When people visit South Africa, they usually only visit Johannesburg and Cape Town. But the beautiful sunny city of Durban on the East Coast offers so much more to tourists and locals alike.
With warm weather year-round and the warm Indian Ocean, it’s the ideal destination for a beach holiday or a chilled relaxing weekend away.
Durban is a true representation of the “rainbow nation” with the largest Indian city outside of India, the indigenous Zulu people and a mix of South Africans. Naturally, the food scene is influenced by the mix of cultures, and Durban has become a breeding ground for creativity in cuisine, attractions and great restaurants.
By no means exhaustive, the restaurants on this list are known mostly by local’s as favourite hangouts with the best food.
1. Capsicum at Britannia Hotel
Referred to by locals as Britannia, this hotel itself has a long interesting history starting in the Apartheid era. But since 1983, the restaurant has been serving traditional authentic Durban Indian dishes that has become a favourite among local but also international travellers. The decor is slightly old-fashioned but they serve the best curries in Durban. Not long ago, they’ve included western dishes such as grilled prawns and fish to cater for more people. There is also a sports bar where you can enjoy your food while watching the soccer.
You have to try the “Mutton Bunny” here. A truly South African dish where mutton curry is served in a quarter or half loaf of hollowed out bread. You can’t visit Durban without trying this dish at least once, but you will come back for more.
Another favourite is the Chicken or Lamb Breyani. The Butter chicken is delicious as well as the Chops Chutney.
This is the only restaurant where you can try the wide variety of offals in dishes such as Trotters (lamb feet) or Tripe.
Don’t forget to order the Soji for dessert.
They are reasonably priced and offer takeaways as well.
2. Al Sameer’s
If you are looking for the best Chicken Tikka in Durban, you have to order from Al Sameer’s. As a lover of Chicken Tikka, I have tried it everywhere, and Al Sameer’s offer the best in town. Only really known by locals in the area, Al Sameer’s is a small eatery and takeaway in the Mount Edgecombe Plaza.
Served with chips and pita bread or roti, with the spiciest yet most delicious sauce, this is the best you can get.
3. Max’s Lifestyle
Max’s offer a unique, upmarket and trendy setting to experience the traditional township culture in Umlazi. They offer various traditional dishes. Must try the Shisa Nyama which is different cuts of meat prepared on a braai (bbq, coal not gas) with local and traditional side dishes. The samp and beans are also a favourite.
On Sunday’s they have popular DJs to entertain guests.
4. Roma Revolving Restaurant
Roma Revolving is an Italian restaurant on the 32nd floor of the John Ross building in Durban. It opened its doors in 1973 as the only revolving restaurant in the Southern Hemisphere. Diners enjoy authentic Italian cuisine while the floor slowly turns 360 degrees anti-clockwise, offering views of the whole of Durban and the harbour.
The menu includes traditional Italian dishes from starters (including caviar) to dessert, but also include local South African meats like wildebeest, springbok and ostrich, not to mention the Wild Rabbit and Crocodile steak.
This place is a local favourite and often gets booked out for birthdays and special events. They also have a more modern rooftop bar.
5. Afro’s Chicken
Afro’s Chicken started as a food truck in 2012 and now boasts several permanent stores throughout Durban. They recently even opened a shop in Cape Town.
The first and most original eatery operates out of a container on Durban’s beautiful Golden Mile beachfront.
They offer simple chicken strips in lemon and herb or chilli flavour with coleslaw and “tjips” (french fries) or half/half. They also offer a burger and wrap as well as breakfast.
They pride themselves in only using locally sourced produce, making everything from scratch with no additives.
Afro’s is a super affordable light meal to enjoy while watching the waves.
6. Amsterdam Bar & Grill
Amsterdam is a cool, chilled drinking hole in Glenwood. You can listen to really great rock and alternative music while enjoying burgers and cheap beers (need I say more).
7. Dropkick Murphy’s
Murphy’s is an Irish pub on Florida Road, the party street. They offer their own house cocktails, good beer and great pub grub. From pulled pork sandwiches to Sloppy Joe’s, BBQ Chicken Wings and platters with Jalapeno Poppers and cheesy sausages.
It’s a nice place to meet up with friends and have a few drinks with great food.
8. Havana Grill
For the best steak in town, visit Havana Grill’s original outlet in the Suncoast Casino complex.
This restaurant offers South African grain-fed beef, aged for at least 21 days, grilled to perfection and served with the most delicious sauces and accompaniments. And as the name would suggest, they have a wide selection of Cuban cigars, imported from Cuba and a variety of wines.
9. Jack Salmon Fish House
If you enjoy seafood, this is definitely the place to go. They serve anything seafood. Prepared by chefs, even a typical dish like fish and chips will keep you coming back for more. They offer calamari tentacle starters, tempura prawns and delicious Norwegian Salmon among others.
It is more pricey than the other seafood franchises, but it is the best seafood you can get.
10. The Greedy Buddha
The Greedy Buddha in Umhlanga opposite the Gateway shopping centre offers fresh Asian-Fusion dishes. From Potsticker Dim Sum to 5-spiced glazed duck, all their dishes are filled with all the fresh spices and flavour that one would expect from Asian food.
Winner of the best restaurant in Durban during the Restaurant Week 5 year Anniversary Edition, the Greedy Buddha offers 5-star meals at an affordable price. And if you are not sure what to order, they have a standard and deluxe taster menu for 2 people to share. You can choose a variety of dishes in the different meal options and taste everything you want.
Durban has so much to offer in terms of delicious and creative foods, that not many people are aware of. So next time you go to Durban and want a great place to eat, consider these suggestions. I promise you won’t be disappointed.