Restaurants in Durban
Eating out in Durban is a multicultural activity, with the city's diverse cultural communities each bringing their own distinctive flavour to the table.
Durban's Indian population, one of the largest outside of India, permeates its cuisine at nearly every level. Take-away curry restaurants abound on every corner, offering samoosas and Durban's own traditional food, the 'bunny chow': a hollowed-out loaf of bread filled with a hot helping of beef, mutton, chicken, prawn or bean curry. Thanks to the generous helpings of peri-peri chillies, the curries tend to be very spicy at most traditional restaurants; most waiters will be able to recommend dishes suited to more sensitive palates though. If you find yourself battling with the spiciness, you can end your meal with a bowl of mild soji (semolina pudding) and cream. Iconic restaurant Silverani's in Berea is a great place for true Durban curries.
Because of the large Muslim population, many Indian restaurants follow Halaal guidelines. Vegetarian options tend to be somewhat lacking overall in Durban restaurants however, apart from vegetable curries.
Durban's strong and proud Zulu culture makes its own contributions to local cuisine, though you'll find it mostly in more rural areas. Traditional restaurants in the Valley of 1000 Hills and Eshowe offer hearty meals of amadumbi (Zulu potatoes), uphuthu or pap (hard maize porridge), mogodu (tripe), and more adventurous options like boiled chicken feet and sheep heads.
Restaurants tend to be clustered in residential districts like Glenwood's Helen Joseph Road, Morningside's Florida Road, or Durban North's Kensington Drive. There are cosmopolitan options to suit every taste, including Chinese, Italian, Portuguese, Greek, Mexican, Moroccan, Mediterranean fusion and sushi. There is cheap food and fine dining for every budget when deciding where to eat in Durban, ranging from burger joints like Steers and Wimpy to the elegant Roma Revolving Restaurant, which offers a romantic atmosphere, decadent food, and spectacular views as it rotates on the 32nd floor of a South Beach skyscraper.
Most restaurants close their kitchens promptly at 10pm; however you'll find a few late-night dining options in the party districts like Florida Road and Suncoast Casino, and Chartwell Drive in Umhlanga. Pizza and pasta eatery Spiga d'Oro is popular with locals, staying open until 3am on weekends. Tipping is always encouraged, as many waiters don't receive a wage. 10 percent is the standard minimum, going up to 15 percent for very good service. Most restaurants accept credit cards, but don't let them take the card out of your sight as identity theft is a concern in South Africa.
While locals may complain of its touristy atmosphere, visitors to Durban can't get enough of Moyo's African menu, funky decor, and gorgeous views of the beachfront. Located in the uShaka Marine World complex in South Beach, you can sit in the dining room upstairs, or lounge on the leather couches at the beach bar below. The menu is a veritable tour of Africa, with influences and recipes from all over the continent. Not hungry? Then treat yourself to a gigantic strawberry daiquiri (virgin or otherwise). Whatever you choose, you'll be serenaded by African music and dance groups, and may even walk away with a bit of art on your cheek!
Address: 1 Bell Street, uShaka Marine World, Point
Telephone: 031 332 0606
Situated on the vibrant Windermere Road, Indian Connection boasts two chefs from Mumbai who love nothing more than serving a range of Korma (curries), chicken dishes, fish and mutton, as well as equally delicious vegetarian options. Amongst popular dishes such as the Rogan Josh, Butter chicken and Chicken Tikka masala, the Madras fish curry is delightful while the chicken Jalfrezi and Lamb Achari send taste buds soaring to new heights. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Reservations recommended.
Address: 485 Windermere Road, Morningside
Telephone: 031 312 1440
The New Cafe Fish
With airy décor, floor to ceiling windows and fabulous views over the water, the New Café Fish is one of Durban's trendier seafood eateries. Sip on a cocktail in a ray of afternoon sunshine or enjoy the twinkling city lights at dark while feasting on some of the freshest fish in the city. With exotic twists on classic dishes, such as wok fried calamari in a Thai red curry coconut sauce, seafood crepes, Cajun grilled linefish and Fisherman's pie, you won't be disappointed. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Reservations recommended.
Address: 31 Yacht Mole, Victoria Embankment
Telephone: 031 305 5062
Butcher Boys, Morningside
With red face-brick, rich mahogany, and the chance to choose your own cut of meat from the in-house butchery, Butcher Boys caters to serious carnivores, though vegetarian and seafood dishes are also available. Start with the juicy bite size pork ribletts or the sosaties, traditional South African kebabs, sink your teeth into your own hand-picked cut of rump, sirloin or fillet complimented by a delicious glass of aged Cabernet Sauvignon, and indulge in a Lindt Chocolate Panna Cotta for dessert. Open Sunday to Friday for lunch and daily for dinner. Bookings recommended.
Address: 170 Florida Road, Morningside
Telephone: 031 312 8248
Spiga d Oro
Late-night dining options are limited in Durban, so many locals flock to the popular Spiga d'Oro in Morningside. Located in the heart of busy Florida Road, Spiga is a bustling Italian restaurant that specialises in generously-portioned pizzas and pastas. It has three seating areas, including a sidewalk café that offers a great vantage point for people-watching; an elegant open-air courtyard with a fountain, two bars, and a balcony; and an indoor area. Spiga's popularity is partly due to their extended hours, staying open until midnight on Sunday and Monday, 2am on Tuesday and Wednesday, and 3am Thursday through Saturday. They don't take reservations, so there's always a wait during peak hours.
Address: 200 Florida Road, Morningside
Telephone: 031 303 9511
Café 1999 is a tiny restaurant in Silvervause Centre, offering Durban diners an eclectic mix of Mediterrenean and world fusion cuisine. The café is famous for their starter menu, which is structured tapas-style, with bite-sized portions made to share. Highlights include the calamata olives stuffed with ricotta, crumbed, deep-fried and served with a chilli and herb mayo, and the Ginger and Lime Prawn Tails. The main menu also gives patrons the opportunity for smaller portions. The best options are often on the ever-changing specials list, so ask your waiter for a recommendation, as the service is among the best in Durban. The restaurant is small and crowded, and often very noisy. It's best to call ahead, as it fills up early.
Address: Shop 2, Silvervause Centre, 117 Vause Road, Berea
Telephone: 031 202 3406
The Cargo Hold Restaurant
uShaka Marine World offers a range of dining options, but the Cargo Hold is the only restaurant that incorporates the aquarium into your dining experience. The restaurant is located in what appears to be the wreck of a ship, and is dominated by a massive shark tank on one side. Diners can enjoy typical South African seafood, steaks, and vegetarian options while watching ragged-tooth sharks cruising by. You'll need to call ahead for a reservation, and you can park in the secure uShaka parking lot.
Address: 1 Bell Street, Ushaka Marine World, Point
Telephone: 031 328 8065
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