Founded in 2003, Mzoli’s is a popular restaurant located in a township on the outskirts of Cape Town, South Africa called Gugulethu. Cape Town residents and tourists come to Mzoli’s for their famous braai (aka “BBQ”) styled meat and their entertaining atmosphere. There is always a DJ playing at Mzoli’s to entertain the guests and get the dance party going!
A common type of social gathering in South Africa, the Afrikaans word braai means “barbecue” or “grill” in English. Typically, braai meat includes boerewors, kebabs, marinated chicken, pork, lamb chops, steak and sausages.
How Mzoli’s Works:
1. The first task is getting there. There are mini-bus taxis that will bring you there for around R7 (which is equivalent to $1US) or you can grab a personal taxi for a little more money.
2. You walk into the butchery section of Mzoli’s and pick out your meat at the counter. It’s a little confusing at first with the hustle and bustle of people everywhere, so asking what to do next is common. There are a variety of raw meats available to order, such as boerewors, chicken and steak. The staff weighs out the meat for you and then it is your responsibility to bring the bowl of meat back to the grill for the chefs to cook. You have the option of purchasing “pap”, a stable food in South Africa. It is considered a pooridge made from maize meal, cooked with water and salt. You can add condiments for flavor.
3. The most difficult part of the experience is waiting over 90 minutes for your meat to finish cooking. During your wait, you check back with the grill to see if it is done. Mzoli’s is a common place for people to go to on Sunday’s, which makes the wait even longer. Getting there early is a great idea in order to eat by the time you are hungry in the afternoon.
4. Once your meat is done cooking it is time to dig in! Eating utensils such as plates, napkins and silverware, are not provided. You have the option to bring your own or eat it how the locals do – with your hands! There is no worrying about sauce on your face, as everyone else is making a mess too!
5. After your meat is gone (which happens quickly) you can return your bowl for a refund of R20.
Another unique aspect of Mzoli’s is the emphasis they put on drinking while waiting for your meat. Many people plan ahead and bring their own alcohol along with them. There are small hole-in-the-wall markets along the streets of Gugulethu that sell liquor and beer. The selection alongside the streets is low because so many people purchase alcohol once they get to Mzoli’s. However, you can always count on the common beers Black Label and Castle to be in stock. While you wait for your meat, you drink beer and dance! There are also shop vendors around Mzoli’s that sell cups, sunglasses and hats, making Mzoli’s a truly unique restaurant!
If you visit Cape Town, going to Mzoli’s on a Sunday is a must. It was interesting experiencing the township culture and, of course, trying out the famous meat that everyone raves about! Mzoli’s is one of those places where you just go with the flow. The wait is long, the place is packed and the music is blasting. However, that is what makes the experience that much more entertaining and rewarding! I went away having a great time with my family and friends.