I’m a member of a burger club. It’s just a few friends (8 of us) that get together once a month to try find the best burgers in Cape Town. Well, I was told that was the goal, but the other seven members are married and I realised it’s just a chance for them to let off some steam. But that’s fine, I still get to try lots of burgers. Add this to my usual few burgers a month and I think I’m qualified to tell you which are the top 5 burger spots in Cape Town at the moment. I’ll update this each year as I’m sure there will be new contenders over time.
What are the criteria for a good burger? It seems that different people look for different things. There are 2 mains schools of thought, one is that the sauce and toppings provide the flavour and the patty remains similar across each burger. The other school of thought, and the one to which I subscribe, is that the patty needs to be tasty and the toppings and sauce should be complementary. Which is why I often just order the cheese burger so that I can taste the patty properly.
It’s not an official criteria but I like chips with my burger, I guess it’s just what I am used to. Some places don’t have chips or don’t have good chips. I think no chips is better than bad chips. I like places that can offer a good salad as a replacement for the fries, but few get it right (shout-out to Hudson’s for getting this right. But their coleslaw is not nice, avoid it). I also like good beer with my burger. A selection of local craft beers really adds to the experience. That’s a perfect meal, a delicious burger with good fries and a cold, craft beer.
Criteria for us included the meat to bread ratio, it needs to be a good balance. Too much or too little meat is unpleasant. The bun needs to be fresh and interesting (maybe lightly toasted too), not just a big white hamburger roll from the shop. The patty must be flavourful and not over or under cooked. A selection of burgers with interesting toppings is fun, but sometimes a place just makes one burger and they make it well (a couple on the top 5 do this). We like a decent sized burger, not too small please. Having said that, we like to be able to eat the burger by hand, so it mustn’t be too messy. Also, we do like juicy but we don’t want a plate of burger soup at the end.
Value is also an important criteria. Burgers seem to have broken through that R100 barrier and it’s very hard to find a burger that’s worth as much as R100. Other aspects like the service, venue, etc, all have an impact on the overall experience.
Unfortunately I don’t have good pics of all the burgers as I was not carrying my camera most of the time. The top 5 burger spots are not in a particular order. These are just my 5 favourites. And I shouldn’t have to say this, but just because a place is not in my top 5, it doesn’t mean their burgers are not good, great even. I try not to judge a place on a single experience as consistency is important.
So, that’s enough preamble. Let’s reveal the top 5 burger spots in Cape Town:
1. Jerry’s Burger Bar (www.jerrysburgerbar.co.za)
This was an unexpected find. I heard whispers of a place in Observatory that was making great burgers, so we went and tried it out. Turns out they do make great burgers. Delicious brioche bun with a perfect density, excellent ratio of patty to bun, interesting and tasty toppings, plus great fries on the side. It didn’t hurt that the place is funky and it has an excellent selection of craft beers. You’ll be pleased to hear (I know I am) that another Jerry’s Burger Bar has opened on Park Road in town.
They have a section of the menu for burgers which have ingredients inside the patty. Nice idea, but I would recommend sticking to the normal burgers.
2. Love Thy Neighbour (Facebook.com/lovethyneighbourct)
This is the old &Union and it’s a bit of an over achiever because it’s not only in my list of top 5 burgers but also top 5 terrible names for restaurants and top 5 worst websites ever. But, the burger is amazing. It doesn’t come with any sides, and the cheapest beer is R45 and you have to sit at a bench which is fixed uncomfortably far away from the table. Ordering and delivery is a debacle, so you’re lucky if it’s still hot when it gets to you. Despite those negatives, it’s in the top 5, that’s how good it is.
Incredible patty, fantastic bun and filled with delicious toppings. It’s a delight. Sometimes a little too juicy but never disappointing. Also, it’s one of the best value burgers at about R65. Although, the price of the beer cancels that out.
You’ll find it on the menu as the Bree St Burger.
3. Clarke’s (www.clarkesdining.co.za)
Seeing as we are on Bree Street, we might as well do Clarke’s now. This is a serious burger. If you don’t like rich food, this might not be the burger for you. There is no playful lettuce, tomato, or onion to distract you from the seriousness of this burger. A tasty patty, with a generous covering of Underberger cheese (funny name for that cheese, they should put it under the burger just to confuse people). It comes on what they refer to as a ‘butter bun’. I’m not sure what exactly it is but the name gives you a clue, it’s very rich. Reminds me a little of a toasted croissant or fried brioche. Light and healthy this burger is not, but damn tasty it is. The meat to bun ratio is off, but the bun is so rich it seems to balance out.
I’d say order the side salad instead of the fries to lighten it up. But we both know you arent’ going to do that. So I should warn you the fries stick to the theme, they are oily and the portion is big.
Interesting thing about Clarke’s is that you can order quarts of beer (obviously only the SAB beers). So hipster.
4. Devil’s Peak Taproom (www.devilspeakbrewing.co.za)
Located in the Devil’s Peak Brewery space in Salt River, the Taproom is a very cool space. And it has a very cool menu featuring a top 5 burger. The lamb burger and the veggie burger are great (actually I haven’t tasted the veggie burger, just making an assumption) but the cheese burger is the business. Served with emmenthal cheese, this burger is a beauty. All the elements are there, right size, good patty to bun ratio, tasty patty, toasted bun, flavourful cheese. It’s a winner, especially as the fries are good too!
Also, it’s certainly not a disadvantage that this place is in a brewery. Devil’s Peak is one of our top selling craft beers for good reason. Check out the sides, it’s a very interesting selection of unusual dishes. Probably worth getting a few with the burgers.
5. Ragafellows (www.ragafellows.co.za)
Ok, I’m getting very hungry now, remembering all these great burgers is making my mouth water. Luckily we are getting to the end of the list. This one really caught me by surprise. It’s in Hout Bay and I had never even heard of it, until a Burger Club member organised for us to go there. The burger was fantastic. Flavourful, good ratio, tasty patty, the works. And the menu has a good selection of interesting burgers (with cool names like Mordecai and Baylock). They are served with smashed new potatoes, which were not bad. There is a good selection of beers to choose from and they bring delicious homemade vegetable pickle to the table which went nicely with the beer.
The venue is super funky. It’s steampunk themed, but not overboard. We sat in the garden area out back as it was a lovely summery day. They were able to serve us hamburgers even though they were being loadshed, which is a major plus these days. A great addition to Hout Bay’s culinary offering. I hope to get back here soon.
So there you have it, my top 5 for 2015. We’ll see if they manage to stay in the top 5 next year. But as a little bonus, here are 5 honourable mentions…
- Engruna (www.engruna.co.za)
- IYO (www.iyoburgers.co.za)
- Mondiall (www.mondiall.co.za)
- Hudson’s (www.theburgerjoint.co.za)
- Gibson’s (www.gibsonsburgers.co.za)
Which is your favourite burger spot? Let me know in the comments below.
EDIT (Jan 2017): Weinhaus & Biergarten is now called Love Thy Neighbour and the menu has changed completely, but due to the popularity of the burger they have kept it on the menu.
You’ve nailed it Dax defs & Union is my best followed by Clarkes and Taproom. Excited to try the Ragafellows and Jerry’s ones next. I also agree that the new name for & Union is just awful to the point where I refuse to change over. What were they thinking when they decided on this?
Glad you agree with me, Sam. I’m confident you will enjoy Jerry’s and Ragafellows as well.
As for the new &Union name, I’m not sure what they were thinking but they were about to sell so probably didn’t give it a ton of thought…
Thanks so much for this. I’m so weary of best burger lists because I don’t trust peoples criteria, but yours seem in line with mine and it sounds like your judgement is justified. Can’t wait to try Jerry’s, I have heard a few times they are good. I must add that I also recently had an excellent burger at Banana Jam.
Thanks Ian, I have to admit it was not a technical process. I did not write down scores for each place against each criteria, it was just a mental note as I enjoyed each burger. This also takes into account the feedback I get from people about their experiences and favourites. I’m sure there are other great burgers around (I must try get to Banana Jam) but I’m confident that someone looking for a good burger won’t be disappointed by these 5.
I’d become very dejected abt burgers since we sold The Nose – tried loads and been disappointed every time. Without a shadow of a doubt, the burger which restored my faith in mankind came from Ragafellows. Charry on the outside, incredibly juicy and well-flavored on the inside. Top CT burger IMHO. Just hate the smashed potato sides.
Glad you’re in agreement, Cathy. For the record, I would also have preferred chips on the side.
I love a burger and live in Hout Bay, The fact that Ragafellows are just to stubborn to offer fries really gets my goat, good burgers but as you say a good burger needs a fries. They can keep their smashed pts yuk and i have stopped going there.
A real surpise last week was Peddars, def the best burger i have tried in CPT, brad has def made an impact since he took over this place, highly recomend it. I tried clarkes about a year ago and if you are 18, a hippy with a nose ring then okay but it just felt like a soup kitchen
Thanks for the tip, I will definitely try the burger at Peddlars. I like what Brad has done with the place.
You have GOT to try Craft Burger in Sea Point!!!!!!
Is it still around? I’ve never seen anybody in there…
Craft Burger Bar is definitely still around. I had a birthday celebration there last week and it was full, the burgers were sublime and everyone at my table loved their burgers. So much so, some ordered a second! Give it a go, you will not be sorry!
Wish I was in Cape Town!
haha, yes you do!
Rick’s Cafe Americain in Gardens make the best burgers in my opinion. Meets all your above criteria. Give them a try, next time your club meets…
Thanks for the tip, will add it to the list.
Been working in Ct for last month or so and have been to a few of the spots-
Jerrys is good burger- Clarkes a bit overrated and the ketchup was off, bad night I guess. Hudsons in Joburg was very average , put me off going to Ct one, went to Bootleggers in Sea Point burger was awesome, also Craft Burger is apparently awesome too. They say the Fat Cactus in Park Road does good burger too.
I’m in Sea Point so will make ‘point’ of trying Craft Burger Bar and Bootleggers 🙂
Also try Loco bistro in Second Avenue in Kenilworth – fabulous – and also early evening special
Thanks for the tip.
Hi!! sorry to say but Dogg’s Bollocks burgers is by far the best in Cape Town refering to the patty and different sauces
Hey Nicolaas, we did go to Dog’s Bollocks and we did not enjoy the burger. There was just WAAAAY too much lettuce. Apparently they have changed the burger since then so I will try get back there.
Dogs Bollocks is like the Charlie’s Bakery of burger joints… All about hype and presentation but totally lacking where it counts… I always feel when someone says they have the best burger they obviously haven’t tried enough burgers in CT… There are just so many better ones out there as this list proves.
Agreed. But it also depends when they went to Dog’s Bollocks. I did like them when they first opened but my last visit was not great.
Sorry, I don’t mean this in a rude way, but we’re you asleep when you went to Dog’s Bollocks? I went to try it after all the hype and comments I heard. It is far below average. Its a big roll with a thin average patty lots of lettuce surrounded by a lack of service, rude and noisey staff in a garage. I’ve had better burgers at Wimpy…
You have to try The Beach Tavern at Woodbridge island. Insane burgers. Theyve only been open 6 months but its definately my favourite
Will check it out when I’m in that area 🙂
Mention of this eatablishment will doubtless inspire an enormous groan, but the best burger I’ve had in Cape Town is at ‘Bunglow’ in Clifton. I wouldn’t order anything else on the menu (the rest of the food varies from ordinary to bad). But as an American, I feel at least somewhat qualified to judge (hamburgers are possibly our greatest export). It’s worth a try. And when the weather is warm, the setting is magnificent.
The setting is indeed magnificent at Bungalow, but the 5 times I have eaten there the food has ranged between below average and terrible so I’m not confident the burger will impress. But if I do end up eating there again, I will be sure to try it! 🙂
It is indeed a bad restaurant but with a great burger. If you can bear to go again (or are dragged there), have it. I’d be very interested to know what you think.
Oh my word am drooooling can’t wait to try them all !!!! Sadly I haven’t had a single burger at any of the fine establishments and can’t wait to try em all . Thanks Dax looking forward to the winter hibernation body fuel
ah, well you have a lot to look forward to then. Let us know what you think of them as you try them…
Clarke’s my favourite. I find that the extra’s (chips, salad, etc…) that come with a burger also important. The chips have to be home-made… All other chips are rubbish.
Homemade chips is a nice addition, absolutely.
you have to try Woodies at the V&A Food Market (up stairs) in the waterfront.
50 SA rond and smacks with flavor.
Do it, you will love it!!!
Sounds great, I’m super keen to try it!
Sadly the best burger I’ve had was from the Flying Boar which is no more, they served great truffle oil and parmasen fries too. Agree with the Tap Room and Clarke’s they are #2 and #3
respectively. Would like to try ragafellows. Woodies is the best value for money burger. Redemption in Biscuit Mill is solid. The most surprising was a burger I had at the 12 Apostles. The most disappointing burger was the Steenburger…
Oh! Odyssey also serve a darn good burger.
I did get to try the burgers at Flying Boar and they were pretty good. I’m keen to try Redemption Burgers, I did go but they were closed for some reason. Thanks for all the feedback!
Franky’s in Sea Point. Saul has been in the burger business for over 25 years and makes a killer burger.
Tried Franky’s, wasn’t blown away.
Haha, someone had to say it! Good burgers, not in my top 5 though. If I did a top 5 vegetarian burgers, they would definitely feature.
Great list, will definitely give these a go. Not sure if you’ve been to The Brasserie in Tokai but their burger is delicious!
I haven’t been to The Brasserie, but I’ve been meaning to get there… Another place to add to the list 🙂
So disappointed to see Ragafellows on this list, because I drive all the way from Harfield Village just for their amazing pork belly… So now what am I going to do?! Ah, I’ll stay in the bay for two meals, problem solved.
I’ve had Redemption Burgers before, and I reckon you should check them out as contenders. They were at the biscuit mill, hope they still exist 🙂
Yeah, tried to go to Redemption Burgers once, but they were closed. Will try again…
As Amanda said, Woodies at the V&A market has the BEST BURGER I’ve ever eaten in my opinion. Amazing selection of beers as well. Must try it!!!
I’m sold, gonna get there soon!
As far as the patty goes, I’m a purist – don’t mess with fillers, binders and flavourings, keep it meatily robust and very simply seasoned. One criteria I have, which is one of the most important is the texture of the patty. It should be fairly coarse and feel closer to biting into a steak than a mushy meatball. This is where the Ragafella burgers fall down for me. They are quite finely ground and fall apart quite easily with a crumbly, rather than firm texture. They also tend to drown their burgers in sauce, which makes the bun soggy and leaves a big puddle of the dreaded “burger soup” on your plate.
I don’t recall my experience being as you describe, I’ll see what it’s like next time I visit.
I love Taproom, but if you ever in Somerset West try the double cheese burger at Cappuccino’s .. it’s probably the best I’ve ever had, and the best value for money
Thanks for the tip.
Hey Dax, I’m on the hunt myself! If you by any chance get to Namibia Swakopmund try Berly’s burgers. You won’t be sorry!
haha, no plans to be in Namibia soon but will make a note in case!
You missed out The Loading Bay in Hudson Street. Craft beer, artisan gin & tonic served with a sprig of Rosemary …. and chips served with truffle oil. Scrumptious. Reminds of that awesome city Portland, Oregon.
I did try the Loading Bay burger. It’s a good burger, but wasn’t what I look for. That artisan gin & tonic sounds good though, will remember that.
Ya loading bay is ok
Love your writing Dax it’s hysterical. Sitting at bmw waiting to book my car in for a service and people around me keep looking at me strangely because I keep bursting into fits of laughter lol Have u tried the burger at blue water cafe in imhoff farm? Juicy patty, gherkins and a good meat to bun ratio. Service there is shocking though but I still go for the burger and kid friendly environment.
Thanks for the compliment, much appreciated! I haven’t been to Imhoff Farm, probably because I don’t have kids but I will bear it in mind 🙂
It’s a pleasure! I’m sure some members of the burger club have kids. But I suppose the burger club is their way to get away from the kids hey? Haha
Try SlipSlops in Noordhoek. Currently at the top of my Best burger list. Try the fig and goat cheese one. Enjoy
Sounds good, I’ll add it to the list.
Hey have u tried royal eatery in long street?
How is Royale not on the list?
Royale is good but not great.
I’ve eaten at Royale many times, it’s not top 5 for me. But definitely the best options for vegetarian burgers.
Go to Down South in Rondebosch on a Tuesday night, they do two for one specials and its definitely worth it. Order the bacon and blue burger with a castle light draft. It will cost you 70 rand for two burgers and some nice chips and 23 for the draft. My top spot for value and tastiness!
Sounds like a good deal!
all great options – looking forward to trying some new places – thank you … have you tried Marias Greek restaurant.. lamb burger with home made chips & rosemary – ask for home made chilli and mayo .. ps i am being a bit biased though 😉
Lamb burgers are a different story, I try to compare apples with apples. But that does all sound delicious!
Thanx for the tips on where to find great burgers. Maybe your next assignment can be to find the best burger under R70. Burgers shouldn’t be soo expensive. Plz try d’aria winery. Don’t go to the restaurant om the farm. Go to the wine tasting room. You can taste 6-8 different wines for R10. And then they make these great burgers. I love to try new places and tell my experience to others. Can see there is more of my kind out there. Hahaha
Best value burgers would make a good post!
Redemption at the Old Biscuit Mill is top notch ..
Looking forward to trying Ragafellows, only one from the list that escapes me…
Great Post bud.
I’ve held out hope for a good burger roundup based on legit criteria for so long. Nice one geeza. I’m gonna try the couple I’ve missed so far!
Glad it’s appreciated 🙂
I have been to almost all the burger joints on your list. I tend to agree. One restaurant which isn’t mentioned here which definitely needs to be is 3Feathers Diner. It used to be called NOB it’s located behind the Old Biscuit Mill. Best burger I have had in a while.
Yeah, I’ve visited 3 Feathers and the burger was good.
Royale Eatery deserves a mention. Their Fat Bastard is awesome. 🙂
Royale is great, but not in my top 5.
A whole bunch I haven’t tried and I’m a burger fanatic, thanks! My favourites are Mondiall and Kloof Street House, then probably Loading Bay & Royale. I always have a cheeseburger too, for the same reason, haha.
Have you had the burger at Mondiall in the restaurant or from the ‘burger bar’ takeaway option?
Great story, Dax, unpretentious and honest, tried some on your list and I agree. One thing. Using – Craft Burger Bar in Sea Point, I think it’s what you’re looking for. Proper 200g patties and hand cut chips, with a good selection of craft beer, some on tap. Great value and importantly you can design your own. I’m there at least once a week. It has become very popular with loads of regulars.
Getting quite a few votes for the Craft Burger Bar, might take the burger club there next month.
You MUST try Craft Burger Bar in Sea Point. A little gem between Checkers and Spar in Regent Road, Sea Point (82 Regent Road). Create your own burger, so you can choose whatever you wish! Banting friendly, and best burgers in town – by far! Try it out, you won’t be sorry! 504 000 options to choose from 🙂
I will definitely make a plan to get there soon.
The Giant Chicago Burger from Tasha’s in Canal Walk, Century City. It comes with cheesy fries (real cheese) and will change your life.
You’re the 2nd person to mention that. I will definitely make a note…
Have you tried the pig & fig burger at the Bistro at Blaauwklippen?! Its amazing! 100% pork with fig preserve in the patty served on a sour dough bun with smoked tomato relish and blue cheese sauce, sided with sweet potato fries and home made pickled zucchini.
Just a thought for when you’re in the mood for something less beefy 🙂
That does sound delicious!
The Royal Eatery, I think there burgers must be a shoe in for top status. The bop pop had me from the 1st bite.
Good, but not top 5 for me.
Dax….. I froth out for burgers… and have been to all those places.. u defs know a top burger!!!
You must try Con Brio Bistro (next to Woodlands eatery) and Michaels in Rondebosch!!!! But defs Con Brio!!! get the garlic fries!!!!!
Thanks, glad you agree with my choices 🙂
Con Brio sounds like a good tip, will definitely add it to my list of places to try.
Dax, did you do the Clarke’s review pre- or post- BUN CHANGE. I used to commute to CT from Stellenbosch at least once a week and sometimes more just to eat that burger. Oh I’d cloak the reason for the trip in work matters, but in truth I came to worship at the altar of that burger. Then they changed the bun!!! WTactualF?
I think I’ve done both, but the time in between was too long for me to be sure what had changed. When did the infamous bun change happen?
If you ever venture to the far south then you should try the burgers at The Meeting Place. Best by far…
Noted, thank you.
You’ve got to try the new burgers at Peddlars Local, def the best I’ve had lately!
I tried The Local Burger today! Pretty good!
Dax next time your looking for a decent burger try REDEMPTION burgers in the MIll! Call 0713789923 and book a spot. A must try for your search of the best burger in CT! Happy chowing
Yup, they are on my list of places to try.
My girlfriend and I tried Jerry’s this evening after all the positive feedback on this blog. I can highly recommend the Jack D burger and the Drunken Chicken burger. The onion rings were really good too. The vibe was great and the service as well. Easily one of the top 3 in Cape Town.
Glad you enjoyed! Which one did you go to?
We went to the one in Obs.
I’m super keen to start trying these places. Clarke’s will be the first this week
Enjoy, and keep us posted on your experiences…