I’m a huge fan of La Parada so when I heard that the Harbour House Group had opened a new La Parada restaurant on the Camps Bay strip I knew I had to go. Well known in Cape Town for their unique blend of traditional Spanish-style tapas and good times, the La Parada restaurants in the CBD and Constantia have somewhat of a cult following amongst discerning young professionals looking for a place to eat good grub, have a few drinks, and let their hair down. Of course, there’s no better place in Cape Town to have a good time than Camps Bay. On weekends, The Camps Bay strip comes alive with well-heeled revellers looking for a place to shake off the stress of the week and the new La Parada del Mar couldn’t fit in more perfectly if it tried.
La Parada del Mar occupies a prime position on Camps Bay’s glamorous seafront strip, just steps from the powder-white sands of Cape Town’s sought-after Atlantic seaboard, and is unsurprisingly just a little bit different from the CBD and Constantia branches. There’s still a distinctive Spanish flair to the eatery but with its street-side café tables, pineapple-motif wallpaper, raw wooden shutters, and all-around casual elegance La Parada del Mar is a little more “Miami Beach” than its sister restaurants.
Take a seat downstairs and watch the world go by as you sip on refreshing cocktails and soak up the buzz of Camps Bay’s glorious beach front. Or, head upstairs for a more upmarket feel and peer through the raw wood shutters to take in the panoramic views over Camps Bay beach, waving palms and cobalt blue seas. When designing the new spot, Simone Biggs (Interior Designer for the Harbour House Group) says she drew inspiration from Ibiza, Miami and Cuba in curating a space that blends laid-back beach-chic with a dose of after-dark allure. And that’s certainly what you get, La Parada del Mar is a space where you can escape from your busy, stressful life and pretend you’re on a glamourous holiday, if only for an afternoon.
But what about the food? The much-loved sharing philosophy of La Parada remains but this new spot has a somewhat revamped menu. “We’ve moved away from traditional Spanish tapas,” explains Executive Chef, Martin Senekal. “We’ve kept the concept of small plates built for sharing, but we’ve tried to elevate the level of elegance and quality.” This time around, the menu is focused on serving fresh seafood dishes, prepared simply and plated beautifully and there’s no doubt that the stuff that arrives at your table looks almost too appetising to eat (I said almost). I’m a massive seafood fan and I love nothing more than discovering seafood restaurants that do more than just your standard Hake and chips and basic seafood platters. The menu at La Parada del Mar reminded me why I love seafood so damn much and some of their creations had me salivating at just the thought of them for days after my visit.
Some of my favourites from the menu include the Charred Octopus (slow-braised and flame-grilled, and served with a delicious dried tomato pesto – R78), Saldanha Bay Mussels (a classic combination of steaming white wine, garlic and parsley served with grilled bread – R88), Seared Sesame Crusted Tuna (plated with a salad of fine beans and green olives with a citrus dressing – R89), and Salt & Pepper Fried Calamari (served with roasted garlic aioli and lemon – R69). I know La Parada is all about sharing but trust me, the combination of the juicy octopus with the creamy tomato pesto will make you realise that sharing is overrated anyway while the beautiful crunch of sesame seeds on soft, delicately seared tuna will have you smacking your friends’ hands away as they reach for that last tasty morsel on the plate.
If you don’t like to share, or if you and your mate super hungry, then there are also larger “Plato Principal” plates crafted for sharing. Choose from delights like Salt Grilled Prawns (two-dozen salt-grilled prawns with zesty salsa picon, flavoured Spanish rice, and a house salad – R395), Beef Prime Rib on the Bone (800g prime rib with Anchovy and caper butters – R360), and a Seafood Platter (with crayfish, mussels, prawns, calamari, and linefish – R625). There also a range of side dishes to choose from including Honey & Thyme Roasted Butternut (R42), Cauliflower Puree (R45), and a House Salad (R48). And, for those who are watching what they eat the menu also focuses on low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) dining, with a variety of dishes on offer that are low-carb, gluten-free and low in sugar – look our for the LCHF markings on the menu to find them easily.
On to dessert, even the sweets menu boasts a delicious LCHF option – a Baked Vanilla Bean Cheesecake (R60) that tastes just like the real deal. This oh-so-sweet dessert is worth a taste even if you’re not into the LCHF lifestyle. There’s also plenty for those who have a real sweet tooth to enjoy and you can’t go wrong with the traditional Crema Catalan with Palmera biscuits (R55) or the Coffee Panna Cotta (R55) which is a coffee lover’s dream come true.
While La Parada del Mar might not be the most affordable restaurant on the block (it is in Camps Bay for goodness sake) the food is certainly worth the splurge. If you’re concerned it’s too rich for your blood then I’d recommend going on a weekend afternoon for a few drinks and a nibble with mates rather than committing to a full dinner date there. It’s a fabulous place to spend a few hours hanging out with mates on the weekend and is sure to be your go-to spot when you’re looking for something delicious to quench your thirst after a long day on the beach.
After years of working as an Editor and writer for popular websites like Joburg’s Darling, Cape Town’s Darling and Joburg.co.za, Crystal left her sanity and an established career in lifestyle journalism behind to follow her dream of creating a website for the intellectual and discerning woman. Today she spends her time chasing the thrill of being the first to know about ‘the next big thing’. She’ll try anything once and has been known to put her body, hair and health on the line – all in the name of research.