Forget Paris—I’m lobbying for Cape Town to be crowned the City of Love. Even the most mundane evening gains some serious romantic cachet against the stunning mountain-meets-ocean natural backdrop here. While you could have a memorable drive to a gas station in the shadow of Table Mountain, some occasions require more planning. If you’re looking for the perfect date-night venue, here are five favorites. You can’t go wrong with any of them, whether you’re celebrating an anniversary, popping the question or just escaping the kids for some much-needed alone time.
1. White Room
Chef Vanessa Marx is one of the most exciting young talents on South Africa’s culinary scene, celebrated for her seasonal menus at the brasserie Dear Me. But what’s not quite as well known is the unique space she oversees upstairs from Dear Me. The White Room comes to life for dinner on Thursday and Friday evenings, when diners choose from five- or eight-course tasting menus in a sleek room lit with glittering chandeliers.
2. 5 Rooms
If the Cape Winelands are feeling a bit of a trek, the Constantia wine region is the perfect alternative—and it’s just 20 minutes from the center of town. The Alphen, in the heart of the valley, is a landmark hotel, and the location of its signature restaurant 5 Rooms is sublime: Nestled amid lush grounds, the 18th–century manor house is a cozy Old World–style retreat. Plush velvet seats and crackling fireplaces in each of the five rooms make for a romantic setting.
Nothing says love quite like giving up your food. This hip tapas joint encouraging sharing with reasonably priced small plates like fondue with chorizo and crostini, and grilled tiger prawns wrapped in pancetta. The location on Long Street, the city’s nightlife hub, means you can keep the night going at one of the dozens of bars nearby.
4. La Mouette
An elaborate six-course tasting menu for less than $30 each? Not only is it possible, it’s absolutely delicious at the beloved Sea Point eatery La Mouette. Chef Henry Vigar puts unusual twists on simple dishes, such as celery panna cotta dressed with hazelnut crumble; or peas, ham and eggs in the form of glazed pork belly, lomo, peas, Parmesan cream and egg yolk emulsion. The rambling old mansion has plenty of quiet fireside nooks for private moments. Insider tip: During the cold winter months of June and July, the tasting menu goes down to less than $20 per person—easily the best value in town.
Carnivorous canoodlers, this one’s for you: This industrial-chic restaurant serves Cape Town’s best steaks in a see-and-be-seen kind of atmosphere. The waiters will bring out slabs laden with exquisite cuts of meat for you to choose from (myriad beef options alongside lamb, ostrich, and even kudu or wildebeest), and the chefs then cook everything perfectly on the grill. If you’re looking for a little more intimacy, owner Giorgio Nava, a Cape Town culinary icon, recently opened an outpost on Kloof Street with great steaks and a lower-key vibe.