The seaside city of Durban is known for humid heat, blue skies, a warm sea, and now, a growing culinary scene. In-between the foodie areas of Umhlanga Village and Florida Road, there is the thriving suburb of Durban North, where new eateries, pizzerias and pubs are rapidly opening. Nikita Buxton hunts down the best gourmet must-visits in this bustling coastal community.
This homely Irish pub is situated on the food lover’s strip, Mackeurtan Avenue. It is known for serving humble pub fare and ice-cold beers. Menu offerings include comforting beef and Guinness pie, burgers, pizzas and a classic Durban bunny chow. Connor’s Public House is a social hub where diners can enjoy live music, catch the rugby games and enjoy daily food and drinks specials.
This trendy burrito bar has recently opened on Mackeurtan Avenue. It offers diners a variety of giant tortillas filled with a mixture of Mission-style burrito ingredients. The San Franciscan-inspired eatery offers classic burrito combinations with cheese, beans and unlimited salsa. The menu also includes a range of exotic options such as the Thai Me Up Burrito with grilled chicken, roasted red peppers and a spicy Thai peanut sauce. For a feast of South African flavours, tuck into the boerewors burrito, which is filled with all the trimmings as well as beef boerewors and a spicy tomato-and-onion gravy.
This health shop’s philosophy is one of good food and great life by offering vegetarian and vegan options as well as foodie treats for those with strict dietary requirements. The menu boasts a plethora of vibrant, wholesome items that are ideal for a health boost. The juice and smoothie options include the multivitamin mix of carrots, beetroot, celery, apple and spinach, and the Hawaii 5.0 smoothie, with pineapple, dates, coconut milk, vanilla and cardamom. For those who want to grab a bite to eat, the food menu offers healthy breakfast and lunch items such as make-your-own omelettes, gluten-free wraps and a vegetable-based pizza.
Pop in at this busy eatery for a great brunch and some of the best poached eggs in the business. Order yours with buttery avocado, creamy feta and crispy bacon on rye toast for a wholesome brekkie, or tuck into an open sandwich such as the brie, bacon and sweet onion marmalade sarmie. The slightly more hungry diners can devour a beef burger with chunky peri-peri.
The fare at this popular Durban North eatery is unassuming and full of flavour. The casual spot celebrates Mozambican cuisine with an extensive menu. Starters include chorizo sautéed in garlic butter and grilled calamari tentacles in lemon butter or peri-peri. The main attraction is the well-priced prawns, which are served in a variety of ways. For an interesting creamy option, try the Camarão à Neo with de-shelled medium prawns in a spicy coconut–and–beer sauce, served with white rice and coriander.
For interesting thin–crust, wood-fired pizza, head to the Durban North branch of this popular pizzeria. Cheesy options include the Porky Hefer with chorizo, bacon and fennel pork sausage, and the Popeye with spinach, wood-roasted tomatoes, olives, feta and chilli. Gluten-free bases are available for an extra R20.
This cosy long-timer offers all the Italian staples: Pizzas, pastas, risottos, gnocchi and meat dishes… There is something for everyone on the menu. Speciality pasta favourites include a comforting lasagna al forno, which is baked to perfection in the pizza oven.
Boasting the same menu as the Florida Road branch, Durban North residents can go for pasta options such as the humble spaghetti bolognaise or the lush chicken ravioli boscaiola with chicken pasta pockets in a creamy mushroom sauce.
Foodies and beer buffs alike can enjoy a selection of tapas and light meals, a range of local craft beers and a buzzing atmosphere. It’s a small and intimate space that not only focuses on craft brews but also offers a range of whiskies and boutique wines. Food options include items like the thick-crust toasted Zepplin zaams filled with chorizo, biltong or creamy chicken mayo.
Downstairs from BrewHaus is this popular Durban North burger joint. Bringing gourmet casual dining to the sunny city’s foodie scene, Republik offers local craft beers, wines and flavoursome burgers. The free-range burgers are all made with 100% grass-fed, free-to-roam, and hormone- and routine-antibiotic-free beef. Tuck into a build-your-own option or a spicy nacho burger. The coffee also deserves a special mention, with the hot brews coming from Cape Town’s Tribe Coffee.
Foodies are spoilt for choice at this diner-style restaurant, which is known for its smashburgers, spicy wings and sweet-fire ribs. Order the bacon, cheese and guac smashburger with aged Cheddar and smoky mayo, or try the mushroom swizz with delicious sautéed mushrooms and Emmental cheese. The Uncle Jack Bourbon ribs dish is a winner, and so are the old-school BBQ wings. To mop it all up, order a portion of shoestring fries.
Situated on Adelaide Tambo Drive, this burger joint serves 100% pure beef patties that are smashed and sizzled on the grill. A choice of 20 toppings is available, with options such as the French Connection with blue cheese dressing, caramelised onions and rocket, and the lamb burger with rocket, feta and chilli mayo.
This small Asian restaurant offers a variety of flavoursome dishes such as curries, spring rolls and chow mein. What keeps people going back for more is the popular sushi selection. The sushi ranges from the standard maki rolls and sashimi to the chef’s specials, including the prawn tower, salmon roses and Tokyo rolls. Half-price sushi specials run on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
Bringing Portuguese flavours to the Durban North scene, Atasca’s menu boasts traditional, authentic dishes such as deep-fried calamari tubes in a peri-peri sauce for starters and melt-in-your-mouth chicken or rump espetadas for mains.
Aromatic Thai curries are what you’ll get at this authentic Oriental restaurant. Try the mixed seafood curry with calamari, line fish, mussels and prawns, or order a chicken curry done in a sweet massaman curry style with potatoes, cashews and tamarind. Vegetarians are catered for too: Try the veg and tofu curry option or the spicy and sour tom yum soup.
From the team behind Bangkok Wok, this popular and funky eatery serves up great Thai curries, wok fries and noodles. The intimate, laid-back atmosphere creates a great backdrop for an exotic Thai–flavoured dinner. Main courses include noodles, wok fries and fried–rice dishes. Try the half-roasted crispy duck topped with honey, ginger and sesame sauce; salt-and-pepper calamari with home–made chilli jam; or honey-glazed chicken. For dessert, spoon your way through the fried banana with honey, sesame seeds and ice cream.
Durban curry at its best is what diners will find at this authentic Indian restaurant and takeaway. The menu includes a wide range of dishes, including kormas, vindaloos, rogan josh and Goan curries. Try the designer bunny chow with added paneer cheese, or a comforting butter chicken with fresh cream and cashews. Curries can be ordered according to your tolerance for spice, from subtle and mild to extra hot.
For golden French-style croissants, Danishes or a beautiful slice of gateaux, this is the place. It’s a great spot for a cappuccino and a pain au chocolat, or a light lunch from the gourmet sandwich selection. Be sure to grab a freshly baked baguette or an olive panini on your way out.
Tucked away in the suburbs, this café serves great breakfasts and lunches, and makes for a great high tea destination. Ask them to arrange a high tea lunch with options such as mini roast veg quiches, mini gourmet burgers, custard slices and chocolate brownies. The 20 high tea menu costs R130 per person and includes coffee or tea for each guest as well as a choice of five canapés.
Look for this new authentic Mexican restaurant on the Mackeurtan Avenue strip from 1 October. They’ll be serving tasty Mexican tapas and, of course, tequila.