Every great dish has a good story behind it, and the Gatsby is no exception. In 1976, in the working-class Cape Town suburb of Athlone, a man by the name of Rashaad Pandy needed to give a group of workers some dinner. Pandy owned a popular fish-and-chips take-away restaurant in the area, but there was one problem. He was fresh out of snoek, a firm fish popular with Cape Town locals. No problem, he thought, so he sliced open a long roll, filled it with fried chips, polony sausage and spicy local chutney called atchar.
“This is a Gatsby smash!” shouted one impressed worker, inspired by the famous movie showing at the theatre across the road. And so, the Gatsby was born.
Famous as the ultimate hangover cure, the Gatsby can be filled with everything from calamari to sausage, but the classic version comes as a long bread roll crammed with slices of spicy steak, hot chips and salad. Ask for a full house and you’ll get a sandwich that could feed a football team.
A “half” is easily enough for two or three people, but make sure you order it in the right way: when the person behind the counter says “How many?” they don’t mean how many you want to order. Instead, they’re asking how many cuts in the long sandwich they should make. If you’re feeding three people, the answer’s “three”. Regardless of how many you choose, the middle slice is the best.
So now, where should you go to find the best Gatsby in Cape Town? Everyone has their favourite: the Golden Dish in Klipfontein Road in the Cape Flats suburb of Rylands is famous, while Aneesa’s Takeaways in Ottery Road, Wynberg is as legendary. Super Fisheries, where it all began, is still going strong in Klipfontein Road, Athlone but, like the Golden Dish, is a little far off the tourist track.
Your best bet for a taste of Cape Town street food is to eat with the locals at Mariam’s Kitchen in St George’s Mall in the centre of Cape Town. Now theres a Gatsby to write home about.