The heat-seeker list: Where to find the ultimate chilli poppers

For heat seekers, there are few things better than biting into a hot, sweet and tangy jalapeño filled with gloriously melty cheese. The traditionalists might enjoy poppers in the form of chilli rellenos without the crumb coating, while Tex-Mex fans might consider themselves batter connoisseurs. Whatever the casing, the crunch of a hot jalapeño combined with the molten cheesy centre make these fiery little morsels the ultimate appetiser. From colourful Mexican eateries to buzzing bars, here’s where to get the best jalapeño poppers in your town.


Baha Taco (Norwood)
The jalapeño rellenos come at R15 a pop. The crust is a light beer batter and the filling is cheese mash. They taste so moreishly real, perfectly textured and unmessed-with, we imagine this is how they taste in the streets of Mexico.

Baha Taco. Photo by Rupesh Kassen.

Baha Taco. Photo by Rupesh Kassen.

La Santa Muerte (Melville)
Here the vibe is a big thing and the food is famously Tex-Mex, rather than authentic Mexico city. The jalepeño poppers are made from those really big chillies, bulging with cheese, dipped in beer batter and fried until puffy, crispy and almost brown. They cost R48 for a pile of six, with sour cream.

Mama Mexicana (Maboneng)
Chilli poppers here are crumbed and deep fried after being stuffed with a mix of cheddar and mozzarella. Somehow the chilli and pastry both stay crisp. R36 gets you a few poppers with a good, deep-flavoured salsa and sour cream. Also try the street corn poppers, filled with corn and cheese, for R36.

Inside Mama Mexicana. Photo supplied.

Inside Mama Mexicana. Photo supplied.

Mike’s Kitchen (Rosebank)
It may not seem like an extraordinary spot, but these poppers are quite a local favourite. The African peppadew poppers (R58.90) arrive in a really good pile, served with a bowl of okay sweet chilli sauce. Red-hot, the peppadews are filled with both mozzarella and creamy Danish feta, breadcrumbed, and then deep fried until golden and crispy. Fans love them for the heat of the peppadews contrasted with the creaminess of the cheeses.

Perron (Illovo)
People expect good Mexican fare here and the jalapeño poppers (R48) are the real deal. They are hot but magnificently tasty because the chillis are pickled before being filled with cheese, battered, and fried to deliver a bubbly tempura crust. The roasted tomato salsa that accompanies them is deliciously spicy, too.

Social on Main (Bryanston)
This is more a bar than restaurant, but the food is great. The poppers here are popular (R48 a plate) with drinks, and offer especially good value and taste. Super hot, they feature cream cheese and cheddar inside, are twisted with home-smoked bacon and then tempura puffed. There’s a lime crème-fraîche dressing for dousing the flames. (On the menu they are marked with three fire hydrants!)


Brooklyn Brothers (Lynnwood)
Known for its American diner-style eats, this trendy franchise offers a range of wings, burgers, beer and, of course, jalapeño poppers. The vegetarian portion of three stuffed chilli bites is made up of breaded pickled jalapeños filled with a tangy cream cheese, mozzarella and feta for R45.

Capital Craft Beer Academy (Menlo Park) The bar snacks and draught-friendly eats are abundant at this beer haven. For your spicy fix, try the jalapeño poppers for R48. The three to five poppers (depending on the chilli size) come stuffed with cheddar, cream cheese and peppers, before being battered and deep fried. They’re served with a side of sweet chutney mustard mayo or barbecue mayo for dipping.

Jo Mexican (Garsfontein) This vibrantly decorated Mexican eatery serves up rustic fiesta favourites including the jalapeño appetiser. This version consists of around five poppers per portion (R45), which are stuffed with cream cheese before being crumbed and fried, and served with a rich confit of tomatoes mixed with a cooling sour cream.

Lucky Rodrigo (Lynnwood) Head to this hipster eatery for gourmet American-style grub with a few twists. These jalapeño bites are slightly different from your regular crumbed popper. These morsels are comprised of two golden spring rolls filled with a jalapeño, feta and mozzarella mixture, and served with an Asian dipping sauce and a side of chips for R40.

Tacokombi (Menlo Park)
Serving bright Mexican-inspired dishes at festivals, private events and markets, this taco mobile is ideal for a quick, spicy bite to eat. These poppers are freshly prepared, made up of hollowed-out jalapeños that are filled with cream cheese and cheddar, and deep fried in a crisp batter.


El Toro (Durban North)
This lively tapas spot fuses old-school Mexican food with inventive flavours. Try the Jala Bombs: juicy jalapeño peppers stuffed with a gloriously oozy combination of mozzarella and goat’s cheese, encased in a light beer batter and deep fried until golden, and served with a side of special guacamole (R40 for four, R62 for eight).

Four15 (Durban North)
At this colourful spot, hefty burritos are the name of the game. But before diving into one of the many rolled-tortilla options, whet your appetite with the chile rellenos. Juicy pickled jalapeños are stuffed with three cheeses, coated in a crispy corn batter and deep fried, and served with a refreshing spicy tomato dipping sauce for R45.

The interior at Four15. Photo supplied.

The interior at Four15. Photo supplied.

Havana Grill (Suncoast Casino)
Known for its cooked-to-perfection steaks, this classy grillroom has a wide-ranging menu that pleases all palates. For starters, tuck into a portion of jalapeño poppers for R48. Served in a portion of three to five chillies, they’re stuffed with cheddar cheese, rolled in breadcrumbs and deep fried.

Taco Zulu (Morningside)
Located on the Florida Road strip, this Mexican grill and cocktail bar buzzes on weekends with Tex-Mex eats and great specials. Here the jalapeño poppers take the form of rissoles and are stuffed with feta and cream cheese before being coated in bread crumbs and deep fried. Portions consist of about four bites for R61.

Unity Brasserie and Bar (Musgrave)
Gourmet pub fare and craft beer is what you get at this popular locale. Appetisers and snack planks are popular choices and also include the deep-fried chilli favourite. R55 gets you four jalapeño chillies stuffed with cream cheese, battered and deep fried, and served with a smoky garlic-mayo dipping.

Cape Town

Banana Jam Café (Kenilworth)
This chilled Caribbean-themed eatery serves a great range of craft beers and easy-eating snacks. Bite into the jalapeño popper offering, stuffed with feta, crumbed and deep fried (R49 for four), or try the grilled bacon poppers wrapped with crispy pork rashers.

A photo posted by Monique Brune (@monique_brune) on

Del Mar (Camps Bay)
On the para la mesa (meaning ‘for the table’) menu, this stylish Mexican spot with gorgeous sea views offers a portion of poppers for R70. The fried jalapeño-and-cheese-stuffed croquettes are served with a salsa of your choice for an extra R25.

The Eatery Wood Fired Grill (Claremont)
This popular grill house serves up a range of meaty dishes and comforting burgers. On the Beginnings section of the menu, find the Piggy Poppers, which are jalapeños stuffed with feta cheese, wrapped in bacon and grilled. The bites are served three to a portion and include a drizzling of tart cranberry sauce for R58.

El Burro (Green Point)
The team is all about keeping things authentic at this extremely popular eatery. The traditional chilli rellenos are made with smoked jalapeños stuffed with queso fresco. The poppers are then grilled and served with a side of guacamole. The rellenos cost R55 for three and R65 for five.

Fat Cactus (Gardens, Mowbray and Woodstock)
With its claim of having served the original jalapeño poppers in the Mother City, this Mexican restaurant group packs some heat. Here the jalapeños are stuffed with cheese, battered and deep fried until golden. They come three to four per portion and include a fresh salsa mayo to dip (R52).

Fat Cactus's chilli poppers. Photo supplied.

Fat Cactus’s chilli poppers. Photo supplied.

Hudsons The Burger Joint (Claremont, Green Point, Gardens)
Not only popular for its huge burger selection, this joint offers some great appetisers, too. For R55, bite into jalapeño chillies stuffed with three cheeses, battered and deep fried, and served with a sweet tomato relish. Alternatively, go for the meatier option of bacon-wrapped poppers served with a blue-cheese mayo for R70. The portions consist of three poppers.

Pancho’s (Observatory)
A stalwart for many students, this rustic restaurant is famous for fuss-free Tex-Mex dishes. These poppers come seven to a portion (depending on size) and comprise chillies stuffed with cheese and wrapped in a flour tortilla before being deep-fried and served with dollops of guacamole and sour cream.

San Julian (Cape Town City Bowl)
This authentic Mexican haunt doesn’t mess around with its spicy offerings. The botanas (‘snack’) section of the menu includes poppers (R39 for two; R60 for four). These beauties are made up of pickled jalapeños filled with a smooth cream cheese and crumbed with housemade breadcrumbs. They’re served with a cooling guacamole for dipping.


5 Ryneveld (Stellenbosch)
Guests can expect everything from sosaties and gourmet pitas to burgers and steaks at this casual eatery. The starter section of the menu includes a few Tex-Mex favourites, including flame-roasted chilli poppers for R16.50 each. The jalapeños are stuffed with cream cheese and sweet chilli sauce, and come served with a side of sweet-chilli mayo.

Hudsons The Burger Joint (Stellenbosch)
Not only popular for its huge burger selection, this joint offers some great appetisers, too. For R55, bite into jalapeño chillies stuffed with three cheeses, battered and deep fried, and served with a sweet tomato relish. Alternatively, go for the meatier option of bacon-wrapped poppers served with a blue-cheese mayo for R70. The portions consist of three poppers.

Slug & Lettuce (Stellenbosch)
Students and Stellies locals flock to this vibrant bar for beer, wine and pub grub. Perfect for a quick bite, the tapas selection includes jalapeño poppers that are stuffed with cream cheese and feta before being fried and served with a sweet-chilli mayo. The portion includes three to five poppers for R49.

The Thirsty Scarecrow (Stellenbosch)
With views of the strawberry fields and surrounding vineyards, this popular bar offers a range of light eats to pair with icy craft beers. The wicked popper portion is made up of three jalapeños that are either wrapped in bacon and stuffed with cream cheese (R50) or stuffed with chorizo, pesto and cream cheese (R55).

The bar at Thirsty Scarecrow. Photo supplied.

The bar at Thirsty Scarecrow. Photo supplied.

Trumpet Tree Social Café (Stellenbosch)
Situated in the heart of Stellies, this buzzing eatery offers a social beer garden and laid-back grub. For the slightly peckish, the light meal offerings include chilli poppers for R49. The jalapeño chillies are stuffed with bacon and smoked mozzarella, fried in beer batter, and arrive with cottage cheese and chives for dipping (R49 for three). You can also enjoy your yours with added guacamole for R12.

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Please note that while we take care to ensure the accuracy of this information, some items may change without our knowledge.


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