since it first opened its doors in 1996. With its timeless elegance and impressive art and wine collection, the fine dining icon is the perfect place to visit if you’re looking for a romantic dinner with a sense of occasion and an air of decorum. The ambience is refined and lends itself to quiet and intimate conversation, and the gastronomic philosophy, which hinges on food and wine pairing, is a tangible reminder of the power of a good coupling.
Style of food: Expect fine dining fare conjured up by famed chef Harald Bresselschmidt and his trusty team. The kitchen maestro weaves South African ingredients together with Western and Eastern influences with considerable finesse, and guests are encouraged to let their ‘food and their wine talk to each other’. Meaning, there’s a firm emphasis placed on pairing – there’s even menus devoted to suggesting carefully thought out three-, four- or five-course matches. Those who’d prefer to select their own bottle of wine can choose from the restaurant’s esteemed offering, which features mainly smaller producers and eclipses the 500-bottle mark.
Price: Exquisite food, wine and ambience come at a price. Menus start at R465p/p (without wine) and run up to R950p/p (with wine).
Opening hours: Monday – Saturday: 6pm – 10pm
39 Barnet Street | Gardens | Cape Town | +27 (0) 21 465 000
Haute Cabrière Restaurant
Romance factor: Tucked into a mountain up on the slopes that rim the Franschhoek valley, the restaurant at Haute Cabrièreboasts dreamy views of the area’s vine-dotted landscape from its outside terrace and harnesses a magical charm within. The interior is closed in by cathedral-like arched ceilings that lend it a medieval air, and candlelight and soft music in the evenings wrap the space with warmth and elegance. Because the eatery only takes 30 or 40 guests for dinner, a meal here is always an intimate affair, but if you’re looking for a truly unique lovers’ dining experience, we recommend you request the table that overlooks the downstairs wine cellar.
Style of food: Haute Cabrière’s restaurant falls in the fine dining category, so guests can expect dishes to be creative works of art. The gifted chef adopts a farm-to-fork approach and many of the ingredients are grown organically on the property. The dishes are also specifically designed to pair perfectly with the estate’s wines and bubblies, and six-course Vintage Tasting Menu emphasises the marriage between food and vino.
Price: Prices are on the upper end of the spectrum but are in line with what you’d expect from other fine dining restaurants in the affluent Franschhoek area.
Opening hours: Tuesday – Saturday:12pm – 3pm (lunch), 3pm – 6:30pm (tapas and sundowners), 7pm – 9pm (dinner); Sunday: 12pm – 3pm (note: during winter, the restaurant is only open for dinner on Fridays and Saturdays)
Haute Cabrière Wine Farm | Lambrechts Road | Franschhoek | +27 (0)21 876 3688
Romance factor: It’s this contemporary restaurant’s stunning location that makes it one of the most fairy-tale places to dine in Cape Town. The upscale eatery is based at the luxury Vineyard Hotel in Newlands and looks out on the property’s magnificent landscaped garden. After lunch or before dinner, lovebirds can take a stroll through the leafy avenues of this greenway, where they’ll find benches to sit on next to the Liesbeek River and a lovely little bridge that’s idyllic for marriage proposals. For a dreamy indoor meal, it’s recommended that couples book a window table that yields views of the greenery outside (table 61 is the most private).
Style of food: The fare represents a modern fusion of flavours from all over the globe, with firm favourites being the caramel soy pork belly and the miso yaki kabeljou (kob). Though, the best way to experience the restaurant’s cuisine is to opt for its famed seven-course tasting menu, which finishes off with a particularly romantic array of desserts.
Price: While the à la carte offering is rather costly, the seven-course tasting menu promises good value for money.
Opening hours: Monday: 6:45pm – 9:30pm; Tuesday – Saturday: 11:30am – 2:30pm, 6:45pm – 9:30pm; Sunday: 11:30am – 2:30pm
Vineyard Hotel | Colinton Road | Newlands | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 657 4545
Romance factor: Aside from the fact that Beluga is the perfect place to treat your lover to the aphrodisiacal joys of fresh sushi, this trendy Green Point restaurant is also an ideal venue for valentines thanks to its secluded attic dining space. This suspended, glass-enclosed room, which doubles as the eatery’s wine cellar, is home to only four tables, so couples can enjoy a quiet, semi-private culinary experience (if you want exclusive use of this special sub-section, you can book it out privately at a cost). The restaurant also does its best to treat lovebirds who are celebrating a special occasion, often with complimentary glasses of pink Kir Royale.
Style of food: The Beluga menu has expanded to include not just sushi (it’s half-price between 12pm and 7pm daily) but also anything from dim sum and calamari to slow-braised shoulder of lamb and chicken curry, all made with attention to detail. For a dreamy end to an amorous meal, we recommend a dessert cocktail, like the white chocolate martini.
Price: Slightly on the pricier side; though, the sushi and dim sum is affordable when the half-price deal is running.
Opening hours: Monday – Sunday: 12pm – 11pm (it closes slightly earlier on weekdays during off-peak seasons)
The Foundry | Prestwich Street | Green Point | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 418 2948
Kloof Street House
Romance factor: This colonial gem on Kloof Street was made for sweethearts, it seems. The warm, eclectic interior – the restaurant sits in an old Victorian house – and soft lighting breeds sentimentality. Couples can choose to soak up the dreaminess of it all next to a crackling fireplace in the plush lounge, or outside in the leafy garden courtyard. For a romantic daytime meal, guests can visit for Sunday lunch when a live jazz band presents a moody backbeat to the eating experience.
Style of food: Kloof Street House guests can expect bistro-style cuisine, including options like free-range chicken tagine with dates, minted cous cous and pomegranate; osso buco, parmesan mashed potato and gremalata; the grass-fed beef burger with truffled wild mushrooms, rocket and camembert and more.
Price: Starters range between R65 and R135, salads between R65 and R130, mains will set you back anything from R110 to R185 and desserts cost between R70 and R145 for a serving for two.
Opening hours: Monday: 5pm – late | Tuesday – Sunday : 12pm – late | Kitchen open until 11pm
30 Kloof Street | City Centre | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 423 4413
Romance factor: This long-time Kloof Street restaurant may be most famous for its vibey Tuesday live jazz and deep house nights, but unbeknownst to many, it also makes for a mean date night spot. Drawing on the whole of The Orient for inspiration, the decor whisks visitors on a sensual journey east to the exotic lands of India and Thailand. Warm lighting, flickering candlelight, plush couches that wouldn’t be out of a place in an Ottoman palace, sexy music to round off the inviting ambience, and food made for sharing completes the big picture. Not to mention, there’s a massive cocktail list, much to the delight of those who need a little social lubricant to get the good vibes flowing.
Style of food: Expect eclectic but approachable international fusion sharing plates that make for an interactive dining experience. You can tuck into dishes like chilli garlic prawns, duck spring rolls and butter chicken curry.
Price: The love and attention that Asoka’s poured into its menu and decor comes at a price: mains run between R78 and R120, and desserts are between R45 and R65. Cocktails start from R62.
Opening hours: Monday – Saturday: 5pm – late | Kitchen open until midnight
68 Kloof Street | City Centre | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 422 0909
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Khayelitsha's New Upmarket 3-Story Venue: The Milk Restaurant & Bar.
Enjoy a bespoke cocktail for half the price during Primal Hour.
Looking for ideas for a romantic rendezvous? Consult our overview of top dating ideas in Cape Town.
Get SA food with an international flair at The 41 in Camps Bay. And they have live music every Thursday.
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