13 of Durban’s must-visit restaurants to check out this Summer
For breakfast and brunch
This café, designed in and around a red container, has become a Durban staple, for locals and a must-visit for tourists. It’s the unique setting that draws people in, the bright red container extended by a boxed glass room, sitting between tall trees, under which sit many tables and quirky additions like the protruding ornamental gold swans. It’s not a place you forget about. The food is as good as the setting, combining a variety of cuisines, but they are well-known for their heart and good quality brunch that will comfort the soul. Try the Porkie Benedict, The Smash, the chia seed pot, or ask for their changing specials. Last orders at 11am.
This café has been successful because they have stuck to a very simple and easy-to-please menu. Breakfast items start with basic poached eggs, and as you continue there are different combinations to accompany the eggs starting with 1 addition and going up to as many as you would like. Try the salmon and avo or simple bacon and eggs, or sausage and eggs. The food is mostly, if not entirely organic and meat is free-range and locally sourced. The quality and careful preparation is always evident and it’s a lovely spot to sit and watch Durban go buy.
La Casa Nostra
This could possibly be the best Italian in the whole of Durban if you’re after an authentic experience that celebrates the traditional trattoria. The restaurant has been in business since 1996, with Eros Ramazzotti crooning in the background, and red and white checkered table clothes to set the tone. The food is consistently excellent. From the flaky, crispy thin-based pizzas, to the wood-fired line fish to perfectly al dente pasta, La Casa Nostra really knows how to do Italian cooking. The space also has a lovely outdoor terrace and aircon inside and is right near Umdloti beach.
Old Town Italy
I cannot sing the praises of this place enough. It is the mecca of all deli’s, with its impressive and bold industrial decor, encompassing a restaurant and shop that stocks sort-after imports from the motherland of pasta. Weekend rustlers flock here from morning to late afternoon to enjoy a bit of the good life, filled with cronuts, coppa ham, Aperol Spritz and THAT morning coffee and eggs, a standard Saturday requirement. Love and vibrancy permeates this space, and you’ll feel it the moment you step inside.
Where the locals eat
A Durbanite stated recently that this is the best steak spot in Durban, and this wouldn’t be the first time Joop’s has taken on this title. There is a reason this cosy, unpretentious restaurant has been open for over 20 years, and it’s because they continue to serve good food that sticks to a formula based on consistency and high quality. It is owned by a husband and wife duo, Joop and Wendy, with Joop gaining his steak and meat expertise from previously being a butcher.
9th Avenue Bistro
Certainly Durban’s finest bistro, with a creative menu that changes constantly, and includes modern takes on bistro classics. Like any good restaurant, 9th Avenue focuses on seasonal produce and executes dishes with acute precision on presentation and flavour balance. This is the place to visit for a special occasion, a date night or when you feel like sprucing up and getting treated to a sophisticated meal. 9th Avenue Bistro is down-to-earth elegance, with superb quality food.
Palki is situated on Musgrave Road and is a staple curry house for many of the nearby residents. Whether it’s a take-away or sit-down, the affordable food will not disappoint. They do all the classic Indian dishes, and a particularly good chicken tikka. The decor is basic but embodies a warm atmosphere, often enhanced by the busyness of the restaurant, so it’s best to make a booking. The chefs are all from India with unfailing expertise on the cuisine. Try the mushroom manchurian and the chicken vindaloo.
Dropkicks pulls a good variety of locals, young and old. They have great specials on throughout the week like Tuesday’s beer and burger special and happy hour on weekdays between 5pm and 6pm. The interior is a contemporary take on the old Irish pub, with copper accents, face brick walls and industrial pendent lighting. There is a big outdoor area sitting right on Florida Road, where things tend to get a little rowdy on weekends.
14 on Chartwell
Swanky is the word! 14 on Chartwell is reminiscent of a glamourous 1970s Hollywood bar with bright golden rings of light overhead and aqua green fabric chairs. The bar itself takes centre stage, clad in gold corrugated sheeting with a charcoal marble top. Go here for cocktails before dinner or a night out, or stay for dinner and enjoy the menu that focuses on fancy pub grub and bistro-style food.
The Grill Room at The Oyster Box
The Grill Room is the Oyster Box’s fine dining restaurant and it doesn’t get much more elegant than this. The room is luxurious in blue and white from the lush carpets to the plush white leather arm chairs and crystal antique chandelier. It’s an old world affair with Gueridon service, food served off trolleys and a Maître‘d to welcome and look after you. They serve classic dishes that have been enjoyed by the rich for decades, and also take inspiration from modern food trends.
The Chef’s Table
The Chef’s Table is Durban’s most recent trend spot to visit, situated in The Village in Umhlanga. This area has become more and more vibrant in recent years and The Chef’s Table has certainly contributed to this a great deal. The space offers one of the most stylish settings with round indigo velvety booths, a thick grey marble slab surrounding the centered, exposed kitchen, and a contrast of raw and refined finishes like the exposed brick walls and brass framed round chairs. The menu changes constantly. From one week to the next, you will see different food, and inspiration taken from various cuisines, but one thing that is constant is the locality of the ingredients and a strong focus on meat.
For a bit further off the beaten track
This café is abundantly wholesome in every respect. The sisters that own, run and cook in Delish share a heartfelt passion for good food that is balanced and prepared just as they like it. It’s all about locally sourced, freshly harvested ingredients. The café operates in what looks like a farm shed, decorated with plants and simple pendent lighting, giving a natural, raw aesthetic. This coupled with the invigorating country air, makes Delish a special place to enjoy brunch or lunch.
Also situated on the Litchi Orchid, The Shed serves soul food and bar snacks, that simply cannot be avoided once you’ve ordered a beer. The restaurant is designed based on a kind of farm shed (hence the name!); a raw wooden structure that enables fluidity between the indoors and outdoors, making sure you still feel right on the litchi farm. It’s a perfect place for a day out whether it’s with family or friends, and you simply cannot go wrong with the food.
(All other images by Ceili McGeever)