After a pristine 5-day safari at Lion Sands Reserve (planned by Safari Architects, I highly recommend!), I didn’t think life could get any better. We saw every sort of animal (I loved the giraffes and hippos), enjoyed phenomenal cuisine, were well-taken care of by the staff, and enjoyed many necessary luxuries like outdoor showers with monkeys, outdoor massages with more monkeys, and poolside visits from elephants. You wouldn’t think that safaris could be luxurious, but every moment of our experience at Lion Sands was pristine and luxurious, from the service, to the bungalow, to the food and wine.
But, then we experienced South African wine country—Franschoek and Boschendal, specifically—and watched our dear friend Lauren get married. South African wine country was also pristine—and we watched our dear friend get married at a stunning vineyard.
And then we arrived in Cape Town, which is a city of shopping, brunch and coffee—my three favorite things. And South Africa became my favorite destination of the many, many laces I have visited around the globe. (You can read my Capetown Travel Guide here.)
Hemelhuijs is a stunning, whimiscal café and breakfast spot that is decorated beautifully. The glam yet chic restaurant feels more like a boutique than anything else—and you can, in fact, purchase the stunning, simple dinnerware that decorates the walls of the café and juice bar.
Hemelhuijs is posh and calming, with groups having breakfast or lunch and others sipping espresso or enjoying a fresh-pressed juice while reading the paper. While doing the research for brunch spots in Cape Town, I found this restaurant over and over and knew we had to pay a visit.
We walked in on a calm Monday, as this restaurant is closed Sundays. The servers, who are dressed in a unform of denim, white, button-up shirts, and suspenders, were friendly and relaxed. We were seated at a table outside and began to eagerly peruse the menu.
The drink menu is beautiful, with coffees, fresh-squeezed juices and an assortment of teas and unique beverages. Some of the eye-catching options on the menu included a Blood Orange Prosecco mimosa, a orange-spiced chai tea with steamed milk, a dulce du leche latte with thyme steamed milk, and a cocktail that featured organic vanilla rum with scooped grenadilla and fresh naartjie juice. You could return to Hemelhuijs any number of times before you worked your way through the delightful drink menu.
We began with coffees and fresh-pressed fruit-and-veggie juices, which were served in tall carafes with ice and a straw: perfection. That’s just how I’d always like to start my day: with quite a lot of vegetable juice, on ice, with a straw—seated outdoors, of course.
We each had black coffees, which came from one of Cape Town’s many local coffee roasters.
Lauren avoids green juices so she selected the pear, carrot, and winter melon, which was good, but a little too sweet for me. I preferred mine; she preferred hers; we were sitting outside in beautiful Cape Town—all was right in the world.
I like green juices, but only when they have some fruit to make it sweet. My green juice had kale, spinach, and pear, and it was perhaps one of the best green juices I’ve sampled to date. We sat in the sunshine and chatted amicably with our young, suspender-clad waiter and took it all in.
Then, the bread arrived. “I wish the bread in South Africa wasn’t so damn good,” said Lauren, who’d been sampling it throughout the trip though we both try to avoid carbs as our 20s fade away. I’d successfully avoided bread baskets on our trip thus far—until now. The chunks of rustic bread were served with a sesame seed olive oil and black sea salt—and it was worth every fluffy, delicious bite. It’s true: the bread in South Africa is damn good.
Then the enormous salads arrived. These salads were phenomenal. I selected the cucumber, pea and farro salad with salmon roe. The enormous plate had a base of farro, peas, and salmon roe, topped with julienned cucumbers and microgreens. It was dressed simply in olive oil—and incredibly salty. I really enjoyed this salad, but I couldn’t have as much of it as I’d like, it was very salty and more of a unique experience than a “eat everything” experience.
Lauren loved her salad so much that she wrote down the ingredients to recreate it in her kitchen back home. The salad comprised roasted cauliflower florets, thinly sliced green apples, hazelnuts, white cheddar slices, and golden raisins, all dressed in a light honey mustard dressing.
For our mains, I selected the soft scrambled eggs with avocados and toast, but our sweet waiter informed me that they were out of avocados, but I could substitute for roasted tomatoes or artichokes. I went with artichokes, as I can be a bit squeamish when it comes to squishy tomatoes.
I requested my eggs medium scrambled and they were truthfully some of the best scrambled eggs I’ve ever eaten. Scrambled eggs tend to be much of the same, but these were phenomenal. I was pretty full, but I ate a solid amount nonetheless.
Despite my delicious eggs, Lauren’s main course was also better than my main course—just like the salads. She ordered a coconut curry chicken, served with shaved coconut, ginger, and fresh cilantro. It was incredibly fresh, flavorful, and hearty—if I lived in Cape town I would be at this restaurant for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with regularity.
The Bitches say: A+. This is a beautiful, unique café and bakery with a gorgeous space, friendly service, and spectacular cuisine. Plus, they serve brunch on weekdays. We’ll be recreating that salad and putting this one in the books for the best scrambled eggs to date.
71 Waterkant Street
Cape Town, SA
Hemelhuijs serves brunch and lunch 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Closed Sundays.