In the corner of a very unassuming shopping centre in Ferndale lies one of Joburg’s most loved Portuguese restaurants, serving traditional, hearty Madeiran cuisine. Dishes are simple, tasty and perfectly portioned and where the names may sound unfamiliar, you’ll be tantalized by description first and then the aromas wafting out from the heard-but-not-entirely-seen kitchen. Entradas sound deceptively simple enough to make at home yourself, such as the deboned sardines perched atop a shallow pool of tangy vinaigrette and chickpeas, rings of raw red onion, olives and generous chunks of tomato. Or the brandy coated chorizo that comes to your table flaming – literally. Entranced though you may be, try kill the fire before you burn your Portuguese sausage. The trinchado is a must-try, for all its saucy flavours of garlic, wine and chilli, as is the classic caldo verde, an unfussy potato and spinach soup. For mains, there are plenty of meat, seafood and vegetarians options, and you’ll want to take some time to consider which sounds more tasty than the other. The oven-braised lamb (or goat) cooked in a tomato and onion gravy and served with the softest, sweetest sweet potatoes and jasmine rice is Sunday-lunch perfection, as is the beef tripe in a bean and curry sauce served with rice. From beef tongue prepared with tomato and Madeira wine to traditional bean and pork stews, paella to peri peri anything you can imagine – there’s a reason why you need to book your table ahead of time. And for those with a sweet tooth, they serve fresh pastel de nata.
Sticking to theme, there is a substantial choice of Portuguese wines – a great opportunity to try something new – and two of Mozambique’s most popular beers: 2M and Laurentina.
Everyone is run off their feet but service is surprisingly attentive and quick.
The first clue you’ve picked the right place will be the warmth with which you’re greeted upon entering and although not always a true reflection, but true of 1920 Portuguese Restaurant, is the fact that you’re highly unlikely to find an empty table without booking.
Book, book and book.
Eat Out reviewers dine anonymously and pay for their meals in full. Click here to read our editorial policy.
This is one of Johannesburg’s favourite Portuguese and seafood restaurants. Indulge in unpretentious, authentic and perfectly prepared food served simply. Best of all, it is consistent. There are always fabulous specials on offer and brilliant twists to classical Portuguese favourites but the core menu never changes and neither do the regular patrons. Packed with flavour, every dish on the menu is made from scratch and with fresh ingredients. The definite must-haves include the 1920 Chouriço: sliced chouriço braised with peppers, onion and chilli. The chicken livers are gorgeous – be sure to lap up the tomato gravy with fresh bread. The specials are always worth noting, but then so are the prawn dishes. Never get going without trying their homemade chips first, so whether you order trinchado or fish, make sure you get at least one portion of the perfectly fried potatoes with it! The restaurant is always packed, so if you are stumped about what to order, look around you and see what’s on the table next door, a little food envy will assist. It’s all very humble and divine.
The drinks menu is very simple, consisting mainly of Portuguese wines and beers, as well as soft drinks and the regular offerings. There’s nothing that stands out as particularly exciting, but it is relatively affordable.
Quick and casual. The restaurant is hopping, so do not expect too much from anyone when it comes to service. Just enjoy it all; the food will come. If you have questions, the owner is on the floor with a smile on his face, and it all adds to the authentic feel of the establishment.
The vibe is genuine and very merry. It’s a feel good, humble and authentic eatery in the hart of Randburg that clearly draw loads of regulars.
Be sure to book a table. Do not expect to get a walk-in table, even at lunch time during the week, it just won’t happen!
The food can be described as celebratory Madeiran, which adds an interesting touch to the mainland Portuguese cuisine so often found.
However, there are a few nods to popular dishes, like a Brazilian pasta dish and the beautiful and well-priced LM prawns. In general, the food is not expensive at all, and consistently excellent. There’s not even a chip out of place, and these are hand-cut beauties, crisp on the ouside and meltingly soft inside.
Further standouts include Madeiran specialities like a starter of carne de vinho e alhos, a wine and garlic-marinated pork dish, fried and served with polenta. Also worth a try on the mains menu is the traditional, rib-sticking feijoada that's thick with beans, chorizo, pork and beef, usually served with rice. On the weekly specials menu (specials are listed every Tuesday), the quail dish is tender and spicy, accompanied by raisins, pine nuts and sherry.
The espetada is never overcooked and that’s a miracle in itself. The faultless delivery can be attributed to Paula, one part of the owner-couple, a tiny Madeiran woman who takes huge pride in the home-style cooking she sends out of the kitchen. The proof of 1920 is in the inevitable return of diners.
The choice of desserts, including tarts, pudim (flan), ice creams and chocolate mousse, changes often.
Since the establishment takes its name from the 1920 Portuguese brandy, it seems a pity not to have that, or some Madeira, alongside your coffee. The drinks selection consists mostly of Portuguese beers and wines, which are very inexpensive.
The service is efficient. Manny, Paula’s husband who handles the front of house, is always, magically, around. It’s a popular spot so bookings are recommended.
Located in a rather unexcited shopping centre, the restaurant has a homespun and comforting look and feel, strewn with family and soccer pictures and a few Madeiran relics.
The story of the discoverers of Madeira and their surprising adventures, as well as information about the Madeiran names that came to South Africa, makes for a fascinating read at the start of the menu.
Gwynne ConlynOwned by a Madeiran couple: he does front-of-house and his wife does the cooking. They are absolutely charming and their hole-in-the-wall place in a shopping centre is unpretentious and welcoming. It's well supported by those in the know, as well as Portuguese and Madeiran fans. Food is consistent and authentic. Recommended for Madeiran / Portuguese lazy long lunch; the lulas recheadas (ricotta-and-chorizo-stuffed calamari tubes in a fragrant sauce); pacote de beringelas (baked aubergine parcels with goat's cheese and basil pesto); lingua de vaca (beef tongue braised in Madeira sauce); quail, grilled and topped with raisins, pine nuts and sherry sauce; and the eijoada (traditional bean stew with pork, beef and chorizo). (July 2013)
Rupesh KassenTraditional simple food is often difficult to perfect. This owner-run restaurant with husband, Manny, and wife and chef, Paula, has achieved this and you will have an unforgettable authentic Madeiran experience. Manny will ensure your comfort and encourage you to try the daily specials, which should not be missed. Just to make sure we got the full experience he swapped one of our bottles of local wine with an imported Portuguese wine at no extra charge. Paula's food is traditional, yet lip-smacking. The braised goat special just melts in your mouth and the perfectly grilled LM prawns will leave you wanting for more. Great selection of portuguese beer but a bit limited on the wines. Recommended for traditional Portuguese cuisine, meat balls, LM prawns and the daily specials. (July 2013)
Simply the best food in Johannesburg!
Fantastic. Excellent food.
Probably one of the best restaurants I go to. One of the few restaurants where you get such amazing food with decent prices. When can I go again?
If you like down-to-earth Portuguese food, lovingly prepared, this is the place to go.
Best prawns ever. Very authentic. Great deals on a Tuesday. Definitely recommend.
The most amazing authentic Portuguese food, run by a down to earth incredibly friendly husband and wife team Manny and Paula. The personal services, unwavering quality of food is unmatched in my opinion. 1920 is a small to medium size restuarant that allows you to bring your own alcohol and have dinner without feeling you are being churned. Well done Manny & Paula - may you continue to thrive and lever lose the personal touch.