Cape Town

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Local Experts: Cape Town, Sarah Khan

By Local Expert Sarah Khan

Best Budget Restaurants in Cape Town

With the depreciating state of South Africa’s rand currency these days, you could be forgiven for thinking that every meal in Cape Town is a bargain—in fact, you can eat a fancy, world-class meal for less than $50 a person, and the fabulous selection of local wines is just as easy on the wallet. But if I’m hungry for some seriously cheap eats, I usually head to one of these five favorite budget restaurants. The list covers some of the local fast-food staples (please don’t even think about leaving Cape Town without trying a Gatsby or a boerewors!) and are all budget friendly, leaving you with room to splurge on even more of those high-end meals. And while I usually prefer independent eateries to international chains, I’d be remiss not to include South Africa’s most famed fast-food export. What’s not to love about flame-grilled peri-peri chicken paired with a roll and chips?

Mariam's Kitchen

The steak salomie at Mariam's—a spicy concoction of curried beef wrapped up in Malaysian-style roti bread—is one of the best-value meals in Cape Town. But what this Cape Malay fast-food restaurant is really good at is its take on the iconic Gatsby sandwich: a massive hoagie stuffed with meat and fries that could comfortably feed two. Get both a salomie and a Gatsby for less than $10.

Eastern Food Bazaar

South Africa has one of the largest Indian communities in the world outside of India, making it a hub of Indian culture and authentic cuisine. Located on Darling Street, this longtime staple on the Cape Town dining scene serves a hodgepodge of Indian, Chinese, and Turkish dishes at wallet-friendly prices.

Gourmet Boerie

The humble sausage, known in South Africa as a boerewors, is elevated to new heights at this spot. You can order an "Old Skool Boerie" with caramelized onions; one doused bacon, caramelized pineapple, avocado, and cheese; or an artisanal variant made of springbok or ostrich. All come with fries, and most are under $5.

Nando's

Yes, it's a chain but trust me, it's worth a visit. Few people realize that this international chicken heavyweight originated in South Africa. While there are a handful of outlets in the D.C. area, most of America has yet to catch on to Nando's flame-grilled peri-peri yet, so be sure to try some while you're in Cape Town.

Nuri Sushi Factory

The sushi scene is hugely popular in Cape Town, and you'll find creative, über-fresh rolls at Nuri Sushi Factory for a satisfying meal for two for less than $20. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, order the Biltong Roll, made with cucumber, jalapeno peppers, and a cured meat similar to jerky.

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