Eat Out

JOHANNESBURG

Earth shattering

The Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé

AFRICAN

EPICURE BY CHEF COCO

BEST FOR Special occasions or a business lunch to impress. FOOD Favourites from the south include umphokoqo with amasi; vetkoek fritters stuffed with savoury mince and chakalaka relish; ostrich fillet with butternut mash; and venison loin with biltong butter and sweet potato. From the north, the lamb-and-chickpea tagine is full of flavour. The Moroccan duck samoosas with dry fruit chutney are a crispy delight and the Egyptian dukkah-spiced rib-eye steak is a must. West African fare includes goat meat prepared in pepe-spiced broth and Senegalese-inspired tuna loin with okra. From the east, Ethiopian chicken or cabbage stew with injera pancakes and, from central Africa, Congolese guinea fowl with palm nut sauce and cassava leaves. Finish your meal with couscous pudding, caramelised plantain or sweet fritters. DRINKS The wine list is a good read, with an extensive mix of local and international wines. SERVICE Attentive and efficient. AMBIENCE Epicure offers a comfortable balance that lies somewhere between sophisticated and relaxed. (KK)

3-5 Lower Road, Morningside Central, Sandton; 010 594 5336; breakfast, lunch and dinner Mon to Sun; avg main meal R200; no BYO

IMPI BREWING CO

BEST FOR Local craft beer. FOOD What goes better with beer than pizza? Luckily, Impi Brewing Club serves both. Build your own pizza, but be careful not to go overboard. The standard base comes with mozzarella, and toppings include fresh basil and garlic, pepperoni, avocado and more. DRINKS Start with a tasting of the home-brewed craft beers. There’s the Warrior Pilsener, Homestead lager and an ale. The lager is especially delicious; it’s full-bodied and rich. SERVICE With only pizzas to serve, beers to top up and water jugs to fill, the service is very relaxed but waiters are on hand when you need them. AMBIENCE Situated in Victoria Yards, a cool new urban regeneration project in east of Johannesburg, the space boasts a Zulu-inspired theme with headdresses, spears, umqombothi containers as ashtrays, and even the salt and pepper grinders wear beaded bibs. (KZV)

24 Victoria Rd, Lorentzville; 066 207 1895; breakfast and lunch Mon to Sun; avg main meal R100; no BYO

LUCKY BEAN

BEST FOR Fun nights in Melville with generous portions of SA comfort food. FOOD To start, South African snoek baked with whole apricots or ostrich bobotie frikkadels offer local flavour. A vegan burger is on the main menu as is boerwors, umnqusho (samp and sugar beans) and an ostrich burger. These hearty dishes need to be followed by dessert. Options include Maroela malva, consisting of Amarula cream; a warm chocpot, which is a muscadel and coconut cream with vanilla shortbread; and soft, caramel sandwiches. DRINKS The offering showcases local craft from boutique producers: Hope on Hopkin’s Salt River Gin, Tomatin whisky, Dog & Fig ale, and a wide selection of wine including Gabriëlskloof ‘The Blend’ from Bot River. SERVICE Warm, patient and inviting. AMBIENCE At night, a large tree glows with fairylights while a bookseller pushes his cart past the outdoor tables. Lucky Bean treads the tightrope between being overtly touristy and embracing local fare. (TM)

16 Seventh Street, Melville; 011 482 5572; lunch and dinner Mon to Sun; avg main meal R110; corkage R60 (max 3 bottles)

MOOTEE BAR

BEST FOR A fun night out with cocktail-loving friends. FOOD Mootee’s food and award-winning drinks draw inspiration from Africa. For starters, try the samp arancini with calabash relish and pesto or springbok rolls with baby spinach, sundried tomatoes and caramelised onion. For mains, the beef boerie wheel, Zamalek and tomato soup is filling, and vegetarians are catered for with butternut bunny or the aubergine curry with braised city-grown baby carrots. End on malva brûlée or koeksister bread-and-butter pudding. DRINKS Guests can pick from the 12 long, strong, short or fresh signature cocktails that have been formulated with African ingredients, and chat to the mixologists as they watch the drink being made. Try the Kenyan Proverb featuring almond, coffee, citrus and rooibos, or the Mashonza, a party trick that's served in a specially designed ceramic cocoon meant to resemble the mopani worm. SERVICE Enthusiastic and knowledgeable. AMBIENCE Speakeasy meets apothecary. (KZV)

78A 4th Avenue, Melville; 010 900 1399; lunch and dinner Tues to Sun; avg main meal R95; no BYO

QUEEN OF SHEBA

BEST FOR A wonderful Ethiopian cultural and dining experience. FOOD The authentic meal is served on platters, eaten by hand and best enjoyed shared with the table. Start with a combo platter of Sheba salad of fresh tomato, onion, green pepper and jalapeño; sambuusas (an Ethiopian samoosa-like pastry) filled with lentils; and azefa, a spicy yet moreish lentil-and-mustard mixture all served on an injera flatbread. Likewise, for mains, the platters are the way to go. The lamb and beef stews are particularly fragrant, served with flavourful veg and legumes and more injera. End with an Ethiopian coffee, roasted and ground in-house. DRINKS A limited selection of beers and a wine or two. SERVICE The service is absolutely stellar; waitresses in traditional Ethiopian dress patiently explain dishes and customs. AMBIENCE Nods to Ethiopia, from the coffee station to the art lining the walls. Low lighting is complemented by candlelight, creating a warm environment. (SST)

106 Algernon Road, Norwood; 074 978 3445; lunch and dinner Mon to Sun; avg main meal R70; no BYO

ROVING BANTU KITCHEN

BEST FOR DRINKS A great night out – dinner and a show. FOOD Each night sees slight changes to the menu, but the usual starters fall somewhere between spinach-and-feta samoosas and a spicy butternut soup. There are four options for mains including the delicate and aromatic butterbean and chicken curries and the occasional Jamaican goat curry and African beef stew. The stews are simple and comforting, served in enamel plates with sambals and crisped rotis. For dessert, masala-spiced pineapple skewers or koeksisters. DRINKS The usual wines and beers. SERVICE Warm and welcoming, casual and jovial. The owners and waiters are always near and love a good chat and a catch-up. AMBIENCE It buzzes. The venue is vibrant and eclectic, dotted in historical and political memorabilia, kitsch collectables, news clippings, and Shweshwe bunting. The space celebrates our stories, past and present. (KL)

125 Caroline Street, Brixton; 072 223 2648; dinner Thurs to Sat, lunch Sun; avg main meal R165; corkage R25 (wine), R50 (spirits), R25 (six-pack beer or ciders)

THE AMERICAS

BAHA TACO RESTAURANT

BEST FOR Real-deal food from south of the border. FOOD The focus is squarely on tasty, fresh and authentic Mexican fare; think wood-roasted nachos, cheesy quesadillas, gluten-free, soft corn tacos and flaming jalapeños. Try the surprising flavours and textures of the potato-and-chorizo quesadilla, or stick with the free-range chicken quesadilla. There are plenty of vegetarian options, including a lively mushroom, pepper and jalapeño chilli quesadilla, or try the halloumi, veg and refried beans taco. Sink your teeth into the beer-battered hake taco – light tempura-fried hake on top of a delectable slaw. There aren’t any dessert options. DRINKS Everything from Corona and a selection of craft beers (bottled and on tap) to loads of tequilas. SERVICE The food is definitely better than the service, which may be down to staff turnover; but overall, the experience is worthwhile. Self-service drinks. AMBIENCE Laid-back cantina vibe. (SM)

Shop 3, Tarquin House, 38 Upper Grant Avenue, Norwood; 076 694 7400; lunch and dinner Tue to Sat; avg main meal R150; corkage R40

BGR BURGER RESTAURANT

BEST FOR A quick bite in a buzzing space. FOOD BGR’s burgers are generous, juicy, full of flavour and satisfying. The menu is quite small, offering only beef and veg burger options. The beef comes either as a plain or cheese burger, while the veg option can be either a herb-loaded patty or a grilled cheese vegetable patty on a perfectly proportioned bun. But, best of all, you can top it with anything you please: crispy bacon, piles of lettuce, tomatoes, grilled onions, pickles, raw onion, piquanté peppers and jalapeños. Their French fries are always freshly cooked and perfectly crisp but come at an additional cost. DRINKS Have a fun soda float, chocolate or vanilla milkshake or delicious home-made lemonade or ice tea. No alcohol is served but you can BYO. SERVICE Welcoming, friendly and knowledgable. AMBIENCE Supremely casual with a busy vibe. (SN)

19 Keyes Avenue, Rosebank; 010 593 4545; lunch and dinner Mon to Sun; avg main meal R60; no corkage fee

BRIAN LARA RUM EATERY

BEST FOR Happy hour that turns into dinner. FOOD The complimentary snack of deep-fried crackers served with a spicy pineapple-and-tomato salsa whets the appetite for the dishes to come. Do order the Doubles – a nicely spicy lentil curry coconut curry bursting with veggies and served with warm Trinidadian flatbread and pineapple slaw. Always say yes to arguably the restaurant's most popular dish – 800g of rum-basted barbecue pork ribs. If you’re in a large group, pre-order the suckling pig and red snapper 48 hours beforehand. Sides of sweetcorn fritters, coleslaw and spiced chips complement the fiery flame-grilled jerk chicken or crispy, beer-battered fish fillet. DRINKS There's a small, standard wine list and generously poured cocktails. SERVICE The warm reception as you walk in through the door sets the right tone. AMBIENCE It’s a casual tropical island theme complete with hanging plants, a living indoor wall, neon palm tree, pineapple lights, and vintage surfboards mounted on walls. (ZKV)

56 4th Avenue, Linden; 076 320 9739; lunch Wed to Sun; avg main meal R80; corkage R50

CALEXICO

BEST FOR A taste of the Americas. FOOD Expect a concise menu from fresh, seasonal and locally sourced ingredients. Sink your teeth into a plate of nachos with salsa and smashed avo, or go for the tortilla chips with a hot artichoke-and-jalapeño dip. You’ll find an impressive double bourbon cheeseburger comprising two juicy patties and a double serving of melted mozzarella. Serious carnivores will delight in sticky ribs in a home-made barbecue sauce, chipotle rotisserie chicken or chimichurri dry-aged sirloin steak. For vegetarians, there’s a barbecue wild mushroom skewer or a side of comforting mac and cheese. End with chocolate brownies or apple pie. DRINKS Beers and cider on tap, bubbles by Miss Molly and six solid white wine and red wine options. SERVICE Charming and cheerful. AMBIENCE The space draws inspiration from California and Mexico. Indoors, there’s a cosy fireplace; outside, a spacious deck for delicious summer days. (KK)

44 Stanley Avenue; 011 482 5791; breakfast, lunch and dinner Tue to Sun; avg main meal R100; no BYO

LA BOQUERIA

BEST FOR A catch-up and a drink with friends. FOOD Inspired by Latin food markets around the world, there’s a wide selection of regional cuisine on this menu. Who knew that hot fried olives would be such fast friends with edamame? There’s something for every appetite, be it a white anchovy snack on two small toasts or 10 grilled queen prawns covered in caper salsa fresca. The 'son of a butcher man' dry-aged steak is huge. Make sure you still have space for dessert, because although they made a name for themselves with their white chocolate hazelnut gelato cookie Whoopie pie dessert, the gin-and-tonic tart or chocolate nemesis are equally formidable choices. DRINKS The wine list takes pride of place with some wonderful finds and by-the-glass options. SERVICE Welcoming, knowledgeable and always there when you need them. AMBIENCE It’s always buzzing, whether you’re inside in the mural-decorated space or outside on the expansive deck. (SMK)

17 3rd Avenue, Parktown North; 011 325 0011; lunch and dinner Mon to Sat, lunch Sun; avg main meal R70; no BYO

PERRON (BRYANSTON)

BEST FOR Festive sharing. FOOD Either start with a light nibble – the fiery, home-made jalapeño poppers will do – followed by a chipotle chicken, steak or slow-roasted pork burrito. Or pick from one of the 14 small plates, followed by a main meal from the classics. For a big bowl of comfort food, try the chilli, a spicy mix of minced beef and beans with all the trimmings, or the black beans with spicy aubergine, coriander cauliflower rice and fresh avocado. The tastiest dish is the tender spicy braised lamb shoulder taco, followed closely by the fish taco of lightly battered hake and a crunchy slaw. End with the churros. DRINKS 26 different kinds of tequila, with margarita options including jalapeño and coriander or tangerine ginger. Or have a Mexican beer. SERVICE Warm and friendly. AMBIENCE The colourful décor suits the playful mood. (KK)

Hobart Grove Shopping Centre, Corner Hobart and Grosvenor Roads, Bryanston; 011 706 7841; lunch Tue to Sun, dinner Mon to Sun; avg main meal R100; corkage R55

PERRON (ILLOVO)

BEST FOR Mexican-inspired after-work drinks. FOOD This is not authentic Mexican, but it’s certainly not Tex-Mex either. Start with a little plate with a soft- or hard-shell taco with spicy tuna sashimi marinated in soy sauce and sprinkled with sesame seeds; slow-cooked pork; lightly battered hake; spicy cauliflower and more. There is ceviche and an interesting salad of quinoa black beans, orange and chipotle, and another with pickled baby carrot and broccoli. If you’re going to indulge in many rounds of tequilas or margaritas, then nibbles like jalapeño poppers, chargrilled corn, burritos and bigger meals such as beef chilli, slow-cooked pork belly or a bowl of beans with aubergine are hearty stomach liners. Sweeten the deal with churros and dark chocolate. DRINKS The wine list has a fair selection of familiar names, together with cold beers and cocktails. SERVICE Waiters are friendly. AMBIENCE An Insta-worthy and statement colour palette creates a colourful atmosphere. (ZK)

Illovo Junction, corner of Oxford Road and Corlett Drive; 011 880 7296; lunch Tue to Mon, dinner Tue to Sat; avg main meal R90; corkage R50

SUMTING FRESH

Deep-fried indulgence. Sumting Fresh sells gourmet street food at Happy hour is from 4pm to 7pm. Restaurant space is tight and tables are few so there’s little room for your waitron’s attention to wander. Relaxed and informal.

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