It’s funny how food can be an art form, and art can feed the soul. Certainly, the two go hand-in-hand in Cape Town, where bars and cafés are bustling and artists and art-lovers are hustling. Here’s six of the city’s eclectic pearls you’ve got to get to
On a First Thursday you can ponder what these legs are saying to you
IF THERE’S ONE EVENING Cape Town’s art-lovers look forward to all month, it’s First Thursdays. Okay, not just art-lovers, such is the buzz created by this fun event. It started in 2012 with art enthusiasts and quickly became a beloved regular on the city’s nightlife calendar.
So here’s the deal: on the first Thursday of every month, art galleries stay open late so that everyone can wander from one to the other enjoying the city’s cultural wealth. Gallery owners make sure they have their best on show for First Thursdays, and smart collectors use this opportunity to keep up to date with Cape Town’s thriving contemporary art scene. For those who like the story behind the art, artists are usually available to discuss their work.
And after all those arty meanderings, a bit of sustenance is in order. Savvy shop owners now keep their doors open, and restaurants and bars pump up the waitron quotient. They’re not the only ones getting in on the buzz: look out for pop-up bars, food trucks and even art trucks.
Johannesburg now has its own First Thursdays too, all happening around Braamfontein and Rosebank. Well done, guys. (Hmmm… some claim Cape Town is called the Mother City because it takes nine months to get anything done, but who thought this one up first, darlings?)
Chandler House on Church Street is a great place to start your meander, but get there early because it’s a tiny treasure trove and owner Michael Chandler is hugely popular. Galleries stay open until at least 9pm and often later. Check out First Thursdays on Facebook for more info, or view the full monthly programme here. Diarise the dates so you don’t forget!
TABLE OF LOVE
Bring on the violins…
ONE OF THE MANY things we love about Cape Town is the Table of Love at central Café Mozart. This little splendour is a help-yourself table of salads and hot food laid out every day at noon on Church Street’s tree-shaded pedestrian walkway.
You help yourself to as much as you want, plus soup, bread and a complimentary glass of house wine, all for the princely sum of R40* per person. Yes, you read that right – R40! We suggest you get there early.
Café Mozart also has full breakfast and lunch menus, a good wine list, and an indoor dining room. On a summer day, sitting at the streetside tables, it feels as if you’re on a sidewalk in Paris. But who needs Paris? With Church Street’s historic antique market under your nose and Greenmarket Square’s joyous African vibe a block down, you have everything you need (Excusez-nous, dearest French friends, if we seem a little complacent).
*Price subject to change
Find Cafe Mozart at 37 Church Street, central Cape Town. Open Monday to Friday: 7am to 4.30pm, Saturday: 8am – 3.30pm. Closed on Sundays. Further info on its website
SPICE UP YOUR LIFE
The Eastern Food Bazaar: fine dining it ain’t, but there’s vibe and spice here in equal measure
IF YOU HAVEN’T YET DISCOVERED Cape Town’s Eastern Food Bazaar and you’re not looking for fine dining, a vibrant treat awaits. Here the whole spice spectrum, from Bombay to Bo-Kaap, is served from 10 different kitchens. Whether you choose from the cuisines of India, Turkey, China or any of the others on offer, the food is delicious and enhanced by a souk-style vibe.
Every member of your party orders from whichever kitchen they fancy. Everyone is catered for, from carnivore to Halaal. That one person who isn’t into spice? There’s pizza for them. Seriously. When you’re all settled into the canteen-style seating you’ll find yourselves admiring each other’s choices and planning what you’re going to order next time… because with these tastes at these prices, there will probably be a next time. (They also do take-away.)
Afterwards there’s a small range of natural ice creams to cool everyone off. Drinks are all soft: this is an alcohol-free establishment!
You’ll find the Eastern Food Bazaar at 96 Longmarket Street, down at the Foreshore end. They’re open Monday to Thursday: 11 am to 10pm, Friday & Saturday: 11am to 10.30pm. Go!
VINTAGE MOVIE NIGHTS
Doesn’t this ticket stall make your heart leap a little?
THE LABIA CINEMA, quite simply, is a Cape Town classic. It’s not so much the movies (arty to mainstream) as the quirk. For a start, there’s the faded 40s glamour of a building that used to operate as a ballroom for the Italian embassy. Then there’s the ever-unchanging ticket lady, Michael Jackson-lookalike usher, popcorn lady and friendly man selling drinks: all faithfully there night after night. On top of which is the laid-back generosity of the place. No-one bats an eyelid if you take in a drink or two to quaff with your film, in fact you could probably get away with importing an entire picnic: the place is far too chilled to trouble about such piffles.
The Labia’s recently extended outside seating offers a buzzy place to drink a glass of wine and pontificate before or after the movie − or eavesdrop on others doing the same. And listen up, anyone looking for a cost-effective date or adventure: on Mondays and Tuesdays, R110 buys you two movie tickets plus two pastas beforehand at nearby Society Bistro. That’s R55 per person for pasta and a movie! Does the arty life get better than this?
And fear not, while The Labia has retained its historic ambience, recent crowd funding by devotees helped it go digital so you’re not missing out on superior picture and sound quality. You can also now book tickets through Webtickets to ensure your seat. Check out the programme online and book something now: everyone should go to the Labia at least once in their life, and when you do, it’ll probably hook you in for life.
PS Yes, we know that visitors raise an eyebrow at the cinema’s rather… unusual… name. Just to put your mind at rest, it was opened as a theatre in 1949 by one Princess Labia.
Labia Theatre: 68 Orange Street, Gardens, Cape Town (next door but one to the Mount Nelson hotel). Check out its website for movie times, tickets and special offers: www.thelabia.co.za or call 021 424 5927
Enjoy a cinematic experience unlike any other in Cape Town
DISCREET CHARM OF THE TEA LEAF
Tea is making a comeback at Lady Bonin’s Tea Bar in Cape Town
OKAY PEOPLE, it’s time to revisit tea. Forget your old teabag routine! Lady Bonin’s Tea Bar is about to reprogramme you.
Positioned in Cape Town’s busy Long Street, Lady Bonin’s claims to be South Africa’s first takeaway tea bar (who even knew such a thing existed?). And this terribly refined little set-up bears stark testimony to the fact that what you get in your average daily teabag is rather near the bottom of the plantation pile.
Proudly ‘curated’ (oh yes) in Lady Bonin’s confines are various strains of loose-leaf tea calculated to please even the most particular of tannin devotees. Currently there are 45 of the seductively packaged darlings, all purporting to be fair-trade, ethically produced, organic and many of them local (hooray). Buy your leaves dry, or get them brewed to take away or savour in Lady Bonin’s courtyard. Those prepared to compromise on their tea ethics may find less traditional pleasures in tea lattes, iced-tea slushies and even a ‘rooibos choc chilli chai’. Shocking.
If you’ve 30 minutes to spare, there’s a three-tea tasting offered in which you may care to indulge. Should you seek a civilised hour with friends, consider cosseting yourselves with a ‘tea pairing’: three teas accompanied by sweet, tea-infused thingamajigs. Yes, that sounds like an awful lot of tea at one go and it’s not exactly cheap. But we’re keen, darlings.
The Tea Bar, 214 Long Street, Cape Town, 021 447 1741, Open Mon to Fri 8am-4pm, Sat 9am-2pm, Closed on Sundays, www.ladyboninstea.com
Two less traditional, takeaway options from Lady Bonin’s
ORGANICS WITHOUT THE SCHLEP
Fresh produce free of chemical nasties, delivered directly to your table (or close by)
LIVING IN CAPE TOWN AND KEEN FOR ORGANICS but exhausted by the prospect of tracking them down? Ask Farmer Brian to bring fresh, local organics directly to your door – or somewhere close. Ok, so it might not be Brian himself scattering organic offerings around the suburbs every time, but you will be getting fresh produce from a group of independent, local farmers and artisanal food producers in Cape Town who love what they do and have committed to eco-friendly practices. No pesticides, herbicides, GMOs, etc, and all livestock are treated ethically and humanely. Or so they say, and we actually believe them.
Request (by email or Whatsapp) freshly picked seasonal fruit and vegetables, free range eggs, organic hummus and sprouts, free range lamb and more each week. All produce is harvested directly from farms (most of it from Brian’s own farms in Lentegeur and Stellenbosch), and delivered within 24-36 hours to various collection points. Or, for a smallish fee, right to your door.