Originally published in Cape Etc magazine
It’s been five years since Plant first opened its doors, offering Capetonian vegans and those with food allergies a dining experience that caters to their dietary needs without sacrificing taste. Everything served here is 100% plant-based and preservative-free, and they even make their own dairy-free cheese, egg-free mayonnaise and smoked tempeh ‘bacon’. Options are diverse, from the more obvious – rice paper rolls, salad bowls and vegan burgers – to specialities like bobotie, summer tacos and ‘dirty mac and cheese’.
8 Buiten Street (cnr Loop Street), CBD
2. Nourish’d Café and Juicery
Sipping on a smoothie at Nourish’d feels like you’ve taken a quick trip to a tropical island and have popped into the corner cafe to use the WIFi before hitting the beach. Owner Natasha Napoli believes that true health comes from harmony with nature, so Nourish’d is a celebration of local, seasonal and mostly organic produce. The menu offers a large and colourful selection of juices, smoothies, acai bowls and light meals, all served in highly Instagram-able fashion. Bonus ethical points: drinks come with glass straws, and takeaways are served in glass jars for a small deposit – no single-use plastic here.
177 Kloof Street, Gardens
186 Lower Main Road, Observatory
3. Pure Elixir
The clue is in the name here – Pure Elixir provides on-the-go Bree Streeters with raw, cold-pressed juices, superfood smoothies and almond-milk cappuccinos. Need something more substantial? Pop in for lunch for a regularly changing menu featuring vegan soup, curry, rotis and sweet treats. It’s a cosy hole-in-the-wall nook, with raw, wood finishes and a few tables spilling on to the pavement.
120 Bree Street, CBD
4. Lekker Vegan
‘Vegan gourmet junk food’ is what this establishment claims to offer, and by golly they’ve got it right. Bring along your non-vegan friends to prove to them that animal-friendly eating doesn’t have to be a boring or sanctimonious experience. The menu offers crispy or spicy vegan burgers, sandwiches, and that Cape Town favourite, the gatsby – a groaning, saucy, foot-long sub with the (vegan) works. Under ‘snacks’ you’ll find more Cape classics (chip roll, anyone?) and the evolving dessert menu includes vegan soft serve, apple crumble and cheescake. Even better? On Friday and Saturday nights, Lekker Vegan stays open until 3 am – post-party junk food just got a whole lot more ethical. Oh and they’re available through UberEats too, if you need something the morning after the night before.
37 Barrack Street (cnr Harrington and Barrack streets), Zonnebloem
5. Raw and Roxy
One of Cape Town’s OG vegan havens, Raw and Roxy has relocated to new premises but continues to serve up some of the best raw cuisine in the city. Devotees worship at the altar of owner Beatrice Holst’s zucchini and nut-cheese lasagne, but if you’re new to the whole raw idea, we recommend the tapas platter for one, which will introduce you to a variety of the restaurant’s most popular dishes. After that, a serving of raw cookie dough, cheesecake or ‘magnum’ ice cream should seal the deal. And if you’d like to learn how to do it all yourself, Raw and Roxy runs regular ‘un-cooking’ classes.
38 Hout Street (cnr of Hout and Burg streets), CBD
6. Spirit Café
Vegans in the southern suburbs are well served by Spirit Cafe, where the philosophy is ‘fall in love with vegetables, but make sure you eat cake’. And who could argue with that? Lunch here is a communal, buffet affair, where you can pile your plate with a selection of mains and hearty salads (this is supplemented by a small a la carte menu for breakfast and in-between times). There’s the usual complement of smoothies, juices and coffee (with soy, almond and coconut milk options), plus a selection of local Lady Bonin tea. A second branch opened last year on Dunkley Square in the CBD, so town folk can get their Spirit fix too.
Shop 10A, Constantia Village, Constantia
26 Dunkley Square, Gardens
7. Scheckter’s Raw Gourmet Health Food
You’ve heard of his organic energy drink, now visit the next step in former racing driver Toby Scheckter’s plan to change the world, one nourishing meal at a time. Inspired by the health-food scene in New York, he’s put together a dining offering that tastes as good as it looks (and is as good for you). You can’t beat a brunch of organic matcha flapjacks topped with strawberries, banana and whipped coconut-milk cream, paired with a juice or raw, organic smoothie. Meals include everything from superfood bowls to a vegan burger or Thai red curry (preferably with a vegan Snickers or Twix for afters). Want to take your health journey to the next level? Order a one-, three- or five-day, cold-pressed juice cleanse.
98 Regent Road, Sea Point
8. The Hungry Herbivore
Four years ago, a humble stall began popping up at Cape Town markets, offering ‘clean, honest comfort food’. Fast-forward to today and not only is The Hungry Herbivore a staple on the market scene, it’s also a fully fledged restaurant with products that retail nationally. What hasn’t changed is owners Amy Scott and Brent Borman’s commitment to delicious food that just happens to be 100% vegan too. Their offering is comprehensive, offering the full gamut of appetisers, salads, bowls, wraps, burgers and even pizza.
11 Orphan Street, CBD
9. Vegan high tea at The Twelve Apostles
‘Tea by the sea’ at The Twelve Apostles, with its panoramic views of the Atlantic, is a Cape Town tradition. As of 2018, vegans can participate too. The vegan-friendly, three-tiered feast includes delicious savoury sandwiches and mini wraps (think roast seasonal veg and fried aubergine with dukha), plus vegan scones and sweet treats that are so melt-in-your-mouth, you’ll start to suspect they’re made with real butter (it’s coconut cream). Soy and almond milk are available for your accompanying cuppa, or opt for one of the loose-leaf teas. The icing on the cake is that The Leopard Bar is pet-friendly, so you and your pooch can enjoy those incredible views together.
The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa, Victoria Road, Camps Bay
10. Green & Vegan
A pop-up vegan dinner party experience? Why didn’t we think of that first? Karen and Patrick Fletcher have been vegans since 2012, and began hosting intimate four-course dinners in their Green Point home last year. Intrepid travellers, they’re currently barging along Europe’s canals, learning more culinary techniques to bring to their plant-based table. The pop-up dinners will resume in October, at which point you can book your table through Quicket.
Clydebank Road, Green Point