Lunch at Idlanathi

Pollsmoor Prison Restaurant 'Idlanathi' serves delicious food for cheap cheap

I had one of my best friends visiting Cape Town; she has been to all the cool spots, so I wanted to surprise her with a special lunch. Destination: Pollsmoor Prison (official name: Pollsmoor Maximum Security Prison) in Tokai, about 25km from Cape Town. Who would have known one could lunch there? 

I guess this is what makes it so exciting. Some of South Africa’s most dangerous criminals are held in Pollsmoor Prison. The inmates, low security prisoners in orange, cook and serve you lunch in the Pollsmoor Prison Restaurant 'Idlanathi' which means 'eat with us'. Well, we didn’t eat with them, but we had our eyes open when we spotted the guys in orange jumpsuits who spend the majority part of their day in the kitchen of the Pollsmoor Recreation Centre.

The official blurb states: "Experience the exquisite thrill to be in the historical vicinity of the legendary and notorious Pollsmoor Prison. Dine in style on local affordable meals and grills, specially prepared by Pollsmoor cooks and chefs. Enjoy the professional catering service for special events."

The menu is compiled by the Pollsmoor Restaurant staff and offers a good selection of sandwiches, fries, grills and traditional meals in the canteen-like restaurant. The ambience is as low-key as you’d expect, but it’s still worth a visit. If you’re feeling brave, ask your waiter what he’s in for.

Cheap, cheap

Breakfast options include a farm-style breakfast, a budget breakfast and a healthy breakfast (R16 - R27). Sandwiches range from cheese and tomato to egg and bacon, as well as beef, chicken and steak (R6 - R19). Mains are surprisingly affordable from a cheese burger and chips/tossed salad for R20, a rib burger and chips/tossed salad for R24 to a steak burger and chips/tossed salad for R26. Find daily specials such as curries, stews, lasagne and more on the blackboard. Other lunch options are seafood and salads. I opted for the yummy deep-fried calamari (R32  for 200g) with chips. My mates had the hake (R33) and the ladies T-bone with chips (R42). The most expensive option on the menu: large pork spareribs with chips for R60.

Interestingly, Nelson Mandela was once an inmate of the prison—so this is an enjoyable way to get closer to history.

by Antonia Heil

Pollsmoor Restaurant Idlanathi
Steenberg Road | Tokai | +27 (0)21 700 1270

Opening hours:
Monday to Sunday 7:45am – 2pm

P.S. No tipping allowed. The Pollsmoor Restaurant Idlanathi also offers catering for functions.

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