Coastal Cuisine In Durban, South Africa

A stunning coastal city with a significant manufacturing industry, Durban is often overshadowed by Johannesburg and Cape Town / Pixabay
A stunning coastal city with a significant manufacturing industry, Durban is often overshadowed by Johannesburg and Cape Town / Pixabay
Photo of Andrew Kingsford-Smith
17 November 2016

A stunning coastal city with a significant manufacturing industry, Durban is often overshadowed by Johannesburg and Cape Town. This city, however, exudes a vibrant creative energy, evident from its tantalizing restaurant scene. Here’s our guide to some of its best restaurants.

© Simisa/WikiCommons
© Harvey’s Restaurant


Bistro, Restaurant, Contemporary, $$$
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Harvey's Restaurant, Umhlanga Rocks
Harvey's Restaurant, Umhlanga Rocks | © 9th Avenue Bistro
The award winning restaurant Harvey’s offers 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.

h Avenue Bistro

Bistro, Restaurant, French, European, Fusion, $$$
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9th Avenue Bistro, Morningside
9th Avenue Bistro, Morningside | © Ile Maurice
Run by the well traveled husband and wife team Graham and Gina Neilson, 9th Avenue Bistro is renowned as one of the top dining destinations in Durban. Serving fusion cuisines with a particular focus on seafood, the restaurant prides itself on its creative gastronomy and emphasizes fresh seasonal ingredients. The restaurant has won a number of awards and its sophisticated atmosphere exudes elegance and charm.

Ile Maurice

Restaurant, French, Seafood, Vegetarian, $$$
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Restaurant Ile Maurice
Restaurant Ile Maurice | © Craft Trattoria
Now almost 40 years old, Ile Maurice has been a local favorite since opening in 1976. Its ocean views makes it the ideal destination to absorb the stunning Durban seascape. The excellent Mauritian and French 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 flavor and a respect for the restaurant’s traditions.

Craft Trattoria

Cafe, Restaurant, Italian, $$$
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Craft Trattoria, Glen Ashley
Craft Trattoria, Glen Ashley | © Cafe 1999
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 pasta. The restaurant also offers great wines, craft beers and a list of tempting cocktails.

Cafe 1999

Cafe, European, Fusion, Vegetarian, $$$
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Cafe 1999., Musgrave
Cafe 1999., Musgrave | © Freedom Cafe
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. The menu consists of fusion and contemporary Mediterranean cuisines and is made from fresh, seasonal ingredients both local and imported.

Freedom Cafe

Bar, Cafe, Fusion, Coffee, Tea , Fast Food, $$$
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Gino's Sky Bar
Gino's Sky Bar | © Roma Revolving
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. Boasting great coffee, delicious lunches and rejuvenating breakfast options, Freedom Cafe is especially worth a visit on a sunny day when guests can enjoy its outdoor seating.

Roma Revolving

No other restaurant in Durban displays this coastal city’s beauty quite like Roma Revolving. The restaurant has joined the ranks of one of the world’s few rotating dining experiences and sits 32 stories 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 specializes in Italian cuisine and includes delicate continental dishes, as well as serving seafood and fresh game plates.

The Gill Room | © The Oyster Box

The Oyster Box Grill Room and Ocean Terrace

Hotel Restaurant, Restaurant, Contemporary, Seafood, South African, $$$
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The Ocean Terrace restaurant interior
The Ocean Terrace restaurant interior | Courtesy of Oyster Box

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

Butcher, Restaurant, Steakhouse, Seafood, $$$
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As the restaurant’s name suggests, the Butcher 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 flavor 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.

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