There are a number of tempting food markets around Cape Town for almost every day of the week (particularly in summer): Wednesday: Earth Fair Market in Tokai and Vineyard Oval Market, Thursday: Cape Point Vineyards and City Bowl Market on Hope, Friday: Bay Harbour Market and Saturday: the Old Biscuit Mill and Oranjezicht Market. These markets offer local hand-made products (jewellery, clothing, crockery) and the most delicious food which are usually fancied up by being artisanal and organic. The real draw for the markets is the free food samplings without having to commit to buy anything. A piece of chocolate here, a pesto spread on bread there, don’t mind if I do taste this piece of cheese and that olive, nom nom.
Having been to almost all of these Cape Town markets and many throughout the Western Cape, the Blue Bird Garage Food & Goods Market had remained elusive. This is possibly because it’s on a Friday night in Muizenburg and Cape Townians are loath to drive further than 10-15 minutes unless it’s for an entire day outing. So onto the to-do list it went and it got done.
The Blue Bird Garage Food & Goods market (39 Albertyn Road, Muizenburg) is on the smaller side of these markets open on Fridays from 4-10pm with a local atmosphere (it felt well attended by the Muizenburg community with minimal tourists) and a very relaxed vibe. The highlight of the market is definitely the food and there were a number of tempting stalls with bacon-and-cheese samoosas, thin-based pizzas, mushroom burgers, sushi and organic wraps. Best plan is to go there for dinner, grab a glass of wine and enjoy a low-cost and super tasty meal with a friend. My friend from the area (Louisa) and I chose the most delicious falafels pita (but ones without the pita served in a bowl) for only R50. And for my friends and family with kids, I noted that it also included a play area which must surely must be a necessity for a family-friendly indoor market.
The Blue Bird Garage Food & Goods Market gets an emoticon thumbs up from me for good food and also because it is not as ridiculously crowded as some of the other markets. Thank you to Louisa for being my host to her local market.
It should be noted that for me one market experience is very similar to another, but attending one or more is definitely part of the authentic Cape Town experience. Here are my tips for dominating the Cape Town market experience:
- Crew down to Two or Three is a Crowd. Seating and space at these markets is at a premium. Trying to accommodate a larger crew is complicated, time-consuming and frankly it can get a little awkward. Browse the stall selections first, sample, then commit to where and what you would like to eat/drink and find a seat. That’s why two is the perfect number. One can watch the seating space while the other can organise the food/drinks. #dontmessaround #thisisseriousbusinesspeople
- Cash or Snapscan is king. Most of these places don’t take credit cards.
- Don’t linger longer. A market visit is meant to be a maximum of 1-1.5 hours activity. That’s it. It’s get in, browse, eat and chat and then get out. There is limited space and seating for those who need to chow their food. It is not cool to lurk there for hours.
- But to really take your Cape Town market experience to the next level, you need to do your weekly vegetable/fruit shopping at the market. Most of these markets offer some form of fruit/veggie shopping often overlooked by the sporadic market or tourist visitor. In January, I with a friend to the Oranjezicht market (currently in Granger Bay) and she bought her weekly veggies there greeting all of the vendors by name. It was like being with a celebrity (a local one at least).
- Bring your own material bag or basket. My mom rocks the market experience in Hermanus by bringing her own wicker basket for her purchases. Its’s not really the Cape Town scene to ask the vendor for an environmentally unfriendly plastic packet. #mymomaintplaying #rockingthebasket
- Also, if you are going to attempt the mother of all Cape Town markets, the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock, on a Saturday morning, go early. From about 11am the crowds get intense and then it becomes just silly hanging around.
- For those who have kids, I would recommend attending a less crowded market such as the Blue Bird Garage market or open markets that are child-friendly such as the Blaauwklippen Family market (Stellenbosch) on Sundays. I can’t imagine my niece running around and causing all the chaos that she should enjoy when there is barely standing room in some of those markets.