‘The Village’, as it’s come to be known, is still one of KZN’s most popular restaurant hubs. With the beach a stone’s throw away and a plethora of hotels to choose from, out-of-towners flock to this tourist-friendly strip for the wide choice of cuisines and restaurants, while locals can’t resist the nightlife charm of the stylish pubs and easy-going eateries. Here’s your Chartwell Drive checklist.
Best for: An unapologetic steakhouse for meat lovers
All the beef here is either wet- or dry-aged between 25 and 35 days, then basted and expertly grilled on an open flame to your taste. It’s always buzzing at night and offers favourites like roasted marrowbone starters, signature mains like côte de boeuf or avo-and-Dijon sirloin, and apple malva pudding for dessert. There’s also a decent selection of combos, and chicken and seafood options for pickier eaters.
Best for: A relaxed seafood lunch or dinner
The extensive seafood options at this stylish ocean-themed spot range from sushi and dim sum to shellfish and fish burgers. Dishes like the new-style sashimi offer fresh and light flavours that pair perfectly with a crisp bottle of wine or fish bowl cocktails. If you’re indecisive, the fish, calamari and shellfish combos (served with mash, chips, savoury rice or salad) are a top choice.
Best for: A special date night or celebration
Chef Kayla-Ann Osborn’s open plan kitchen and restaurant boasts gorgeous décor with a menu that features beautifully presented seasonal food. The menu changes almost daily but could feature the likes of free-range chicken, oysters with mushroom ravioli and chicken jus; Kent-inspired pork terrine with piccalilli and salsa verde; or butter-poached langoustine with sweet potato, ginger and coral butter.
Best for: Drinks and gourmet pub grub
This trendy gastropub attracts a stylish crowd with its booth seating, centre-stage bar and stylish pub grub. There’s a pie of the day, mussels, tasty burgers and mac ’n cheese, as well as lighter beer, snack boards and jaffles. Grab one of the comfy window seats with views onto bustling Chartwell Drive.
Best for: Burgers with mates
While this spot is not technically on the Chartwell Drive strip, it still draws in the Village crowds with its gourmet burgers, craft beers and larger-than-life milkshakes. Glorious burger options include the Rockafella, with eight-hour roasted pulled pork, cheddar and a fried egg. Or go for a simple cheeseburger with tomato relish and cheddar. Hudsons also offers great appetisers, happy hour specials and takeaways, for those midweek pick-me-ups.
Best for: Free-range steak
Find a seat on the balcony on balmy evenings and enjoy the calm surroundings and crisp white tablecloths of this upmarket steakhouse. Free-range beef is the name of the game here, aged on-site and prepared by the in-house butcher. Try the grain-fed versus grass-fed meat with a drizzle of delicious béarnaise sauce, or sink into a bowl of fabulous mushroom risotto with rump and a chive butter. Pair all of this with a superb wine list.
Best for: Meze platters with friends
This stylish new addition to The Village hub offers locals a taste of Greek fare in an Instagram-ready setting. The large menu is inspired by Greek family recipes with a huge array of meze-style options or mains, like souvlakia with tzatziki and pita; lamb kleftiko with oven-roasted potatoes; whole line fish, or veggie moussaka with a Greek side salad.
Best for: Boozy tapas dinner with friends
From the people behind Little Havana, this super-stylish restaurant and bar serves Spanish-style tapas ranging from marinated olives and patatas bravas with dips to Madrid-style croquetas. There are also Portuguese-style chilli prawns on offer or white anchovies with roasted peppers. The rotisserie chickens are a good choice for those wanting a more substantial meal, and are also available as takeaways.
Best for: Breakfast with the family
This is one of the village’s hot spots, with an open-plan bakery laden with fresh breads and sunny sidewalk tables. The café menu is a hit with both locals and tourists, including easy-going breakfasts and light meals, waffles and harvest boards. Pissaladières, the French pizza-style dish, comes topped with the likes of smoked salmon and cream cheese, marinated tomatoes, or even butter chicken with yoghurt and coriander.
This famous Johannesburg steakhouse chain has been ingrained in Jozi food culture since the late 70s and has now taken the place of what used to be Remo’s Villagio. KZN’s first branch opened in September and locals can expect a selection of biltong starters, steaks with flavours from France to Argentina, hearty combos and classic burgers.