Where to eat on KZN’s South Coast: a local’s guide to the best restaurants

Oribi Gorge, KZN. Photo by Chris Eason.

Oribi Gorge, KZN. Photo by Chris Eason.

The KZN South coast is a holidaymaker’s dream. In or out of season, the coastline from Amanzimtoti to Port Edward offers mild weather that allows for a host of marine sports like scuba diving, shark diving (without the cage, thank you very much), deep sea or shoreline fishing, spectacular nature walks and lounging on some of South Africa’s most beautiful white sand beaches. Annual events include Bike Week in May, which attracts thousands of Harley Davidsons for a weekend of live music, bike demos and exhibits, and the Portuguese Mariners Food & Wine Festival in Margate coming up from 19-20 July.

Partaking in these activities will of course rustle up an appetite, so here follows a list of fine restaurants to quell the hunger.

The Cellar Boutique Restaurant in Port Shepstone is a must visit. This small restaurant offers stunning food – a real gourmet experience – set in a beautiful setting at Honeywood in Sea Park. If you’re lucky enough to be on holiday when they have their Supper Club, I recommend that you jump at the opportunity.

The Fish Eagle Restaurant at the Estuary Country Hotel in Port Edward is another stunning venue. With its rolling lawns and expansive view of the lagoon and sea, it’s a popular wedding destination. The emphasis here is on fresh, seasonal and local ingredients. Enjoy your meal inside the Cape Dutch style building with its high ceilings, or take your lunch outside on the patio, overlooking the KZN shoreline.

Heading inland, the Fig Tree Café at the Oribi Gorge Hotel in Oribi Gorge is another great option. The hotel boasts wooden floors and high ceilings, fires lit in winter and courtyard dining in good weather. Friendly staff members bring lovely farm style meals to the table. Who knows, you might even find the courage to try the new zipline or Big Five Bungee swing off the cliff…

Flavours Restaurant in Ramsgate offers a cosmopolitan range of flavours and excellent cuisine. This is one of the area’s special gems. There’s loads of variety here – from duck springrolls to Moroccan fish and an Irish lamb stew. Their specials menu changes regularly too.

Food at the Flavour cafe

A dish at the Flavour Cafe. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

If you’re in the mood for authentic Italian food, La Capannina in Ramsgate is just the thing. Be sure to book for lunch or dinner at this Italian family-owned establishment, with its deck overlooking Ramsgate beach. Opt for one of their fish or meat dishes; the pizza is also very popular with locals.

Trattoria Casa Mia in Umtentweni is the perfect spot to enjoy a gourmet pizza on the river. Their pizzas are super thin-based, and the antipasti platter for two is also highly recommended. Grab a seat outside on the patio for a view over the water, or move inside to order off their extensive blackboard menus.

Stephward Estate is something of an exotic bird in the middle of Uvongo. Let Howard and Stephen welcome you into their world of haute couture fashion design, exotic plants, Edwardian luxury and great homemade food for breakfast and lunch. Be sure to take a walk through their exotic plant nursery.

Burlesque Café is a vintage French style eatery, all colour and bling and a cacophony of flavours. It makes a great romantic dining spot, and is well-known for its friendly service. It’s just a stones throw away from the Whale deck in Ramsgate. And the baklava is so good it should be illegal!

If you want to feast on South Coast fish that actually comes from the KZN South Coast, then The Fish Inn in Shelley Beach is the place to go. Preggie Pillay runs his own licensed boats that bring in line fish both for the local fish market and his restaurant. As they say, “anything fresher is still swimming”. Pass up on his signature fish cakes at your own peril.

Jaxx Restaurant in Umtentweni is another popular local hangout. It’s a great spot for meetings, and with their recent inclusion of a pizza station and oven it’s become a good sit-down or takeaway pizza option. Great care is taken with the presentation of dishes, and live music over weekends make it an all round winner with the locals.

Schooners Galley Restaurant in Port Shepstone is known for the consistently good standard of their food and value for money menu. Locals vouch for the Eisbein and steak and chips. The owners are hands-on type of people and sure to be around if you have a question or request.

Cafe Lifestyle at Burlesque Cafe

The interior at Burlesque Cafe. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Ready for some fish, chips and great pub grub? Try the Highland Fryer in Shelly Beach. Newcomers might find it tricky locating the entrance, but just follow the signage. Grab a table in the pub or restaurant, and opt for their giant hamburger and delicious fish and chips.

C-bali Restaurant on St Michael’s beach is the local Thai inspired joint. Lots of loyal locals love the sushi menu here and it is a very popular spot for lunch. The eatery is metres from the beach and with its view of St Mikes, it surely offers one of the best views on the coast.

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