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The best spots serving good ol' pub grub across SA

A guide to traditional and modern pubs with quality, tasty food - in Joburg, Cape Town, Durban, Pretoria and PE.

16 Nov 2017
pubs, food, food24

(Image - iStock)


Jolly Roger, Parkhurst
As with most pubs, a lot of drinking takes place at Jolly Roger, so the name is fitting for a very jolly place all round. A good amount of festive drinking should always be accompanied with comfort food, and Jolly Roger's has its patrons covered on that score. Their thin-based pizzas are a draw card, as is the general vibe that pulls a lively crowd each week. The whole place feels authentic, from the wooden bar stools, to the pub memorabilia, to the old unmissable green awnings outside.

The Colony Arms, Craighall Park
This pub has been going for a number of years, proving to be a favourite for locals looking for a relaxed spot to meet friends or take the family for a meal. The space is unpretentious and inviting with traditional pub-style decor and a long bar, packed with every type of drink and lots of character. They host all the pubby nights you'd expect like quiz nights and karaoke. Food is served from breakfast to dinner and includes toasted sandwiches, salads and a pub grub section with the classics like cottage pie and bangers and mash.

Colony Arms, Johannesburg
(Image by the Colony Arms)

The Griffin, Illovo
This is a modern take on the old Public House. Things are a bit more 'crafted' and trendy, with an equal focus on food and drinks. The Griffin describes themselves as a 'British-born hybrid of sorts'. The food is not your average pub grub, it's a little more refined with attention to flavour and quality, which matches the simple, stylish space of the restaurant. Try their Sunday roasts, burger special, and Friday 5pm happy hour which also happens later at 10:30pm - they serve great cocktails.

Giles, Craighall Park
Giles has been open since 1994, and today sits as a neighbourhood institution in Craighall Park. A husband and wife duo started the bar and restaurant but today it is run by their three children. Because it's run by the owners, the warm and welcoming atmosphere is felt as soon as you walk in. The space is also versatile, there's a dining area, separate bar area with TV screens and a veranda outside. Giles prides themselves on making all their food from scratch, making sure the quality keeps up to standard. They are known for their burger, but also check the blackboard for daily specials.

Giles, johannesburg
(Image by Giles)

Radium Beer Hall, Orange Grove
This is no ordinary pub, but rather a historical landmark in Joburg, dating back to the 1920s, when it served beer to all walks of life during a time of intense segregation. The authenticity and richness of the pub is undeniable, and it's a place that features on many a Joburg tourist guide because of its cultural heritage and embodiment. Radium serves a little bit of everything, but go for something simple like pizza or fish and chips, or try one of their Portuguese dishes.

Cape Town

Forrester's Arms, Newlands
Dating back to 1852, this one is close to many Captonians' hearts. It's the pub where students continue to get totally sloshed, a restaurant that's seen many an intimate date night, and a place where families congregate for lunch with food that doesn't disappoint. Forries is there for any type of occasion partly because the large indoor and outdoor space is so versatile, and partly because customers simply feel at ease there. The food is definitely one of the best in terms of pubs, but a lot of the dishes go beyond simple pub grub, with a more refined flare. We recommend the pizzas (which includes banting), the small bowls for sharing and the steak rolls and burgers.

Fireman's Arms, Green Point
This is another Cape Town favourite, bubbling over with character and charm that has been pulling in locals and tourists since 1864. The main area of the bar (seen below) is covered head to toe in flags, memorabilia and framed photographs of the pub's fondest moments.  Their are two house cats that are treated like royalty, so make sure you do the same. The food is home-style and pub grub that keeps up a consistently good standard. The pizzas are popular, but don't miss out on other dishes like the bangers and mash, Shepard's pie, homemade pies and the Fireman's prego.

Fireman's arms, cape town

The Royal Oak Pub and Restaurant, Table View
Bringing in the Brits of Table View area, offering them a pub akin to the ones in their homeland. Of course you don't need a British accent to visit the Royal Oak, it welcomes all patrons who enjoy the atmosphere of a traditional pub. It's full of festivities and hosts quiz nights, karaoke and other celebration evenings that bring the community together. Expect a good level of rowdyness, Union Jack bunting and the spirit of England bursting through the door.

Barristers, Newlands
Barrister's is your more sophisticated pub, suited to its plush Newlands surroundings. It's a meeting spot for locals offering a relaxed and comfortable environment with good quality food. The restaurant serves classic dishes like bangers and mash, chicken schnitzel, ribs, and their well-known steaks. They also have vegetarian options, a pub lunch daily special, a variety of premium wines and multiple SAB beers on tap. It's managed by the owner, which enables great care and consistency in every aspect of the restaurant.

Mitchell's and Ferryman's, The V&A Waterfront
Even though both these places are in the tourist epicentre of Cape Town, they attract a lot of locals. Ferryman's and Mitchell's are different but affiliated pubs. They have no choice as their heritage buildings are attached, but they both offer a different experience. Mitchell's is more of a party pub and also a brilliant place to watch the game (upstairs they put up a huge screen on big match days). Ferryman's is more of a gastropub or tavern. Both are full of character and quirk, with warm, welcoming staff.

Mitchell's, waterfront, pub
(Image by Mitchell's)


The Taphouse, La Lucia
This pub, situated in Durban's lush suburb of La Lucia, is known for their Sunday roasts - we have this on good authority. So if you're feeling nostalgic for that roast beef, gravy, Yorkshire puddings and the whole lot, then definitely try The Taphouse. This is a popular spot, partly for the warm atmosphere and partly for the good food. Other food options include burgers, fish and chips and Durban-style curry and of course, as the name suggests, there is a great variety of beer on tap.

The taphouse, durban, pub
(Image by The Taphouse)

Dropkick Murphy's, Morningside
Dropkicks is still a fairly new pub to Durban, situated on the vibrant Florida road. It's a hip, busy pub that serves indulgent comfort food, most notably their deep fried macaroni balls. On Tuesday's you can enjoy the burger and beer special at R72 for both. The burgers are definitely worth a visit, but other than that Dropkick's is a great place for drinks that will no doubt keep you hanging out there for quite some time.

Dropkick Murpheys, durban
(Image by Dropkicks)

Jackie Horner, Glenwood
This lovely pub emanates Britain and makes you feel like you're in a local pub somewhere in a quaint London borough. The old wooden finishes, jukebox and the wallpaper of a street scene in London all add to the UK feel of things. There is also a more plush dining area to enjoy a dish from their long list of grill options including steak, seafood, peri-peri chicken and their legendary burger to mention a few. To complete the picture, Jackie Horner screens all major sporting events, and also hosts live music and karaoke nights.

Connor's Public House, Durban North
A traditional Irish pub, owned by the Connors - it doesn't get more Irish than that. They've tried to keep a traditional pub-like feel as much as possible, and serve regulars in the Durban North area. Since it's family-owned, it is suitable, during the day, to bring the whole family along. The menu is filled with variety, from Greek salad, to homemade pies, to burgers as well as pizzas.

The Look Out, Durban North
As the name suggests, the Lookout shows off a great view of Durban North and the Indian Ocean. It combines a cosy restaurant, with a spacious veranda and casual bar. The menu offers home-style dishes like cottage pie, chicken schnitzel and beer-battered hake, as well as steak, line fish and pizzas. It's an ideal place for a birthday celebration or a relaxed afternoon watching sport.


Hogshead Craft Beer, Grill and Smokehouse Restaurant, Hazelwood
This pub turns into a bit of a nightclub after hours, but you can still visit before this transition and enjoy a good lunch or dinner. They do proper 12 hour smoked Southern American-style meat dishes, as well as 100% beef burgers, and they guarantee that all food is preservative free. There are some vegetarian options as well, like the Halloumi, feta and mint parcels and also a range of grill options and seafood. If you're into craft beer then you'll be pleased to find a huge variety on tap.

Hogshead, pretoria
(Image by Hogshead)

Lucky Rodrigo
A pub and restaurant that reminisces over a 70s American diner coupled with a Southern steak ranch. The overall retro-ness of Lucky Rodgrigo, as well as the authentic food, makes this spot unique. In true diner-style, they serve all-day breakfast, and for lunch and dinner, there's steak, pregos, burgers, chicken schnitzel and more. This comfort food won't let you down.

lucky rodrigo, pretoria
(Image by Lucky Rodrigo)

Eastwoods Tavern
This one is well-known across the Pretoria area and even beyond! It's been around for over a decade and has won numerous awards for its popularity as a great pub. It's appeal is the vibrant atmosphere and quirkiness that is mostly owed to the old kombis in the back. Retro, spruced up VW kombis form part of the seating area, each van having a different drink theme. To top it off there's a kombi cocktail bar too, adding to the fun. Food is the classic bar or pub food you'd expect like steaks, seafood, burgers and pizzas - its a very extensive menu.

Eastwoods Tavern, pretoria
(Image by Eastwoods)

The Brazen Head, Moreleta Park
This pub has franchises around SA, in all the major cities, but the Pretoria branch is a particularly nice one with the look and feel of a traditional Irish pub. This includes Guinness, Kilkenny on tap and a range of other Irish beers and whiskeys. There is a spacious outdoor seating area, or a cosy interior that looks decades old with low hung arched ceilings, dark wood furnishings and a fireplace. The food is as Irish as can be with sharing snack platters, homemade pies and hearty casseroles.


Gunston's Gastropub
This one is a newbie and run by two brothers who own Two Olives and Chartroom, both very popular restaurants in PE. They've taken their years of experience and condensed it into Gunston, a sophisticated and modern pub. Nicholas, Timothy and Johnathan take the gastronomic side of the pub, very seriously, realising that today, people want quality food that fits in with specific dietary requirements. The food has been taken up a notch, offering slightly fancier versions of bar snacks and pub food, that excel on flavour.

Gunston, PE
(Image by Gunston's)

Bridge Street Brewery Restaurant, Brickmakerskloof
This one isn't all that pubby, at least not in the traditional sense but they serve pub-style food and of course a lot of beer. As the name suggests, they make their own craft beer. The open plan creates a fluid space between the indoor and outdoor seating areas. The outdoor is perfect for a summers day with a tranquil atmosphere under the trees. Burgers and pizzas are what they do best, but they also do a Sunday roast for a mere R65!

Read more on: joburg  |  food  |  durban  |  pubs  |  dinner  |  port elizaberth  |  cape town  |  round-up  |  food24  |  guide  |  pretoria  |  lunch

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