City Bowl Market on Hope Street

As one of the first markets in Cape Town, the Neighbourgoods Market has really set the bar for markets in the city. Many have started up subsequently, but few have survived. The really worthwhile ones include the Earth Fair Market in Tokai and the Stellenbosch market at Oude Libertas. However, none are as successful or popular as the Neighbourgoods market.

But the Neighbourgoods Market has become a victim of its own success. With limited space in which to expand, it has become crowded to the point of unpleasantness and it has become very expensive as the stallholders realise the demand is greater than the supply.

This has created an opportunity for other markets to open in the city bowl. But they need to be good markets in order to be successful. What makes a market successful? The most obvious elements are the stands, the location and the venue. There have to be enough stands and they need to be of a high quality. The market needs to be accessible with ample parking, and the venue needs to be big enough with enough seating, etc.

The City Bowl Market on Hope Street seems to be getting these things right and is growing every week. Barely over a month old, the Hope Street market is creating quite a buzz. With around 50 good quality stands and a bar with five beers on tap, it’s a great place to spend a morning.

The times I have arrived early, I have seen people leaving with bags of fresh fruit and veg, which means the market is serving a real purpose. There are some great food options for those wanting some breakfast or lunch and there is a choice between seating outside or inside.

I think it’s a great alternative to the Biscuit Mill market. If you, like me, are sick of the crowds and high prices, check out the Hope Street market, you won’t be disappointed.

City Bowl Market
14 Hope Street, Gardens


  1. Richard Wooding May 19, 2011 at 12:34 am

    Nicola and I have really been enjoying the market. We’ve been to all but one. Nice routine of coffee, breakfast, then beer. I see you caught us in a photo, as well as me getting some beer.

    It’s got a interesting variety of stalls, and doesn’t have the rush and crush of the Neighbourgoods Market.

    It my new Saturday routine. πŸ™‚

  2. Hennie @ Batonage May 19, 2011 at 11:38 am

    We haven’t had a chance yet to go to Hope Street, but that will certainly change this weekend. I can’t stand The Biscuit Mill market anymore. If you’re not there by 9, you can forget having a pleasant experience. I am a big guy, and I can hardly move without knocking some baby pram over or bumping someone off their feet. We’ve been avoiding it since the end of last year. Looking forward to trying Hope Street. See you there for a beer.

  3. Marli May 19, 2011 at 11:39 am

    Plus, I can walk there woohoo! R10 to park in my driveway… anyone? πŸ˜‰ Thanks for the review, will go this Saturday for sure!

  4. Samantha May 19, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    I have been to both markets on the same day, and while the Hope Street market is quaint, it really does not compare to the Old Biscuit Mill. And I have to disagree with the amount of stalls you mention, I would say conservatively speaking, there are about 20 – 25 stalls but definitely not 50 as mentioned.

    Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it and the produce was of good quality, but not in the same league at all. Maybe given time and support it will grow to be a competitor to the Old Biscuit Mill. I will definitely re-visit, but will not become a regular. But each to their own I suppose?

  5. Gillian @gilliandoes... May 19, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    I couldn’t agree more – since the City Bowl market opened, I haven’t been back to Neighbourgoods. Its my new Saturday morning routine.
    Try the chicken spring rolls, Ethiopian coffee, fudge and Pasteis de Nata. Breakfast of champions.

  6. Madelen May 19, 2011 at 11:59 pm

    Thank you so much Dax for this great article! I really appreciate your kind words. Please pop by for a coffee on Saturday!

  7. Erica May 25, 2011 at 10:49 pm

    Hi Dax

    Always interested to hear your insights.

    While I haven’t yet visited the Hope Street Market, I’ll agree that the one and only time I’ve visited the Biscuit Mill it was unpleasantly busy. Trying to keep a 2-year-old toddler in check and from being squashed is very energy-sapping and turned the experience into an unpleasant one.

    It might have been fine if I was still in my childless twenties after a late night out to meet up with mates and get rid of a hangover. But alas, no longer!

    Part of the reason vendors’ prices are so much higher than at other markets can also be put down to the fact that they are charged a premium for the ‘privilege’ of renting a space at the Biscuit Mill.

    I also believe that Hope Street Market will be filling a very valuable gap for those of us who have priorities other than hob-nobbing… I think the Biscuit Mill creators have created a monster: let’s see if the hubris of their success contributes to the rise of a new market star in the growing CT constellation of markets.

    I’d like to correct you about the Neighbourgoods market being one of the first markets in CT. While it is one of the first dedicated ‘food’ markets in CT, in fact it only opened about 5 years ago.

    The first long-standing ‘markets’ in CT (i.e. more than 10 years old) that are still active are Kirstenbosch, Hout Bay, the V&A Blue Shed, Rondebosch Craft in the Park and the Obs Holistic Lifestyle Fair. As Samantha says: each to his own, since these markets all have varying visitor demographics.

    I’d like to highlight the Holistic Fair, which will be turning 14 years old on Sun 5th June.

    It was the first (and is still the only) monthly holistic lifestyle market in CT where people can buy organic, vegan, vegetarian and whole food; have a relaxing therapeutic treatment; visit a psychic; buy holistic, healthy, eco-friendly and bespoke products; bring their dog (cat/bird/snake); sit in the sun while their kids played safely nearby; and meet their family and friends for a leisurely and unpretentious day’s communing (sorry, no alcohol, but it has its own USPs, such as two organic DreamWeaver jungle gyms!)

    The Fair’s charming venue the Obs Recreation Centre (Pieter Dirk Uys’s old school) has undergone extensive renovations in the past year, and provides a spacious and soulful setting for the 120+ (yes that is an accurate figure) indoor and outdoor stallholders to showcase their wholesome, ‘green’, healthy, quirky, consciousness-expanding, enlightening and soul-expanding services and products.

    Although in the past 3 years we’ve unfortunately lost the adjacent Village Green parking area, there is still some on-site parking; free patrolled parking in the surrounding street and at the nearby Obs station; plus paid parking in Pepper square. We’re also working on getting more parking in the Metro Police College grounds next door.

    As far as I can tell that should tick all your boxes for what makes a market successful (while I am biased, I reckon 14 years of continuous existence tells you something about the Fair’s relevance to CT market lovers).

    It does have an entry fee, but that means we don’t have to charge our vendors too much and they then (hopefully) don’t pass on high prices to our visitors.

    Also, we offer our visitors the chance to watch – for free – interesting, topical and current films such as ‘What the Bleep Do We Know?’; Michael Moore’s ‘Capitalism, a love story’; ‘The Vanishing of the bees’ and ‘The real dirt on Farmer John’.

    Plus we have started offering free talks by lifestyle experts such as eco-auditor Martina Gluckman who will be advising people how to use energy more efficiently in their homes this winter (Sun 5 June: 12h30-13h30)

    We are constantly looking at ways to tweak the Fair to make as many people as possible happy. Of course it’s impossible to please everyone all the time, but come and check out the Fair on Sunday 5th June and find out what has kept us going all these years! or on Facebook: Obs Holistic Lifestyle Fair.

    BTW: for those foodies who appreciate knowing about the provenance of their food come and see our film ‘The real dirt on Farmer John’ on Sunday 5th – an eye-opening account of an organic community farm in conservative rural US.

    Thanks for the opportunity to give a plug!! Hope to see you in Obs πŸ™‚