Cape Town Chow Down

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A hint of a sea breeze fills the air. The sky is a deep blue. From where I’m sitting I can see Table Mountain looming overhead. The waiter casually walks in and places my food in front of me. I look down, and I know I’m in for an exciting new culinary experience.

South African barbecue, or braai

South African barbecue, or braai

I’m at Arnold’s restaurant on popular Kloof Street in Cape Town, South Africa. It’s conveniently located near Mount Nelson Hotel, where Backroads meets guests before our South Africa & Botswana Multisport adventure. This well-known restaurant is frequented by both locals and visitors from around the world. The reason? That’s simple–its food! The menu at Arnold’s is filled with delicious dishes unique to the African continent.

Vegetarians, be warned: this place is meant for meat-eaters. It’s no surprise, as South Africans are unabashedly carnivorous–they even have their own word for barbecue, which they call braai. It’s not unusual when you’re visiting South Africa to be invited to a braai, where sausage and other meats are paired with beer.

Here at Arnold’s, things are a little more civilized than at a standard braai, yet the cozy atmosphere evokes a similar homey feeling. When you walk into the restaurant, you’ll be greeted by warm earthy tones and a well-dressed but casual waitstaff. If it’s a fine Cape Town day, I recommend sitting on the patio. Arnold’s is nestled on Kloof Street, which also has many other delicious restaurants and is worth the walk when you’re next in Cape Town.

Warthog in South Africa

Hakuna Matada!

Although there are many options on the menu, I’ve been dreaming about one in particular: the game platter. The dish comes highly recommended by my co-leader Drew, who’s lived all over Africa and eaten at Arnold’s before. Celebrating the end of a great trip with amazing guests, we also opt for a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon from the nearby wine region of Stellenbosch.

Kudu in South Africa

Kudu you think you are?

The game platter consists of a choice of three game meats. I love ostrich, so I make sure to get that, but I also want to try something new. So based on Drew’s recommendation, I order the warthog ribs. For my last choice I opt for the kudu loin. Kudu meat, from a large African antelope, is generally regarded as the best meat in Southern Africa. You may wonder where all this meat comes from. Game farms have become quite popular in South Africa and they raise kudu, gemsbok, impala, springbok, warthog and more.

Ostriches in South Africa

Ostriches ponder swimming since they can’t fly

The food is spectacular. South Africans know their meat! The ostrich in particular is wonderful. If you haven’t had it, ostrich is like a lean yet tender beef. Kudu is even leaner and thus requires a little less time on the grill. Again, it’s like beef but with a stronger, though not gamey, flavor. But the best by far is the warthog ribs. The name alone would turn off all but the most adventurous, but they’re fantastic–go on, give it a go! The wine is well selected by our waiter, and by the end of the meal we are very satisfied and extremely satiated. Sadly, even though we’d burned all those calories leading the trip, neither of us could find room for dessert. Maybe next time!

If you find yourself in Cape Town before or after our Backroads trip, make sure to stop over at Arnold’s and try something new. Otherwise, take a walk up and down Kloof Street and check out the following tasty options, which I highly recommend:

 

Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town, South Africa

Arnold’s on Kloof – See above. 60 Kloof Street. Monday – Friday, 6:45 a.m. – late. Saturday & Sunday 8 a.m. – late.

DaVinci’s – Pizza artists. 72 Kloof Street. Daily 11:30 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.

Melissa’s – Treat yourself to a gourmet coffee and snack or meal. 94 Kloof Street. Monday – Friday 7 a.m. – 7 p.m., Saturday 8:00 a.m. – 7 p.m., Sunday 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Knead Bakery - Big wood fired oven, lovely open air seating. 50 Kloof Street. Monday 7 a.m. – 6 p.m., Tuesday – Saturday 7 a.m. – 11 p.m., Sunday 7:30 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Hudson’s The Burger Joint - Better burgers for your belly. 69A Kloof Street. Monday – Sunday 12 p.m. – 11 p.m.

 

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Travis Steffens

Travis Steffens

A Backroads Trip Leader since 2005, Travis has led more than 50 trips around the world. With his guests, Travis has danced like an ostrich in Southern Africa, cycled the winding red roads of Prince Edward Island, hiked the glacier-clad mountains of the Canadian Rockies and so much more. In addition to his unquenchable thirst for travel, Travis also has a strong passion for wildlife and conservation. He holds a bachelors and masters in primatology from the University of Calgary, and is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto. While living and working in Belize, studying black howler monkeys, Travis earned the nickname “monkey-boy.” Recently, he spent three years in Madagascar studying the endangered lemur species. Travis is the director of Planet Madagascar, a conservation, education and community development project, and he loves to share his adventures through writing and photography. Follow his work: www.thetravellingprimate.com and www.planetmadagascar.com.
Travis Steffens

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