South Africa

Like a Local in Cape Town, South Africa

Words Amy Rankin

Photos Amy Rankin

February 2016 from issue 40

Tags: cool neighbourhood, cycling, like a local

Like a Local in Cape Town, South Africa

Attracted by its thriving bar, cafe and restaurant scene, food and wine writer Amy Rankin moved to Sea Point five years ago. Since then, this district overlooking the Atlantic Ocean has found its way into her heart (and stomach).

With almost every corner offering gluten-free pizzas and boutique-roasted soy lattes next to Chinese R5 stores and sushi take-away spots, Sea Point can only be described as a melting pot. This vibrant seaside suburb of Cape Town, the 2014 World Design Capital, seldom gives residents a reason to leave since we have everything we need right here, in a neat nucleus I like to call home.

It is also one of the best areas in Cape Town in terms of weather – a large mountain protects us from most of the dreadful south-easter winds that rapidly clear bikini-clad bodies from Camps Bay Beach around the corner. It is also a haven for cyclists, runners and outdoor enthusiasts because of the beautiful promenade running the length of the suburb.

I stay on Regent Road, a fork off Main Road, running parallel to Beach Road and the promenade. I’m one block up from the beach and Queens surf spot, where the likes of Jordy Smith have tackled waves dangerously close to jagged rocks and forests of wine-red floating kelp. That’s just one of the many sights to enjoy during a walk or run on the promenade.

My husband and I often hire bicycles from a spot near the landmark Sea Point Swimming Pool and cycle from our apartment building to the V&A Waterfront taking in our gorgeous and amusing surroundings.

Bleached-haired skateboarders weave their way through Jewish grannies walking poodles in prams, while shirtless muscle maniacs do pull-ups at the public outdoor gym and lovers picnic under trees that grow away from the sea, towards the mountain.

I love watching paragliders land after soaring above our towering apartment blocks, envying the views they must have, but too nervous to try it for myself.

Stand-up paddle boarders and kayakers glide by on the sea while tuksies (our taxi tuktuks) buzz around Beach Road picking up and dropping off German tourists, Scandinavian models and locals like me when I’ve had one too many toots.

Further down the promenade we have putt-putt courses, ice-cream shops, cafes spilling out onto streets and South Africa’s oldest lighthouse, to whose foghorn no one ever becomes acclimatised.

I’ve lived here for five years now and the landscape is an ever-changing collection of restaurants, bars, coffee shops and delis. Some stalwarts have survived the test of time: Winchester Mansions, a boutique hotel in an old Cape Dutch-style building, famous for its lengthy Sunday brunches with live jazz; and La Perla restaurant, whose penguin-esque waiters have served the likes of Elvis Presley (or so they say).

La Boheme Wine Bar & Bistro, with more than 60 wines by the glass and a pork belly so drool-inducingly juicy it’s hard to stay away, is a regular hangout, and has been ever since I moved here. The same owners opened a craft beer and burger bar a few metres down the road called Engruna Eatery, offering a good variety of local boutique bevvies. They serve great pizza too, but if it’s a slice you want, Ristorante Posticino is the authentic Italian gem of the area. For French-inspired fine dining, chef Henry Vigar’s La Mouette has a courtyard for summer luncheons, fireplaces for cosy, wintery dinners and monthly tasting menus that are as affordable as they are fantastic.

The Duchess of Wisbeach, named after the road on which it is situated, has a quirky bar and a mussel pot to die for. It’s also the hangout of local architects, designers and creatives and a great spot to grab a glass of wine after work and get an eye-candy fix.

With all the regular wining and dining that goes on, I’ve developed a bit of a coffee addiction, and now can’t start the next day without a good cuppa. Luckily for me, a new coffee roastery and eatery called Bootlegger Coffee Company opened in December where the baristas make great flat whites. I have another faithful spot called Mischu. It brews a signature blend that earned the title ‘best cappuccino in Cape Town’, and only its grande lattes can bring me back from the dead after a late night. Another new addition to Regent Road is Knead Bakery, a hot breakfast spot and great place to pick up steaming, fresh kitke (traditional Jewish bread rolls), gluten-free bread and croissants. These go down amazingly with some smoked snoek (pike) pâté from the new Luckyfish & Chips takeaway across the road. Make a picnic out of it and head to the grass lawns next to the promenade to enjoy the sunset and, if the moon is full, watch as Lion’s Head comes alight like a Christmas tree at night, thanks to all the hikers climbing up Table Mountain’s little brother.

Sea Point is my bustling little haven that connects me to the greater creative city of Cape Town, and between the beach, the food and the vibrancy of life, there’s no place I’d rather be.

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