Tonight, leaving work late and twitching like an experimental drug candidate, as a result of both tiredness and hunger, all I wanted was a meal that did not involve deep-frying or microwaves. While I acknowledge that the convenience of Engen stores and 24-hour Woolworths has been a saving grace to me in the dead of night (or on occasions when I just can’t walk the line), there comes a time when you need a meal that’s prepared on request. At the point of shameless determination, when I was driving all over the city in the hope of even a back-alley Chicken Licken, it dawned on me just how difficult it is to navigate nocturnal Cape Town.
Late at night it seems doors are closing on the desperately starving and, more often, the insatiably thirsty.
So for the hungry – but not hungry enough for street-served delights …
After ten-thirty PM, when even Mr. Delivery is a harsh memory, and the universe seems to consist entirely of MacDonalds’ drive-through – there are still stop-through options.
Buena Vista, on Somerset Road, Greenpoint, is Cape Town’s heart of Cuba – A great selection of cocktails, cigars and Cuban beers, as well as a kitchen that stays open ‘til midnight, serving food crave-worthy anytime of day.
Mr. Pickwicks’, Long Street, is a place I’ve honestly never seen closed. They have a varied menu and the food is decent (better-than, in the awry hours). Warning label, however – in Pickwicks’ they aren’t in any hurry and expect that you aren’t either. The real secret to their success?, From peanut butter bar to blueberry cheesecake and oreo – there milkshakes are a mouthful of as good as it gets.
Café` Sofia, Claremont, Gardens and Greenpoint, are also open pretty late. These licensed cafés, open ‘til 1AM at least, are great options along the long and winding road home.
If you’ve passed the ten-thirty mark and are still lusting after a good pizza – hit up Rafiki’s – they’ll even do it take-away. The pizza is great, and the unwinding reggae and friendly, fermenting crowd make this a difficult place to leave.
Four years in, I finally figured out where the good people of Cape Town throw down on a Sunday. Sure, La Med is great during Summer, but what about the rest of the year? For that there is Caprice. Set in Camps Bay, where the people are as beautiful as the beach and bank accounts need be as endless as the horizon, Caprice is one of the few places abuzz on a Sunday evening and gets, surprisingly, riotous.
For those troopers that find themselves on the pumpkin-side of the stroke of midnight, but sill in it to win it, there’s also Rick’s and Babbo’s. Babbo’s , so wisely embedded between Claremont’s nightclub clusters, has a pizza oven, a dessert menu and a ridiculously reasonably-priced range from the bar, while Rick's is Casablanca bar and bistro, based in Cape Town. where the food, drinks and service are incredible later into the night.
Finally, a closing recommendation to those serious about their good time – when missing the liquor store throws a spanner in, Harley’s Liquors on Buitengracht is open ‘til ten, while the Superette at the top of Upper Kloof Street, open ‘til 11PM, provides a great wine selection all week through.
Some light shed on nocturnal life – now go and spread the good news☺