They say that the dogged pursuit of one dream breeds excellence; we think it breeds deliciousness. For the longest time SA’s restaurants tried to cater to every palate and cuisine type, but now, some pioneering restaurants are clawing back their focus with one dedicated offering. Here are a few of Joburg and Pretoria’s best single-dish concept restaurants.
What started out as a stall at Market on Main in 2012 has since grown into a small Greek street food empire. At the end of last year they ventured outside their container in Maboneng to the suburbs, and Joburg’s take-out community is all the happier for it. Soul Souvlaki is known for its grilled meat but we promise not to judge you if you forgo the stick for a pita – especially the lamb pita, which is jam-packed with rocket, tomato, red onion, a generous lashing of tzatziki and a touch of freshly cut chilli in olive oil (R78).
Ono Poké Eatery (Illovo)
Poké is a trend that just won’t quit but we can’t say we’re sick of it just yet. Up north this Illovo takeaway spot has all your rice, raw fish and fresh veg needs covered. There’s even the option of cooked chicken as a topping. We recommend keeping it classic, though, and going for the California salmon with black rice for R85. Although poké is the main focus, they also have a selection of bespoke protein shakes and breakfast health bowls.
Baba G Rotisserie and Deli (Illovo)
From the minds of food truck legends Tutto Food Co. comes the rotisserie chicken of your dreams. Baba G is the marriage of North African and Middle Eastern spicy flavours combined with the juicy techniques of a small roadside rotisserie in the south of France. You can get a whole local free-range chicken for R149 in three different flavours. Pair it up with some in-house baked lafa and some ‘Auber-genie’ roasted eggplant (which doubles as a veg option).
Jo’anna Melt Bar (Melville)
There’s a jukebox here and the food policy is one we can approve of: Everything coming out of the kitchen has melted cheese on it. What more can be said about this Melville institution? Those who consider themselves toasted cheese lovers know the mac and cheese sandwich here all too well. The same can be said for those who enjoy playing Toto on repeat and drinking frozen margaritas from the expansive bar.
Sticky Waffle (Bryanston)
Born out of a dream while sitting on a second-hand couch, owner Yadev Singh made it his business to bring the best fried batter to Bryanston at a reasonable price. And by reasonable he meant R5. That’s right, you can get a 17cm breakfast waffle for R5 when paired with his selection of responsibly sourced artisanal coffees. Whether you like your waffle savoury in a toasted waffle sandwich or you like them traditionally sweet, you can top it off with a selection of extras which also cost R5.
Dessert happiness is the name of the game at Aroma Gelato. Have one of their numerous flavours of gelato (featuring delights such as biscotti, Ferrero Rocher, peanut butter cup, pistachio and Turkish delight), a fruity sorbet or a creamy milkshake. Also available are waffles with toppings like Nutella, blueberries and of course their traditional gelato. They’ll also soon be branching out into doing savoury waffles.
Harrie’s Pancakes (Arcadia)
Debatably the original single-dish restaurant, Harrie’s has been turning out pancakes for the past 18 years. Tourists and locals flock to this Arcadia spot for the array of sweet and savoury waffle meals available. Choose from fillings like black cherries in liqueur, caramelised bananas, dark chocolate mousse and milk tart custard. If you’re opting for a sweet pancake, have it with ice cream or cream.
Ribs & Burgers (Waterkloof)
Though the restaurant has since branched out to offer some more great meals, Ribs & Burgers opened with a focus on its two titular dishes. You’ll still find some excellent ribs and burgers here – go for the lamb or pork ribs, and try out the crazy Aussie burger, featuring beetroot, pineapple, bacon and a fried egg. You can also have your burger for dessert with the soft serve burger. Go hungry.
Royal Danish (Colbyn)
Enjoy Danish ice cream made with full-cream milk and no eggs at this Colbyn store. Try the popular Copenhagen flavour and top it with chocolate sauce or have as a topping on one of their waffles, sprinkled with pecans. You won’t regret it. And, if you still haven’t had enough, have a few scoops in their iced coffee or take a litre home with you.
Have we missed one? Tell us about your favourite single-dish spots in the comments.