To celebrate restaurants finally being allowed to reopen their doors for sit-down visitors, the Cape Town Central City Improvement District (CCID) asked three of their favourite foodies to share some of their top city centre eateries. This inspired us to reach out to our foodie friends in the rest of South Africa – this week, Kgomotso Moncho-Maripane, Nicola Ashe, Amy Carlisle and Ibrahim S. fill us in on where to dine in Durban.
It’s moved from Morningside to Umhlanga, but it remains one of Durban’s leading burger joint. The street-food gourmet burgers are packed with nuanced flavour.
2. Café 1999
Here you’ll get inventive Mediterranean dishes with sensational flavours made to be paired with a selection of South African wines.
Treat yourself to the finest French-Mauritian cuisine in town, with its emphasis on seafood. The dishes are pricey, but oh so worth it.
The bakery specialises in delicious artisanal bread with a neighbourly café service. The all-day breakfast menu is divine.
Unity is open for sit-down and delivery orders from Tuesdays to Saturdays between 12pm and 7pm, and serves both its menu and dishes from its sister restaurant, Cafe 1999. 100% hormone-free Midlands free-range beef is used in their burgers, which can be topped with gorgonzola, rocket and onion marmalade, or cheddar, guacamole, sour cream, jalapeños and tomato salsa. The Cafe 1999 pasta menu is perfect for winter, featuring a charred aubergine and chilli penne pasta and a prawn-and-squid risotto.
2. Jack Salmon Fish House
This team is back at the grills, serving up Durban’s freshest seafood, as well as their famous sushi. Jack Salmon is open every day of the week and their digital menu can be scanned and read on your phone. Expect their usual seafood menu, including a host of winter warmers such as chicken and prawn curry. Their call-and-collect menu also includes some new affordable family meal boxes – Jack’s Family Combo for R295 contains four large hake fillets, calamari, rice and chips. Call ahead to order and on arrival one of their waiters will bring your order to your car.
Set overlooking Durban’s yacht mole, 9th Avenue Waterside is open seven days a week for sit down, take away or delivery. The à la carte menu has been reduced to a small selection of appetisers and main courses, with the popular five-course tasting menu also available (R495 per person). It includes a delicate canapé of cured salmon topped with crème fraîche, dill cucumber and trout roe, followed by courses of butternut ravioli, glazed pork belly, creamy shellfish orzo and lamb shoulder, with a delectable Amarula and white chocolate cheesecake for dessert. The drinks menu has been rejigged to include a full selection of virgin cocktails and de-alcoholised wines.
4. Mahā Café
A regularly changing menu is available based on what’s fresh and seasonal, with chef Charlie Lakin baking, roasting and frying up whatever he can get his hands on. Fresh bakes are available at the deli counter (a daily selection of breads, empanadas and pastries), they offer a delivery service on certain days of the week, and are also catering for at-home meals and special events. A special anniversary dinner could include roast rack of lamb, slow-roasted lamb shoulder, lamb-fat potatoes, edamame beans and salt-baked turnip.
I was recently introduced to this stunning spot when a friend took me there for lunch. What makes this place so special is that it’s situated right above the beach with a view looking out over the ocean. You can enjoy the most spectacular Greek yiros while watching the surfers catch waves! I spent three weeks in Greece in 2015 and their food takes me straight back.
This classic Italian restaurant is extremely unassuming, situated on the top floor of a little lifestyle centre in Glenashley. (They also have a branch in Windermere.) I would never have thought that this spot offers up the most phenomenal pizza Durban has to offer – and I am a huge pizza snob. Super thin crispy bases loaded with fresh, good-quality toppings make them the perfect cheat day go-to!
If you’re wanting food that fills your stomach and is healthy and wholesome, look no further! This restaurant is the only place I know of in Durban that makes the ultimate smoothie bowl, with gluten- and sugar-free variations among others.
4. Sand Bar
This restaurant is situated in the small suburb of Umdloti, right on the beach road. The location is stunning, as you’re pretty much sitting right on the beach with a view of the ocean (always a winner for me). Plus they make killer cocktails and sushi to die for!
Ibrahim S. AKA @thefoodguydurban
1. Smokin’ Joes
This treasured spot in Durban serves a variety of “knockout” burgers – with a menu themed around famous boxers, you can be rest assured that each burger packs a punch. My favourite? The Champion – featuring mature cheddar, jalapeños, caramelised onions and chilli peppers.
Pizzaboyz are pizza traditionalists passionate about delivering the finest square pizzas in Durban. All ingredients used are fresh to ensure you get a pizza bursting with colour and flavour. My favourite is The Chicken Out, with grilled chicken, jalapeños, roasted peppers and sweet chilli sauce. The premium-quality pastas are a must-try as well.
3. The Empire Steak
This restaurant, set in the heart of Florida Road, is bringing us legendary steaks. A trendy setting, varying flavours and their passion for grilling are what set The Empire Steak apart from the rest. A cosy and tranquil environment is also guaranteed.
4. Simply Asia
I appreciate this Thai-inspired cuisine being offered in South Africa and all their chefs are extremely talented – in particular, chef Udon at the Gateway Umhlanga branch is always full of smiles, providing a warm welcome. My favourite dish is not the popular 514, but the 625 – curry noodles with peppers, egg, tomato, onions and spring onions.
And that’s it from our Durban folks! Remember, many restaurants are now open for sit-down dining as well as offering takeaways and collection services, so if you need a break from the baking and cooking, why not support your favourites? Next week, our Joburg foodies will be filling us in on their recommendations.