While people in the rest of the country are wrapped in their winter woollies, Durbanites are smugly soaking up the warm winter sunshine and rendezvousing at seaside restaurants. KwaZulu-Natal resident Tracy Gielink lists her pick of the best eateries in and around Durban where you can put your toes in the sand and sea.
At Afro’s the choices are simple: flame-grilled chicken reincarnated as a burger or strips, partnered with ‘tjips’ (hand cut with skins left on) or coleslaw. Simple breakfast rolls are also dished up. The beach shack is in close proximity to the waves, so grab your food, pull up chair and take in the view.
The Beach Bar at moyo uShaka is perched at the end of a pier and offers spectacular views of the coast and city skyline. In keeping with the setting, the menu offers light meals, sandwiches and salads.
Beach Bums’s mantra, ‘forever chilled’, sums up the vibe here, which is best on weekends. Honest, uncomplicated fare is relished in a rustic setting. Settle on a deck overlooking the beach, or wander down and get the sand between your toes.
A stylish Italian eatery set one road back from Umdloti beach, Bel Punto rewards with 180-degree sea views. Arrive early and start with sundowners, or plan a Sunday lunch sit-in. There is a strong emphasis on seafood, with offerings including oysters, line fish baked in the pizza oven, and prawns pan-seared with garlic, white wine, Italian tomato, cream and chilli.
Budds On The Bay is a vibey, laidback restaurant with harbour views and a simple, succinct menu that includes a signature prawn bisque, grilled linefish or peri-peri chicken. Head there for live music and a four-course lunch (R160) on Sunday.
Set on the golden mile, just back from the beach, Café Jiran is prime real estate on weekend mornings as people and pooches stop off here for coffee and breakfast after their morning exercise on the promenade.
California Dreaming is housed in a large glass building on the expansive promenade at Dairy Beach. Enjoy the sweeping views while you try the deck menu for breakfasts or lunch, where options segue from gourmet French toast to wraps, curries and seafood.
Designed to resemble the interior of a ship, Cargo Hold offers tables at the shark tank or overlooking the promenade and Indian Ocean. The menu has a slightly formal feel and covers all eventualities.
Circus Circus has a smattering of tables nestled on the beach itself, while those on the veranda still maximise on extensive sea views. Highlights include the bicycle park, water bowls for dogs and general sense of community as people relax over delicious breakfasts or casual lunches.
This oasis of seaside tranquillity is swathed in shades of blue and white. Views of manicured gardens stretch towards the sea and are best enjoyed with cocktail in hand. Light meals include the likes of fish cakes, grilled salmon and burgers.
It’s apt that Mundo Vida has a crisp neutral palette – after all, nothing should detract from the breathtaking views of Umdloti beach. The cosmopolitan menu is comprehensive and, as one might expect, there is a strong focus on seafood, including their signature langoustines steamed in a bamboo basket with lemongrass and a soy-beurre-blanc sauce.
This diverse menu includes but is by no means limited to curry. Fragrant and subtle spicing is cleverly used in all dishes. Window tables have sea views, but if that’s really what you’re after, book a table on the outside deck overlooking the unspoilt Westbrook beach.
Surf Riders Food Shack is a super-cool beach hangout – you don’t even need to change out of your swimming costume. Breakfast could be a Mexican breakfast wrap, while lunchtime could bring with it a finger-licking burger with craft beer, pizzas or line fish cooked in the wood-fired oven.
The terrace at this hotel overlooks the landmark lighthouse and Indian Ocean. Best known for its curry buffet that runs daily for lunch and dinner, the menu also delves into seafood (including oysters, of course) and more casual fare like pizzas.
VB’s is a super-casual outlet on Virginia Beach, where burgers in various guises are prepared in a caravan and devoured at tables in the sand.