Brad Armitage's Cape Town
Brad Armitage is a man with fingers in many pies. The Cape Town entrepreneur has launched coffee shop chains, bars, cafes and a range of artisan beers at home in South Africa and as far afield as Japan, China and California while advising as a concept developer and brand custodian on numerous projects.
I caught up with him by phone recently to pick his brains on his favourite spots in the Mother City that, hopefully, we can all enjoy post lockdown.
“The core of Cape Town is quite small and the stalwart venues have stood the test of time. When the dust settles, post-Covid, I hope these are the ones that’ll still be around.
Ones like Jason Bakery on Bree Street. It’s a great place for morning coffee and a pastry, and on Saturdays, they make more extravagant combos like black forest gateau-inspired creations which are definitely worth queuing up for.
Across the road is a really good little restaurant, Dear Me, which is a great lunch spot. Then there’s Clarkes Diner too which probably makes the best cheeseburger in the city, with bar-counter seating and top people-watching.
Then across from there, you’ve got a hole-in-the-wall place called Max’s Bagels, owned by two guys, one of whom’s an ex wine writer. Two or three nights a week the sign gets turned off and a neon sign gets switched on and it turns into a little garagista wine bar with four of five natural wines, some ciders and a small menu, and it’s always crammed.
If I want a nice meal with my wife, I go to Shortmarket Club, Luke Dale-Robert’s place.
A good spot to end an evening is The Athletic Club and Social on Buitengracht Street. There’s some great live music and jazz in the basement, a proper showcase for African jazz.
Over in Gardens, there’s a fantastic, old-school Cape Town chef called Cheyne Morrisby who’s has opened up a place called Bao Down. It’s a boa joint with a fusion twist, really solid.
If you’re looking for somewhere to stay in town I’d recommend Dorp Hotel in Bo Kaap.
I’m a big surfer so I get out onto the ocean as often as I can. With family, I’ll head to Muizenberg. It’s crowded but for a good reason. Afterwards, you get anything from a gourmet burger at Tiger’s Milk or we go in our wetsuits and sandy feet to Yoffi Falafel.
If I’m going surfing on my own or with mates, I’ll head up the West Coast, anywhere beyond Table View. You’ve got uninterrupted beaches, no crowds, great waves but it’s a bit of a drive.
Favourite Cape Town beach just for hanging out with the family? For me it’s Bakoven because it doesn’t get the crowds, it’s protected and beautiful. It’s the Capetonians’ beach. Oudekraal is another fantastic one – avoid the weekend but during the week it’s awesome.
One thing I’d advise tourists not to do is shark cage diving because, in my opinion, it’s just against the natural order of things. Having said that our waters have been overfished for sharks and they’re ending up on plates as far away as Australia under the name flake. There’s been a lot of longline fishing in those waters where the shark diving was and it’s pretty much killed the cage diving industry. An alternative now is seal snorkelling from Hout Bay.
For a close’ish escape from town I have a few favourite spots around Elgin and Botrivier. My kids are nine and twelve so we’re really getting into the whole camping thing around there, and there’s a spot called Kolkol with a mountain lodge and fynbos pods.
A bit further away I love the seaside town of Arniston for the surfing. You’ve got the Arniston Spa Hotel, which is a top spot, but you can also rent a house, which is what we do. The beaches are phenomenal…you could be in Greece. And the sea temperature is a couple of degrees warmer than you’ll find elsewhere.
Close by you’ve got a nature reserve called De Hoop where you’ve got accommodation options from rondavels to luxury spots. There are wetlands by the coast, it’s a very special area."
(c) Will Hide 2020
Photos: top photo = Brad Armitage; aerial photo = Dan Grinwis; Muizenberg beach huts = Sebastian Canaves; Road sign = Sincerely Media; Ostrich = Zoe Reeve (all Unsplash, except Brad Armitage.)