Cape Town After Dark: Where to Eat, Drink And Shop

Cape Town after dark is when the Mother City truly comes alive. It offers visitors an exciting variety of renowned restaurants, trendy rooftops bars, unique eateries, cool hangouts spots and incredible places to shop. Cape Town’s nightlife has something for everyone to enjoy.

Besides spectacular day-time beauty, scenic sights and thrilling adventures, visitors can therefore expect to enjoy an incredible night out on the town when travelling to the Mother City. Here is our guide to exploring Cape Town after dark and where you should eat drink and shop.

Cape Town after dark

Cape Town After Dark: Where to eat

1. Belly of the Beast


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Belly of the Beast is one of the top restaurants in Cape Town for local foodies and avid food lovers from around the world. This foodie hotspot is all about pushing the boundaries of creativity when it comes to its unique culinary creations. It’s an online-bookings-only fine-dining restaurant headed up by Chef Neil Swart and is co-owned by Anouchka Horn.

In his pursuit of unhindered culinary creativity, Chef Neil Swart has created a culinary Cape Town gem that boasts bold in-depth flavours served in a more personal dining atmosphere. This industrio-mod eatery only caters for a maximum of 20 guests per service, and offers a more personalized, unique and intimate dining experience. There are no menu options or set number of courses at this Harrington Street restaurant, all you do is show up and trust these culinary masterminds to satisfy you with their seasonal fair.

2. The Commissary


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The Commissary is a no-fuss casual eatery and is nothing like you’ve seen before, but everything you never knew you needed in a Cape Town restaurant. Welcomed by a graffitied hallway and greeted with a laid-back atmosphere, communal tables, multi-coloured lights and splashes of spray paint, this culinary gem encourages you to let your hair down and have the absolute best time.

It’s one of the best places to eat in Cape Town if you’re looking to enjoy a fun and exciting night out. The food is every bit as bold and fierce as the décor. It boasts a small, yet interesting menu jam-packed with casual, flavour-packed plates, inspiring combinations and ‘moreish’ menu options. At the Commissary sharing is caring and their sharing plates make it easy to enjoy a fun date night or amazing night with friends. There are no reservations and people are seated on a first-come, first-served basis at the commissary.

3. The Test Kitchen


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The Test Kitchen has established itself as a world class culinary contender and a sought-after Cape Town dining experience. Ranked 22nd in the World’s Best Restaurant Awards in 2016 and named ‘Best Restaurant in Africa’ at The World’s Best Restaurant Awards, the iconic Test Kitchen is undoubtedly one of the best places to eat and drink in Cape Town. Located in the trendy neighbourhood of Woodstock, the Old Biscuit Mill to be exact. 

The restaurant is bold, contemporary and experimental and not afraid to push the boundaries when it comes to its unique culinary creations. Starting your culinary adventure in the Dark Room, boasting an array of inventive globally inspired tapas, only to finish it in the Light Room where beautifully plated mains are served. With world-renowned Lake Dale Roberts leading the charge, guests to the Test Kitchen are in for one incredible Cape Town culinary experience.

4. Riverine Rabbit


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Located in Cape Town’s trendy Church Street, Riverine Rabbit is centered around the importance of sustainability and conscious cooking. The restaurant prides itself on using locally sourced, seasonal ingredients to create their culinary masterpieces. Guests can enjoy their exquisite selection of hand-crafted menu items in one of three ways: select from a short three-course offering, a five-course reduced tasting menu, or go all the way with a carefully curated seven-course tasting menu. They also offer a sensational Chef’s Table Experience that takes place in the heart and soul of it all, the kitchen.

5. The V&A Waterfront


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The V&A Waterfront is a vibrant and lively hub of art, adventure, shopping and exciting foodie hotspots. The fun has been known to go on long after dark.  Boasting a great selection of fine dining restaurants, delis, cafes and casual dining eateries for all budgets and palates, there is something for everyone to savour and enjoy. Not to mention the fact that every meal, craft beer, coffee or cocktail can be enjoyed while marvelling at the spectacular view of Table Mountain, the vibrant harbour and beyond.

Cape Town After Dark: Where to drink

1. Piano Bar


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Boasting a selection of live funk, soul, blues and jazz every night of the week, you better know you’re in for quite a live music treat when visiting this renowned Cape Town venue. Inspired by the swanky Jazz joints of New York City, the Piano Bar has established itself as one of the most sough-after music experiences and grooviest hotspots in the Mother City. In addition to being one of the hippest live music spots in Cape Town, the Piano Bar is also known for their cool atmosphere and top-quality food and drinks. All of which can be enjoyed to the soulful sounds of exceptional live music acts and a spectacular view of the Mother City.

2. The Gin Bar


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If you consider yourself to be a gin lover at heart, the Gin Bar is undoubtedly the perfect place for you to enjoy a drink in Cape Town after dark. Gin has become somewhat of a culture in Cape Town with the Mother City’s gin scene exploding in recent years. Known as one of Cape Town’s coolest hidden gems and hippest hangouts all in one, the Gin was one of the first bars in the Mother City to dedicate itself to all things gin.

It is also one of the country’s only true speak-easy bars. Fondly known by some locals as the ‘secret’ Gin bar, mainly due to its hush-hush, unmarked location hidden behind Honest Chocolate and nestled in a Mediterranean-style secret courtyard, it has undoubtedly established itself as one of the best places to enjoy a drink in Cape Town. The menu is concise and definitely favours quality over quantity. The bar has cleverly named their classic five cocktails the Head, Heart, Hope, Soul and Ambition, all intended to provide their drinker with as much needed healing for whatever may ail them.

3. Cause Effect Cocktail Kitchen


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The Cause Effect Cocktail Kitchen is most definitely a spacious-on-the-inside, but blink-and-you’ll-miss-it from the outside kind of place. Thus, it’s important to keep your eyes open for this cool Cape Town drinks spot. As you step foot inside, you’ll be met with moody lighting, rustic wooden finishes and a greenery wall, all there to add to the urban, organically pared down space.

The most striking feature is definitely the bartenders, all dressed in scientist’s coats, shaking and smoking up a few interesting and equally alluring concoctions. In addition to its cool interiors and captivating vibe, Cause and Effect has established itself as a leading contender in the Cape Town bar scene. It’s undoubtedly known as one of the best cocktail hotspots in the city. When it boils down to the drinks, Cause Effect is the closest thing to a New York Apothèke Cocktail Bar you’ll find in the Mother City. While they have a variety of Craft Beers and wine on offer, it really is the cocktails that keep people coming back for more.

4. The House of Machines


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The House of Machines is another Cape Town live music hotspot that has fast become a fan-favourite nightlife spot for locals and travellers alike. Besides being one of the best live music venues in the Mother City, its therefore considered one of Cape Town’s trendiest hangouts too. The fact that it has sister venues in both LA and Niseko further highlights just how cool this Cape Town inner-city hangout really is. Besides its epic live-music line-up, trendy surroundings and vibrant atmosphere, this trend-setting Cape Town venue is also celebrated for their amazing craft beer, cool cocktails and local wine selection.

5. Hanks Olde Irish Whiskey Bar


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Hanks is one of Cape Town’s leading whiskey bars welcoming whiskey lovers from all walk of life. With its uber cool blend of Tom Waits quirkiness, old English pub character, historical stone walls, long mahogany bar and moody golden lighting, Hank’s is sure to create just the right mood for an unforgettable whiskey experience.

Located in both the inner city’s trendy Bree Street and Stellenbosch, Hank’s boasts an extensive whiskey selection from around the world. In addition to world-class whiskey, you can find a usual array of Scotch, Irish and Japanese whiskies, bourbons and blends. Apart from being a world-class whiskey wonder, Hank’s has pretty much any drink you can imagine thereby ensuring there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Cape Town After Dark: Where to shop

1. The V&A Waterfront


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Located in the heart of Cape Town, the V&A Waterfront is a vibrant hub of hustle and bustle. Filled with so much to do and see it’s no surprise that it has become one of Cape Town’s top attractions. With the beautiful harbour front views of Table Mountain and beyond, the V&A Waterfront is also home to a variety of exciting experiences, incredible attractions, a vibrant restaurant and culinary scene as well as a thriving shopping and retail district.

Boasting more than 450 South African and international stores selling everything from fashion, jewellery and homeware to leather goods and groceries, The Victoria Wharf Shopping Centre offers guests the ultimate Cape Town shopping experience. It truly has something of everything, thereby making it the ultimate retail hub for anyone visiting Cape Town.

2. The Bay Harbour Market


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Open until 9pm on a Friday night, the Bay Harbour Market offers visitors an authentic by night shopping experience in Cape Town. Widely known as the most vibrant market in Cape Town, the Bay Harbour Market located in Hout Bay has a certain magical charm and lively energy that’s hard to resist. From delicious things to eat, cool beats and a variety of arts, crafts, décor and everything in between, the Bay Harbour Market has something for everyone to enjoy.

3. Canal Walk Shopping Centre


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Home to over 400 retail stores, Canal Walk Shopping Centre located in Century is open from 9am to 9pm daily. Therefore, making it the perfect shopping centre for a Cape Town by night shopping experience.

4. I Love Big Bay Market


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A food and craft market along the Big Bay beachfront, the I Love Big Bay Market boasts a variety of food trucks and stalls for visitors to enjoy. Open from 4pm – 9pm on the last Wednesday of the month, this cool Cape Town market is home to over 30 craft and clothing vendors and a range of indulgent food stalls. Thereby making it one of the best places to eat, drink and shop in Cape Town by night.

Exploring Cape Town after dark is both a fun and exciting experience. And these top places to eat, drink and shop in Cape Town will ensure your night out exploring one of the most beautiful and exciting cities in the world is one you won’t soon forget.

What are your top picks for the best nightlife hotspots? Share your thoughts below and let us know. If you’re looking for places to stay or things to do in Cape Town, please let us know. We offer a wide range of places to stay and tour activities at the best prices. Contact us today and let us help you plan the perfect holiday that allows you to discover the best nightlife destinations and everything else the city has to offer.

About The Author: Bianca Bunge

I am a Cape Town based Travel Blogger & aspiring writer. Travelling is the ULTIMATE joy, it allows us to lose ourselves & find ourselves all at the same time, is there anything better than that? PURE BLISS!! And being a Travel Blogger allows me to share my love of travelling, especially my LOVE of Cape Town, with all of you. The Mother City truly did steal my heart, and perhaps she'll steal yours too! I also love the ocean, going on adventures & wine, I REALLY love wine! Join me on my mission to discover EVERY little bit of Cape Town, and what a glorious adventure it will be!
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