We humans need food. Many of us also need coffee. Yet, some of us, while we’re munching on that sandwich or ordering that triple espresso to go, still crave a different kind of sustenance. Whether it’s a book to read, music to listen to, or a game of Scrabble or Monopoly with friends, that moment of cultural stimulation lingers a lot longer than the taste of chocolate cake (especially when you get to take the source of that stimulation home with you). Whether you’re a bookworm, gamer or music lover, these six Cape spots offer the ideal dining-slash-cultural experience.
1 Folk Coffee Anthropology
Many of you who work in the CBD might have visited Folk Coffee at least once – and then a few times afterwards. And we don’t blame you. Folk’s rustic interior and expansive menu are enough to entice you for breakfast, lunch and dinner. But for those who love to read, this eatery is nothing short of paradise. Two towering bookstands dominate one end of the café, offering a varied selection of classics, contemporary works and special-interest books. Though not for sale, these reads will make your lunch break even more invigorating and will surely compensate, at the end of the day, for any work-related stress. Add to that, Folk holds a book club that meets on the second Wednesday of every month – the perfect opportunity to meet kindred spirits.
2 Hard Pressed Café
Right across the street to Folk Coffee is a café that caters mainly to music lovers. Hard Pressed incorporates a musical theme in its interior with chairs bearing famous album covers and song quotes. You’ll find a collection of vinyl records on sale while the menu boasts gems such as ‘Aretha Scramblin”, ‘Elvis Pesto’ and a ‘Red Hot Chilli Pepper’ bagel. There’s also a large set of shelves adorned with records, a small selection of music-themed books, and a few board games and puzzles for the kids (or their parents) to enjoy. Classic TV show Friends is also played on a loop for patrons so you know that a trip to Hard Pressed is like going back in time to enjoy all the amazing-ness of yesteryear.
3 Issi on Bree
Issi on Bree is a cosy spot where you can enjoy a wholesome meal and a caffeine fix courtesy of Mischu Coffee. Get some work done thanks to their generous amount of free Wifi, or enjoy the company of other people and the presence of literature. All the books at Issi are second-hand and free to read – and you can even take one home with you as long as you bring in another to place on the shelf for someone else to read. Books aren’t bought or sold here, though; it’s merely a means to encourage recreational reading. And if you’re at Issi with a mate, you can challenge each other to a game of chess or checkers.
4 Alexander Bar
Getting a culture fix at Alexander Bar ain’t all that difficult, thanks to the regular staging of productions at the theatre upstairs. But, if you don’t feel like taking in a show, you can always stay downstairs where there’s a menu filled with affordable meals and a plethora of cocktails, as well as books and board games to keep you occupied within the bar’s gorgeous vintage interior. Plonk yourself onto a cosy armchair or couch then get immersed in a collection of short stories, a classic play, or a fab New Yorker magazine. Alternatively, you and your companions can play Balderdash, Trivial Pursuit or Cards Against Humanity. Alexander Bar also holds a regular quiz night and has a space in which art is put up for sale.
5 Hidden Leaf Eatery
Hidden Leaf is a delightful little restaurant with a balcony that offers a beautiful view of Table Mountain. Its menu changes from time to time but constantly features mouth-watering lunches and dinners. And then there are the books. Oh, the glorious books! The selection is small but growing, thanks in part to donations, and includes classics, contemporary fiction and cookbooks. The book-borrowing system at Hidden Leaf is similar to that of a library: your details are recorded until you return it, only to lose yourself in another literary feast (and maybe a culinary one as well). Note: books are not sold to customers.
6 The Foodbarn Deli & Tapas Bar
What’s better than an eatery with an eclectic variety of food and a stack of second-hand books to purchase? By day, The Foodbarn Deli (not to be confused with the Foodbarn Restaurant) offers breakfasts, sweet treats, healthy snacks and yummy mains. By night, it serves up a range of tapas, much of it made with seafood such as prawns, mussels and squid. Throughout the entire day, however, The Foodbarn is a bookstore. Books are sold at reasonable prices, and can be or returned if you like (though we doubt you’ll want to part with any of them). You’re welcome to sell books here too.