Dining African style - Mzoli’s
What is the most proudly South African thing you can do any day of the year, but especially a Sunday – a braai. And what is a braai all by yourself, with one or two strings of boerewors and a shrivelled up tasteless chop – sadness. A braai is an experience that should be shared with friends, old and new.
I first heard of Mzoli’s from my brother, who was here a few years ago. He described it as fantastic, with cheap beer and amazing meat. I just had to pay this place a visit and see for myself.
For the uninitiated, Mzoli's started off as a simple butchery on NY115 in Gugulethu (a huge township just off the N2 on the way to the airport) but has grown into a popular hang-out for Gugs locals and tourists alike. It is arguably the most popular township restaurant and synonymously known as a must visit while in Cape Town. The recipe is simple: Buy meat, hand to the braai-demons out back. Grab a table in the outside seating next to the butchery. Mark your territory with a few beers and go back to the braai and collect your tray of grilled flesh. Tuck in, to the sound of kwaito beats. Simple! On sunny weekends more than several hundreds of people can be seen at this popular spot and they are all looking for the same thing and it is NOT trouble but a freakin’ good time!
I was told that it can be really hard to get seating but we made sure to be there quite early and were able to take up a big table along the side, with great views of the dance floor area where more and more people gathered. We waited for about 30 minutes for the meat to be done, but we didn’t find ourselves bored. The place was packed already at 11:00 am and lots of people to chat with. The atmosphere was chilled and people were already dancing. Sundays have the after party-vibe to them and people come to Mzoli’s to just squeeze that last little bit of weekend fun out. We soon forgot about time and the world outside of the red curtains that separates the patio from the street outside. We had such a great time chatting to all the people in between bites of meat of great quality, soaked in their secret sauce and gulps of ice cold Castle Lager, bought in the shebeen next door. We decided to step out from the big party for a little breather. With the bright sun in our eyes we had a quick stroll around the street vendors, selling handicrafts of different kinds. It’s actually an amazing business model, as local entrepreneurs set up stands outside and operate independently. Now that is the true form to creating jobs for the local community!
When it comes down to it, Mzoli's offers outsiders a great way to experience a small taste of township life in a safe and fairly authentic environment. It’s a great vibe, and almost everyone returns energised from an unexpected day out.
It is the conversations sparked from the mix of backgrounds, cultures, desires and energy that make Mzoli’s such a great experience!