Vegan-Friendly Restaurants in Cape Town (or, Mainstream with a Touch of Vegan)

by | Oct 18, 2018 | Plant-Based Diet | 4 comments

vegan friendly cape townThis post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure for more info.



I’m sure there were people eating a vegan diet when I was kid, they just weren’t indulging in my neighbourhood.

Or maybe they were just keeping their questionable habits to themselves? You can’t know with that lot.

The cabbage leaf Mike’s Kitchen served their chips in was about as healthy as life got back then.

I heard rumours of a Salad Valley at Spur, but since my parents never took us there I can’t confirm its existence.

Slowly but surely South Africa took tentative steps toward a healthier lifestyle. One that didn’t assume chicken was a vegetable.

Restaurants began featuring vegetarian platters on their menus. The times they were a changin’.

100% Vegan Restaurants in Cape Town

Vegan-Friendly Resataurants Cape Town

Progress has snowballed in recent years. The Mother City now boasts three 100% vegan establishments. Based in the CBD, Plant, Raw & Roxy and Lekker Vegan are all worth finding parking for. 

Sadly, the Hungry Herbivore shut its café doors recently. It’s not all doom and gloom, though. You can still order food from their factory in Milnerton and O’ways Teacafé serves their famous raw cheesecake.

The Omnivores Are Catching On

I love how these vegan and vegan-friendly eateries are sprouting up all over the city. But what’s even more gratifying is seeing how many mainstream restaurants have added a vegan section to their menu. To my mind, this is way more of a win.

These guys could quite easily have squatted on their laurels, secure in the knowledge that South Africa is a nation of enthusiastic meat-eaters. Instead, they’re making a concerted effort to cater to a notoriously picky sector of the market.

I’ll admit it, we’re not an easy bunch to feed. Not because we’re trying to be difficult. We just like to make sure what we’re getting is actually vegan-friendly.

I once ordered tomato soup, which sounds innocent enough, right? And it was, right up until I spooned up the miniature meatballs lurking quietly at the bottom of the bowl.

Evidently, when meat is served in Hobbit-sized bites it doesn’t warrant mentioning on the menu.

The other issue is that people often confuse vegan with gluten-free or sugar-free. We’ll often have conversations like this.

“Is this vegan?”

“No, it’s made with sugar.”

“That’s fine, but does it contain any animal products, like eggs or dairy?”

“Um, it’s definitely gluten-free?”

That’s why we’re picky.

What is a Vegan Diet?

Okay, but exactly what is a vegan diet? In a nutshell, it means no meat, fish, eggs, dairy or honey. If it was an animal or came from an animal, we won’t eat it. 

You may be wondering what we do eat if all of that is off the table? Anything plant-based is the short answer.

If you want to know more about the lifestyle, have a gander at our five-part series: Eating a Plant-Based Diet for Beginners (and Curious Omnivores). If you’d prefer to read it in ebook format, sign up for our newsletter and we’ll send it to you.

It’s got hamsters on the cover and everything.

If rodents aren’t your thing, no problem. Nutriciously’s A to Vegan Guide has everything you need to make a healthy vegan diet work.

Mainstream with a Touch of Vegan

vegan-friendly restaurants

Not everyone knows exactly what vegan is and that’s cool. We get that. Which is why we believe these mainstream restaurants deserve a hat tip for dipping a toe in our hippie pond.

Our roundup aims to showcase the places that are essentially mainstream with a touch of vegan. That way, if your omnivorous friends invite you out for a meal you’ll know if there’s something on the menu for you besides garnish.

If you’re looking for the best vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Cape Town in 2018, The Inside Guide has you covered.

Ultimately, Sporty and I plan is to enjoy a meal at each of them and report back. For now, we’ll simply list them all.

Doppio Zero

What’s on the Menu?

They have a vegan scramble (R64), dairy-free hot oats (R50), a green smoothie (R49), a variety of freshly squeezed juices (R40-R44) and a carob and almond latté (R35). >> Doppio Zero

What We’ve Tried

Sporty had the vegan scramble and loved it so much she sent me a photo.

Dairy-Free Milk

Almond milk = R8

Knead

What’s on the Menu?

They have a veggie burger* (R60) and a bircher muesli bowl soaked in almond milk (R59). >> Knead Bakery

*You need to specify that you’d like a vegan roll and vegan mayo.

What We’ve Tried

The veggie burger is spectacularly delicious and amazing value for money. We’ve eaten it lots, both as a sit-down meal and from Order-in.

*Their take-out packaging is in keeping with our plastic-free mission. Winning.

We’ve also tried the bircher muesli bowl but found it a little dry and underwhelming. We told the manager and he took our feedback onboard. We’ll report back once we’ve tried it again.

Dairy-Free Milk

Soy and sugar-free nut milk* = R10

*If memory serves, it’s Almond Creamery nut milk. I’ll double-check and update accordingly.

Mugg & Bean

What’s on the Menu?

They have avo & rainbow slaw toast (R40) and coconut, carrot and ginger soup (R45) >> Mugg & Bean

What We’ve Tried

We haven’t tried either option, but Sporty saw someone tucking into the rainbow avo toast and says it looks yummy.

Dairy-Free Milk

Soy milk = free
Almond milk = R10*

*It’s not on the menu but Sporty claims it’s R10, if she’s wrong we’ll have her iron her ears.

Col’Cacchio

What’s on the Menu?

They have a veggie wrap (R65), spaghetti and vegballs w/ vegan parmesan (R105), a range of vegan pizzas (R95-R155), some really interesting salads (R70-R90) and a dessert called Amistoso (R60). >> Col’Cacchio

What We’ve Tried

We’ve tried everything vegan they have to offer except for the wrap and the dessert. If we ever manage to get there for a lunchtime date we’ll definitely give the wrap a try, but that dessert seems way to rich for our liking. Also, we’re always too full for sweet stuff after all that vegan pizza.

Dairy-Free Milk

We always drink wine at Col’Caccios, so I have no idea if they serve dairy-free milk. I’m guessing yes, but I’ll check with them and report back. They don’t say on the menu.

El Burro

What’s on the Menu?

Their vegan menu is impressive and includes starters, main and salads. Between the vegan esquites (R55), spicy bean enchilada verde (R90) and grilled aubergine and king oyster mushroom salad. (R85) you’ll be spoilt for choice (and full).  >> El Burro

What We’ve Tried

They’ve upped their vegan offerings considerably since we were last there. So far we’ve only had their vegan cauliflower & chickpea plated taco (R100) and both times it was delicious.

We’re planning to rope some friends into having lunch with us there next weekend. We’ll let you know.

Dairy-Free Milk

There’s no mention of dairy-free milk on the menu (we’ll ask when we go), however they do serve something called Mexican horchata. Rumoured to be a great cure for a hangover, it’s made from rice, almonds, cinnamon, lime zest and sugar and served cold.

Tiger’s Milk

What’s on the Menu?

They have a burger called The Pretender (R89). The patty is made from lentils, beans and nuts and it’s served with avo and vegan mayo. Unfortunately they don’t have vegan buns (or any vegan bread) to serve it on, so technically it’s not a burger. >> Tiger’s Milk

What We’ve Tried

We haven’t tried anything. We got huffy when they told us they didn’t have a vegan bun for the burger. That being said, our waitress did assure us they were in the process of upgrading their vegan offerings. We’ll keep you posted.

Dairy-Free Milk

There’s no mention of dairy-free milk on the menu. We’ll be sure to ask the next time we’re there.

The Royale Eatery

What’s on the Menu?

We love this place. They had vegetarian and vegan burgers on their menu (two whole pages!) way before anyone else even knew there was such a thing.

They also —wait for it— have a whole host of vegan milkshakes to choose from, including banana and peanut butter, espresso and chocolate and peanut butter (R49-R112). OMFW >> The Royale Eatery

What We’ve Tried

We’ve tried most (if not all) of their burgers, but our fave remains the vegan cheeseburger(R94). Served with melted vegan cheddar, caramelized onion and their homemade tomato relish and your choice of sides, this 160g soya mince patty holds together like the real deal.

We haven’t been there in ages or we would have known about their new vegan milkshake selection. We’re going to have to run there and back to work off some of the calories, but it’ll be worth the effort, I’m sure.

Dairy-Free Milk

Who cares, they have craft beer on tap and vegan milkshakes.

Fast Food

Sporty reckons the fast-food outlets deserve a special hat tip for serving up vegan faire. Her reason being that theirs is an even tougher crowd to infiltrate.

She’s not wrong. Junk foodies are purists at heart. They don’t take kindly to hippies force-feeding them spinach. 

With that in mind we’ve lowered the admission standards for them. They don’t have to say ‘vegan’ specifically, but obviously whatever they serve has to be 100% vegan.

My Findings So Far

Steers has a veggie burger with a soya-based patty. Unfortunately, the bun contains eggs. According to this article on Vegan SA, Steers’ relish sauce isn’t vegan and there’s also the issue of grill-sharing to take into account.

McDonald’s also has a veggie burger. According to the ingredients listed on their website it appears to be vegan. Not healthy, but definitely vegan. Their oats, hash brown, and green salad* are all plant-based, too.

*Provided you don’t choose the honey mustard dressing.

Burger King sent a lovely response to my ‘What’s vegan on your menu?’ email. In short, they’ve identified an opportunity for vegetarian options but interest is not yet sufficient to warrant follow-through.

In the meantime, we can at least take solace in their fries, which they assure me are 100% plant-based.

Looking at my findings, I’d say the salad and oats from McDonald’s are your safest options. Would I recommend eating there? No. Would I eat there if that’s all there was? Absolutely.

When I’m hungry things go pear-shaped fast. Ask Sporty.

Healthy Fast Food

When Kauai first opened its doors way back in 1996, South Africans had no idea fast food could be healthy. We’ve since cottoned onto the idea and have become very demanding as a result.

And I do mean very demanding. I recently overheard a Muscle Mary specifying that his egg white omelet be made with Spray ‘n Cook. And no toast, thank you very much.

What even!? In my day okes ate Pronutro.

Kauai

What’s on the Menu?

There’s a fair amount to choose from for us tree-huggers. From salads and smoothies to warm bowls and smashed avo toast, you’re bound to find something to satisfy your hunger.  >> Kauai

What We’ve Tried

Their power oats* (R39) is a favourite of ours. We also like that Kauai gives you the option to remove the chicken from a dish and save R22.

They’re also pretty lenient about ordering food that’s not on the menu. We’ll often ask for two slices of toast and a side of peanut butter. Breakfast of champions, I swear.

*Leave off the honey and add almond milk.

Dairy-Free Milk

Almond milk = R10

Osumo

What’s on the Menu?

Osumo’s website is currently under construction, so I’ll have to work from memory for now. From what I remember they have some nice veggie options and pretty much all of them can be made vegan by leaving the cheese out.  >> Osumo

What We’ve Tried

Their warm bowls and salads are delicious, but by far our favourite favourite item on the menu is their peanut butter toast breakfast platter (R39)

Two slices of toast lavishly served with a bucket of peanut butter, sliced banana and honey (which you tell them to hold) and sprinkled with cinnamon to make the plate look faah-ncy.

This really is a breakfast of champions.

Dairy-Free Milk

Soy milk = R10*
Almond milk = R12*

*Incomplete contrast to our friends at Wellness, Osumo sees fit to punish us for choosing the kind alternative.

Nü Health Food Café

What’s on the Menu?

There are plenty of vegan options on the menu. From waffles and breakfast bowls to wraps, salads, soup and more. They even have vegan coconut ice-cream sandwiches. Their food is really good but I’ve always found it a little overpriced* for what it is.  >>

*Sporty thinks I’m a tightwad, so decide for yourself.

What We’ve Tried

Their LSA Bowl (R78) is really good, as are the veggie heaven wrap (R60) and restorer salad* (R75). We tried the vegan waffles (R49) once and weren’t impressed. To be fair, it’s not the kind of thing we usually enjoy eating. We thought we’d try them because they’re vegan.

*Remember to swap out the honey sesame dressing for something vegan.

Dairy-Free Milk

Soy milk = R8
Almond milk = R10

Wellness Café

What’s on the Menu?

Wraps, salads, toasties, burgers, smoothie bowls and more. Depending on which branch you visit, you’ll find a host of vegan deliciousness on offer. We have yet to try it, but their Middle Eastern burger (R69) looks like business.  >> Wellness Café

What We’ve Tried

We’ve had most of their smoothie bowls* and our firm fave remains the red espresso almond cream (R59). I still have no words. Their superfood smoothie* (R44) is perfect for nourishing yourself on the go.

The pad Thai salad (R49) is listed as vegan but the peanut dressing contains honey. I did let them know, but check before ordering to make sure.

Their wraps (R59) are all pretty decent and do a good job of filling the hole when you’re hungry

*Remember to choose hemp protein and leave off the honey.

Dairy-Free Milk

There is no surcharge for dairy-free milk. You can choose between soy, almond and cow and it’ll cost you the same.

They may be overpriced in-store, but they’ve definitely redeemed themselves in their café.

Not Quite There Yet

I would have loved to add the Woolworths Cafés to this list of vegan-friendly restaurants, but they’re too schwak to warrant a mention.

They have a vegan icon on the menu, but the only thing we could find with said icon next to it was the tomato soup. Which is a little ironic given the dizzying array of vegan and vegetarian options at their disposal.

Perhaps the concept of serving food straight off their in-store shelves is a little too risqué for them. I get it. As marketing ideas go, it is a little out there.

But then, everybody thought Spur was making a colossal mistake when they introduced their Salad Valley and now look. They’re everywhere!

Stay hungry, stay foolish, right?

If you choose to eat at a Woolies Café, that’s pretty much a guarantee.

Minimalism is an all-encompassing lifestyle that extends way beyond decluttering your stuff. Check out Ang’s TEDx Talk, take a look at our About page and grab a free copy of Eating a Plant-Based Diet for Beginners.

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Minimalism is an all-encompassing lifestyle that extends way beyond decluttering your stuff. Check out Ang’s TEDx Talk, take a look at our About page and grab a free copy of Eating a Plant-Based Diet for Beginners.

4 Comments

  1. Lorraine

    This is great! I’m visiting Cape Town in three weeks and the names of these places will be a huge help to aim myself in the right direction:) I visited a few of these places on my last visit – the pizza place (several branches in fact), and also two great vegan places near the top of Long Street but I forget their names now. Anyway, this time I’ll come armed with your list this time and life will be much easier. PS love your blogs – they always give me a touch of Cape Town and South Africa that I miss (as well as the vegan and enviro friendly bit).

    Reply
    • Ang

      Hi Lorraine

      Yay, I’m glad you’ll find the post useful when you visit. We already have more places to add that we discovered this weekend. Cape Town really is becoming more vegan-friendly by the minute. I’m super chuffed to hear you enjoy our posts. Where are you living now? If you have time when you’re here, perhaps we could hook up for a coffee? 🙂

      Reply
  2. Lorraine

    Hi Ang
    I’m living in Sydney but grew up in CT.
    Can’t wait to be there again, and yes, let’s get a coffee😀
    I’ll DM you when I’m there (after 11/11) and we’ll find a time that works if that’s not leaving it a bit late – I’m kind of not good at organising too far in advance, and yes I do drive myself mad over it.

    Reply
    • Ang

      Ha ha ha I totally get not planning too far in advance! DM when you’re here and let’s meet up. 🙂

      Reply

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