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?
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.
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.
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.