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Where to dine on the Dolphin Coast

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The sleepy seaside towns of Ballito and Salt Rock on KZN’s popular Dolphin Coast are popular destinations for both holidaymakers and locals looking for a break. The area plays host to a group of relaxing eateries, quaint cafés and beachside locales. For your next beachy sojourn along the curves of the coast, here’s where to dine and what to order in Ballito and Salt Rock.

45 Eat Street
There’s something for everyone at this relaxed spot at the Lifestyle Centre, making it a great shopping spree pitstop. The large menu features everything from sharing plates and sushi to meaty grills and gourmet pizzas.

 

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Afro’s Chicken Shop
It started off in the famous yellow container on the beachfront, and now this buzzing chicken shop has branches popping up all over the city. This branch is keeping locals happy by serving the famed chicken burgers, strips and tjips. Order your chicken lemony or spicy. Best served with a side of golden tjips to mop up all the sauce.

Al Pescatore
This Italian and seafood stalwart has been on the map for nearly 30 years, and is still offering locals classic dishes with sparkling sea views. The large menu features everything from ocean delights to pastas and pizzas. Try the seafood platter with fresh grilled shellfish and lemon butter, or go for one of the rich seafood pastas. If you’re there for a light lunch, the menu also features an Italian fillet roll, calamari and chargrilled seafood kebabs.

 

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Alchemy at Blackstrap Craft Distillery

This sneaky little gin bar is located in Blackstrap Craft Distillery at Ballito’s buzzing Lifestyle Centre. The bar celebrates all things gin and stocks over 50 different kinds of gin. The menu features house combos, cocktails and DIY drinks. Keep hunger at bay with fresh dishes like spicy prawn bowls with ginger, garlic, chilli and lime; bruschetta with ricotta and honey; gin-infused chicken liver pâté; or Thai chicken drumsticks.

Beira Alta

This popular Portuguese restaurant boasts a freshly decorated space that’s ideal for a working lunch or relaxed weeknight supper. The menu includes familiar favourites like beef trinchado, steak and light salads, but the real winner is the fresh seafood selection. Options include grilled calamari, sardines, flaked codfish and the house specialty of pan-fried queen prawns.

Bird & Co.

Jumping on the chicken train is this chook shop from the team behind Salt Rock’s BBM Café. Tuck into offerings of deboned half chickens, wings and burgers. The chickens are all free range and come in bastings of hot, mild or lemon and herb. You can also get your chicken atop a wood-fired pizza with peri-mayo, chicken, chorizo, caramelised onions and avo.

Concha Café and Bakery

This little corner bakery specialises in artisanal bakes, pastries and coffee. The menu touches on old-school Portuguese flavours, with an offering of prego rolls, bitoque and pasteis de nata.

 

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Fiamma Grill

This vibrant and friendly restaurant is situated in the exclusive Coco-de-Mer Boutique Hotel in Ballito, offering Italian dining with a great selection of wines, craft beers and cocktails. The large food menu includes everything from antipasti to wood-fired pizzas and rich pastas. Sit poolside and enjoy the Fiamma piccanti with Italian tomato, ground beef fillet, cream and fresh chilli, or the specialty pizza with mince, peppers, onions, feta and peppadews. If you want to make a weekend of it, book a room at the hotel and take advantage of the relaxing surroundings.

The steak at Fiamma Grill. Photo supplied.

The steak at Fiamma Grill. Photo supplied.

The Galley Beach Bar and Grill

Made for slip slops and sand, this is the place for balmy lunches with your rowdy group of friends or evening sundowners to kick off a weekend while you enjoy sweeping sea views. Popular mains include the three-beef burger with onion rings, and the Durban-inspired chicken-and-prawn curry. There’s also a choice of basket snacks with munchies like prawns, nachos and samoosas. To quench your thirst, you could attempt the ‘not for sissies’: a one-litre Galley fish bowl, or a classic Long Island ice tea. Be sure to get there early to nab a seat on the deck on busy weekends.

The view from the deck at The Galley Beach Bar. Photo supplied.

The view from the deck at The Galley Beach Bar. Photo supplied.

Jack Salmon Fish House

This seafood hotspot offers a menu packed with the freshest ocean delicacies. Recommended sushi options are the Bam Bam roll with tempura prawn, chilli-bean mayo and fresh cucumber, or the prawn fusion California roll with spicy creamy prawn and a sticky soy reduction. For something simple and familiar, good ol’ beer-battered fish and chips with homemade tartar sauce hits the spot.

A dish at Jack Salmon. Photo supplied.

A dish at Jack Salmon. Photo supplied.

Kelly’s Eatery

This laidback all-day eatery has taken over the old Delish Sisters space at the Litchi Orchard in Salt Rock. Enjoy the garden setting and tuck into wholesome brekkies, hearty lunches such as gourmet mac and cheese, burgers, tempura hake or braised pork belly, and small plates that are perfect for sharing. They’re also pet-friendly with a dedicated pet menu.

Lucky Shaker

The second branch of this cool cocktail bar boasts views and some of the best sippers in the city. The creative offering includes cocktails of gin, kumquat and naartjie, or a concoction of vanilla, orange, strawberry and prosecco. Lucky Shaker also offers boards and bar snacks that are great for soaking up the booze.

Lupa Osteria

Family-style Italian is the name of the game here. Order a round of thin-crust pizzas for the table or go for a plate of silky homemade pasta laden in your choice of sauce, like truffled carbonara or flavoursome puttanesca. The kiddies menu will also keep the tots happily fed with mini pizzas or meatballs.

Mo-Zam-Bik

Here you’re invited to treat your palate to flavours of Mozambique with options like green olives stuffed with cashews, or giblets prepared with tomato, red wine and paprika. The peri-peri chicken is well known, but seafood is also a great choice, such as prawns cooked in beer or line fish prepared with lime, coriander and coconut milk. Kick back at the relaxed beach hut with its rustic décor, or find a seat at the wooden bar upstairs that’s nestled in the trees.

Prawns at Mo-Zam-Bik. Photo supplied.

Prawns at Mo-Zam-Bik. Photo supplied.

Nikos Coalgrill Greek

One of the newest KZN additions to the NIKOS brand is this sea-facing spot. Sit on the sunny deck located above the beach and take in the gorgeous Ballito beach and tidal pool views. Order some mezze-style dishes like spanakopita, loaded hummus with fresh pita bread, or the incredibly delicious calamari saganaki with an Ouzo-and-Napoletana sauce and crumbled feta.

Peron Peron

This spot is your answer to Argentinian grills that pack a punch. Think prawn combos with fillet, pork or chicken; calamari with chorizo and steaming empanada pastries; or flavourful beef dishes like the classic picanha rump that’s made to share with the table.

Ray’s Kitchen

The clubhouse restaurant space at the tranquil Dunkirk Estate in Salt Rock offers a perfect location for poolside dining. The menu comprises a small selection of starters and nibbles; a good selection of pastas, risottos and meaty burgers; and a blackboard offering of two or three desserts.

 

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Sage Café

This coastal eatery is the perfect place for dining out with the tiny tots. There’s a fun play area and a sand-art station to keep the young ones entertained. Order them something to eat from the kiddies’ menu and book an appointment at the spa for a treatment, or tuck into one of the scrumptious café dishes like the risotto cakes or gourmet burgers. Reservations are essential for weekends and holidays.

Salsa Mexican Grill

This vibrant eatery serves up everything from fajitas and tacos to burritos, bowls and enchiladas. You can also build your own Mexican feast with a choice of bases or bowls, protein, and extras. Alternatively, just head here with a big crowd and order some blood-orange margarita jugs with some signature spicy nachos and guac topped with pickled jalapeños or pulled pork.

Salt Café
This relaxing eatery on one of Shaka’s Rock’s beachy roads specialises in coffee, pastries and wood-fired pizzas. The blackboard menu features cheesy favourites such as the quattro – topped with artichokes, salami, mushrooms and olives – and the chicken tandoori, topped with red onion, spicy peppers, tandoori chicken and fresh coriander. Stop here for a takeaway before or after a swim.

Salt Café in Ballito. Photo supplied.

Salt Café in Ballito. Photo supplied.

Toast

Head here for a casual coffee or classic café-style lunches. The menu ranges from gourmet sandwiches and burgers to pizzas, pastas and steaks. It’s also a great spot to pick up fresh, raw juices, or a slice of something sweet (read: freshly baked Peppermint Crisp cheesecake).

The Waterberry Coffee Shoppe

This beautiful café and deli is situated amongst Ballito’s tropical vegetation, offering visitors a taste of homely bistro eats and baked goodies. Serving everything from pancakes and waffles for breakfast to wholesome salads, savoury tarts and flatbreads for lunch, this little haven is ideal for kitchen teas and birthday parties. It also serves all-day breakfast items like French toast, egg rolls and avo on toast.

Yoli’s Bakery

This artisanal bakery offers fresh daily bakes made with love. The breads here are made using stoneground Millstone flour with GMO-free grains. The sourdoughs are spectacular and come in ten different variations. There are also fresh bagels, baguettes, gourmet pies and quiches, as well as doughnuts and cupcakes. Yoli’s breads are always hot out of the oven and sell out fast, so pre-order to avoid disappointment. You can also grab a Science of Coffee brew to pair with your treat.

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