In this day and age, it’s getting harder and harder for a restaurant to stand out among the sea of options. But Cape to Cuba in Kalk Bay did it when it opened 24 years ago, and is still a must-stop for travelers looking for a fun-and-funky Cape Town dining and drinking experience, especially if you enjoy mojitos. Cape to Cuba was the first restaurant in South Africa to sell one, say the owners.
Look at all the Eye Candy
In the little fishing village of Kalk Bay, between Muizenberg and Fishoekhas in Cape Town, Cape to Cuba sits at the edge of the ocean and harbour, and offers extraordinary views. But it’s the interior that will soon catch your eye. To call the décor eclectic is an understatement. Imagine an antique shop and a Caribbean beach hut went on a bender and had a love child, and you’ll begin to picture it. Think glass chandeliers and dangling beads, painted wooden tables and swings, religious figurines and vintage posters, Spanish colonial and wicker chairs, tied together by the Latin music pumping to the beat of your excited heart. There are so many odd and head-scratching curiosities, it’s hard to know where to look. One thing you will find, however, is a unique restaurant-cum-cocktail-and-cigar bar-beach-hut and dining experience. Cape to Cuba was established by the Bart van Vuuren and his wife, Deona, in 1999 when a goods shed near Kalk Bay Train Station went up for sale. With a love for Cuba, the duo transformed it into Cape to Cuba, nominated as one of the 100 Coolest Restaurants on the Planet. The restaurant has an outside deck and sandy seating and beach area, a stocked and lively bar, and colorful dining areas where you can nibble from the extensive menu of tapas and bigger meals. The cuisine is a fusion of Cuban, Caribbean and South African tastes, with sharable dishes such as as chilli poppers, cuban breads served with salsa and lime may, seafood platters, and Pescado de Habana, local line fish pan fried in lime butter and topped with mussels and grilled pineapple.They also offer a handful of vegetarian items.
Eclectic décor will keep your eyes busy
To add a dash of adventure (and a few laughs) to the mix, get ready to take part in the restaurant’s well-known tropical treasure hunt that has guest sleuthing for the coveted pineapple. Every time it’s found, the winner gets a free cocktail. Given the amount of bric-a-brac, the prized piña is not easy to spot, which means those of you with competitive nature might need a few cocktails to simmer down and take your time. Hint: if you ask nicely, the friendly staff might give you a clue or two to get you closer to the prize. The pineapple is known to be a symbol of hospitality and friendship, which fits perfectly into the vibe of this convivial slice of Cuba in Cape Town.
Find the pineapple and get a free cocktail
The Mighty Mojito
At the Hemingway Cocktail Bar, named for the famous American writer whose love affair with Cuba and its culture is well-known, you’ll find a conga line of concoctions made with various liquors, including Havana Club, a brand of rum created in Cuba in 1934. But if you’ve come to Cape to Cuba, then you must order their famous Mojito. It’s estimated that more than 8 million (and counting) have been sold. Try the classic Mojito, made with Havana Club three-year old Añejo muddled with lemon slices, pure cane sugar and torn mint leaves, and charged with soda. For something a little spicier, go for the Mango-Chilli Mojito. There’s also a selection of Cuban cigars on the menu. With Afro-Caribbean beats in the background and Cape to Cuba’s monthly live music lineup, you’ll be dancing in the sand with a Mojito in hand by sundown.
Don’t miss the world-famous Mojito at the Hemingway Bar
Book a table now for your next trip to Cape Town. And follow Cape to Cuba’s colorful Instagram page. Cape to Cuba Address: 165 Main Road Kalk Bay, Cape Town, 7990 Phone: +27 21 788 1566 *** BeSeeingYou In: Kalk Bay, Cape Town, South Africa
Good to Know: You could easily spend a full day in Kalk Bay, shopping, dining and taking in the views.
Wow! Factor: The décor is definitely a Cape to Cuba stand out.
Tip: Go with a group of friends or on a date. Author bio: Anke Ferreira Instagram: @anks_ferreira