There’s a strong sense of rivalry between Johannesburgers and Capetonians. Egoli’s mine dumps might be unfairly compared to the Cape’s sea views and mountains, but for Jozi residents, the brightly lit buzz of the city’s streets and the laid-back, golden afternoons are more than enough compensation for a lack of large bodies of water or abnormally flat-topped hills.
In the culinary world, the landscape differs quite substantially. Firstly, dining patterns vary: northeners seem to eat out more often and more widely, and restaurateurs suffer less from seasonal fluctuations. Historically, it’s the Cape that’s drawn the culinary accolades, but the most recent Eat Out DStv Food Network Restaurant Awards saw David Higgs of Five Hundred take home the accolade for the Eat Out S. Pellegrino Chef of the Year, and this year’s winner of the Best Bistro Award, The Leopard, also resides in the City of Gold. Looking for all of the other best restaurants to try in the city? We bring you the Jozi restaurants featured in the 2014 edition of Eat Out magazine, containing the Eat Out 500 selected by our panel of 50 industry experts.
District Six Eatery
A taste of Cape-Malay food unlike anything you’ll find elsewhere in Johannesburg. It’s the perfect place to take international visitors, with its wide selection of bredies (lamb, chicken and vegetarian), curries and desserts.
Great burgers with interesting toppings, shirtless waiters with no toppings, and a side of campy glitz and glam.
Traditional and Americanised Mexican dishes in a quirky, vibey setting. Don’t miss the nachos.
The burgers are mammoth, so come hungry.
An American-inspired burger bar. Order a steak or the ostrich burger on a pre-theatre outing.
Jo’Anna Melt Bar
A hip neighbourhood diner serving treats like toasted mac ‘n cheese; a dessert melt of Nutella, hazelnuts and marshmallows; and craft beers.
Chinese Northern Foods Restaurant
A favourite for mid-week dinner. A place for authenticity.
Gwefey Asian Cuisine
An elegant, romantic spot. The menu showcases the subtle complexity of foods from Thailand and China. Order the crispy beef strips, pork dumplings and spicy brinjals.
Good for a rollicking Friday or Saturday night. Order the duck spring rolls, duck red curry or the sticky honey chicken.
Proper Chinese food in the northern suburbs. New offerings sit alongside classic Cantonese dishes on the menu.
Li Kou Fu
If you want a disney experience, this is not for you. Excellent Chinese food with no frills at great prices.
Cool, contemporary Asian food at one of the city’s most fashionable addresses.Order the Peking duck with pancakes or the fruity red curry.
Tasty, simple food in the heart of new-generation Braamfontein. Their speciality, as the name implies, is noodles, but you’ll also find stir-fries and curries.
A neighbourhood favourite for mid-week dinner. Known for its consistent quality and engaging proprietor, Emma Chen.
Sai Thai (now closed)
Intense, authentic flavours. Tom yum goong is a perfect illustration of their commitment to superb Thai flavours.
Shun De Chinese Restaurant
One of the best spots for traditional dim sum, served with green tea. Be adventurous.
This cosy space keeps the true artform of sushi alive. Also try the ultimate comfort food: homemade egg noodles served with miso pork broth and pork belly.
Order dishes like plump oysters and pan-seared salmon with leek cream and spiced lentils from the blackboard menu.
The menu celebrates produce and passion for great food. Most of their vegetables come from their organic farm in Magaliesburg. Amazingly, you can order parmesan-dusted wedges, Asian veggies or parmesan risotto as sides.
A great little spot with attentive young owners and great staff. Simple food is beautifully presented, with massive amounts of flavour. Unusual cuts of meat appear regularly on the menu.
The Green Peppercorn
A reliable restaurant that serves quality ingredients, with good service and a great atmosphere. Try the salt-and-pepper squid and the chorizo-crusted sirloin.
An amazing brunch venue, especially on the weekend. They have their own coffee roaster on the premises. Order the creamy mushroom toast or the salmon Florentine with spinach, potato röstis and citrus Hollandaise.
With a warm retro glow, the restaurant is inviting and intimate. Order a variety of quasi-French and quasi-Ethiopian dishes made from responsibly sourced ingredients. (Winner of the 2013 Eat Out DStv Food Network Restaurant Award for Best Bistro.)
Highlights are, of course, soufflés both savoury and sweet. Their loyal clientele is evidence of consistency.
Clever and consistently good food, like marrow bones stuffed with snails or seafood laksa.
As the name suggests, their baked goods are heavenly. One of the most charming spots around, especially for a mid-week lunch.
Possums Bistro and Deli
The interesting menu keeps evolving, but try the pork belly or Caesar salad. Delightfully cluttered décor.
Red Rabbit French Grill
The small menu – with signature duck pie and mussels and chips – is complemented by daily specials.
Thomas Maxwell Bistro
A fabulous atmosphere and classics with a twist, like the rabbit risotto with mustard, lemon and turmeric.
The food, such as veg-filled tarts, sandwiches and pasta, is prepared with flair and beautifully presented. Enjoy a meal on the homestead’s terrace.
They serve simple Mediterranean dishes (fishcakes, lasagne, pesto) and great pizza. The balcony’s the place for people spotting.
Chalkboard Collaboration Café
Visit for the hipster spotting, pizza, multiple chalkboard surfaces on which to leave your mark, and a great variety of craft beer.
Corner Café and Bistro
This industrial-looking space maintains a warm and welcoming feel. Order the leek and onion soup with parmesan on the side.
Espresso Caffe and Bistro
Sidewalk snacks like crazy-good pregos, served with crispy fries to mop up the goodness, and beef trinchado.
The Foundry Café
Enjoy a huge variety of craft beer with charcuterie, sourdough pizza or pork belly on cannellini mash with pickled beetroot and apple purée.
This great little urban bistro is perfect for the lunch rush. The daily ‘graze-table’ caters to a mix of university students and office workers.
Gia’s on Montrose
Small-town country ambience in the heart of Sandton. Herbs are picked from the nursery garden and emphasis is placed on the use of fresh, local ingredients.
Lovely baked items (quiches, pastries and decadent cakes) are complemented by a creative menu. You’ll also love their harvest table lunches.
This tiny coffee bar has great breakfasts and sandwiches. Perch on stools overlooking the hip street corner or have a quieter meeting in the tree-lined courtyard in the back.
The Pudding Shop
Drink bubbly like Marie Antoinette while you nibble on a frittata or gourmet French toast.
Good for a young, vibey crowd who likes to be seen. Order the burger or one of the great vegetarian options.
Good-looking patrons, hustling service and delicious seasonal, fresh and free-range food.
Excellent coffees and unique juice specials. Buy your lunch by weight or order sandwiches, platters and burgers off the blackboard.
A simple sandwich/art/coffee bar that feeds the district’s students, creative industries and legal fraternity. Order the chicken schnitzel with rocket and a chutney relish on your choice of bread.
Warm and Glad
Hipster alert! A favourite of every young journalist in Joburg. Order the chorizo butty on ciabatta with hot brown sauce.
A trendy coffee shop with impeccable food and service. Everything’s served with lashings of olive oil, Maldon salt, caramelised onions and raspberry relish.
Clico Boutique Hotel
A comfy restaurant that nevertheless retains a smart feel. Their set menus include spectacular soups and innovative starters.
A friendly dining hall perfect for a quick meal with a friend. The breads are of an especially high standard.
A superb dining experience, with spice-hued walls and handmade furniture. The menu is populated by more than 20 tandoori options.
Ghazal North Indian Restaurant
One of Joburg’s busiest curry destinations – and rightfully so. The flavours are light years ahead of the ubiquitous Durban curry.
Some of the best vegetarian curries in Joburg. It’s also incredibly affordable. Order the masala dosa with warm, spicy potato and dhal.
Spiceburg serves fare from India’s southerly provinces as well as the more common north Indian dishes. Their dosas can be enjoyed plain or stuffed with paneer, meat or spicy potato.
Thava Indian Restaurant
Quality and authenticity are demonstrated in dishes like lamb chops in garam masala, paneer tikka with green chutney, or lamb curry.
Pizzas have wood-fired bases, Napolitana sauce and not too much cheese. Inventive toppings, great décor and a buzzing crowd.
Amarcord Osteria Italiana
A spacious and very Mediterranean venue with blow-your-socks-off food. Antipasti, arancini and veal-filled pasta are winners.
It’s a charming, idiosyncratic place usually crammed with arty types. Order the ultra-thin pizzas.
A classic Italian eatery that operates by its own rules and serves delicious seasonal dishes and old favourites like gnocchi, homemade pasta and artichokes.
The menu never changes; neither do the top quality and service. Order the crumbed olives to start and sit outside under the umbrellas.
Bice Ristorante (now called Luce)
An elegant hotel eatery that combines the cuisine of Japan and Italy.
Café Del Sol
Sensational food served in an unpretentious, modern setting. They make stuffed ravioli, gnocchi and basil pesto every day. Winner of the 2012 Best Italian Restaurant award.
This restaurant maintains a lovely country feeling with great traditional Italian food. One of the best venues for alfresco dining. Order the gnocchi, pastas and grills, or anything seasonal from their garden.
Ciao baby Cucina
Great for a night out with friends. Try the 1kg Florentina steak.
Col’Cacchio (Hyde Park)
The menu you know and love.
Crazy Horse (now closed)
A quirky, intimate spot. Order dishes like seafood pasta with cream and champagne sauce, veal porcini ravioli or risotto balls.
Da Graziella Pizzeria and Trattoria
A reliable destination run by a Sicilian brother-and-sister team. Try the pasta carrettiera and any of the meat dishes.
Franco’s Pizzeria and Trattoria
Order the potato and parmesan pizza; spaghetti puttanesca; or Franco’s salads with his killer secret dressing.
Il Giardino Degli Ulivi
Relax under the trees with the kids at this country-style retreat in the city. Order the pizza with slow-cooked lamb.
Il Tartufo Ristorante Italiano
Slightly old-school, classic décor adds to the authenticity of the menu. Try the parmesan mille feuille with herb ricotta.
The place is always packed and the food perfect. Order traditional dishes like pan-fried calf liver or veal escalopes.
La Cucina Di Ciro
Sit on the veranda with a group to sip wine and while the afternoon away. Highlights are the gnocchi with gorgonzola and the lamb cassoulet.
The balcony ‘sky’ of Montecasino makes it good for a date. Order the fillet with mushroom sauce.
Luca’s Ristorante Italiano
A huge, Tuscan-inspired menu features calzone, pizza and plenty of veal dishes.
A local favourite that offer a respite from mall dining. Try the brinjal parmigiana.
Authentic Italian cuisine served with flair. Opt for a daily special, pasta with prawns and tomato or fresh porcini with herbs, garlic and wine.
Pizza in three sizes and a tempting antipasti selection makes ordering a treat.
Ottimo Pizza and Pasta
A neat menu of eat in or take out pizza done in a traditional wood-fired oven.
Pronto Italian Deli
Always busy and buzzing with a menu inspired by regular ‘mood trips’ to Italy. Try the penne salsiccia or spaghetti with pork sausage.
Tasca de Sol (now closed)
A great Portuguese restaurant with a lovely view of the shimmering Westdene Dam. Recommended are the prawns or peri-peri chicken.
Tony’s Spaghetti Grill
A buzzing, perfect night out with friends or day with the family. Order from the wide selection of pizzas with intriguing toppings.
It’s grown due to ravenous demand. Tuesdays still feature the amazing banquet of Italian foods to fill takeaway boxes.
A small menu, comfy décor and the thinnest pizza crusts with varied and unusual pizza toppings.
Order classics with a twist in this comfortable space featuring a giant pizza oven.
A great setting on a weekend morning, with a cuppa and freshly baked pastries.
Consistently good food in a vibrant atmosphere overlooking Melrose Arch’s central piazza. The meze-style menu makes large party dining a treat.
Mythos Design Quarter
Greek specialities like meze platters, fish dishes, garlicky roasts and filled pitas will satisfy your cravings. Crisp, clean and modern interiors sport bright white and ocean blue.
Be swept away to a Greek island the second you arrive. The main course menu is a delightful medley of Greek favourites like moussaka, souvlaki, kleftico, calamari and prawns.
For great fans of Lebanese food. The menu covers a wide range of dishes packed with flavour, but go for tabbouleh, anything with hummus and the raw or fried kibbeh.
An owner-run café with an interesting selection of Middle Eastern breakfast dishes and American classics. Tasty and generous food.
Bellgables Country Restaurant
Food here is relatively simple, well-prepared and tasty. Visit for a romantic date.
Central One Bar and Restaurant
A great spot for business lunches. Order steak and cocktails.
Cube Tasting Kitchen
The textures in the ten-course menu are incredible; the flavours are an education.
De La Crème
A great spot to indulge in a quiet coffee, lunch from the blackboard menu and a fresh pastry.