Johannesburg’s Best Cultural Restaurants

The Rainbow Nation delivers up truly colourful cuisine, take your pick of the best
The Rainbow Nation delivers up truly colourful cuisine, take your pick of the best | Courtesy of Cafe Del Sol
Barbara Speed

The Johannesburg restaurant scene is exploding with flavors and variety. One of world’s largest cities, its many districts and suburbs offer something for everyone. Chefs, both local and international, vie to produce the most unusual flavor combinations or the heartiest comfort food. We’ve picked our top ten restaurants to help you get a flavor of this unique South African city.

1. Yamato

Restaurant, Japanese

Sushi presented on a wooden plank
Courtesy of Yamoto
While Johannesburg may not be the first place you think you’d find great sushi, the city is as hooked on the raw fish delicacies as the rest of the world. Yamato’s calm, white interior and tasteful decor offer a sophisticated dining experience while it’s beautifully presented and authentic bento boxes, sushi and sashimi are unrivaled in the capital. The tuna platter and tempura are highly recommended. Come for dinner or grab one of their lunch specials en route to the nearby Museum of Military History or the Johannesburg Zoo.

2. Tashas

Cafe, Restaurant, Contemporary, Healthy, Fusion

Delicious breakfast with eggs Benedict and juice
© BlueOrangeStudio / Alamy

Founder Natasha Sideris is a monolith on the South African cafe scene, with ten boutique venues in the country. Yet the extension of her brand hasn’t diluted her culinary brilliance or exquisitely tasteful interior decor. Our pick is the Rosebank branch with its display of books dangling from the ceiling, open front and long tables. It’s perfect for a lazy lunch or brunch. On the menu are classics with some extra pizzazz, like the mascarpone french toast or the Arabian quesadilla stuffed with steak, houmous, tomato and chili.

3. Coobs

Bistro, Restaurant, Contemporary, South African, Dessert

Homemade churros with cinnamon sugar on a plate
© Elena Veselova / Alamy
This eatery in bustling Parkhurst celebrates natural, local produce in a relaxed bistro setting. Three quarters of the food served at Coobs comes from the restaurant’s organic farm in Magaliesberg, and 100% of it is home-cooked, free range and organic. As a result, simple classics like home-baked bread, salads, fish and steaks stand out here. Chef James Diack cooks different specials every day depending on what’s in season on the farm, which was also his childhood home. Don’t miss his desserts, the churros and tarts are particularly delicious.

4. Salvation Cafe

Bakery, Cafe, Restaurant, Contemporary, South African, Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-free, Fast Food

Salvation Cafe, Johannesburg
Courtesy of Salvation Cafe

Salvationcafe is a local hotspot for lunch, brunch, and coffee; a place to see and be seen. Situated in the trendy 44 Stanley market area, the cafe serves self-avowedly ‘non-snob food’. Owner and founder Claudia Giannoccaro spent years as a cook on luxury yachts around the world, and international flavors combine to produce the Cafe’s unique menu and ever-changing specials board. Sit on the terrace for a view of the surrounding Sunnyside area, filled with 1930s shops and boutiques. Opt for one of the cafe’s unusual offerings for the full Salvationcafe experience: halloumi french toast or a breakfast burrito.

5. Cafe del Sol

Restaurant, Cafe, Italian

Cafe del Sol
Courtesy of Cafe Del Sol
Cafe del Sol is an award winner and it’s easy to see why. The kitchen whips up fresh pasta, gnocchi and pesto every day for its bustling lunchtime service and its romantic, candlelit dinners. The menu is not called a menu, but rather a ‘journey’ through authentic Italian cooking. Passion for real dining and real Italian food shines through every aspect.

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