Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Favorite Watering Holes and Eateries

True to form, John leaves no stone unturned.  And this includes finding the best local places to hang out and relax.  We still have a few neighborhoods to explore, but we are already voting on some favorites. What do you think?

One of our first discoveries was Banana Jam, which is located just 7 train stops away. Banana Jam is known for its Caribbean food and atmosphere, and low-priced happy hour drinks.  It has a great outdoor patio and a perfectly relaxed vibe.  They serve several craft beers on tap, one of which is Rogue Dead Guy Ale, with which we are already well familiar since it comes from Oregon.  We have a favorite waiter who is finishing up his degree in Marine Biology at the University of Cape Town.

Monet’s impressionist painting of Sarah at Banana Jam

Late afternoon is the right time for Banana Jam

Another favorite is &Union.  &Union (short for Brewers & Union) is located in the City Bowl (downtown Cape Town).  It's in the back courtyard of St. Stephen's Church, and has long communal picnic tables so it is easy to get to know the other patrons.  They have live music on Wednesday and Friday evenings, usually jazz or reggae.  The food, beer and wine are all excellent.

The first time we were at &Union, we met Michael and Hennie, two likeable business associates from Jo'Burg and Bloemfontein.  We bought each other beers.  The second time, we met Tham and Howard, two ex-pats from Zimbabwe who immigrated to Cape Town 20 years ago.  They explained the complicated politics of their home country.

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe is now a famous tyrant, but he did a lot of positive things for education and the economy when he first took power.  Tham, who has a slight resemblance to James Earl Jones and is an ob-gyn at the UCT hospital, got motivated to jump on stage with the reggae band to sing a Bob Marley song.

The crowd at &Union is pretty diverse

Hennie and Michael think everything about South Africa is “brilliant!”

Howard and Tham (James Earl Jones) from Zimbabwe

Got to have kaya, mon.  Tham sings a Bob Marley tune.

We recently discovered a third favorite spot for socializing.  It's called "I Love My Laundry." It's a small space with a corner patio in an eclectic urban neighborhood.  Inside, it has a laundry business in a semi-hidden raised back level and serves high quality, inexpensive wines at one solid table for twelve in front.  Fanciful earrings and other jewelry are available for sale in the middle of the table and on the walls.  It all blends together amazingly well.

Owners Clayton and Mico have a loyal clientele and seem to know everyone in the neighborhood, who drop in for both laundry and wine.  Clayton also gave us the inside scoop on the wineries in Stellenbosch, which we will visit next week.  It seems that most of the best wines are only exported, so you really have to know what to look for.

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