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New York in Cape Town - bagels, brunch and Brooklyn Borough Hall

New York City is known for its baked cheesecake, cream cheese bagels and affinity for weekend brunches. This total NYC culture is filtering into South Africa – Cape Town specifically – and we are loving it.

by: Lisa Wallace | 17 Jan 2018

images: iStock; restaurant's own

More than a simple combo of two meals – breakfast and lunch – brunch has become a weekend ritual; and, among New Yorkers, a Saturday and Sunday no-brainer. Featuring mimosas, eggs and flapjacks (and other more unique items like blueberry ricotta pancakes, granola-crusted French toast and the classic Eggs Benedict) brunch club has well and truly hit.   

Traditionally believed to have begun in 1885, a term coined by Guy Behringer, an English writer who felt the meal would "encourage good cheer and ease Sunday hangovers", the concept of brunch eventually hopped the Atlantic and made it to New York City in the early 1930s. "Chef Werner Haechler offered it in the dining room at the Hotel Lombardy, on East 56th Street in Manhattan,” says Andrew F. Smith in 'Savoring Gotham: A Food Lover’s Companion to New York City.' The idea of brunch quickly spread – when attendance in church was low on Sunday mornings, the culprit? Brunch! Popularised as a festive way to cap off the weekend, brunch continues to soar and countries around the world, South Africa included, have firmly adopted it too.

ALSO READ: Think it's just in NY? These are 30 places in SA that could be your next go-to brunch spot

Although most major cities in South Africa have jumped on the brunch bandwagon, its Cape Town that impresses with just how very "New York" brunch has become. These are three of the favourites. 

Mulberry & Prince Sunday brunch

Adopting a truly American-style brunch concept – you know, the elaborate breakfast spread that moms lay out for their kids in movies (where do they find the time for that every day?) – Mulberry and Prince hosts a weekly Sunday brunch, from 10am, with bookings encouraged. Expect pancakes with whipped honey butter, chicken & waffles, cinnamon rolls with cream cheese buttercream, biscuits and gravy AND naartjie mimosas. It's a truly indulgence way to end off the week. 

Pot Luck Club Sunday brunch

Pot Luck Club is a treat any day of the week, but its Sunday brunch features the option of bottomless bubbly and the most intricately delicious bites and flavours. Changing with the season, expect anything from burrata cheese with braaied nectarine, their famous fish tacos, pork berry sliders, fresh summer berries and burnt vanilla churros with dolce de leche. 

Brunch starts at 11am. 

Loading Bay

Committed to facilitating an ethical, eco-conscious movement of slow living and savoured daily habits, Loading Bay invites you to its seasonal menu whist perusing select international menswear brands and Aesop skincare. The De Waterkant eatery has become something of an institiution, and its creamy and delicious pancakes (served on Sundays only) draws crowds. Go early to avoid disappointment.

Sunday funday #buttermilkpancakes #buttermilk

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ALSO READ: 4 Sensational brunch recipes from across the world

There are other typically New Yorkan pasttimes that are taking centre stage in Cape Town too. Inspired by these New Yorkan favourites, but featuring their own African-centric twist, here're some of the ways Cape Town is finding its foodie inspiration. 


With somewhat of a cult following, Max Bagels has been wowing customers with its simple but delicious bagels since August 2014. Opened by foodie whizzes Matthew Freemantle and Andrew Kai, Max Bagels was the solution in the "Great Bagel Drought" of Cape Town, when there was nowhere to go for a good bagel in city. Mercifully, times have changed, and Max Bagels has been part of the bagel renaissance, pioneering it from day one. The New York-style bagels are handmade, boiled and feature multiple filling options — and they taste like the real deal. Try the B.A.T (Cream cheese, bacon, avocado, tomato, mayo), along with a Rosetta Roastery coffee – it's a favourite.

B.A.T. s**t crazy hot! #maxbagels #bacon #bagels #foodies #instaeats

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Alternatively, visit New York Bagels in Cape Town's east city. Similarly delicious and specialising in traditional boiled and baked New York-style bagels.

Jason Bakery, in Green Point and on Bree Street, has recently started offering bagels too. Capetonians you are being spoiled with these tried and tested bagel offerings. 

ALSO READ: 5 tips for making perfect bagels

Baked cheesecake

Along with its bagel offering, New York Bagels also creates one of the best baked cheesecakes in the city. The unique family-run deli is committed to bringing its visitors quality food made well.

For other excellent cheesecakes, baked to glorious perfection, visit The General Store, Sababa, Kleinsky's and Four & Twenty Cafe in Little Chelsea.

Farmer's markets

New York City's commitment to world-class food is noted not just in its upscale restaurant offering, but in its food markets too. In the city's effort to support local farms and farmers, scattered around the Big Apple from Astoria to Williamsburg to Brooklyn, are countless indoor and outdoor "greenmarkets" that feature fresh produce from regional farms and noted food purveyors. For example, the Williamsburg Farmers Market attempts to sustain, foster, and operate a weekly farmers market in Merchants Square for growers and producers to sell fresh seasonal food and farm products direct to consumers in the Williamsburg area.

Similarly, our dear little Oranjezichy City Farm and weekly farmer's market draws heavy crowds on Saturdays; a non-profit project celebrating local food, culture and community through urban farming in Cape Town. The bustling market creates a platform for the city's rapidly growing interest in supporting the farmer rather than the corporation.

Similarly, the Neighbourgoods Market at the Old Biscuit Mill, Earth Fair Market in Tokai, Hope Street Market, Bay Harbour Market, Market at the Barn, Blue Bird Garage, Root 44 – you get the point – there's a noted attraction to farmer's markets and specialised food purveyors.

Thanks New York for the inspiration!

The Fresh team looking fine! #newbeginnings #freshproduce #foodheroes

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15 Specialised restaurants and bars in SA that focus on a single food item or drink

Look out for these 9 restaurants in Cape Town, 3 in Joburg and 3 in Durban, all dedicated to a specific food item or drink. (On left Max Bagels, on right Hokey Poké) Cape Town The Gin Bar, CBD One of Cape Town's favourite inner city bars, with its now not-so-secret courtyard, a quaint and cosy place to chat with friends over good quality gin cocktails.


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