One of the few genuinely ‘ethnic’ restaurants in Cape Town that
manages to be totally unpretentious, with chandeliers emitting a gentle
light above the stone, rug-covered floors and pale white hookah smoke. Savvy young graduates who’ve remained behind to work in this historic, increasingly hip little university town come here to lounge together at tables clustered onto the sidewalk, and goggle at the tourists who wander the streets in search of wine, Cape Dutch architecture, and a sensible place to eat. This is it, so pass between the olive trees flanking the entrance and flop into the sink-deep sofas before scanning the menu’s healthy selection of Lebanese specialities; we recommend the mezze platter – hummus, baba ganoush, creamed cheese with chili, and baby pies filled with spinach and spicy beef, served with large flat Lebanese breads topped with zaatar (wild thyme) – ideal for sharing. While so many other Stellenbosch cafes are trying terribly hard to be cool, this place gets it right without the least bit of effort thanks to the Beirut-born owner who ensures that the food is authentic and the selection of flavoured shisha tobaccos, an essential accompaniment to coffee, always fresh.