From Thai to Lebanese in Parkmore, Johannesburg

BeirutParkmore has never had the culinary cachet of its suburban cousins, Melville, Parkhurst or Greenside but things are changing fast and if you haven’t visited teeming 11th Street then you’re missing out on some fabulous dining experiences.

The food spectrum is impressive – from neon-lit take-away joints and mom-and-pop outfits to fine dining eateries thrown in for good measure. You’ll also be traversing the globe in the matter of one block – from Italy, Lebanon and China to Thailand, India, France, Spain, Japan and Portugal.


RaffaeleStart your meander at the top end of 11th (corner of Elizabeth) and you’ll find the tiny Ferrari-festooned trattoria Cucina Italiana which comes with one of the town’s finest food pedigrees. Jovial owner, Paolo, is part of the famous Adamo family whose parents started the famous Cortina restaurant in Plein Street in Joburg’s CBD way back in 1971. Paolo opened his small Parkmore establishment in 2002 while his twin brother, Raffaele, runs Bryanston’s Pistacchio.

There’s a small menu – rather find out what the day’s specials are and make a selection from them. Also make a point of ordering speciality dishes days in advance. Highly recommended is the Zampone, which for the uninitiated is stuffed pig’s trotter. You need about three or four people to devour it. The Zampone comes served sliced in rounds on a bed of mashed potato. The rind has a delightful gelatinous consistency and the meat mixture (ground pork and spices) is succulent and tasty – a real charcutier’s delight.

ThomasAs you come around the corner you’ll hit another food favourite, the Thomas Maxwell Kitchen, the small bistro run by Thomas Barker with food that is predominantly French in origin. There are specialities of the house which Tom dares not take off the menu unless he wants to incur the wrath of his loyal customers. The one is a steaming bowl of mussels in a thick and splendid white wine cream sauce, served with pomme frittes. (Ask for mayo on the side if you like them the Belgian way). The other is a medium-rare fillet medallion in a thin truffle cream sauce topped with a foie gras and thyme butter crust with a sprinkling of red caviar for garnish. And, surprise, it’s served as a starter! Also on the menu are fine risottos, duck, salads that you make to your own specs and a host of yummy specials. Customers spill onto the pavement so booking is advisable at this little gem.

Kawayi Sushi Bar is something of a misnomer. It boasts a good selection of sushi from California rolls and Maki sushi to sashimi, teppanyaki and Japanese style curries but also has a large Chinese menu with speciality dishes including pepper beef in black bean sauce and Chinese curries. There are a few tables inside but the establishment also does a roaring take-away trade.

DelhiTapas is the talk-of-the-town at present and one of the only restaurants serving it in Jozi is Canto Latino, housed in the homestead with a Cape Dutch façade that decades ago used to be home to the legendary Freddie’s Tavern. There’s an enclosed courtyard which teems with patrons enjoying al fresco dining on a warm summer evening. The restaurant is run by Rui Maduro who offers Spanish and Portuguese dishes including prawns and calamari. The marvellous Serrano ham (better even than Italy’s San Daniel) washed down with a good Rioja is a must – although your wallet may feel lighter afterwards. Another special dish to share with a loved one is the Paella Valenciana packed with succulent seafood and pork.

And then for something completely different. Walk up a small alleyway and you’ll become aware of the redolent smells of cardamom and cumin. Delhi Dharbar is a North Indian tandoor restaurant where Kuldeep Kumar serves a range of dishes including Tandoori chicken, Lamb Saag, Murg makhani and prawn fish Jalfrazi. If you want a speciality dish, talk to Kumar in advance. Take-aways are also available here.

MezzeRight next door you’ll hear the throbbing sound of Arabic pop. You’ve arrived at the award-winning Beirut, a small eatery and take-away serving authentic and cheaply priced Lebanese street food. There’s fried kibbeh (meatballs), spiced minced lamb kibbeh (served raw like Steak Tartare and an absolute must), hummus, tahina, baba ganoush, schwarmas, sambousek (meat pie) and isanet (marinated tongue). Finish off with a strong coffee and sticky sweet pastry. Not surprisingly, Lebanese locals abound. If you eat at the restaurant, try and go in a party of six or more so that you can sample a lot of the dishes.


Bahadur Ashok and Reshika Ramlall recently opened Bahadur on 11th – he’s front of house while she cooks up a small storm in the tiny kitchen. They are specialists in Durban Indian curry which differs from North Indian curry as there are no cream sauces. This is also the place for authentic Bunny Chows and roti rolls. People travel from all around for a taste of Durban and you can also do take-outs.

Next door is Night Shanghai, a shop turned small eatery which isn’t going to win any awards for its décor. There’s a large Chinese and Thai menu with many of the customers opting for the latter – Tom Yum Goong soup, Pad Thai, musman, green, red and yellow curries as well as whole crab and fish. Prices are reasonable and plenty of Thais frequent the place.

NightThe last tip isn’t about food but what a way to either start or end off your Parkmore culinary ramble? The Kai Thai Spa has recently opened on 11th and offers traditional Thai massage with Thai masseurs. It’s open till 9pm at night so why not have some reflexology before or after a meal. It’s the real deal and for one hour of stretching and massaging you’ll be transported back to Thailand. You’ll thank us for this recommendation!

Words Janine Walker

Contact details
Bahadur on 11th – Call: 011 883-2534
Beirut – Call: 011 884-1015
Canto Latino – Call: 011 883-3925
Cucina Italiana – Call: 011 783-4843
Delhi Dharbar – Call: 011 883-4407
Kai Thai Spa – Call: 011 884-3417
Kawayi Sushi Bar – Call: 011 884-6509/884-5171
Night Shanghai Restaurant – Call: 011 783-1108
Thomas Maxwell Kitchen – Call: 011 784-1575

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