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The best restaurants in Johannesburg: where to eat out in 2015

Joburg surely wins the prize for the most diverse dining scene in SA – not to mention some of the best weather. Whether it’s barbecue-mad chefs smoking up southern-style ribs, a bustling Chinese community steaming dim sum in Cyrildene, African eateries taking wood-fired shisa nyama to new heights, or family-run restaurants serving authentic Indian, French or Italian, the choice of breakfast, lunch and dinner for Joburg residents and visitors is rich and plentiful. You’ll never go hungry in the city of gold.

Here is our judges’ pick of Johannesburg’s best restaurants, as rated and reviewed for the 2016 Eat Out magazine.

African

African

The Bannister Hotel Bar and Restaurant (Braamfontein)
It’s all about meaty fare at this quirky landmark building. Order the flame-grilled brisket with pap and spicy chakalaka; the bunny chow; or ugusi, a delicious Nigerian chicken stew. Have fun in the buzzing atmosphere and eat with your hands.

Hats are part of the decor at the D6 District Six Cafe in Emmarentia. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Hats are part of the decor at the D6 District Six Cafe in Emmarentia. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

D6 District Six Eatery (Emmarentia)
Cape Malay-style lamb curry is fall-off-the-bone sumptuous; also try tripe, waterblommetjie bredie and generous boboties, and leave space for milktart, koesisters and pumpkin fritters. The ambience is colourful, festive and vibrant.

Inside of the Flames Restaurant. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Inside of the Flames Restaurant. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Flames Artisan Braai and Craft Beer (Westcliff)
This is braaivleis at its fanciest, with amazing views from the top of the Westcliff Hotel. Watch your order of ostrich skewers, lamb chops or burgers being prepared on the grill. The Sunday lunch buffet is very popular.

The Americas

Hudsons The Burger Joint (Parkhurst)
Fresh, juicy and with great flavour combinations, these burgers hit the spot. Try a starter of chilli poppers and then The Cheese, a beef burger with tomato relish, onion marmalade and cheddar. Refreshing cocktails, craft beers on tap and thick milkshakes round out the offering.

The interior at Hudson's Parkhurst. Photo courtesy of the restaurant

The interior at Hudson’s Parkhurst. Photo courtesy of the restaurant

Mr Big Stuff (Braamfontein)
Tuck into American-style fast food like a waffle sandwich stuffed generously with chicken strips and chilli mayo; fried chicken and waffles drizzled with syrup; and burgers topped with deep-fried mac ‘n cheese. The décor is cute and quirky with smiley-faced wallpaper and pastel colours.

The National Eatery and Speakeasy (Parktown North)
This speakeasy-style eatery turns out pork, duck and beef from the reverse Texan smoker. The burgers are tasty, and the wild boar ragu with duck-egg pasta is a revelation. Look out for the specials menu for exciting new options.

A sandwich at The Smokehouse and Grill. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

A sandwich at The Smokehouse and Grill. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

The Smokehouse and Grill (Braamfontein)
This establishment takes its ribs seriously. If you’re not keen on fillet, sirloin, rump, T-bone or beef oxtail, the burgers are huge and offer good value for money. The vibe is casual and fun. Tip: the peanut butter ice cream is fantastic.

Asian

Catch (Bedfordview)
The extensive menu features dim sum, sushi, seafood and noodles. Start with crispy soft-shell crab or the eight-piece dim sum platter and move on to seared tuna coated in sesame seeds or the crispy Peking duck with mandarin pancakes and hoi sin sauce, before finishing with deep-fried ice cream. Seats on the terrace take first prize.

The Good Luck Club (Illovo)
Dim sum steals the show in options like spinach and cream cheese or chicken, spring onion and ginger. The crispy twice-fried beef with basil is delicious, while vegetarians vote for the bok choy noodles with shiitake and enoki.

The Good Luck Bar Shed

The Good Luck Bar Shed. Photo courtesy of the market

Chinese Northern Foods (Cyrildene)
This food may ruin you for all other so-called Asian eateries. A plate of hot and silky-soft dumplings will bring a grin to your face. The seafood wonton soup is a winner, as is the signature Pie like Hat that unravels in strips. They serve Tsingtao beers and very bad wine, so best bring your own.

The Great Eastern Food Bar (Melville)
This is adventurous eating, best described as ‘world food’, with lots of Eastern influences. Start with a green papaya salad and then order fried cubes of fresh tofu in a hot agedashi sauce, or the mussels with a lovely smoky combo of miso and dashi. The desserts are glorious.

Rolls at The Great Eastern Food Bar. Photograph courtesy of the restaurant

Rolls at The Great Eastern Food Bar. Photograph courtesy of the restaurant

The Orient (Melrose Arch)
An extensive menu with a wonderful array of Asian offerings includes dim sum, sushi and Thai curries. For a real treat, sample the Peking-style duck. The wine list is excellent. The ambience is modern and classy, and there’s a fabulous bar.

Pron (Linden)
The street-food-style menu is full of comfort food to warm the soul. Small tapas dishes and hearty homemade noodle dishes are perfect for sharing. The ‘hand break bread’ with spring onion and salt is an absolute must, followed by outstanding Szechuan-chilli chicken with peanut sauce.

PRON inside

The interior of PRON. Photograph courtesy of the restaurant.

Sai Thai (Cyrildene)
Authentically made Thai cuisine can be found here, from spring rolls and prawn cakes to Thai soups and curries. Standouts include the angry duck with fried noodles, the flavours light and perfectly balanced.

So Yum (Hyde Park corner)
Asian bites come rolled or wrapped and steamed or deep-fried. Then there’s sushi, curries, noodles and proteins prepared Asian-style. Slake your thirst with worthy cocktails and speciality teas like Jasmine Fairy, Double Happiness and Falling in Love Again.

Yamato sushi

Sushi at Yamato. Photograph courtesy of the restaurant

Yamato Japanese Restaurant (Illovo)
This is a showcase of the best of Japanese cuisine. There are à la carte choices, set menus and combos. Start with mouthwatering wakame salad, or share a selection of their famous gyoza dumplings. Further standouts include excellent tempura, crispy chicken and the oyster-sauce beef.

Bistro

A La Bouffe (Linden)
Michelin-starred chef Romuald Denesle serves the comfort dishes he loves. It’s very French: breakfasts feature pain au chocolat and a perfect omelette, and mains could be a dark, rich stew of rabbit with prunes and white bean purée, braised lamb, or smoked hake with pearl barley.

A la Bouffe

Inside at A la Bouffe. Photo courtesy of the restaurant

Bistro Michel (Birnam)
Chef patron Michel Morand delivers very moreish dishes, like classic French onion soup, salmon tartare mille-feuille, and salads with warm cheese on crisp bread. Mains such as rich lamb shank, duck confit and côte de boeuf with béarnaise will tingle your taste buds.

Bistro Vine (Parkhurst)
The focus at this cosy French bistro is on more accessible French food, like brie in pastry, filet bordelaise, moules-frites, duck confit, bouillabaise and châteaubriand. The pear cooked in spiced wine and served with white-choc-and-almond sauce is magic. Great wine selection.

The interior at Bistro Vine. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

The interior at Bistro Vine. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Coobs (Parkhurst)
The family farm in the Magaliesberg provides most of the restaurant’s organic ingredients. Grass-fed meats taste delicious in dishes like wild boar cobb salad and orange-glazed duck with cumin-dusted pumpkin. They pride themselves on their list of boutique wines. Sidewalk tables are great for people watching.

Coobs

Inside at Coobs. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Corner Café & Bistro (Craighall Park)
This good local favourite serves pizzas, pastas, burgers and hot dogs, as well as more interesting starters like tempura gherkins, grilled halloumi wrapped in prosciutto, and crispy battered squid. Service is warm and the ambience is laid-back, with an open-plan kitchen.

Craft (Parkhurst)
Dig right into tasty beef-and-onion soup with steaming rolls or beautiful home-smoked chicken with smoked bacon and fresh slaw. The lamb burger is exceptional, with a wood-fired pita, minted tzatziki and sweet potato fries. Desserts are whacky and nostalgic, like the salted caramel Oreo cheesecake.

Craft in Parkhurst. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Outside at Craft in Parkhurst. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

EATERY JHB (Parkmore)
Located in a reclaimed car workshop, the restaurant has a raw, industrial feel. Three plump Lüderitz oysters in a Bloody Mary dressing with crusty fresh bread make a satisfying starter. Also recommended are roasted bone marrow with salsa verde; steamed sea bass in an aromatic broth; and dry-aged rump steak with horseradish-and-mustard sauce.

Foundry (Parktown North)
Start with innovative small plates like roasted bone marrow and mushrooms with onion marmalade on toast, and move onto trendy dishes like gingerbeer pork belly with cauliflower-and-potato purée,. On Sundays, the spitbraai is extremely popular, plus there’s live music.

The interior at The Foundry. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

The interior at The Foundry. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

The Green Peppercorn Bistro (Morningside)
The menu fuses flavours from around the world and everything is experimental, like prawn tempura wraps with coconut mayo; rooibos-smoked ostrich carpaccio done maki style; and apricot-masala baby chicken. The Lindt bon bons with Amarula custard are simply heavenly.

Junipa’s (Bryanston)
The aromas from the bakery and the roaster waft through the easy-going café. Homemade lamb pie, fishcakes and scrumptious burgers are recommended, plus the deli offers take-home meals, pastries, cakes and an array of other sweet treats. Grab some coffee beans at the roaster before you go.

The Leopard (Melville)
This is a true dining adventure. Andrea Burgener creates food that is playful yet sophisticated. Highlights include stuffed quail and homemade marshmallows plucked from a jar and enjoyed as is or covered in chocolate. Wines match the multi-dimensional flavours, and good coffees, tea and grappas round off the perfect meal.

Inside at The Leopard. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Inside at The Leopard. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Liège Café (Sandton City)
This café is perfect for relaxation and indulgence. Top-notch French and Belgian cuisine includes the likes of lobster bisque, hearty beef bourguignon, and steak au poivre. End with madeleines.

A beer and burger at The Wolfpack in Sandton. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

A lager, burger and a side at The Wolfpack in Sandton. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

The Wolfpack (Sandton)
An eclectic mix of people makes the restaurant buzz. Burgers are globally inspired, with Moroccan spices, teriyaki, harrissa and chimmichurri making an appearance. Try the wasabi onion rings or the polenta fries as sides. Creative cocktails, craft beers and ciders make this a great spot for socialising.

Cafés

Belle’s Patisserie (Birnam)
This little patisserie is known for catering for special diets. Their Bellisima flapjack stack is gluten-free, sugar-free and low-carb, and if you love warm porridge, try the hot coconut milk quinoa porridge topped with blueberry preserve, coconut shavings, walnuts and honey. The space is small and intimate, with beautiful antiques.

Inside at Belle's Patisserie

Inside at Belle’s Patisserie. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Cheese Gourmet (Linden)
A perfect place to catch up with friends over delicious deli fare, Cheese Gourmet has a vast all-day breakfast menu, with winners like a frittata topped with olives and melted brie. There’s also a great selection of sandwiches, salads and cheese dishes like raclette and fondue. They stock over 140 local and international cheeses, which you can taste before buying.

Grain Food and Wood (Maboneng)
The name refers to two types of grain – food and wood – with the focus on sustainable eating and décor. Everything is free of MSG, preservatives, harmful additives, and sugar – but it still delivers on taste, in the form of options like grilled cheese with basil pesto and sweet potato wedges.

The Hill Café (Braamfontein)
Chefs source responsibly, sustainably and super-fresh, grow the ingredients, bake all the breads, preserve and bottle accompaniments and sauces, and even make cheeses. The best burger ever boasts a patty of three different beef cuts, accompaniments plucked from planter boxes, smoky sauce and hand-cut chips. Promising chefs and entrepreneurs are trained here through the Awethu Project.

Outside at The Hill Cafe. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Outside at The Hill Cafe. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Leafy Greens Café (Muldersdrift)
The vegetarian buffet is the highlight, including the likes of tricolour rice, spinach cottage pie, dehydrated salad, vegetarian lasagne, wraps with dipping sauces, mock egg mayo and mock tuna mayo (both delicious), vegetable curry and chickpea salad. First prize is a secluded spot under a tree.

Life Grand Café (Waterfall)
Serving a good selection of bistro fare, tapas and sushi, Life Café has something for every palate. Try the gourmet boerewors roll. It’s a very trendy spot, with wood finishings and beautiful plush blue furniture.

Love Food – Kitchen, Deli, Café (Braamfontein)
It’s not uncommon to see queues out the door for the generous lunchtime harvest table. Look forward to imaginative Ottolenghi-inspired salads and fresh baked goods.

A menu on the wall at Love Food Café. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

A menu on the wall at Love Food Café. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Moemas (Parktown North)
Some of the finest pâtisserie in Joburg appears in the Willy Wonka-esque shop window: cakes, fruit tarts and towering meringues. Awesome salads come by weight. They also do a scrumptious high tea.

Moemas mille feuille

Moemas mille feuille. Photograph by Sherene Hustler

Nice on 4th (Parkhurst)
This is a very popular breakfast and lunch spot. Try the signature egg basket for breakfast, the homemade chicken pie for lunch, and end with the flourless Belgian chocolate cake. There’s a nice buzz, with views of chefs pulling baked delights out of ovens.

The Patisserie (Illovo)
It may all be pretty in pink with roses and delicate porcelain, but the food is substantial: think scrambled eggs and salmon on rye, chicken pie, and fishcakes drizzled with rocket-mayo dressing. End with their legendary pastries or cakes and a perfect coffee.

Petits Fours Paris (Blackheath)
In Addition to delicious baked goods and French-inspired breakfasts (croque madame, anyone?), this relaxed eatery also serves more serious rump steak with a perfect red-wine reduction and blue cheese, burgers on homemade rolls, and a Swiss cheese and tarragon tuna melt.

A cake display at Petits Fours Paris

A cake display at Petits Fours Paris. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

The Pudding Shop (Parktown North)
A beautiful restaurant, The Pudding Shop offers modern, inventive and very fresh food, featuring Middle Eastern, North African and Far Eastern influences. The tasting plates are a good introduction. Wash them all down with the sensational fruit, herb and veg cocktails.

salvationcafe (Milpark)
This is one of the best breakfast spots in Joburg, with interesting options like the Mexican sausage burrito. Lunch could be calamari with five-spice dipping sauce or a hefty grass-fed beef burger. It’s good, honest grub. The lovely cobbled courtyard has a bubbling fountain and olive trees.

The interior at Salvationcafe. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

The interior at Salvationcafe. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

tashas le parc (Hyde Park)
There are menu items specially geared towards health (like zucchini spaghetti), but it’s easy to treat yourself with breakfasts like bacon rösti with forestière sauce or aubergine, beef and yoghurt crumble with tomato, pomegranate molasses and pine nuts. They’ve created some ambience in the mall with French cafe décor and sofas.

tashas (Morningside)
This spot is always pumping with energy; they keep things interesting by regularly adding new dishes to the menu. Try the sublime salad of pickled beetroot, quinoa, hazelnuts, feta and pomegranate, and sip on a fantastic coffee blend.

Warm & Glad (Craighall Park)
If you like a quirky space with the feel of a New York-style café, this one’s for you. The newly revamped menu has been inspired by Asian and Portuguese flavours. The Ho Chi Minh hot beef is great for lunch, and dinner holds a new pasta menu and a selection of meat, chicken and seafood dishes.

Warm & Glad salad

Salad at Warm & Glad. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Wolves Cafe (Illovo)
Mismatched chairs, bunting, and work from budding artists make this a cosy space, where you can find innovative and playful dishes like waffles and fried chicken, meatball subs, and even a PBJ sandwich done French toast style with a Rice Krispies crust.

Voodoo Lily Café (Sandhurst)
Everything is organic and sustainable and great care is taken in preparing meals – but it’s still oh-so-tasty. Start the day with eggs Benedict or shakshuka, or pop in for the famous voodoo burger for lunch. (Even pooches have their own menu.)

Outside tables at Voodoo Lily Café. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Outside tables at Voodoo Lily Café. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Vovo Telo (Parkhurst)
The aroma from the wood-fired oven of this artisanal bakery is sure to lure you inside. Sourdough and coconut are two highlights of the bread range and they have some of the best chocolate croissants and pain aux raisins. Sharing boards, pies, pasta and specials like coffee-chilli fillet complete an alluring menu.

Fine Dining

Cube Tasting Kitchen (Parktown North)
This is inventive, playful cuisine in ample portions. You might be served Sea Breeze, with spiced prawns and various foams, emulsions and ‘pearls’, or the Flavours of Tom Yum, with tofu, edamame, corn, preserved ginger and an intense broth. Menus are released in advance so you can bring matching wine.

EAT (Northcliff)
Things are always changing according to the seasons and the chef’s fancies. Look forward to the likes of a honeyed, spiced and succulent chicken leg and breast with ravioli and chilli-buttered baked butternut, and a dessert of ginger fondant with goat’s cheese and caramelised apple. Exploring wines by the glass is encouraged.

A dish from DW Eleven-13

A dish from DW Eleven-13. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

DW Eleven-13 (Dunkeld West)
Chef Marthinus Ferreira knows how to turn simple ingredients into a magical dish. The degustation menu of the day might include delights such as seared salmon with cucumber ketchup, charred cucumber, apple, salmon roe and oyster coulis. The service, the ambience, the food and all the other little touches justify the premium you pay here.

Les Délices de France (Roodepoort)
What the establishment lacks in the finer points of décor it makes up in fantastic French cuisine. The menu features classical dishes like cuisses de grenouilles à La Provençale (frog’s legs), escargot, onion soup and châteaubriand.

Level Four Restaurant (Rosebank)
This is a hidden treasure, where beautifully presented food appears in large portions. Try the salmon and corn entrée and the oxtail main course for particularly tempting treats. Desserts are all exceptional, especially the chocolate offerings. Start or end off with a drink at the moody champagne bar.

Level Four Restaurant at 54 on Bath

Level Four Restaurant at 54 on Bath. Photo courtesy of the restaurant

Qunu Grill (Sandton)
The Saxon’s elegance is tempered by an accessible menu and generous servings. Recommended starters include traditional Caesar salad or warm scallops. For flavour and ceremony, order the Steak Diane, which is seared and cooked to your liking, drenched in a sauce of cream, mustard, Worcester sauce, mushrooms and finely chopped onions, and flambéed in brandy.

Sel et Poivre (Morningside)
The cuisine is simple and rustic, with good flavours and generous portions. The atmosphere is rather old-school. Try traditional dishes like snails and tomatoes vol-au-vent; the duck and foie gras on a peach tarte tatin; or steak tartare.

Signature Restaurant (Sandton)
You’ll need to dress for the occasion here. Diners are truly spoilt; there’s no way to sample all the highlights in one visit. Think seared scallops with pork belly crisp; beef tournedos with pommes dauphine; and braised fillet and beef cheek pie.

The bar at the View Restaurant. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

The bar at the View Restaurant. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

View Restaurant (Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff)
Chef Dirk Gieselmann’s dishes are picturesque and creative, with classical roots and winning flavour pairings. A standout is the play on a cassoulet, with succulent quail, braised white beans, a rich jus, crayfish, butternut, bacon and sage. Arrive early and enjoy a sundowner on the deck before dinner.

Winehouse at Ten Bompas (Dunkeld West)
The mood here matches the service, which is elegant and smart. Highlights are five-spiced duck with onion marmalade; a twist on roasted hake; and sweet-potato beignets with brown-butter ice cream.

Indian

Al Makka (Fordsburg)
This authentic Indian spot has been around 15 years – and the food reflects the generations of expertise. Try tender butter chicken served on the bone, mutton masala and chicken korma. Décor is basic and functional.

The food at Dosa Hut. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

The food at Dosa Hut. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Dosa Hut (Fordsburg)
Dosas are the speciality at this South Indian eating house. Deep-fried crab is sensational and the real showstopper is fish fry masala. There’s a good selection for vegetarians, but no alcohol – try a mango lassi instead.

The Raj Indian Restaurant (Sandton)
The fragrant prawn biryani is a standout, and don’t miss gulab jamun smothered in rose cardamom syrup for pud. Décor is colonial in style, and brightly lit.

Royal Punjab (Blackheath)
You’ll find excellent North Indian cuisine at this cheerful, authentic spot. Lamb biryani, dhal soup and chicken badami with crushed almonds are delicious. There’s a great value lunchtime time buffet on Sundays.

Inside at the Royal Punjab. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Inside at the Royal Punjab. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Spiceburg (Greenburg)
The south Indian menu has expanded to include north and west Indian dishes, as well as some Indo-Chinese rice dishes. Try rasam (crab soup), ginger-rich Karala fry macchi and hot payasum for dessert. It’s popular with Indian families – a good sign!

Italian

Amarcord Osteria Italiana (Illovo)
A mouthwatering Italian menu features standout dishes like raviolini with burnt sage butter and white anchovy fillets with pickles. White tablecloths create a classy, classic atmosphere.

Inside at Amarcord Osteria Italiana. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Inside at Amarcord Osteria Italiana. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Café del Sol (Olivedale)
Tuck into comforting Italian dishes like ravioli with roasted butternut and crispy sage and buerre noisette, hand-rolled gnocchi or veal saltimbocca. By day, it’s a street-style café, and by night, candlelight and soft lighting create a more romantic atmosphere.

The interior at Cafe del Sol. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

The interior at Cafe del Sol. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Café del Sol Botanico (Bryanston)
This bright, airy restaurant is the second from the Café del Sol family. Kick off with salt-and-pepper squid and progress to beef T-bone tagliata, and butternut gnocchi with sage and walnut cream.

The leafy interiors at Cafe del Sol Botanico

The leafy interiors at Cafe del Sol Botanico. Photo courtesy of the restaurant

Casalinga Restaurant (Muldersdrift)
Set on an organic farm, this restaurant benefits from fresh seasonal produce. Standouts include pancakes with fresh Norwegian salmon and mozzarella, and slow-roasted lamb shanks in a veggie, red wine and mint reduction. It’s formal and elegant.

Cornuti Stella e Luna (Parkhurst)
The pizzas and the cicchetti – Venetian-style finger snacks – are the highlights here. There’s a succinct wine list, but why not kick things off with an Aperol spritz – the bright orange citrusy spirit served with prosecco and soda.

Guests dining at Cornuti Stella e Luna. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Guests dining at Cornuti Stella e Luna. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Da Graziella Pizzeria and Trattoria (Edenvale)
This beautiful, cosy spot is run by a Sicilian brother-and-sister team. Don’t miss their suppli (rice balls stuffed with ground beef and mozzarella) or the tripe with potatoes, butterbeans and tomato sauce. It’s informal, family-style and always packed with locals.

Franco’s Pizzeria and Trattoria (Parkview)
Legions of regulars return for wood-fired thin-crust pizzas, mussels marinara and tiramisu. The décor is a little dated, but it’s a warm, down-to-earth space and kids are welcome.

A pizza at Franco’s Pizzeria and Trattoria. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

A pizza at Franco’s Pizzeria and Trattoria. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Gema Trattoria and Pizzeria (South Kensington)
One of Joburg’s best-kept secrets, this warm, friendly spot serves carefully prepared, generous pizza and pasta – but the specials are where they really shine. Think porcini and polenta fingers in gorgonzola sauce, lamb stew in a rich wine sauce, and limoncello tiramisu.

Il Giardino Degli Ulivi (Milpark)
Set in a huge courtyard with a fountain and olive trees, this large restaurant serves thin, crispy pizzas with classic and inspired toppings (think leg of lamb with dates and dried apricots). Meat dishes are also popular and the gelato is very good.

La Cucina di Ciro (Parktown North)
Fragrant, moreish food is the order of the day at this elegant homestead. Ciro turns out accomplished dishes like lamb cassoulet, and grilled fillet in Madeira sauce with raviolo of duck liver, walnut and fig. Pasta is exceptional, even when paired with a simple sauce of farm butter, pecorino and grilled artichokes. Plenty of options for vegetarians.

A seafood dish at La Cucina di Ciro. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

A seafood dish at La Cucina di Ciro. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

La Luna (Melville)
This revamped old house offers great summer dining on the porches. Seafood is always a delight, but also try homemade pasta dishes in made-from-scratch sauces.

Mastrantonio (Illovo)
Expect great continental hospitality at this smart but never stuffy restaurant. The melanzane alla parmigiana, bistecca alla Fiorentina, and tomato-and-vodka penne are all moreish.

The interior at Mastrantonio Restaurant. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

The interior at Mastrantonio Restaurant. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Nonna Mia’s (Norwood)
This restaurant seems to have found a new niche in Norwood, in a modern, double-volume space with a balcony. There’s an extensive menu, including the vast, 24-slice pizzas. Gnocchi with pomodoro sauce and baked pastas are the standouts.

The interior at Nonna Mia’s Kitchen. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

The interior at Nonna Mia’s Kitchen. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Pronto Italian Restaurant (Craighall Park)
This iconic Italian restaurant and food store serves up excellent breakfasts (think ricotta griddlecakes with bacon and maple syrup) and delicious lunches. Try the arancini or polenta with meatballs.

Remo’s Maximilliano (Sunninghill)
This warm and cosy branch of the Remo’s group welcomes everyone from business people to families. Tuck into excellent pasta, pizza, or one of the less traditional dishes like mac ’n cheese with bacon, or black-pepper ice cream.

Inside at Remo's Maximilliano. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Inside at Remo’s Maximilliano. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

That’s Amore (Parktown North)
Wonderfully cosy, this authentic Italian spot serves up made-from-scratch Italian dishes like deep-fried bread, gnocchi and seafood pasta. The wine list is all-Italian – a fun, educational experience.

Tortellino d’Oro (Oaklands)
Kick off with prosecco, zucchini fries, artichoke butter and homemade bread. Progress to saffron risotto, parma ham, mortadella and parmesan tortellini, and finish with cannoli. It’s a more elegant option and great for date night.

Mediterranean

Bellagio (Illovo)
Tables spill out onto the pavement beneath the trees at this Oxford-Road spot. The menu ranges from superb beef carpaccio to clever salads and homemade fish pie.

A fish dish served with lemon at Bellagio. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

A fish dish served with lemon at Bellagio. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

La Campagnola ( Bryanston)
The menu hasn’t changed in ages, but expect tasty starters like sautéed porcini with blue cheese and wholesome mains likes eisbein and homemade pasta. Look out for specials, which keep things interesting. Décor-wise, it could have more soul though.

A long dining table at La Campagnola. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

A long dining table at La Campagnola. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Mythos (Fourways)
Celebrate the Greek way of life with platters of dips and pitas; slow-roast lamb shanks; and fillet on the bone, marinated in olive oil, lemon juice and oregano.

Piatto (Fourways)
A vast menu of burgers, grills, pizzas, seafood, sushi and pasta will please most parties. Try the fresh pastas like panzerotti and lasagne, and the crumbed pork chops. There’s also a playground for kiddies.

A steak topped with sauce along chips at Piatto. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

A steak topped with sauce along chips at Piatto. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Villa Bianca (Isando)
There are some gems here: ‘stolen lamb’ kleftiko, cooked overnight in a clay oven; salmon wrapped in parma ham; and flambéed fillet on the bone. The atmosphere is relaxed but formal. If you can, grab a seat outside on balmy days.

Middle Eastern

Turkish Kebab House (Mayfair)
Here you can tuck into mixed grill platters loaded with lamb chops, beef cubes and chicken ‘chops’ (flattened drumstick and thighs); delicious pides (Turkish breads); and döner kebabs served with rice and rotis. Décor is functional and no-fuss.

Inside at Teta Mari. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Inside at Teta Mari. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Teta Mari (Illovo)
This is an ideal spot for a quick breakfast or relaxed lunch. Tuck into shakshuka or eggs with labneh, tuna and salad. Shwarmas and Turkish coffee complete the picture. It’s a warm space, tucked away at the back of a shopping centre.

Modern

Escondido Tapas & Wine (Illovo)
Delicious tapas dishes like pork roulade, pumpkin fritters and soya-glazed lamb riblets are made from scratch. Dark wood, blackboards and warm, welcoming service makes this a wonderful date-night spot. The wine offering is a real drawcard here, too.

Tapas at Escondido. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Tapas at Escondido. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

The Grazing Room (Dunkeld West)
The little brother of DW11-13, this phenomenal tapas bar turns out highlights like springbok tataki, fish pie, pulled pork steamed buns and mushroom arancini. Don’t miss the churros.

Bonbons at The Grazing Room. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Bonbons at The Grazing Room. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

The Griffin (Illovo)
This vibey gastropub serves up innovative dishes like buttermilk-fried chicken with sriracha sour cream and dulce de leche panna cotta. Craft beer, cider and boutique wines make it a good option for drinks, too.

The interior at the The Griffin. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

The interior at the The Griffin. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

La Vie en Rose (Illovo)
Pop in for a breakfast shakshuka in the charming garden, or a lunch or later meal of rump skewers or a skinny burger. Be sure to finish with the Toblerone and cookie-dough ice cream, wrapped in phyllo and flash fried.

Lucky Bean (Melville)
South African flavours get a twist at this Melville lunch and dinner spot. Think ostrich bobotie spring rolls or the Cuban-style slow-roast pork belly in a citrus and garlic dressing. There’s a DJ on weekends.

Lucky Bean

Lucky Bean interior. Photo courtesy of the restaurant

Parc Ferme (Sandton)
This smart hotel restaurant is great for sundowners or an evening with friends. Try the lamb rack, the butternut-and-prawn tortellini, and the decadent chocolate fondants.

Pulp Fiction (Melville)
This vibey spot is styled after blockbuster movies. Tapas dishes include chorizo arancini and duck-fat fries. Sip on boozy milkshakes like the OMG Oreo or well-priced wine and great cocktails.

Portuguese

1920 Portuguese Restaurant (Randburg)
This merry, unpretentious spot serves authentic Portuguese food. Signature dishes include sliced chorizo, gorgeous chicken livers and trinchado. Try a Portuguese wine or beer to drink.

The dining room at 33 High Street. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

The dining room at 33 High Street. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

33 High Street (Modderfontein)
Set in a gorgeous old house with a popular wraparound stoep, this Portuguese spot offers tasty crumbed prawns bubble breads with inventive toppings and steak with read-wine sauce and a fried egg.

A Churrasqueira (Alberton)
Hearty, traditional food hits the spot in this clean, comfortable space. Try the rissoles dipped in fiery homemade peri-peri sauce; rabbit stew; or pork-and-clam stew. (don’t forget to take home a bottle of the peri-peri sauce.)

Inside at A Churrasqueira. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Inside at A Churrasqueira. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Ristorante Parreirinha (La-Rochelle)
Dishes at this warm, family-orientated restaurant are rich and served with generous lashings of butter and oil. Seafood is great – try barbecued sardines and butterflied prawns.

Seafood

La Marina Foods (Modderfontein)
Alongside the magnificent deli, the Kitchen offers sushi (made right in front of you) and excellent goulash soup with smoked paprika. Their coffee is amazing. Be prepared to walk out with bags of truffles, saffron duck legs and quails.

Steakhouses

The Butcher Shop & Grill (Sandton)
This institution serves quality meat in a wide range of cuts. Try the rib-eye, steak tartare and thick-cut lamb chops with baked potato and morogo. There’s also a very successful butchery offering everything from well-aged hand-cut steaks, roasts, great-looking oxtail, whole ducks and prime goat to salmon, Frenched racks of lamb and many other wonderful pieces of meat.

The dining area at The Butcher Shop & Grill. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

The dining area at The Butcher Shop & Grill. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Che Argentine Grill (Maboneng)
Located in a spacious, converted warehouse, this Argentinian restaurant offers steak, short-rib, pork belly on the bone and stuffed pork neck, all cooked on the wood-fired grill in the centre of the restaurant. Finish with flan or pancakes stuffed with dulce de leche.

A dish at the Che Argentine Grill. Photos courtesy of Rupesh Kassen.

A dish at the Che Argentine Grill. Photos courtesy of Rupesh Kassen.

Fireside Bistro (Norwood)
Watch your steak being grilled over an open fire by the owner. Also on offer: wors or queen prawns with peri-peri, chimmichuri rump, and marvellous salted-caramel profiteroles. It’s a cosy spot, with covered pavement seating.

The Grillhouse (Sandton)
For starters, try their famous grilled black mushrooms, move onto the rib-eye with pap and chakalaka, and finish with New York cheesecake. It’s a formal spot with white tablecloths and starched napkins.

The Grillhouse (Rosebank)
This steakhouse has maintained high quality over the years. Their pork ribs are delicious; else try one of the aged beef steaks with expertly made sauces and interesting sides like pap and chakalaka. Wood panelling and white linen set the tone.

The Local Grill (Parktown North)
The impressive ageing room features dry- and wet-aged, free-range steaks from respected suppliers. The Namibian oysters, beef pie and pap and meatballs are also winners. It’s a classy venue that’s always buzzing.

A steak from The Local Grill. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

A steak from The Local Grill. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

The Meat Co. (Melrose Arch)
Aside from all the classic steaks, don’t miss the pork ribs with monkey gland sauce or the fillet stuffed with sundried tomatoes, green peppercorn, mozzarella, basil and peppadew sauce.

Thunder Gun Steakhouse (Northcliff)
The star of the show is the whopping kilogram of pork ribs with Portuguese or barbecue basting. Also try the excellent sirloin rubbed with mustard seeds, rosemary and coarse salt. Finish with Eton mess or peppermint crisp sundae. It’s an unpretentious family-friendly spot.

Turn 'n Tender mussel steak. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Turn ‘n Tender mussel steak. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Turn ’n Tender (Parktown North)
The chimichurri spiral-cut steak is quite exquisite. Also try one of the combo dishes of classic steaks, chops, ribs, chicken and beef ribs. It’s a modern space with clean lines.

The interior at Wombles. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

The interior at Wombles. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Wombles Steakhouse Restaurant (Parktown North)
They may specialise in beef and venison, but Wombles is more than just a steakhouse. Try the faultless steak tartare, prepared at the table, a perfect rump, or the chef’s fillet on the bone. The atmosphere is old-school colonial – and there’s a R250 minimum charge per person.

This list of great restaurants in Joburg is by no means exhaustive (we know there are loads more gems), but it contains all the eateries that were rated highly enough to make it into the Eat Out 500, a power list of the country’s best restaurants reviewed for the 2016 edition of Eat Out magazine. Buy the magazine now.

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