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The best restaurants in Johannesburg: where to eat out in 2018

Fast-moving Johannesburg offers one of the most diverse dining scenes in SA. From ground-breaking inner-city revivals and genre-bending gastronomy to family-run favourites and trendy new hotspots, the choice of breakfast, lunch and dinner for Joburg residents and visitors is abundant.

Here is our critics’ pick of Johannesburg’s best restaurants, as rated and reviewed for the 2018 Eat Out magazine, as well as a few that have impressed our reviewers after the magazine went to print.

African

Chaf Pozi (Soweto)

Set at the base of the iconic Orlando Towers in Soweto, Chaf Pozi boasts a truly South African dining experience. The focus here is the open shisa nyama restaurant where honest food, cold beers and local music can be enjoyed all at once. The menu features set meal options with different mixes of grilled meats and sides.

Epicure by Chef Coco (Morningside)

Multi-award-winning chef Coco Reinarhz’s new eatery is inspired by Africa as a whole. Menus change according to the chef’s inclination but might include coconut-basted crabs, paying homage to the wonders of West African seafood; or slow-cooked Nguni oxtail offering southern African comfort and luxury. Mabele (sorghum) topped with wild mushrooms takes care of the vegan, low GI and gluten intolerants. Epicure’s exceptional wine collection includes South African, French and New World gems.

Little Addis Café (Maboneng)

Situated near the trendy and much-loved Market On Main, Little Addis adds a touch of Ethiopian flavour to the streets of Jozi.  The traditional Ethiopian plate is served with a host of different wots (stews) for just R35.

Melville Grill Lounge (Melville)

This unassuming space focuses on the food, not appearances, so don’t let the pared down décor put you off. The traditional South African grill is known for its select offering of grilled meats and sides. Go for one of the large platters or make your own from options including lamb chops, wors, wings and brisket options. Word on the street is their mogodu (slow-cooked tripe) is one of the best in the city.

Mootee Bar (Melville)

A spot for healing the soul. The inventive menu makes use of modern culinary and mixology techniques, blended with traditional drinking rituals and local ingredients. The buzzing space is packed with 120 seats, an outside rooftop deck, open-air alley seating and a private lounge.

guests at the table at Mootee Bar

At the bar at Mootee. Photo supplied.

Moyo (Melrose Arch and Zoo Lake)

This relaxed spot remains a favourite for many. You can always count on them to serve up delicious local fare with that familiar South African warmth. Their tagines are legendary, and if you’re into rare game meats, this is the place to try them.

Pata Pata (Maboneng)

Named after the famous Miriam Makeba song, this is a good place to hear South African live music and eat local cuisine. Think burgers and salads, classic grilled meats, hearty potjies and boerewors. They also have an extensive list of sides like traditional morogo, samp and beans.

Rivonia on Deck (Rivonia)

Come for the food, stay for the party. At this vibey Rivonia spot, you can tuck into traditional South African dishes and grilled meats. Look out for their mogodu – slow-cooked tripe – and egusi soup, made from vegetables and traditional melon seeds.

Roving Bantu Kitchen (Brixton)

This is more a quirky meeting place of people and ideas than a restaurant. Expect tasty soul food like oxtail, tripe or chicken curry; sambals and a perfect roti; and a starter of spinach-and-cheese samoosas with a fiery sauce. The journey ends with koeksisters, malva pudding, or jelly and custard.

The Roving Bantu Kitchen. Photo supplied.

The Americas

BGR Burger Restaurant (Rosebank)

This burger joint surpasses many. Outstanding juicy options come with good buns and crisp fries. The mayo and sweet smoky barbecue sauces are home-made, and there’s no charge for additions such as grilled onions or mushrooms, tomatoes, greens and pickles. End with frozen custard.

Brian Lara Rum Eatery (Linden)

Tropical-themed comfort food with splashes of rum is what you’ll be in for at this island-style spot. Think tender and smoky ribs, burgers, honey-ginger jerk chicken, fishcakes and sweetcorn fritters. Sides include coleslaw, chips and white rice and black beans. Have a cocktail for dessert.

Baha Taco (Norwood)

True to its food truck origins, Baha Taco serves fresh and tasty quesadillas and soft tacos with delicious fillings like sirloin steak, free-range chicken, halloumi and beans. Banana chimichangas with toffee sauce or churros are perfect sweet endings.

A selection of tacos at Baha Taco. Photo supplied.

A selection of tacos at Baha Taco. Photo supplied.

Dukes Burgers (Greenside)

Fresh buns, high-quality patties, hand-cut chips and a gob-smacking variety of options – even vegetarian – make this one of the most-loved gourmet burger joints in town. Sink your teeth into options like the jalapeno burger stuffed with cheese and wrapped in bacon, or even try the veggie-friendly falafel patty Cleopatra burger, which is also 100% vegan.

Hudsons (Parkhurst)

As with the rest of the chain, if you’re looking for a fuss-free satisfying burger, Hudsons is where you’ll find it. Burgers aside, their milkshakes and chicken wings have achieved cult status and they offer a couple of pizzas and grill options, too. Word on the street is they make some of the best chilli poppers in town.

La Santa Muerte (Melville)

This casual spot offers a fresh take on trendy Mexican food, using fresh seasonal ingredients in dishes that are perfect for sharing. Highlights include chilli poppers and empanadas filled with sweet potato, feta and tequila-soaked mushrooms for starters. Then move onto the likes of steak or pulled pork tacos with orange chipotle sauce, served with your choice of a soft or hard taco. The dessert menu is small but features delectable options like the hot churros served with custard.

Tacos at La Santa Muerte. Photo supplied.

The National Eatery and Speakeasy (Parktown North)

James Diack’s food is dreamy and at this trendy eatery, it’s no different. Expect everything from corn-fed pork belly to sirloin to make up the mains. The slow-braised wild boar ragù with home-made pappardelle is a highlight. Brioche-bun hot dogs make great lunch fare, with chips, onion rings and your choice of caramelised-onion piccalilli mayo, chilli cheese or baba ghanoush with tahini and slaw. For dessert, pick Belgian chocolate brownies or deep-fried Snickers bars.

Perron (Bryanston)

Creative and delectable Mexican fare for sharing is what Perron is all about. Start with a seven-layer dip of refried beans, guacamole, olives, sour cream and cheese served with tortillas, or slow-braised pork shoulder with corn bread. For mains, try lamb tacos with tequila-soaked raisins, guacamole and cheddar. End on chilli-and-basil margarita ice lollies or the coconut-and-rum flan.

The Perron bar. Photo supplied.

The Perron bar. Photo supplied.

The Royale (Craighall Park)

Royale makes for such fun feasting. The menu is neat and concise. There are no starters as such, but you could have the house salad or the cheesy beans and rice to begin. Other dishes to look out for include the slow-cooked mojo-rubbed pork belly and the Cuban sandwich – a satisfyingly savoury combination of fresh crispy bread, good-quality ham, cheese, and a sweet mustard sauce.

Asian

Chinese Northern Foods Restaurant (Cyrildene)

This spot is always packed with regular Chinese clientele. Try the crispy pigs’ ears, sizzling beef ribs with black pepper, the chef’s special of braised pork, or braised brinjal. If you have space, desserts include standards like deep-fried ice cream and bow ties.

Erawan (Bryanston)

The name Erawan has long been synonymous with good food and the refined airy Bryanston branch serves some of the best Thai cuisine in the city. Go for the traditional dishes like the stir fries and well-balanced curries.

The Good Luck Club (Illovo)

Ordinary is not a word you’d use for the well-considered and creative menu here. We’re talking snack platters with cocktail jugs; soft and flavourful dim sum in unorthodox combinations (think salmon and cream cheese); a range of spicy and creamy curries; and crisp spring rolls. The twice-fried beef with basil is among the finest in town, with piquant flavours and tender textures. The noodles with pak choi, shiitake, enoki, garlic, chilli and lemon rind is a delectable veggie-friendly meal. End on a banana-and-Nutella spring roll.

The Good Luck Club

The Good Luck Club. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

The Great Eastern Food Bar (Melville)

The varied menu here includes steamed buns, gyoza, noodle dishes, and incredibly flavourful takes on Korean and Thai fried chicken recipes. The fragrant kimchi and ginger noodles are an ideal shared starter. You’ll want to devour the sweet-and-sour Korean fried chicken with your bare hands, and sashimi tacos – trout ceviche, pickled lemon and wasabi – are also a favourite. For dessert, try mini pavlova with fresh berries or Lindt chocolate mousse.

Mussels at The Great Eastern Food Bar

Mussels at The Great Eastern Food Bar. Photo supplied.

KOI (Sandton)

At this modern eatery, expect a contemporary take on Asian-inspired flavours. Begin with edamame beans coated in chilli, oyster sauce and ginger; crispy duck tacos with apple and fennel; or Firecracker salmon roses with tempura crumb. The mains slant towards seafood but include baby chicken and rib eye. Decadent banana, choc and cinnamon spring rolls with a silky white-choc dip make for an utterly indulgent ending.

Momo & O (Norwood)

The rule of thumb is that if you’re sitting at a Momo-related establishment, you’re going to eat well – and the Norwood offering doesn’t disappoint. Momo & O sticks the winning Asian-inspired food that the brand has become known for, and adds a number of poké bowls and bao.

Momo Baohaus (Greenside)

The best way to eat here is to settle in for a couple of hours, starting on an empty stomach. Standout dishes include Firecracker Prawns with puffed vermicelli, sriracha, tagarashi spice and wasabi mayo; bao filled with crispy Korean beef, gochujang, kimchi, pickled shiitake, Asian slaw and greens. There are equally exciting vegetarian options, too. For dessert, opt for deep-fried buns with salted caramel dip.

One of the bowl options. Photo supplied.

One of the bowl options at Momo Baohaus. Photo supplied.

Momo Soko (Illovo)

Everything bursts with flavour here. Steamed bao buns are seductively sweet and soft, packed with roasted meats and tofu, with an assortment of kimchi, pickles and sauces. The soko (skewers) come with miso, garlic, spring onion, sesame and chilli. Comforting bowls (with bases of rice, noodles or greens) are a visual delight of slaw, veg, eggs, herbs, and sticky and spicy protein.

PRON (Linden)

Nothing is deep-fried here, there’s no sweet-and-sour sauce, and no spring rolls are to be found, making PRON a healthier choice. Hearty and saucy noodles are the main offering (with minced pork and carrot or brothy beef flank) and starters are packed with flavours and textures, from dry-fried green beans to pig-ear salad with Szechuan sauce. Don’t miss the ‘hand-break bread’. There’s no dessert, so end on a cup of fragrant tea.

Pron pork noodles

Pork noodles from PRON. Image courtesy of the restaurant

Red Chamber (Hyde Park)

At Red Chamber you’ll find Mandarin-style food, with an emphasis on spices, garlic and chilli. Start with crispy seaweed with cashews or perfect pork potstickers with dipping sauce, and move on to nuggets of calamari with black bean and chilli, stir-fried beef noodles with mushrooms, cucumber and spinach. Desserts include preserved ginger and lychees, deep-fried banana and a delicious chilli-chocolate tart.

Saigon Suzy (Rosebank)

Eat, drink and sing karaoke at this fun fusion spot in Rosebank. The menu is an eclectic mix of classic Korean, Japanese and Thai dishes, and features experimental cocktails. People rave about the wok-fried calamari, as well as the Korean fried chicken bao.

So Yum (Hyde Park)

Satisfying dim sum is what has made So Yum so distinctive and popular in this centre, although the menu also includes sushi and Thai and Chinese dishes. Highlights are Hong Kong Pears (three dumplings stuffed with duck, chicken or prawn); fluffy steamed buns with honey-barbecue pork stuffing; crispy pumpkin croquettes; and light crystal rolls stuffed with veg and spiced up with peanut black-bean sauce. End on Thai Silk, a rich duo of white- and dark-chocolate mousse balls.

The interior at So Yum. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

The interior at So Yum. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Yamato (Illovo)

The extensive menu at this unassuming restaurant boasts everything from dumplings and sashimi to soba, with an emphasis on traditional ingredients and techniques. Sushi is a must, as it’s generously and beautifully made. Platters and set menus allow diners to get a taste of everything on offer. Finish off with a green tea ice cream with sweet bean paste.

Yamato's modern interior. Photo supplied.

Yamato’s modern interior. Photo supplied.

Bistro

Bellagio (Illovo)

The food, vibe and presentation here are some of Joburg’s best. The extensive menu offers everything from burgers to veal schnitzel, but it’s the seafood that keeps people coming back. Think spectacular salmon marinated in chilli, ginger, honey, soya and orange; prawn stir-fry; and Thai-style kingklip. Another standout is the three-cheese soufflé with caramelised walnut and sliced pears. For dessert, try the strawberry phyllo with pistachio-and-chocolate truffles.

Il Contadino (Parktown North)

Though the fourth of chef James Diack’s restaurants, Il Contadino looks and behaves very differently from the rest of his establishments. The idea here is for less expensive wholesome eating. Most of the dishes will change regularly, but hope you get to try the life-changing chervil sauce. It accompanies two pecorino-and-goat’s cheese soufflés. The homemade gnocchi is extraordinary, with tomato mixed into the potato dough. There is also a selection of six thin-based pizzas and some other wood-fired dishes, including short ribs. Though the menu is nice and short, there are also quite a few vegetarian options thanks to the prominence of farm-grown supplies.

Il Contadino's walnut and ginger sponge cake

Il Contadino’s walnut and ginger sponge cake. Photo supplied.

Les Delicés de France (Roodepoort)

This is a little piece of France in Roodepoort, where food is made with passion. The crayfish bisque is truly memorable, as are the mussels marinières. Venture out of your comfort zone with pan-fried calf brain in a nutty butter with capers and lemon. If there’s space for dessert, you will be rewarded with chocolatine Callebaut dark chocolate mousse on an almond base with Valrhona cocoa powder, or one of the soufflés.

Signature Restaurant (Morningside)

A 14-page menu gives plenty of choice. Start with prawns before moving on to perfectly grilled beef with Béarnaise sauce and pommes Dauphine. The platter of baby lobster and prawns is also impressive. Chocoholics can decide between Lindt fondant and Ferrero Rocher tiramisu to end.

Thief Restaurant (Sandton)

The best of bistro: simple ideas executed to perfection. Have a glass of something with bruschetta, Lüderitz oysters, or exceptional smoked trout salad with roasted beetroot and horseradish cream. The five mains are all fantastic: highlights are home-made butternut ravioli with sage butter, fantastically French confit duck leg, and porchetta. For dessert it’s a toss-up between honey panna cotta and crème brûlée.

One of the cheese platters at Thief Restaurant. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Cafés

Arbour Café & Courtyard (Birdhaven)

This French-inspired café specialises in galettes (pancakes) made from gluten-free buckwheat. These are generously filled with the likes of flambéed chorizo, mozzarella, tomatoes and basil. Mains include sesame-crusted salmon with avocado cream and rib-eye steak. The salads and sides will delight vegans and vegetarians. Crêpes with various sauces and fillings are the dessert focus. Try the classic brandy-flambéed option with orange-butter sauce.

Arbour Cafe & Courtyard

Arbour Cafe & Courtyard. Photo supplied.

Breezeblock (Brixton)

It’s all about easy eating, with nothing pretentious, at this Brixton spot. Egg dishes are satisfyingly delicious to start the day, but more luxurious huevos rancheros appear too, and staff are justifiably proud of the Dutch baked pancakes with out-of-this-world toppings such as honeyed ricotta and crumbled speculaas. The Ultimate Sandwiches have all the goodies – avo, halloumi, tapenade, pesto-mayo – and salads are hearty. Coffee and cake are a highlight, so see what’s fresh on the day.

Cheese Gourmet (Linden)

Expect scrumptious breakfasts, delicious scones, gooey cheese sandwiches, cheese platters, fondues and moreish lunches. Early in the day, feast on fritattas then progress to grilled baby brie, Welsh rarebit or burgers. Platters feature local and imported cheeses, cold meats, preserves and pickles from the fabulous deli. Those with a sweet tooth should be sure to sample the fresh pastries and cakes.

Inside at the Cheese Gourmet. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Inside at the Cheese Gourmet. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Chocoloza (Milpark)

You’ll find the best handmade treats imaginable here, in an exciting feast of flavours. Many chocolate fillings are seasonal, like raspberry, basil and lime, or surprising granadilla. Some have fruit, herb or boozy fillings. Sip on deluxe hot chocolates in six options arranged by hue (dark, medium or light) and origin (Java, Abinao, Madagascar). Chocolate tea and excellent coffees are also available.

A selection of chocolates from Chocoloza. Photo supplied.

Craft (Parkhurst)

This is sociable food at its best. The sharing board is a feast of juicy rump kebabs, sticky ribs, boerewors and more. The mains cover all the bases, from home-made pasta to wood-fired pizzas and surf and turf (like sirloin topped with queen prawns; or goat’s cheese- and chorizo-stuffed calamari, drizzled with lemon butter and served with a dunking roll). Be sure to try the gourmet burgers, too.

The cookies and cream waffle at Craft. Photo supplied.

The cookies-and-cream waffle at Craft. Photo supplied.

The Fat Zebra (Linden)

Although there are delights such as Norwegian salmon and spicy chicken livers, the menu here showcases what they do best: steaks, burgers, pizzas, pastas and café-style fare. The baby chicken comes smothered in a home-made peri-peri sauce, and the coal-roasted beef fillet is simply prepared and deliciously tender. If you have space for dessert, choose between carrot cake, cheesecake or chocolate torte.

Fruits & Roots (Bryanston)

Clean, simple and healthy, this is what Fruits & Roots is all about. There’s a daily vegan and vegetarian harvest-table lunch, weighed by the plate. Get there early before the root vegetables, brinjal salads, Mediterranean-inspired warm dishes and quiches run out. Off the menu, lunch options include a variety of sandwiches, tramezzinis and wraps. Warmer options include comforting, gingery Thai curry and a lentil-based shepherd’s pie.

Glenda’s (Hyde Park)

You’ll find everything from lavish breakfasts and perfect cakes to healthy lunches and hearty dinners at this pretty-as-a-picture eatery. Brunch treats include sugar-free granola with seeds, fruit and coconut; grapefruit carpaccio; croque-monsieur; and a lavish bacon roll. For heartier dining, there’s must-try salmon fishcakes, duck and waffle, and signature rotisserie chicken. The crispy-skinned succulent bird is served with stuffing, roasted potatoes, gravy and crisp greens. Don’t forget about the pastries and cakes.

The Garden Room at Glenda's. Photo supplied.

The Garden Room at Glenda’s. Photo supplied.

The Immigrant (Braamfontein)

Sharing – whether with a new friend, a group, or a date – is the idea here. Breakfasts are good for you, including the likes of fruit with muesli, yoghurt and coulis, and New York-style bagels. Try all of the fare at once by ordering the beautifully laid-out Jozi board with chargrilled rump, roasted chicken, tapenade, hummus, roasted peppers and home-baked flatbread. There are interesting salads and nachos, too.

JB’s Corner (Sandton)

This spot is perfect for light meals and easy-eating dishes. Try the sushi bowl for a quick and tasty lunch, as well as the tramezzinis and toasties, with low-GI wholewheat, rye and gluten-free options. Sandwiches, burgers and pizzas are balanced with low-fat, low-carb dishes, salads and grills. Have a burger on a bed of cauli rice with salad instead of a bun. For dessert, order a scrumptious slice of cake or favourites like brownies, Nutella waffles and crème brûlée.

Leafy Greens Café (Muldersdrift)

The food here is free of gluten, dairy, meat and refined sugars, and ingredients are either grown on-site or sourced locally. Options include veg rice-paper rolls with ginger and wasabi dipping sauce, and filling vegan burgers with sweet potato chips. The lunch buffet offers 30 dishes and the weekend breakfast buffet is deservedly popular – think veg frittatas and gluten-free pancakes with maple syrup, fruit and coconut yoghurt. Try the chocolate caramel tart, made from raw cocoa, nuts, coconut nectar and vanilla.

Jackson’s Real Food Market (Bryanston)

All food here is prepared with fresh ingredients from the producers that supply the adjoining market. Simple breakfast options range from the basic scrambled eggs on sourdough to more elaborate kale with tahini, avo, poached eggs and crispy bacon. For lunch, the teriyaki beef (or chicken or chickpea) is a beautiful overflowing bowl of tender protein, noodles, mushrooms, mixed veg, black sesame seeds and sauce. Rustic sandwiches and juicy hamburgers (made with 100% pure grass-fed or pasture-reared meat) complete the offering.

Love Food – Kitchen, Deli, Café (Braamfontein)

Jamie Lorge loves what she does and the food tastes like it. For breakfast, people love the bacon stack with eggs, cheese and tomato relish on ciabatta, and the French toast, whether sweet and savoury. On the laden harvest table, look out for ginger-orange gammon with crunchy Chinese slaw, cheddar-broccoli bake, the famous salmon cakes, and beef curry. Desserts are gooey brownies, fresh-baked lemon tart or choc-chip cookies.

Kitchen Kafe (Fourways)

While this eatery has positioned itself as a health nut’s heaven with banting, gluten-free and carb-free pizza bases and wraps, no finer chicken pesto pasta has ever been made this side of town. For a shared meal, pizzas are tempting, available with standard toppings as well as some that push the envelope.

Nice on 4th (Parkhurst)

The winning formula is simple: home-made and tasty food in a refreshingly cosy setting. The egg, salmon and veggie baskets are firm favourites, as are feather-light crumpets stacked with bacon, mascarpone and fresh strawberries. For lunch, think seriously good pies, salads, paninis and toasties. Most head straight to the counter for lemon meringue, Belgian chocolate cake and pear-and-almond tart.

Pablo Eggs-Go-Bar (Melville)

At Pablo Eggs-Go-Bar it’s all about free-range eggs all day, from snappy all-day breakfasts to lazy brunches with a nod to Middle Eastern influences. Tuck into dishes like flatbreads layered with hummus, Israeli salad and slices of hard-boiled egg, or a vibrant red shakshuka (poached eggs in a chunky sauce of tomato and green peppers, generously seasoned with garlic and spices). Also try the playful deep- fried egg or soldiers of bacon-wrapped asparagus spears for dipping into soft yolks. There are chocolate pancakes if you must have something sweet.

Patisserie de Paris (Blairgowrie)

Head to this Parisian themed café for enchanting daytime eats. Breakfast options include eggs Benedict, croque-monsieur drenched in béchamel sauce with grilled gypsy ham and emmenthal cheese, and creamy scrambled eggs with a seemingly endless list of delicious accompaniments. Lunch options include a pulled pork wrap and a variety of filled baguettes and salads. Be sure to peruse the deli’s amazing selection of truffle oils, cured meat, cheeses, freshly baked breads, and a variety of decadent cheesecakes and pies.

PAUL (Melrose Arch)

On the French side at this café you’ll find anything from pâtés and French onion soup to coq au vin and confit duck, but order the simple things – everything sandwich, quiche and pastry related – and you can’t go wrong. The éclairs are light as a feather and burst with beautifully thick and luscious flavoured crème patisserie; the baguettes are wonderfully crisp with a soft but slightly dense interior; and the croissants are 100% buttery goodness.

The eclairs at PAUL. Photo supplied.

Post Breakfast Lunch (Braamfontein)

The blackboard menu here includes some exciting breakfasts such as egg crostini, bifteki and flapjacks. Later on, try sandwiches with toppings such as grilled halloumi, bacon and cream cheese, and burgers. If you’re on a health kick, the salmon on rye with capers, cream cheese, cucumber and rocket will hit the spot. Light salads include avocado and halloumi, peri-peri chicken and butternut, and pulled pork belly. They run daily specials and also throw in a soup of the day. End on a chocolate brownie.

That Spot on 4th (Parktown North)

Head here for good brunches and lunches. The Hangover Cure waffle will most certainly ward off any weekend woes: it’s topped with chorizo, caramelised onion, mozzarella, roasted tomatoes and a fried egg. For lunch, popular flatbreads boast toppings such as harissa chicken, crème fraîche, avo, roasted cherry tomatoes and red onion. Also irresistible are lamb meatballs and shredded beef short rib. End on waffles with Belgian dark choc chips or lemon curd, toasted marshmallow and coconut. Also try the peanut brittle ice cream.

Roast Café (Melrose Arch)

A quirky treasure trove of deliciousness. For breakfast, try the South African fry-up with boerewors and wicked chakalaka. Later on, lip-smacking burgers are a must, as is the rump topped with mozzarella, roasted balsamic tomatoes and rocket, and served with baked sweet potato. Gourmet pizzas are great for sharing. Delicious-looking cakes are also on display.

Salvationcafé (Milpark)

Nestled among beautiful trees, this charming café offers an exciting menu. Breakfast ranges from granola with trimmings to the biggest variety of eggs Benedict ever. For lunch, try a grass-fed beef burger with hand-cut wedges and onion rings; five-spice calamari; or traditional Caesar salad. Up for something sweet? Order the Belgian chocolate hazelnut brownie or New York cheesecake.

Pancakes-at-salvationcafe

Pancakes at salvationcafe. Photo supplied.

tashas le parc (Hyde Park Corner)

This stylish restaurant brand is known for bringing indulgent all-day eats. A comforting breakfast is polenta topped with crispy bacon, mushrooms, a poached egg and parmesan. For something a little lighter, the hummus toastie with poached egg, roasted tomatoes, avo and feta is a treat. And lighter yet is the paw-paw with dollops of yoghurt, almonds and honey. Gourmet sandwiches, wraps and salads are joined by specialities such as salmon tartare and crumbed hake with fries, peas and tartar sauce.

Vovo Telo (Parkhurst)

The croissants, cronuts and breads entice from under glass cloches, but there’s much more on offer. Try a butternut fritter, or cream cheese and salmon on a bagel for breakfast. For something more substantial, choose a pissaladière (also available with cauliflower base) with bacon and chilli, a fresh salad or soup, or the likes of goulash and Moroccan chicken in the ’Me Hearties’ section. End on a baked fruit tart or the much-praised flourless chocolate cake – or order it to-go.

The Whippet (Linden)

Breakfasts cover everything from the classics to hot cross bun French toast. Then there’s the spicy green scrambled eggs with lime-spiked yoghurt, coriander, coconut and naan bread, and the breakfast burger with bacon, cheddar, fried onion, tomato jam and a soft egg. For lunch, check out one of the flatbreads, burgers or hot-pressed melts. Desserts change daily, and could include moist chocolate cake and milk tart.

The Whippet

The Whippet’s interior. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Fine dining

AtholPlace Restaurant (Atholl)

Fancy breakfasts include a refined continental buffet with a selection of pastries, breads, glorious homemade granola, yoghurts and fruit platters. The hot breakfasts take it to the next level, too, so don’t skip these if you’re going all out. Lunches are affordable and casual, but the setting and the service add an air of sophistication and elegance. The menu is small and bistro-like, with burgers, pan-fried line fish, vibrant tagliatelle pastas, wraps and sandwiches. It’s simple but very good. Dinner is the main event: the set menu changes seasonally and is dependent on what’s fresh and available.

DW Eleven-13 (Dunkeld West)

Marthinus Ferreira’s establishment dazzles the palate with every bite and tantalises the imagination with wondrous creations. Tasting plates change seasonally. Previous highlights have included chicken liver mille-feuille bites; truffle-infused sous-vide hen’s egg; seared tuna sashimi with oyster coulis, citrus and fennel; and bresaola and pickled veg, slaphakskeentjies and dukkah. Desserts are fabulous, too.

A dessert at DW Eleven-13. Photo supplied.

A dessert at DW Eleven-13. Photo supplied.

Kream Mall of Africa (Midrand)

Modern items here will appeal to a broad clientele, ranging from carpaccios to delicious smoked pork belly croquettes. Other stand-outs include char-grilled fillet with green Bordelaise sauce, and specials of kudu fillet with grilled leeks and potato fondant or angelfish with lemon-butter sauce. End on perfectly executed crème brûlée or rainbow cheesecake with bubblegum ice cream, candy floss, rock candy, popcorn and G&T jelly.

Level Four (Rosebank)

Each dish at Level Four is carefully crafted, in taste and presentation. Highlights have included a lobster bisque starter with mussels, clams, prawns and steamed fish; sea bass in a delicate broth with heirloom tomatoes and snow peas; and roasted red pepper risotto with a burnt balsamic gel and goat’s cheese. The clever combinations of flavour and texture will keep you coming back for more.

Marble (Rosebank)

This grillhouse boasts incredibly modern and eccentric twists, and all the bells and whistles that chef David Higgs brings to the table. Local, seasonal ingredients appear in well-balanced dishes with subtle smoky notes. The menu is a journey, with flavours from Mediterranean to Thai and Argentinian. Much thought goes into each texture, colour and scent. Consider wood-fired asparagus with seaweed butter; prawn tails with wasabi and prawn crackers; or, for the more adventurous, octopus hot off the coals, with anchovy and a quail egg. The pork main is also sublime. The dessert menu is small, but clever and enticing. Try the passion fruit crème brûlée with lime meringue drops and macerated berries.

Tables at the windows offer a bird's eye view of Rosebank. Photo supplied.

Tables at Marble’s windows offer a bird’s eye view of Rosebank. Photo supplied.

NCW (Melville)

Expect exquisite and breathtaking cuisine here. Each course has a deceptively simple title: ‘Tomato’ is a soup of roasted and reduced tomato with a basil ice cream quenelle and balsamic gel studs. Dishes might include the likes of venison with parsnip and onion; tuna with ras el hanout spice; and a tangy dessert made up of granadilla, crème fraîche, lavender and white chocolate.

Qunu (Sandhurst)

Prepare for a culinary adventure in beautifully plated food. Think roasted quail with corn purée, quail egg and crispy nest; springbok with king oyster mushroom; and duck egg with smoked potato, artichoke and truffled brioche. It’s difficult to choose mains; you might opt for crisp sea bass and calamari, or the juicy and generous beef fillet and braised short rib. Sweet highlights are mango, blood orange and peach sorbet or the Saxon torte with Valrhona Manjari 64% chocolate.

View Restaurant at Four Seasons (Westcliff)

The carefully orchestrated five- or seven-course tasting menus here deliver rapture. The bread is superlative, followed by dishes like 62-degree hen’s egg and salmon trout with furikaki and fish crackling. Mains might include seabass with calamari and preserved lemon; and wagyu sirloin with sweetbreads and shiitake mushrooms. End with coffee and small pastries.

The bar inside at The View Restaurant

The bar at View. Photo supplied.

Winehouse at Ten Bompas (Dunkeld West)

The tasting menu here is a showcase of superbly executed gastronomy, with an emphasis on flavourful broths, buttery sauces and sumptuous reductions. Dishes might include quail with blood orange, medjool dates and radicchio; barramundi with broccoli and seaweed butter; and Karoo lamb with cauliflower and macadamia nuts. Desserts are always a triumph.

Wombles (Bryanston)

With its old-world grace and a touch of colonial style, this restaurant embraces the safari lodge look, complete with outdoor fires and lounges, trophy heads, ferns and other such memorabilia. The menu appeals to old fans with the famous beef stroganoff, table-side hand-made steak tartare, and gorgeous duck confit. Opt for the roasted springbok shanks served in a savoury green peppercorn sauce with stewed fruit. Finish your memorable meal with appropriately old-school lemon meringue ice cream and the crêpe Suzettes, simmered in fresh orange and Cointreau.

Indian

Al-Makka Restaurant (Fordsburg)

Expect good-value food here. Tuck into options like the mutton, fish and vegetable biryanis, or the chicken tikka masala. Also have the mutton karahi and butter roti, although the chapti roti are exquisitely tasty. For dessert, try the fragrant kheer, a rice pudding with nuts, fruit and tapioca.

Bismillah Restaurant (Melville)

This traditional eatery specialises in no-frills South Asian cuisine and does it well. The restaurant itself is fairly unassuming, but that just allows the delicious food to do all the talking. The menu is long and comprehensive, so come here hungry and with time to work your way through it.

Bukhara (Sandton)

This Nelson Mandela Square restaurant attracts both the local business crowd and tourists with dishes like perfectly cooked tandoori-style dishes, rich and saucy curries mopped up with puffy garlic naan, as well as a variety of chicken, meat, seafood and veg grills. Desserts end the meal off perfectly with flavours of condensed milk, coconut, mango and litchi.

Dosa Hut (Fordsburg)

It’s a joy to find a menu devoted to southern Indian food. Rice pancakes (dosas) embrace their fillings and are served with interesting sambhars. The simplest – and best– is the masala dosa. The dried chilli paneer, lamb maliperalan and fantastic kappa fish curry are highlights. Desserts include luscious kulfi and gulab jamun.

Holi Cow Deli and Cooking School (Fourways)

The ever-changing menu here offers about six dishes. Think creamy chicken korma and Durban lamb curry – all generously portioned. At the deli you’ll find braised mutton and potato pies, fresh naan, soji, snowballs and mini milk tarts to take home.

Italian

Amarcord Italian Food (Blairgowrie)

This is traditional Italian with an emphasis on great execution. The suppli di riso, served with zucchini fries, is a great starter that melts in your mouth. Pastas are nothing short of glorious, especially the cannelloni ricotta with spinach. There are also meaty and seafood options on offer. End on the dolce della nona: biscuits with cream, pecans, sabayon, marsala and dark chocolate.

Bella Anima (Sunninghill)

This is a celebration of all that is Italian and vegetarian. Start with beetroot carpaccio or marinated brinjals, peppers and tomatoes on bruschetta. While the pizzas (gluten-free banting bases and vegan cheese are available) are some of the best in town, the melanzane parmigiana is always a winner. Vegan carrot cake seals the deal.

Café del Sol Botanico (Bryanston) – Best Italian Eatery – winner

Traditional Italian cuisine, great ingredients and a gorgeous environment is what you’ll find here. Highlights from the extensive menu are tender ravioli, crispy squid heads with aioli, signature risottos, and porcini-roasted chicken. The pizza section adds to the extensive choices, with options like pizza parma with Parma ham, truffle oil and rocket, or the classic margherita topped with fresh fior di latte. Pastries, cakes and desserts are made with skill and round off the meal.

Cafe Del Sol Botanico. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Cafe Del Sol Botanico. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Café Del Sol Classico (Randburg)

This was the first of what has become a trio of great eateries. Start with crunchy squid or springbok carpaccio. Mains call for pastas like the beautiful ravioli of the day, silky smooth tagliatelle with creamy porcini whisky sauce, and tender rolled pork fillet with Parma ham, smoked mozzarella and fontina. There’s something for everyone. Finish off with panna cotta and a fantastic espresso.

Café del Sol TRE (Parkhurst)

Eclectic and eccentric Italian is what you’ll find here. Favourites include stuffed calamari, carpaccio, signature risottos, and handmade gnocchi and pasta in superb sauces like Nonna’s secret beef and pork ragu. There are also retro dishes such as avo Ritz or sous vide duck. Dessert highlights are towering pavlova with berries, and chocolate fondant with peanut-butter ice cream.

The 1920s-inspired mirrors are a focal point. Photo supplied.

The 1920s-inspired mirrors are a focal point. Photo supplied.

Casalinga Ristorante Italiano (Muldersdrift)

Expect simple and flavoursome fare, with most of the veg and herbs grown on the farm. Start with beef carpaccio with marinated mushrooms, parmesan shavings, lemon juice and olive oil, or the melanzane al forno. The slow-roasted pork belly with sherry, sultanas and garlic mash is a delicious main event. End on tiramisu, pavlova or crème brûlée.

Coalition (Rosebank)

This laidback pizza joint offers a Neapolitan-inspired experience, which means 00 flour, a two-day rising process, crushed tomatoes for the base, home-made fior de latte mozzarella, and baking at 400°C for a perfectly puffed crust. Classic toppings include coppa, thyme, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes and olives. The oven-roasted beef short rib is an absolute must. For dessert it’s a toss-up between tiramisu, panna cotta and affogato.

A glorious pizza from Coalition in Johannesburg. Photo supplied.

Da Graziella Restaurant and Pizzeria (Edenvale)

Traditional, home-style Italian food is what it’s all about here. Start with fresh mussels in either cream and brandy or white wine and garlic, and then consider the thin-crust pizza options. Toppings range from a simple margherita to the calzone with artichokes, ham and bacon. The pastas are superb, especially the lasagne, ravioli and panzerotti. Finish off with a quintessentially Italian dessert, be it tiramisu or ricotta-filled cannolo.

Franco’s Pizzeria (Parkview)

This is an institution for home-style Italian cuisine. For starters try the Caprese or the carpaccio. The wood-fired pizzas come with a great selection of toppings, from the alla Siciliana with salty anchovies, olives and capers, to the salsiccia with sausage, spinach and chilli. If pasta is what you’re after, the spinach-and-ricotta panzerotti is a winner, as are the classic puttanesca and carbonara. Finish with a fabulous tiramisu or semifreddo with Bar One sauce.

A pizza at Franco’s Pizzeria and Trattoria. Photo supplied.

A pizza at Franco’s Pizzeria and Trattoria. Photo supplied.

Gemelli Ristorante (Bryanston)

The cuisine here is refined, well prepared and beautifully presented. Start with cicchetti (snacks) like lamb meatballs, mussels and calamari. You’ll need a bib for the steaming bowl of linguine laced with prawns, mussels, clams and calamari in a rich tomato, cream and herb sauce. You must try the bistecca di agnello (lamb rump) with porcini risotto, parsley butter, chimichurri and a quenelle of crème fraîche. Those with a sweet tooth should attempt the chocolate nemesis, starring lime caramel and white-chocolate gelato.

Gemelli penne Allessandro. Photo by Rupesh Kassen.

Gemelli’s penne Allessandro. Photo by Rupesh Kassen.

Il Giardino Degli Ulivi (Milpark)

Gather here to enjoy a long boozy lunch or a night under the stars. Start with a traditional Caprese with buffalo mozzarella and move on to a thin-crust pizza or melt-in-your-mouth gnocchi with vibrant pepper sauce or creamy Gorgonzola, prosciutto and rocket. Alternatives are lamb cutlets with pumpkin and an Italian trattoria twist on a burger with prosciutto crudo and Grana Padano. End off with delicious homemade tiramisu.

Illovo Mastrantonio (Illovo)

The Italian cold meats make for a great starter, served with olives and mozzarella. Otherwise, you might be drawn towards carpaccio with parmesan, mushrooms and celery, or the veal girello in a tuna sauce. Mains are the usual suspects like linguine pescatore, or bucatini alla amatriciana and more. Do try the panzerotti filled with artichoke and ricotta in a creamy butter and sage sauce.

Jamie’s Italian (Melrose North)

This restaurant’s charm lies in the philosophy that the simplest option is always best. Snack on the bread basket or the famous planks with pickles and dips before moving on to mains of meat, pasta or pizza. Pasta options include garlicky tomato-based prawn linguine, or classic carbonara with leeks and pancetta. On the meat front there’s lamb, beef fillet and an Italian-style burger. If it’s pizza you’re after, try the fresh and simple Julietta pizza topped with slow-roasted tomatoes, basil, buffalo mozzarella and parmesan.

Chilli Freak Pizza

The Chilli Freak pizza at Jamie’s Italian. Photo supplied.

L’Antico Giardino (Lanseria)

Even though this spot is open on weekends only, it’s worth the drive. The menu changes regularly, but expect simple homemade focaccia for the table or signature wood-fired flatbreads. Groups are encouraged to share grills of the day like rib-eye steak with vegetables and a red-wine sauce. Desserts are real treats, and might include options like panna cotta, a chocolate pot, or frozen nougat. Vegetarians are also looked after, as are children.

La Cucina di Ciro (Parktown North)

The methodology here is good ingredients prepared with heart. Start with risotto balls with artichokes, or crispy sardines with a lemon-and-thyme mayo. For mains, consider fettuccine with prawns, cream and wine; duck-filled ravioli; and the chargrilled beef fillet with roasted potatoes. For dessert, you’re sure to love the signature tiramisu.

Nonna Mia’s Kitchen (Norwood)

It’s all about comfort food here. Order a dish cooked al forno, like the homemade lasagne with beef mince or veggies, or go for one of the famed pizzas. You’d do well to try the Torino, topped with mozzarella, Gorgonzola, brie, parmesan and provolone. End the meal with Paul’s Ice Cream.

The food counter at Nonna Mia's. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

The food counter at Nonna Mia’s. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Piza e Vino (Rosebank)

This is a family-owned establishment with uncomplicated but scrumptious fare. Highlights include tasty calamari, a classic carbonara with thick cuts of bacon, tender rump with garlic and rosemary, and a wood-fired pizza topped with seafood. Balance that with a gourmet salad or keep the gluttony going with oxtail ragù with tagliatelle. End on alcohol-free tiramisu, chocolate fondant or affogato.

Pizzeria Locale (Linden)

It’s probably best to create your own pizza at this local pizza joint – the choices seem endless. If that task is too daunting, choose from a wide array of options including ones with Italian salami, bacon and garlic; four cheeses; or grilled chicken, sweet peppers and avocado. It’s worth visiting for the pancakes, too. These are reasonably priced and come in appealing combinations such as toffee and chocolate; cinnamon, sugar, banana and toffee; and Nutella and banana.

Pronto (Craighall Park)

This iconic Italian restaurant and food store in Craighall has won numerous awards over the years for their food and excellent service. For breakfast, try the very popular ricotta griddlecakes, served with bacon and maple syrup, or the Mediterranean scrambled eggs with pancetta and tomatoes. For a heartier meal, consider the polenta con polpette, featuring beautiful meatballs cooked in a tomato and chilli sauce and served with creamy polenta.

Remo’s Maximilliano (Sunninghill)

The food here is prepared with pride, whether it’s an indulgent breakfast, something baked or a traditional pasta. Try the classic tagliatelle alla Bolognese or the linguine with Norwegian salmon, vodka and cream. A range of pizzas, tender beef fillets, seafood and pork chops are also part of the pickings. Treat yourself to something from the range of freshly baked goods, from tasty florentines and pecan tarts to cronuts.

A meaty pasta dish at Remo’s Maximilliano. Photo supplied.

ROSTO (Linden)

Based on the Italian ritual of going to the weekly market or rosticceria and buying roasted chicken and other accompaniments, Rosto features free-range chicken roasted to perfection in their wood-fired oven. Look out for their roasted wings, house-made focaccia and fresh salads. Everything is made fresh on the premises using the best ingredients.

Trabella Pizzeria (Illovo)

Kick things off at this laidback spot with the carpaccio or satisfyingly cheesy melanzane. A sizeable list of pastas – with combos like leeks, Gorgonzola and butternut, or pancetta and peas in a creamy parmesan sauce – and even more pizzas make for an exciting variety. Round off your meal with good cheesecake.

Tortellino D’oro (Oaklands)

This restaurant packs in the charm. Start off with tempting antipasti before moving on to one of the homemade pastas with your choice of sauce, or go for one of the chicken or veal dishes. Desserts range from rich Italian ice creams to assorted pastries.

Mediterranean

Mezepoli (Melrose Arch)

Mezepoli draws its menu inspiration and décor from the tapas- and communal-eating style of the Mediterranean, but also offers sushi and some of the flavours and ingredients of the Middle East. Menu options start with meze offerings, which includes vegetarian dishes, meats, olives, cheeses and dips, and seafood. Worth trying are the exotic mushrooms grilled with rock salt and dressed with olive oil, lemon and fresh parsley, and the crispy spanakopita filled with spinach and feta. The dedicated grill section is not to be missed, and we’ve heard good things about the simply prepared lamb chops.

Mythos (Midrand)

The choices here will likely feel endless – choose from salads, dips, fish, vegetarian and meat meze, to mains of meat, poultry, fish and traditional cooked dishes. The highlights are fleshy and fresh oysters, juicy and substantial lamb chops, and oh-so-tender pan-fried calamari tubes lightly seasoned with lemon. Have your oysters with sparkling wine from a wide selection to suit any budget.

Parea (Illovo)

This long-standing neighbourhood favourite serves good-value traditional Greek fare. Signature dishes include kleftiko – slow-cooked lamb shank – souvlaki, and lamb chops in lemon and rosemary. There is a good meze selection ideal for group sharing. Get ready to party on Friday and Saturday nights with traditional Greek dancing and the breaking of plates.

Middle Eastern

Galata (Braamfontein)

The fabulous Turkish breakfast is reason enough to visit. Also on the menu: köfte, a simit bun burger; tantuni with either lavash or Turkish bread with tomato, onions, peppers and beef; and lovely baked deli items such as poğaça, börek and sütlaç. Wash down with Turkish coffee, tea and sodas.

The Schwarma Co. (Norwood)

Ease in with a light starter like the meze platter, then move on to the much-venerated shwarma with fillings of brinjal, tomato and onion, and sauces like baba ghanoush, harissa and tahini. The honey-soaked baklava makes for a sweet ending.

Modern/Tapas

Bolton Road Collection (Rosebank)

Here you’ll find interesting dishes for sharing with stellar presentation. Try the slow-roasted beef short rib with radish, watercress emulsion and pickled egg yolk, and grilled sea bass. Great desserts like tantalising tonka bean panna cotta with honeycomb. Have with a great cocktail or Origin coffee.

Coobs (Parkhurst)

The flavours here are fresh, seasonal and fun with an ever-changing menu depending on the fresh produce from local farms. You could find yourself enjoying braised pork shoulder arancini with pork-and-lentil ragu and baba ghanoush; confit duck leg and duck pie; or home-made pastas. You’re always in for a surprise with the picture-perfect desserts.

Slow-braised Suffolk lamb shoulder with truffle arancini at Coobs. Photo supplied.

Slow-braised Suffolk lamb shoulder with truffle arancini at Coobs. Photo supplied.

EB Social Kitchen & Bar (Hyde Park)

This is the ideal spot for happily enjoying dinner for one (and a book). You could order a la carte, where all three courses are likely to be standouts, or start with tapas (a local goat-cheese croquette with cucumber-mint jelly and green apple would be very difficult to resist) with one of the fun cocktails at the bar before sitting down to dinner. Even better: wander through the five- or seven-course degustation menu.

The steak fillet with roast potatoes at EB Social Kitchen & Bar. Photo supplied.

The steak fillet with roast potatoes at EB Social Kitchen & Bar. Photo supplied.

Escondido Tapas and Wine (Illovo)

Order off the chalkboard at this tapas spot. Highlights could include crumbed Mexican chicken strips with blue cheese, wild mushroom arancini with truffle cream cheese, and the sweet-and-sour rib bucket. Also try salmon with lemon risotto, beer-battered fishcakes with orange-ginger mayo, and pumpkin fritters. For dessert, the chocolate fondant with pistachio froyo is a triumph.

Farro (Illovo)

This relaxed fine dining eatery seems to have taken the Joburg food scene by storm, and for good reason. The ever-changing menu offers small clever dishes of seasonal and locally sourced ingredients, as well as an interesting wine list. No matter what is available on the day, it will be delicious and satisfying.

A mackerel open sandwich likely to be found on the Farro menu if you're lucky

A mackerel open sandwich likely to be found on the Farro menu if you’re lucky. Photo supplied.

Flames Restaurant (Westcliff)

Here you’ll find a true fusion menu. Start off with shaved veg with a battered poached egg, Thai-inspired seafood or kudu carpaccio. Next, opt for a steak with herb butter; spice-rubbed sea bass with citrus; or soft-shell crab with avo, grapefruit, sushi rice and togarashi spice. And that’s not even considering the burgers. For dessert, choose between chocolate fondant, banoffee cheesecake and a cheese board.

The Foundry (Parktown North)

Firm favourites at Foundry include tuna ceviche in a taco with trout caviar, sesame oil, avo, ginger and soy; crispy squid heads with harissa aioli; and baby back ribs with plum-and-oyster mushroom sauce. Sharing plates include pork belly albondigas, pumpkin ale fritters, chimichurri mielies, charcuterie and cheese. For mains, there’s tempting steaks, springbok shanks; mushroom ravioli with brown butter, sage and truffle sauce; and thin-crust pizzas. There are also craft brews and wines for every palate.

The Green Peppercorn Bistro (Morningside)

Breakfasts include corn flapjacks with salmon and poached egg, and smoked kudu Benedict. There’s quirky street food available until 5pm like panko prawn tacos, chilli squad and pork belly buns. Duck spring rolls with ginger sauce and parmesan croquettes are particularly tasty starters. The rump, with an unusual mustard and condensed milk sauce, is generous in portion and flavour. End off with Lindt balls in crispy pastry, chocolate fondant or piña colada cheesecake.

The Green Peppercorn. Photo supplied.

The Green Peppercorn. Photo supplied.

La Boqueria (Parktown North)

La Boqueria’s menu is divided into bruschetta, ceviche, skillets, soul bowls, kebabs and paella – it’s a culinary journey from Mexico to Spain and Argentina. Start with a sardine and caper-parsley aioli or barbecued squid. For mains, the seafood paella and Crying Tiger chilli rump kebab do not disappoint. Dessert sees a toss-up between churros and a whoopee pie ice-cream sandwich with Nutella and marshmallows.

Living Room (Maboneng)

You’ll enjoy this lovely experience of eating and drinking in a living urban garden. The grazer’s menu includes tiny but delicious carpaccio, lick-your-fingers ribs and spring rolls. The chicken wings are delectable. If you want dessert before hitting the dance floor, there’s home-made ice cream, banana-and-Nutella spring rolls or choc-chip cookie cups stuffed with Kahlua ice cream. Need we say more?

Lonely Hearts Club (Melville)

The menu at this refined casual eatery is small but hardworking, and features options for meat-lovers and veggies alike. Must-tries include the roast bone marrow and the grilled artichoke hearts.

The fire-roasted prawns at The Lonely Hearts Club. Photo supplied.

The Orbit (Braamfontein)

There are two styles of eating at The Orbit: the three-course dinners, and meat-and-cheese platters with accompaniments. For lighter appetites, start with a quiche or salad; the hungrier might opt for tandoori chicken wings or spicy livers and then smoked trout, vegan coconut curry, burgers, oxtail or steak. Wash down with something from the enormous choice of wines, beers, cocktails and spirits.

Rockets (Bryanston)

Don’t be overwhelmed by the vast menu – there are no wrong choices here. While pizzas, pastas and even Wagyu sirloin are among the options, you should go for tapas. Exquisitely plated dishes in generous portions are inspired by a variety of cuisines. Think chimichurri tacos with flame-grilled rump and Moroccan lamb kebabs with hummus and tzatziki. For a bit of theatre, the famous caramel-chocolate bomb is highly recommended.

A tapas dish at Rockets. Photo supplied.

The Steamworks Gastropub (Fourways)

Expect edgy pub-style food for sharing. Start with pork belly braised in star anise and cinnamon and served with hoisin glaze, or fried chicken wings with coleslaw. Pizzas (also offered with banting and gluten-free bases) boast intriguing toppings like butter chicken. The beef ribs and bar snacks (like loaded potato skins and jalapeño poppers) are favourites too. End on red-velvet churros or crème brûlée. Enjoy top-end craft beers and ciders, locals and international wines and signature cocktails.

The Steamworks Gastropub bar

The Steamworks Gastropub bar. Photo supplied.

Urbanologi (Ferreirasdorp)

This is sublime, mouthwatering, go-back-more food. Expect the likes of venison tataki with Sriracha emulsion; tempura shimeji mushroom with tamarind dressing; lamb rump with rose and geranium-poached quince; takatori chicken with chimichurri; and candy floss with peach salsa, lemongrass and pineapple sorbet.

Urbanologi's smoked pork with pak choi. Photo supplied.

Urbanologi’s smoked pork with pak choi. Photo supplied.

Portuguese

1920 Portuguese Restaurant (Randburg)

The food here is intended to be specifically Madeiran. LM prawns are in high demand. Excellent affordable dishes include trinchado, braised chorizo, and utterly outstanding chanfana (tender goat meat with fried sweet potatoes). Desserts include a very good almond tart or crème caramel. Wash down with Madeira wine, coffee, Portuguese beers and wines.

33 High Street Restaurant (Modderfontein)

Be prepared for the extensive menu here, including great kids’ and vegetarian options. Start with chicken giblets in a delicious sauce of white wine and paprika, then move on to 400g pork chops grilled with lemon and herbs. The traditional waffle with salted caramel sauce is a satisfying ending that’s not too sweet. Another worthy option is the bubblebread, which is essentially pizza, with enough toppings to please anyone.

Pigalle (Sandton)

This intimate and romantic venue offers contemporary Portuguese cuisine from the sea and the land. After your complimentary soup, you might start with peri-peri chicken livers, succulent pan-fried beef trinchado in a white wine sauce, or calamari with buttery rice and peas. For accommodating budgets there’s lobster with cream, cognac and black cherries, or prawns cooked in beer and cream; green chilli, white wine, garlic and peri-peri; or thermidore style. Round off your meal with nutty dark chocolate brownies.

A Churrasquiera (Brackenhurst)

A Churrasqueira offers a great menu with authentic Portuguese food – from chicken pregos to Mozambican prawns and platters, and even delicious chorizo on a terracotta dish engulfed in flames. Highlights are giblets and calamari starters, rabbit stew, and tender chicken espetada with Portuguese-style chips. A giant trolley displays the day’s impressive selection of cakes and desserts. To drink, choose from Mozambican and local beers, and Portuguese and SA wines.

Restaurante Parreirinha (La Rochelle)

Bookings are essential at this eatery. Start with the trademark prawn cakes, or the sharing platter of chicken giblets and livers, chorizo and squid. For mains, try the famous lemon-butter prawns; spicy peri-peri chicken; or baby chicken marinated in lemon, herbs and peri-peri. End on barril de natas, which are creamy custard tarts.

Seafood

The Codfather (Sandton)

This stalwart seafood restaurant never seems to disappoint. Despite the fishy feel, the menu is extensive and appeals to all diets. The seafood really is the shining star here, and you really can’t go wrong with the simple grilled line fish of the day, or the prawns.

Fishmonger (Illovo and The Firs)

This is a sophisticated seafood restaurant serving everything from lobster bisque to line fish baked in the oven with tomatoes and onions. Have some of the best prawns in town, like the succulent queens, cooked Portuguese-style in beer and peri peri. They’re also known for good oysters, calamari and highly recommended sushi.

La Marina Foods (Modderfontein)

Fish and sushi are the specialities. Try the amazing prawns, simply prepared to let the product take all the shine. There’s also grilled sole, kingklip, Mauritian sea bass, seared yellowfin tuna, and crab legs with wasabi mayo. Or you could make it an oyster-and-bubbly day. Win-win.

Ono Poké Eatery (Illovo)

Breakfast bowls (comprising yoghurt and fruit) are tempting but the poké bowls are what you should have here (even for breakfast). You can build your own, but the house choices are wonderful, including tuna, salmon and prawns with kiwi, radishes, pickled peppers, Sriracha, mayo, avo, gleaming rice and yuzu dressing. It’s a wonderful melange of textures and tastes, from sweet to tart and tangy. For something sweet afterward, get coconut rice pudding. Enjoy with their excellent coffees or shakes.

Steakhouses and meaty fare

The Braai Room (Sandton)

Come here for a conscious braai – all the meat is carefully sourced and hormone- and antibiotic-free. Starters include roasted marrow bones and pork nuggets with mango chutney. For mains there’s an all-encompassing list of wet- or dry-aged cuts served with herbed garlic butter, chimichurri sauce and sides of braaibroodjies, pap, onion rings and chips. For dessert there’s malva pudding, milk tart and Nutella brownies. Wash down with boutique wines and craft beers.

The Butcher Shop & Grill (Sandton)

This is the home of all things meat, with an on-site butchery to boot. Aged steak is served with traditional sides like baked potato and morogo. Go easy on the starters to leave room – though this is hard when faced with grilled sardines and sticky pork riblets. Diners are encouraged to select their cuts from their butchery. Choose all the cuts of steak, including Argentinian rib-eye, prepared the way you like. Also choose something from one of their two wine cellars.

The interior at The Butcher Shop & Grill in Sandton. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

The Butchery by Marble (Rosebank)

Here you’ll find elegant platters boasting the likes of local cheese or salami made with hazelnut, tarragon and chenin blanc or pinotage and fennel. The ham – from acorn-fed wild boars – is utterly delicious. There’s always something on the ‘Butcher’s Block’, like a cured meat ciabatta sandwich for big paws and jaws. The frequently changing wine list features some rare wines, MCC and beers. Coffees are superb.

The butchery counter offers a whole range of delights. Photo by Kate Liquorish.

Che Argentine Grill (Maboneng Precinct)

Che Argentine Grill is a meat lover’s dream. If it’s your first visit, try the parrillada (mixed grill) for two or four, served with salads, veg or skinny fires. You’ll taste generous cuts of wood-fired pork belly, chicken and rump. The meat is prepared simply, allowing its true flavours to be the hero – so no basting or sticky sauces here. You’ll want to pour your side of home-made chimichurri over everything. Starters include platters, bone marrow with garlic bread, and must-try empanadas. If you have room for dessert, try the flan, light pancakes, churros or cremoso.

The Grillhouse (Rosebank)

While the vast menu offers everything from salads to poultry, it’s the steaks that have earned numerous awards and clientele. Appetisers include biltong, lemon-butter calamari, sticky chicken drummettes and a seafood platter. Whatever you choose, from succulent lamb rib to New York sirloin, you’ll get high-quality meat that’s cooked to perfection. For dessert, the excellent brownies go down very well with ice cream.

The Local Grill (Parktown North)

This popular eatery focuses on a great range of meat, from tender beef cheeks, carpaccio and bonemarrow to a variety of steaks. Start your meal with prawn or bobotie spring rolls, smoked salmon on corn blinis or the herb-brushed calamari. The star of the mains is the Greenfields free-range beef. The aged sirloin on the bone, seasoned with the house spice rub, has a pronounced charred note and a rich aroma of properly aged beef. Round it off with a great milk tart.

A steak from The Local Grill. Photo supplied.

A steak from The Local Grill. Photo supplied.

The Smokehouse and Grill (Braamfontein)

This cosy and rustic spot offers Southern-style barbecue food. Share the slow-smoked jalapeño poppers with blue-cheese dip; grilled squid heads with homemade tartar sauce; or fries topped with chilli ground beef, cheese and jalapeños. For mains, the ‘Piggy in the Hole’ is a beef burger topped with pulled pork, smoked bacon and onion rings. Sandwiches look delicious too, particularly the brisket Reuben. Go hungry!

Thunder Gun (Northcliff)

Thunder Gun has been around for ages and their experience shows. Described as having some of the best ribs in town, you won’t need to veer far from the grill section, which is comprehensive. They also offer a smashing peri-peri chicken.

Turn ‘n Tender (Parktown North)

Here the sauces are almost as important as the steaks, and everyone has a favourite starter. Choose from marrow bones, peri-peri calamari and the biltong section. Burgers are big, too, and come with famed onion rings. Accompaniments with mains include glorious chips, baked potato or sweet potato, mash, pap with gravy, veggies or salad. The Spanish 300g rump or sirloin with paprika parsley sauce is heavenly. A black cherry and Oreo-layered cheesecake parfait is an outstanding sweet ending.

Pepper Crusted Tunnel Rump, Baked Potato & Onion Rings served at Turn 'n Tender

A steak at Turn ‘n Tender. Photo supplied.

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 2018 edition of Eat Out magazine. Any additions are based on ratings by critics during the year and by the editorial team. 

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