16 Best Restaurants in Durban, Durban and KwaZulu-Natal

9th Avenue Waterside

$$$$ | Victoria Embankment Fodor's choice

Durban desperately needed a first-rate seafood offering and this upmarket restaurant perched at the scenic harbor delivers. Think crispy fried calamari with black garlic aioli and pickled cauliflower, grilled baby crayfish with passion fruit and lemon verbena coconut broth, and magnificent seafood pasta. However, chefs also cater beautifully to vegetarians with dishes such as exotic mushroom and butternut cavatelli with vanilla, maple sauce, and mushroom gnocchi with sundried tomato foam. Everythingpurées, clamshell bisque, cilantro gelis made from scratch in the open kitchen and seasonal sustainability is a core focus with meat sourced from the Midlands, fish freshly line-caught from this very coast, and the comprehensive wine list support female wine-makers. It's one of Durban's finest gastronomic experiences, with excellent service to match. 

Govinda's Pure Vegetarian Restaurant

$ | Chatsworth Fodor's choice

This is an inexpensive yet excellent vegetarian restaurant catering to Hare Krishna devotees, who do not use onions, garlic, or mushrooms in their food. The traditional Indian rice dish biryani (breyani as it's known locally) is a favorite. Try the thali, a mix of several dishes of the day.

Jack Salmon Fish House

$$ | Glenashley Fodor's choice

A short drive north of the city, the small suburb of Glenashley has an elevated position that offers diners a pleasant sea view, but this restaurant's fresh seafood, prepared in unique and traditional ways, is the drawing card, with excellent service keeping the place busy during lunch and dinner. For starters, opt for the sushi or the Falkland Island calamari tubes stuffed with prawns and peri-peri dressing and then char-grilled. The catch of the day—dorado, swordfish, or Cape salmon—or Thai-inspired seared tuna as well as the variety of seafood platters are recommended mains. If you have room, round out the meal with a panna cotta—flavors change daily.

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Mahā Café

$ | Beachfront Fodor's choice

This casual cafe restaurant in the reinvigorated Point Waterfront district is great for coffee (especially if you’re averse to the crowds of uShaka Marine World) and a fancy breakfast that won't break the bank. Vegetarians will love mixed mushroom with dune spinach on sourdough with nasturtium and sunflower seed pesto, while classic orderers might enjoy the herby pork sausage or generous croque monsieur, and the counter is always stacked with pastries and tarts. 

Spiga d'Oro

$ | Morningside Fodor's choice

Perched at the top of the ever-popular Florida Road, Spiga is something of a Durban institution, and it certainly represents the attitude and overall feeling of Durban—unpretentious with an animated atmosphere that makes diners feel part of the crowd. The Italian menu is not always classical in its interpretation, but you can count on it being delicious and a good value (pasta dishes come in medium or large portions). The bruschetta di pomodoro is a good way to start, with lots of ripe, well-seasoned tomato on grilled bread, and the Linguine di Casa, made with prawns, olive oil, chili, and a Napoletana sauce, is perennially popular. And, if you enjoy taking your time over a meal, there are no overzealous staff trying to turn your table. Be prepared for a wait.

9th Avenue Bistro

$$$ | Morningside

This is one of few upmarket restaurants in the city to indulge in a six-course tasting menu, though the à la carte options are plentiful, too. Think gin-cured salmon, creamy shellfish orzo, and roast lamb rump—classics with a twist, done perfectly. The setting (in a small shopping center) is simple, but don't let appearances alone sway you—this is one of Durban's finest gastronomic experiences, with excellent service to match. The wine list contains a great choice of South African and international wines, and your waiter will be able to advise on any unfamiliar local labels.

9th Ave., Durban, 4001, South Africa
031-312–9134
Known For
  • International and local wine list
  • Loyal customers
  • Fine dining
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: Closed Sun. No lunch Mon. and Sat., Credit cards accepted

Cargo Hold

$$$ | Beachfront

You might need to book several weeks in advance to secure a table next to the shark tank here, but if you do it'll be one of your most memorable dining experiences. Enjoy a carpaccio of smoked ostrich or tomato veloute—while massive ragged-tooth sharks drift right by your table and sand sharks stir up the sandy bottom. Aside from the array of generous seafood platters, Cargo Hold also serves beef fillet with oxtail phyllo and confit duck with an orange glaze. The restaurant is done up like a shipwreck; both floors have tank frontage.  The view of the shark tank is best from the bottom floor, so ask for this when booking. The restaurant is part of the building known as the Phantom Ship, accessed from the promenade next to the ship's giant propeller; you don't need to pay admission to uShaka Marine World to eat here.

Havana Grill

$$$ | Beachfront

Attention to detail and freshly prepared, quality food combine to make this one of Durban's finest restaurants serving steak—prepared and aged in the in-house butchery—and seafood. It offers spectacular sea vistas (ask for a table with a view when making your reservation) and a chic interior, with white leather-upholstered chairs, wall-length couches, and antelope horns on the walls. Try the tasting platter for starters (minimum of two people sharing): a mix of nachos, jalapeños stuffed with cheese, grilled calamari, bruschetta, lamb, and spring rolls. For mains, consider the grain and grass-fed rump duo with a side of both peppercorn and red wine sauces; seasonal varieties of venison; or line fish (likely swordfish, dorado, or Cape salmon). There's a good domestic wine list, but take the opportunity to make a selection from a walk-in cellar lined with lesser-known wines.

20 Suncoast Blvd., Durban, 4001, South Africa
064-757–1141
Known For
  • Fresh seafood
  • Local wine list
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: Parents with young children are requested to make sure little ones are on their best behavior, Reservations essential

John Dory’s

$ | Maydon Wharf

You won't find the most exceptional seafood here, but the views, affordable price range, and menu variety more than make up for it. Order a gourmet milkshake and watch all the yachts and boats bobbing about in the Durban harbor.  

Joop's Place

$$ | Morningside

No trip to South Africa would be complete without a good traditional steak, and without a doubt, Joop's (pronounced yopes) is the best and most popular steak house in Durban. It goes without saying that most customers are regulars. It has an intimate, homey atmosphere, though the interior design is certainly nothing special. The food is the true focus, with Joop—a butcher by trade—himself selecting and preparing the steaks in an open kitchen. The specialty here is panfried steak; the pepper steak and Hollandse (Dutch-style) biefstuk (a center-cut fillet panfried in black butter and flambéed in brandy) are tasty favorites. The exceptionally hungry should try the 800-gram (about 21-ounce) T-bone.

Love Coffee

$ | Morningside

On Lilian Ngoyi Road in Windermere, which some say is the "new" Florida Road, Love Coffee is your best bet for noncommercial, top-notch coffee in a veritable hole-in-the-wall, of the contemporary, well-designed kind. The bran muffins, rooibos cappuccino, fresh juice, packed salads, toasted sandwiches and brief breakfast menu are highly recommended.

Milky Lane

$

Take respite from the summer sun and enjoy a cool treat at this ice-cream parlor, one of 20 or so restaurants, fast-food outlets, and coffee shops in the Suncoast Casino complex. Even in winter, the creamy ice-cream waffles and creative shakes are a welcome indulgence. You'd do well to enjoy your cone at one of the other popular branches along the Golden Mile, too.

Roma Revolving

$$$ | City Centre

In business since 1973, this slowly revolving restaurant, which takes about an hour to do one full rotation, offers what has to be the most spectacular views of the city, especially the harbor. It's run by the original Italian owners, and the extensive menu runs the gamut from pasta to seafood. From old-school waiters to the hard-to-resist dessert trolley, there's something pleasingly old-fashioned about the place. The restaurant perched atop a high-rise building has been renovated, though it maintains the kitsch carpeted walls, red leather interior, and Italian statues and frescos at the entrance. It's a popular choice for birthdays and weekend dinners.

Margaret Mncadi Ave., Durban, 4001, South Africa
031-337–6707
Known For
  • Kitschy setting
  • Old-school vibe
  • Special-occasion dinners
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: Closed Mon. and Tues. No lunch Mon.–Thurs. No dinner Sun., Reservations essential

Royal Coffee Shoppe

$ | City Centre

This is a popular, if old-school meeting place for daytime breaks and for pre- and post-theater crowds. Crystal chandeliers, etched glass, formally dressed staff, and live piano music in the nearby lounge at lunchtime create a rich atmosphere of old-time colonial Durban. The café serves light breakfasts and lunches as well as coffees, teas, cakes, quiches, salads, and sandwiches.

VickyCristina's

$ | Morningside

This L-shape restaurant opens onto a veranda overlooking the buzz of Florida Road. A red-and-black interior with ornamental silver mirrors and loads of celebrity photographs creates a vibe in keeping with tasty Spanish cuisine. A spicy, hot tapas selection—think grilled crispy baby calamari, panfried sardines, grilled artichoke hearts—with Catalonian flatbread makes for a light meal, and you can add more if you're hungry. House-made sangria is a good accompaniment.

Zack's

$ | Maydon Wharf

This popular spot overlooks the Durban harbor and often hosts live music. It serves breakfast until late, as well as lunch and dinner.