Choose your country and language:

Africa

  • Global
  • Angola
  • Botswana
  • DRC
  • Ethiopia
  • Ghana
  • Kenya
  • Malawi
  • Mozambique
  • Namibia
  • Nigeria
  • South Africa
  • Tanzania
  • Uganda
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe

Americas

  • USA
  • Argentina
  • Brazil

Asia Pacific

  • China
  • India
  • Japan
  • South Korea
  • Australia

Europe

  • France
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Netherlands
  • United Kingdom
Back

DDurban, on South Africa’s east coast, is known for its laid-back vibe, warm waters and liberal use of spice. While gourmands will say this isn’t the capital of fine dining, you can expect to find great value and quality ingredients in abundance. It’s the perfect place to indulge in the unique Durban Indian curry, with its roots in the food of the indentured Indians who arrived from 1860 to work on the sugar cane plantations.

You can’t leave without trying a bunny chow – a hollowed-out quarter or half loaf of bread filled to the brim with spicy curry. Italian food, influenced by the produce and seafood on the KwaZulu-Natal coast, Mozambican-Portuguese, Mauritian and indigenous – Durban has it all!

HHere are my restaurant picks:

Breakfast and brunch

Morning walks on Durban’s beachfront promenade are the weekend activity du jour. Join the runners, biking families, skateboarders and generally smiley young kids. Get to Surf Riders on South Beach for breakfast or brunch – they do good eggs and freshly pressed juices, but be sure to get there before 10am as they don’t take bookings over the weekend, or be prepared to wait for a table. The view’s not bad though, in case you have to wait it out on the beach for a bit.

While you’re at the beachfront, look out for the vendors selling juicy pineapples sprinkled with chilli powder and salt – something you won’t find elsewhere in a hurry.

Other favourite cafes include Parc in Glenwood for hearty all-day breakfasts, including vegan superfood bowls, decadent cakes and milkshakes. Try old-favourite Freedom Café in Berea, a quiet reprieve under the trees, which under new management now serves halaal food.

SSomething Italian

After you’ve worked up a sweat surfing, or perhaps just lazing on the caramel-sand beach in humid surrounds, you may be ready for a KZN-style pasta or pizza. The Italian food scene has always been popular here. La Casa Nostra in Umdloti is known for its creative antipasti - try the calamari, mussels, melanzane Parmigiana, thin-crust pizzas and fresh pastas, and keep room for the feathery tiramisu.

Al Firenze in La Lucia is a classy neighbourhood gem, known for its fantastic Sunday lunch vibe. Baked artichokes, sautéed wild mushrooms, langoustine tails with spaghetti and even a “Natal” pizza with ham, prawns, banana and chilli are on offer.

For many locals Roma Revolving Restaurant on top of John Ross House with its 360-degree panoramic views over Durban’s CBD and the bay is a nostalgic choice. It’s retro, and replete with waiters who may remember what the surrounds looked like in ’73 when Roma opened. A recent refurbishment takes the kitsch Michelangelo-esque design, carpeted walls and leather seats into the future. It’s extremely popular over dinner, especially over weekends and for birthdays. Try Ossobucco, saltimbocca, veal picatta Natalia or veal casserole, and keep room for the dessert trolley. And get a drink first at Gino’s Sky Bar upstairs.

Old Town Italy in Umhlanga is unmissable - a large stylish deli and bistro, in the style of Jamie’s Italian, for casual bites with plenty of upmarket Italian goodies and ready-made foods to take home.

CCurry kings

You can’t miss the Durban curry when in the city and from mild to poker-hot, you’ll find something to suit your spice-tolerance level. For a bunny chow, head over to ever-popular Hollywood Bets in Springfield Park. Yes, it’s a betting house, but has a dedicated sitdown canteen-style restaurant on the deck and a take-away Bunny Bar. Here, the mutton curry and broad bean curry bunnies are the winning picks.

Cane Cutters in Glenwood does an excellent bunny chow. But don’t miss a chance to try the KZN-style sheep trotters and sugar beans, lamb chops in spicy chutney and the breyanis. You may have to wait in line – it’s that popular.

For a posh sit-down curry, the generous curry buffet at The Oyster Box Hotel in Umhlanga is legendary. Apart from a few items, most are mild. Book well in advance.

Mali’s Indian in Morningside is a more casual affair and popular with chefs and locals – its drawcards are consistency and a wide variety of dishes from North and South India.

FFancy plates

For splurge meals that showcase a combination of a chef’s skill and delicious local produce, book a table at 9th Avenue Bistro in Morningside. Celebrate here with a tasting menu.

The Chef’s Table in Umhlanga is possibly the toughest table to snag, serving rotating tasting menus, with à la carte options too. Consider the veggie tasting menu with stuffed zucchini flowers, roasted heirloom tomatoes and confit aubergine.

Ile Maurice combines a taste of the northerly neighbouring island with local, sustainable east coast seafood. The mix of grand French and Mauritian Creole flavours makes it special – try the barracuda vindaye or king prawns in Mauritian curry sauce.

Stake the steak

And if it’s a great steak you’re after, the KZN Midlands produces some of the best grass-fed beef in the country. Treat yourself at Butcher Boys Grill (Morningside and Umhlanga) to the finest steaks at reasonable prices. Non-meat eaters are catered for too.

AAbout the author 

Ishay Govender-Ypma is an ex-lawyer, freelance journalist, cookbook and guidebook author. Her work appears in local and international publications such as National Geographic, Saveur, The National UAE, Food & Wine and Literary Hub. Find out more about her and her work at www.ishaygovender.com

Related articles

Valley of a Thousand Hills, KwaZulu-Natal: picturesque gateway to the Midlands

Valley of a Thousand Hills, KwaZulu-Natal: picturesque gateway to the Midlands

The Valley of a Thousand Hills between Durban and Pietermaritzburg is the gateway to the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, rich in history, culture, scenic beauty, outdoor adventures and tourist attractions.

South African cultural museums: rich traditions and history all over

South African cultural museums: rich traditions and history all over

South Africans are a diverse mix of peoples from Africa, Europe, Asia and elsewhere, and the many museums scattered around the country preserve rich histories, heritages and cultural traditions.

Historic places of worship in South Africa: cathedrals, churches, mosques, synagogues and temples catering to religious diversity

Historic places of worship in South Africa: cathedrals, churches, mosques, synagogues and temples catering to religious diversity

South Africa is a country of rich religious diversity, protected by the Constitution, so explore sacred architecture and spiritual traditions at our many historic places of worship.

The Beer Tour in KwaZulu-Natal: raising a tankard to local brewers

The Beer Tour in KwaZulu-Natal: raising a tankard to local brewers

KwaZulu-Natal’s climate allows for some excellent beer making, and a tour up and down the coast, then inland to the Midlands, allows you to sample the wares of brewers large and small.

South African art museums

South African art museums

There are many well-known historic and contemporary art works on display in art museums and galleries in each of South Africa's 9 provinces, with many important permanent art collections centred in the country's major cities.

Sacred sites in South Africa

Sacred sites in South Africa

South Africa’s sacred sites stretch from Lake Fundudzi in Limpopo and eMakhosini in KwaZulu-Natal to the energy centres identified by spiritualists and mosques and temples.

Design in Durban

Design in Durban

Durban is home to many famous South African designers, including architects, fashion designers, homeware specialists and ceramicists.

5 destinations to add to your SA bucket list

5 destinations to add to your SA bucket list

5 unique destinations that combine culture, adventure and nature.

South Africa on social media

Copyright © 2020 South African Tourism
|Terms and conditions|Disclaimer|Privacy policy