Dating in Joburg: romantic restaurant ideas for every kind of relationship

Although Valentine’s Day advertisements would have us thinking otherwise, more people will be out celebrating this 14 February than just the cookie-cutter twenty-something couple. What about the singles, those ready to ask the big question or those celebrating with the kids? Your dinner should be as fitting as your dining companion. So we’ve played matchmaker with the best restaurants for your relationship status.

For a night out with single friends

Saigon Suzy Asian BBQ & Rock ‘n Roll Bar (Parkwood)

The pumping atmosphere and great cocktails mean you and your friends will have a blast. The Asian street-food inspired menu has everything from ramen to wok noodles and pot stickers to bao buns. Their private karaoke rooms are also fabulous and frivolous, offering a full bar service at the push of a button.

A dish at Saigon Suzy. Photo supplied.

Perron (Illovo)

Perron is the go-to spot for fun-seekers in Illovo with its vibey atmosphere, margarita jugs and superb tacos, quesadillas, tostadas and tamales. You’re guaranteed a fine time and, with a menagerie of bars just down the road, there’s always the possibility of mingling after dinner.

Perron. Photo supplied.

For the first date

Amarcord Italian Food (Randburg)

There’s something inherently romantic about the Italians, and the setting at Amarcord is perfect for getting to know someone special a little better. Their homemade pastas and calamari fritti are sensational, but remember: they don’t have a liquor licence so make sure to take your own wine.

Arbour Café (Birdhaven)

With their exquisite open-air courtyard and French-inspired menu, this little gem is romance personified. It’s quaint and delightful, ticking all the boxes for a first date. Pair a creamy herbed mushroom galette with one of their delicious ciders. Or go for the signature five-spice crispy duck confit with a glass of delectable rosé.

Arbour Cafe

The Orbit (Braamfontein)

If you like a little soul with your soul food then this is place for you. Located in the heart of Braamfontein, The Orbit offers a unique dinner experience with incredible live music that changes almost nightly. The menu is simple and hearty. You’ll find South African favourites like oxtail, phiri-phiri chicken and lamb cutlets together with a wine list that offers a selection of both very affordable and seriously premium wines. (Note: The live music comes at an additional cost per person.)

Wombles Steakhouse Restaurant (Bryanston)

With the sumptuous high back chairs, oversized wine glasses and wonderfully eclectic African décor, Wombles oozes old-school sophistication. Service is always on point and their steaks are always perfectly cooked. If your date goes well you can move across to their beautiful bar, or get cosy outside next to the open fires for a little digestif or a cheeky nightcap.

A dish at Wombles. Photo supplied.

To pop the question

Clico Restaurant (Rosebank)

This boutique hotel has an intimate and sophisticated adjoining restaurant with a delectable modern tasting menu. Chef Marnus Scholly pulls out all the stops with his fresh and slightly spiced new summer menu paired with diverse and exciting wines. (Make sure to check out their room offerings, as the prices are very reasonable.)

Inside at Clico. Photo supplied.

Luke Dale-Roberts X The Saxon (Sandhurst)

This is the epitome of luxury. You’ll be chauffeur-driven to the door then escorted to the restaurant where your chair will be pulled out for you. You’ll then revel in the masterfully constructed dining experience created by chefs Dale-Roberts and Candice Philip. It’s a marvel of tastes and textures framed with the finest crockery and glassware, lavish furnishings and service that will make you feel like royalty. Sound good?

The pork belly at Luke Dale-Roberts X The Saxon. Photo supplied.

Winehouse at Ten Bompas (Dunkeld West)

Choose between the intimate dining room and the outdoor terrace overlooking the manicured gardens. Chef Johannes de Bruijn and his team marry comforting flavours with innovative ideas, resulting in dishes that are executed flawlessly but still approachable. Do visit their wine cellar if you have the chance and take the opportunity to have an aperitif under one of their beautiful trees.

Winehouse at Ten Bompas. Photo supplied.

For newlyweds

Coobs (Parkhurst)

Chef James Diack just gets it right time and time again. The setting is grownup without being pretentious and the menu follows suit. He calls this style of cuisine refined dining rather than fine dining, and it’s exactly that – you’ll find only the best organically grown ingredients from his family farm, cooked to perfection and plated exquisitely in a contemporary fashion. His prices are astonishingly reasonable and his wine list is hard to beat.

The white chocolate fondant with lavendar ice cream, candied pecan nuts and tomato gel. Photo supplied.

EB Social Kitchen and Bar (Hyde Park)

It’s a restaurant that falls under most radars because of its location inside Exclusive Books in Hyde Park. But it’s in no way dark or dingy. It’s a majestic space intricately styled with bohemian art deco furnishings and Moroccan tiles set against views of Joburg. The upmarket and extensive menu offers a little something for every taste.

The lamb shank at EB Social Kitchen & Bar. Photo supplied.

Urbanologi (Ferreirasdorp)

Vibrant and dynamic, Urbanologi is sure to keep you and your newlywed enthralled. It’s set inside the original Fox Street brewery, so the space is quite industrial – I wouldn’t call this restaurant romantic, but it is exciting and perfect if you’re looking for something a little different on Valentine’s Day. They call their cuisine ‘Urban Garde’; it’s a kind of Asian fusion, an experimentation of typical street food techniques such as kushiyaki, yakitori and teriyaki. Order plates to share and be ready for a flavour explosion.

The interior at Urbanologi. Photo supplied.

For an anniversary celebration

DW Eleven-13 (Dunkeld West)

Chef Marthinus Ferreira and his team deliver food and service of a standard worthy of such a celebration. Your every wish is their command and every plate a masterpiece. Choose between the four-course and six-course degustation menus and be prepared to be wowed. The deep-fried polenta with cauliflower espuma and sous vide chicken with langoustine and pomme purée are not to be missed.

Polenta and cauliflower espuma with sultanas from DW Eleven-13. Photo supplied.

Level Four Restaurant (Rosebank)

The restaurant is located on the rooftop of 54 on Bath and offers superb service in style. Executive Chef Matthew Foxon celebrates classic French and Italian cuisine in a fine-dining setting. Adjoining the restaurant is the newly renovated Perrier-Jouët bar that overlooks the terrace garden and offers premium champagnes at superb prices.

Marble by David Higgs (Rosebank)

Think flawless design and décor, fantastic cocktails at the stunning bar, dinner theatre from the live fire, an open-plan kitchen with a palatial view across Johannesburg – and we haven’t even started on the food. David Higgs’ menu is an ode to the open flame, with every dish comprising an element of smoke or fire. It’s chic and niche.

Lamb cutlets and chimichurri at Marble. Photo supplied.

If you have kids in tow

Fahrenheit Seafood & Grill (Edenvale)

This family-orientated restaurant specialises in steaks and seafood. There’s a pizza-making area and a play area fitted with jungle gyms and trampolines. They also have child minders to keep an eye out for your little ones. The menu is vast and well-priced. Favourites include the peri-peri chicken, great steaks and tender calamari.

Fahrenheit Seafood & Grill. Photo supplied.

Moyo Zoo Lake (Parkview)

Their expansive, relaxed setting with face painters and live music mean the kids will be entertained for hours so you can sit back, relax and enjoy some adult conversation. The menu is dedicated to dishes from across our continent so expect potjies, tagines and curries. Kids can choose from pastas, toasted sandwiches or burgers. Or get the Moyo kids combo consisting of any kiddies’ meal, a milkshake and an activity pack.

Also check out our Valentine’s Day specials article for romantic specials throughout the country.


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