secret cape town to come to an end

you can think of this as the sunset for Secret Cape Town

This blog and the associated twitter name will be coming to an end. I leave Cape Town today for KZN for two months and shortly after that I will be headed abroad.

I’m not Capetonian originally and I saw this blog, as much as anything, as a way to continue to explore the city. There’s lots to explore and I encourage you to do so. And tell people what you find! I don’t own a copyright on the idea of sharing Cape Town’s secrets.

I love Cape Town and I know I’ll be back. I have a few posts left that I’ll put up over the next few weeks and after that I’ll leave the blog up indefinitely so that what is already here can be found by people looking for places and information in the future.


irma stern museum

I asked an older friend recently what are the things I should see in Cape Town that are off the beaten path. After thinking a while, his first suggestion was Irma Stern Museum (Cecil Rd, Rosebank).

I went a couple days ago to check it out. After paying the slight entrance fee (R10), I walked through the garden into the house. All the rooms are full of pieces she painted or those collected by her. It ends up being a nice mix of her paintings, may of which had a focus on Africa; African, European and Asian art of all sorts; and antique furniture. But the art doesn’t stop at that: she even painted most of the doorways in the house!

Upstairs is a gallery exhibiting (and selling) current work from South African artists. When I was there, there was a nice exhibit of illustrations by Fiona Moodie but I believe that ended shortly afterward.

UCT Irma Stern Museum
Cecil Road (x Chapel Rd.), Rosebank
021 685 5686
Tues – Sat 10a – 5pm
R10 (discounts R5)

beer festival at old biscuit mill

beers at Birkenhead Brewery, photo by Adrian Bischoff

I’ve made no secret of my love for beer so personally I’m excited for the We ♥ Real Beer Festival this week at the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock.

I’m not quite sure what to expect other than a decent sampling of microbrews in the always cool setting of the Old Biscuit Mill. &Union will be represented so I’m sure there’ll be at least some good beer to taste as well. (Not to give the other beverage sponsors, Jack Black, too hard a time, but I’m not a fan of their beer.)

We ♥ Craft Beer Festival
Old Biscuit Mill, Woodstock
23rd Sept 4pm – 12am

pan african space station

The qanun player of the Culture Musical Club, a taarab orchestra from Zanzibar, appearing at Pan African Space Station 2009, photo by Adrian Bischoff

Perhaps the world’s best named music festival the Pan African Space Station once again lands in Cape Town later this month. Combining awesome artists and bands from all over the African continent in fantastic venues at cheap prices (R30 if you book in advance!), there aren’t a lot of ways this festival could get any cooler.

As a way to illustrate this: during last year’s festival, I went to see a Tarab band from Zanzibar and a hiplife band from Ghana play in an 1797 church on Long St. What a fantastic ear-opening show that was.

Check out more about the artists and check out the schedule below. Also be sure to check out PanAfricanSpaceStation streaming online radio.

28 September to 2 October
Various venues in the CBD, Woodstock and Langa

Tuesday September 28:

Studio Kabako @ City Hall (7-10pm)

Wednesday 29 September
Brice Wassy Trio / Imperial Tiger Orchestra @ Slave Church (7-9.30pm)

Mbuso T Mas & So/ Theo Parrish @ Albert Hall (10.30pm-2.30am)

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Where to get microbrew beers in Cape Town

BEER! (at Birkenhead), photo by Adrian Bischoff

I love beer. And I’m not talking about loving to drink beer to get drunk. I like the taste of beer, especially good beers. Unfortunately SAB and other large breweries don’t really make any good beers so I’ve been seeking out microbrews in the area.

The Beers

&Union/ Collective Sao Gabriel, brewed in Germany by the collective but sold and marketed in Cape Town. They have a number of German-style beers like a weizen, a dark lager, an amber, a lager and a few others. They’ve generally very good (and quite pricey). The dark lager is my beer of choice from the range.

Birkenhead from Stanford. A good range of beers from this brewery. Their pilsner and lager are both refreshing and their Honey Blonde–which is not really a blonde–is also quite good.

Boston Brewery from Paarden Eiland. They have a Whale Tale Ale, a nice everyday ale, and Boston Lager, which is decent.

Darling Brew from Darling. A tasty but pretty standard ale. I haven’t found this in Cape Town yet, but did have it at Auntie Pasti in Riebeek Kasteel.

Mitchell’s from Knysna (and at the Waterfront). Their Forester’s Lager and Bosun’s Bitter are available widely. Both are low alcohol (3.6%) and are fine everyday beers, though I’d like my bitters to actually be, you know, bitter.

Jack Black from Cape Town. A mediocre lager a couple notches about the industrial brews.

Robson’s from the Valley of a Thousand Hills, KZN. They have four beers (that I’ve seen locally): East Coast Ale, West Coast Ale, Durban Pale Ale and a Wheat Beer. All of them are quite good (or really good) with the West Coast Ale being my favorite and the wheat perhaps being the weakest.


  • &Union (Bree St.): Carries the &Union beers.
  • Harvey’s Liquors (Buitengrachet St x Wale): Carries a number of Birkenhead beers as well as Robson’s.
  • Neighbour Goods Market (Old Biscuit Mill, Albert Rd., Woodstock): You can pick up &Union, Jack Black and Boston Brewery beers.
  • Tops @Spar, Cape Quarter (Somerset Rd., Green Point): Carries Mitchell’s as well the Boston Breweries beers.
  • Tops @Spar, Kloof St.: Carries Boston Breweries beers.
  • Tops @Spar, Sea Point (Regent Rd.): Carries Mitchell’s and Robson’s.
  • Woolworths Wine & Spirits, Tokai: Carries&Union and Mitchell’s

Bars/ Restaurants

  • Fireman’s Arms: Mitchell’s on draught.
  • Hudson’s: Jack Black and their own Hudson’s Pale Ale, which is quite tasty, on tap. &Union in the bottle.
  • Mr. Pickwick’s: Jack Black on draught.
  • Mitchell’s Watefront: they obviously have Mitchell’s.
  • Neighbourhood: they stock &Union in the bottle.
  • Paulaner Brauhaus: It is brewed on site–you can smell the hops–so this is technically a microbrew. Good German-style beers.
  • Royale: they stock &Union in the bottle.
  • Superette: they stock &Union in the bottle.
  • A Taste of Madness (Obz): the have the Birkenhead lager on draught.
  • Wild Fig: they had Boston Lager on tap last I was there.

Obviously this list is wildly incomplete. Please contribute information in the comments.

not quite cape town: laingsburg’s granaat

There are many best things about traveling: adventure, learning and seeing new things, eating good food or even just not working. But one of the worst things about traveling is making a quick stop for lunch and only seeing a couple standard options like Wimpy or Steers.

Well, I don’t have a solution to all of those options, but I have one solution: Granaat in Laingsburg (N1, across from the Shell Ultra City). Situated such that if you leave Cape Town in the morning heading up the N1 (or starting in Colesburg heading toward Cape Town), you hit it right around lunch time.

This little shop offers many things. Great food—I had an excellent Karoo lamb pie, served with couscous, around R38, I remember. Local foods like honeys, jams, chutneys, and biscuits. And crafty goods (think Beatnik Bazaar-ish stuff). I picked up a handmade bowl with a leaf design made from recycled glass for a scant R45. They also had cute knitted teapot covers and the like.

It’s definitely a welcome break from the normal fast food joints that one gets far too many of on road trips. I’ll definitely stop in next time I’m headed up the N1.

Voortrekker Rd (N1), Laingsburg (across from the Shell Ultra City)

the style and substance of superette

Superette, photo by Adrian Bischoff

Can Woodstock be any hipper? With the Old Biscuit Mill, the Kitchen, and plenty of Faith47’s artwork, you may think not, but let’s not forget Superette (218 Albert Rd).

Fitting for a place that’s run by the organizers of the Neighbour Goods Market, it’s a stylish place. The tables, counters, decorations and shelves of things for sale look good and work well together. But it’s not only style. The sandwich I got (warm pork belly, R45) was really delicious as well. And the way it was made you can tell they put a lot of care into their food. The entire menu looked like they’d be good.

If you haven’t been yet, I strongly recommend Superette.

218 Albert Road, Woodstock
021 802 5525
M-F 9-4, Sa 9-2

items for sale inside Superette, photo by Adrian Bischoff