A favourite South African tradition is braai’ing (or barbecue or roasting). We love it so much, we’ve even dedicated a national public holiday (Heritage Day) to it. I love braai’ed meat, although my braai skills need some work . There’s something about diving into crispy, smoky meat that makes me salivate. Along with the delicious sides that are a staple – potato salad, beetroot salad, chakalaka, pap, braai’ed mielies, and the list can go on and on. And growing up, braai’ing was a Sunday tradition. Unfortunately, living in an apartment complex meant that braai’ed meat became a luxury, as only a few friends braai’ed during the year. This also meant the finding the best shisa nyama.
Enter Mzoli’s (or Mzoli’s Place or Mzoli’s Meat or Mzoli’s Butchery), a local butchery turned local hangout, that provides the best shisa nyama in Cape Town. The butchery, located in Gugulethu, opened in 2003 and has become one of Cape Town’s most popular hangouts.
Mzoli’s is a rustic place, with the butchery to your right and the seating and entertainment to your left (located under a tin roof). The perfect introduction to a little taste of a township. The seating area can get quite crowded, especially on a Sunday. But with all the interesting people, entertainment and good friends surrounding you, the atmosphere is energetic.
As Mzoli’s gets really busy, there is a protocol to follow: First, place your meat, chakalaka, and pap order at the counter in the butcher; Take the meat through to the back, where staff are waiting to braai your meat; Then collect your pap and chakalaka; Still holding your receipt for the meat exit the butchery and find a table in the seated area (this may be a bit tough if you arrive after 12pm or haven’t booked a table); finally, give it about 30 minutes to an hour (depending on how busy it is) and collect your braai’ed meat.
Waiting for the meat to be braai’ed takes some time but it’s worth the wait. The meat (your choices of chops, boerewors and chicken) is cooked perfectly. The famous secret sauce is delicious and adds more flavour to the already crispy, smoky meat. My favourite is the chops and the chicken legs. The chakalaka is yummy as well as it’s quite spicy and acidic.
I’ve enjoyed every trip I’ve made to Mzoli’s and the food has never disappointed me. However, after every trip, I’ve learnt a few things. Here’s some things to make your trip to Mzoli’s even better:
- Bring your own plates, cutlery, serviettes and plastic cups (if you need them). Also, a plastic packet to throw your trash
- It’s BYOB but you can purchase alcohol in shops surrounding Mzoli’s
- The wait for food is long so bring snacks
- It gets hot under the tin roof in Summer so dress accordingly and closed footwear is the best as it does get crowded
- There are bathrooms but they sometimes run out of toilet paper. Bring some with, just in case
- As it does get very busy, make sure you keep an eye on your personal possessions.
- Also, if you’re planning on coming in a large group, make sure you book a table
- Lastly, Mzoli’s is all about enjoying the start of the week. So grab a beer/cider/mix, relax and mingle with your neighbour. And don’t be shy to show off some dance move 😉