A stunning coastal city with a significant manufacturing industry, Durban is often shadowed as a South African cultural destination by Johannesburg and Cape Town. This city however exudes a vibrant creative energy, evident from its tantalising restaurant scene.
Durban is home to a plethora of standout restaurants and cafes, offering visitors and locals a sea of cuisines from around the world. While here, sampling the seafood and the curries is an absolute must, but true food lovers will want to delve further into the gastronomic experiences available. One great destination for any cultural traveller is Florida Road, a creative hub full of beautiful architecture, fascinating galleries and trendy restaurants. In no way exhaustive, the below list includes restaurants from this area and from around the city that standout for their flavours, design and cultural experience.
The award winning restaurant Harvey’soffers a regularly changing menu that traverses the culinary experiences of contemporary and fusion food. With a stylish atmosphere, the restaurant describes its aesthetics as ‘a sort of indefinable retro-quasi-gothic-hunting lodge hodgepodge’, and the interior features original oil paintings and mounted buffalo trophies. With a belief that cooking and menu design are artforms, Harvey’s is a destination where gastronomy and trendy meet.
9th Avenue Bistro
Run by the well travelled husband and wife team Graham and Gina Neilson, 9th Avenue Bistro is renowned as one of the top dining destinations in Durban by locals and travellers alike. Serving fusion cuisines with a particular focus on seafood, the restaurant prides itself on its creative gastronomy and emphasis fresh seasonal ingredients. The restaurant has won a number of awards and its sophisticated atmosphere exudes elegance and charm.
Now almost 40 years old, Ile Maurice has been a local favourite since opening in 1976, and its ocean views makes it the ideal destination to absorb the stunning Durban seascape. The excellent Mauritian andFrench cuisine served has been under the watchful eye of kitchen veteran Elsie Mauvis, who worked here until the inspiring age of 90. Today her son runs the kitchen with the same passion for flavour and a respect for the restaurant’s traditions.
Craft Trattoria serves top notch Italian food in a trendy and atmospheric setting of rustic wood and stylish design, and the big lips on its exterior have become a city icon. The menu is filled with delicious antipasti, irresistible pizzas, svizzere (Italian hamburgers) and of course sensational pastas. The restaurant also offers great wines, craft beers and a list of tempting cocktails.
Award winning Cafe 1999 describe their dining craft as focused on the senses, offering a ‘vibrant ambiance, gracious service and a delectable menu’. The interior design is somewhat eclectic, with brickwork, tiles, white walls and modern mirrors co-existing under one roof, but this diversity is well executed and the space looks amazing. The menu consists of fusion and contemporary Mediterranean cuisines and is made from fresh, seasonal ingredients both local and imported.
Located in the garden of Concierge Boutique Bungalows, Freedom Cafe is an exemplary example of innovative design; the cafe is set in a converted cargo container that has been transformed into a trendy destination. Glass meets metal beautifully throughout the design, and the cafe’s food only furthers this great experience. Boasting of great coffee, delicious lunches and rejuvenating breakfast options, Freedom Cafe is especially worth a visit on a sunny with its outdoor seating.
No other restaurant in Durban displays this coastal city’s beauty like Roma Revolving. The restaurant has joined the ranks of one of the world’s few rotating dining experiences and sits 32 storeys above the ground, offering guests unforgettable panoramic views. Gino’s Sky Bar then takes this experience to the next level, allowing visitors onto the roof for delicious cocktails under the stars. The menu specialises in Italian cuisine and includes delicate continental dishes, as well as serving seafood and fresh game plates.
The Oyster Box Grill Room and Ocean Terrace
The luxurious hotel The Oyster Box is home to several great dining experiences and The Grill Room stands as one of the best in Durban. Proud of providing ‘true fine dining’, their menu focuses on freshly caught seafood and perfectly cooked meats, while their wine list features both fantastic local and international wines. The hotel’s Ocean Terrace offers another iconic setting, overlooking the ocean and serving delicious Indian curries and authentically cooked pizzas.
Butcher Boys Grill
As the restaurant’s name suggests, theButcher Boys Grill is one of the best places in Durban for quality meat. The restaurant serves succulent steaks, wet and dry aged depending on the cut, that are ‘grilled to perfection’. Renowned for their famous basting sauce, this sensational flavour is used to enhance South Africa’s best beef. While meat stands as their forte, the restaurant also serves a wide range of seafood dishes and salads, and its cellar is home to vintage wines, allowing for perfect steak and wine matching.