EAT Out’s guide to The best restaurants in Durban.
The Foodie Scene has certainly exploded in Durban. There have been many new restaurants, pop-up food stores, food trucks and food markets that have added a whole new vibe to the culinary landscape in Durban. Often we look towards social media groups, friends recommendations and food critics to help us choose a good restaurant.
Eat Out is one of South Africa’s most loved food brands. It was started in 1998 as the country’s definitive restaurant guide and now has evolved into a brand covering all aspects of food. The people on their panel that rate restaurants, comprise of 32 food and restaurant industry experts. So, we reckon these guys know good food when they taste it.
Last week, Eat Out released their “Restaurants in Durban – Where to Eat in 2015” and the list is very close to what we would have put out, although there are a few that we would have added. So, here is the experts guide to restaurants in Durban:
EAT OUT: The Best Restaurants in Durban – Where to Eat in 2015
Durban is cooking – and we’re not just talking about the summer temperatures. CNN called Durban one of the top under-rated cities in the world last year and the New York Times included it in its 52 places to go in 2015 list. It seems this might be eThekwini’s year. Currently, the city is bidding for the 2022 Commonwealth Games and is reputed to be considering an Olympic bid for 2024. We wouldn’t know much about that to be honest – there’s no eating contest, is there? – but we do know our way around the restaurants in the city. From Ethiopian food to spicy Szechuan and bunny chow to artisan charcuterie, there’s something for every palate. The following eateries received the best ratings from our editorial panel in the city, making it into the Eat Out 500 and our 2015 magazine.
1. Café Abyssinia Ethiopian Cuisine (Musgrave)
Ethiopian-born Charity Asfaw serves up fragrant shared dishes with injera pancakes at this charming restaurant in a converted garage.
2. China Plate (Umgeni Park)
Spicy Szechuan cooking draws other chefs to this restaurant on their nights off. It’s located in a shopping centre, but colourful lighting and lanterns keep things cosy.
3. Daruma (Elangeni)
Pull up a seat at the teppanyaki stations and watch your food being prepared before your eyes. Warm and cold sake, plum liqueur and soju add an authentic feel.
4. The Greedy Buddha (Durban North)
Expect beautiful tapas-style dishes here, like duck pancakes and pork buns with caramel chilli jam.
5. Quo Restaurant (Gillitts)
A calming Asian, maritime theme pervades this restaurant, which serves up modern fusion food with an Asian twist. Think calamari in pad Thai sauce or bread-and-butter pudding with white chocolate and spices.
6. 9th Avenue Bistro (Morningside)
Two accomplished chefs turn out downright delicious bistro food and a six-course tasting menu with skill and elegance.
7. Frank’s Speakeasy (Mount Edgecombe)
This handsome, upmarket man cave serves tempting bar-style food. Think burgers with aged, free-range beef, mature cheddar and onion rings, and jalapeño poppers filled with bolognaise.
8. Marco Paulo (Mount Edgecombe)
Sharing a kitchen – and owners – with Frank’s Speakeasy next door, Marco Paulo turns out honest, flavourful food. Pre-order suckling pig, or order off the specials board for rustic dishes such as pork neck.
9. Antique Café on Churchill (Morningside)
The menu at this quirky, charming café hasn’t changed in years, but staples like homemade quiche, Thai chicken wraps and basic breakfasts still hit the spot.
10. Chuck & Bob’s Charcuterie (Morningside)
Award-winning home-cured meat forms the foundation of the menu, with dishes worthy of adulation like a bacon butty with honey-cured bacon, mustard and mayo.
11. Freedom Café (Greyville)
Find an outdoor table under the trees in the courtyard and settle down to pulled pork on a brioche bun, prawn rolls with a nuoc cham dipping sauce or a New Yorker hot dog.
12. Glenwood Bakery (Glenwood)
Artisan breads baked on site are the inspiration for scrumptious dishes like ciabatta with goat’s cheese, roasted tomato, olives and rocket, or gourmet hotdogs. Double-volume windows bathe the rustic bakery space in natural light.
13. Market (Morningside)
This inner-city hideaway serves all-day breakfast and creative slow food made using local organic ingredients. It’s also open for dinner, when ever-changing specials keep things interesting.
14. Parc Café (Glenwood)
This vibey breakfast and lunch spot serves up some delicious food. Chef Brett Gentles earned his stripes as sous chef at 9th Avenue Bistro, and along with sister Lara, creates gourmet sandwiches, and inventive salads like Vietnamese chicken and ribbon veg.
15. Sprigs (Kloof)
This deceptively simple café has a loyal following. The harvest table is vegetarian-friendly and an ever-changing sandwich menu offers treats like roasted pork belly with fennel and apple chutney.
16. Vigour & Verve (Elangeni)
A buzzing open kitchen and views of the Golden Mile make this a cut above usual hotel dining. Durban flavours appear alongside hearty meals like lamb shank and steaks.
17. Capsicum (Durban North)
Glossy tiles, dark wood and over-sized chandeliers are hidden inside the hotel’s modest exterior. Durban curries, featring everything from fish roe or trotters to mutton or chops, are the highlight of the menu.
18. Jeera (Stamford Hill)
Chef Sandren Govender roasts and blends his own spices. Try the signature crab curry, butter chicken or inventive masala-spiced pineapple. Curtains and alcoves make this an intimate experience.
19. Mali’s Indian Restaurant (Morningside)
Specialising in South Indian cuisine, this restaurant is welcoming and warm despite its simple décor – thanks to the owners, who treat regulars like family. Highlights include dosa with mushroom curry, vada (crispy doughnuts) and lamb chettinad.
20. Palki Indian Restaurant (Berea)
This comfortable Durban favourite serves authentically spiced dishes from both North and South India, including crispy dosa pancakes, tandoori dishes and Kashmiri chicken curry. The wine list is limited, so consider bringing your own.
21. Lupa Osteria (Hillcrest)
A delightful eatery with traditional Italian flavours. Try the Sarah pizza with mozzarella, prosciutto, cream cheese and rocket. A great place for a social evening.
22. Remo’s Fratelli Villagio (Umhlanga)
Sit inside for a vibey atmosphere, or on the deck for something more light and breezy. Pizzas have earned cult status and there are also burgers, sandwiches, pastas and seafood on the menu.
23. Spiga D’Oro (Morningside)
The kitchen maintains excellent quality – even at midnight. Try the bolognaise cannelloni with gorgonzola sauce or wheat-free pizza and pasta at a table in the pretty piazza.
24. Stretta Café (Hillcrest)
Great, inventive breakfasts and wonderful coffee. The spaghetti with roasted butternut, caramelised onion, feta, bread crumbs, parmesan and balsamic glaze is a winner. Pizza, pasta and gnocchi are available wheat free.
25. Café 1999 (Berea)
Order a variety of dishes to share at this simple, modern café. Chef Marcelle Roberts works magic with line fish and the calamari on Vietnamese rice noodle salad draws deserving praise.
26. Circus Circus (North Beach)
Think soft-serve ice cream, wraps, burgers and enormous salads. Located right on the beach and open very early, this is the perfect spot to watch the sun rise or set. Dog-friendly.
27. Belleveue Café (Kloof)
Chris Black has a flair for Italian cuisine. Breakfasts are also wonderful: try the chilli-coriander corn cakes with avo, rocker, coriander, smoked salmon and lemon crème fraiche. Outdoor tables are very popular.
29. Harvey’s Restaurant (Umhlanga)
You’re in for a night of high drama and elegance. Order cocktails and tuck into Andrew Draper’s memorable fare, like a Caesar salad with deep-fried anchovies or a masterful brownie plate.
30. Ocean Terrace at the Oyster Box Hotel (Umhlanga)
There’s a wonderful variety of dishes, from an extensive, exceptional curry buffet to bistro-style fare like peri-peri chicken and oxtail casserole. Alternatively, pop in for high tea on the terrace.
Portuguese and Seafood
31. Ile Maurice (Umhlanga)
This sophisticated, owner-run establishment boasts a deck with a sea view and signature dishes like fresh crab in a béchamel sauce, and line fish with a coconut-tomato sauce.
32. Neo Café (Durban North)
The sun-dappled deck at this casual Portuguese restaurant is popular. Try the generous Mozambican prawns in a spicy coconut and beer sauce or the chicken livers.
33. Butcher Block (Umhlanga Rocks)
The generously basted steaks take pride of place on the menu. Order them with retro sides like garlic and cheese bread or beer-battered onion rings. Glorious sea views don’t hurt.
34. Butcher Boys (Morningside)
For 15 years, this has been a satisfying stopover for meat-lovers. Prime cuts are cut to your specifications. Large windows open up onto Florida Road.
35. Grill Jichana (Snell Parade)
Free-range chicken and duck from award-winning Dargle Ducks are popular, while steak lovers will appreciate the 500g rump with café de Paris butter, served bleu.
36. Havana Grill (North Beach)
Famous for 28-day wet-aged free-range grass-fed beef from Mooi River. A huge sea view and a Cuban theme attract a vibey crowd.
37. Little Havana (Umhlanga)
There’s grain-fed, grass-fed and organic meat on offer, and sometimes Australian Wagyu beef. Sit on the verandah with its paddle fans and crisp, white tablecloths.
The restaurants above were rated highly enough by our editorial panel to make the grade for the Eat Out 500, the best restaurants in South Africa, which were reviewed in the 2015 issue of Eat Out magazine.
Read the original Eat Out article here.