You don’t have to venture far to enjoy an adventurous holiday. In a new House and Leisure miniseries, we’ve consulted a few of South Africa’s coolest creatives to compile the ultimate staycation guide, bringing you the best, lesser-known summertime activities in and around Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town. In week one, we explored the top spots to stay for a December staycation, and now we’re discovering the best places to eat and drink.
Last Christmas, trend analyst and cultural strategist Nicola Cooper opted to become a tourist in her own city of Joburg. ‘From the kitschy Christmas lights at Monte Casino to New Year’s at the uber cool Living Room in Maboneng – Jozi has it all,’ she says. ‘My new favourite has to be Saigon Suzy – an Asian BBQ and Rock ‘n Roll bar in Rosebank. This venue even has secret Karaoke pods,’ she enthuses.
Artist Jana Hamman recommends the Greek restaurant Parea in Illovo, which includes a show of bellydancing, and media entrepreneur and producer of the Sanlam Handmade Contemporary Fair, Cassandra Twala, loves Ace + Pearl, a fine wine bar in Albans Square, Craighall Park.
Co-founder of Disorient Media, Dinika Govender, recommends Paul’s Homemade Ice Cream ‘for when you want to be bougie with a gourmet double scoop that tastes weirdly like your grandmother’s baking’. ‘Meanwhile, Great Dane in Braamfontein makes skinny fries to die for and Mamasan Eatery in Mellville does wonderful pop-ups with people like vegan chef Parusha Naidoo’, she says.
Host to a wide variety of eateries and bars, Cape Town can be a daunting place for the local food lover. Gisele Human of Waif jewellery recommends Addis in Cape for an all-encompassing Ethiopian food experience. ‘The vegetarian food is even better than the meat and although it’s an established tried-and-tested spot, if you haven’t been there yet, you definitely should visit,’ she says. And drinks? ‘The Secret Gin Bar is obviously the most glorious drinking hole of all time.’
Illustrator and designer Daniel Ting Chong is all about the rooftop vibes. ‘Head to Tjing Tjing Rooftop Bar for a drink tucked away in the city and also grab something to eat at Tjing Tjing Torii downstairs, which serves Japanese and Asian-inspired tapas,’ he suggests. In the busy month of December it can be next to impossible to grab a table in the Mother City. ‘For a quick bite, check out Max Bagels. Their Reuben bagel is on fire, and they also serve Rosetta coffee there. Win!’
We all have our favourites and artist Mia Chaplin is no different. ‘Clarke’s Bar & Dining Room on Bree street would have to be my first choice, and not just because my sister works there. The food is excellent and I have inside information that it is all ethically and locally sourced,’ she says.
Lifestyle strategist Seth Shezi likes to celebrate the finer things in life. His first choice for dinner is The Shortmarket Club, a restaurant that never disappoints. ‘However, after placing 8th at the Eat Out Awards, expect securing a table at The Shortmarket Club even harder than before, so my other go-to places for a vibey dinner are Ash and La Tete,’ he tells us. For drinks? Outrage of Modesty in Shortmarket Street, of course.
When in Durban, immerse yourself in the largest Indian diaspora in the world with some of the best curries. ‘You haven’t really been to Durban if you haven’t had a bunny chow,’ advises singer and songwriter Red Robyn, who is based in the city. She recommends paying a visit to Little Gujarat, a small vegan and vegetarian eatery in the heart of the CBD. For an Asian twist, try out Mooki Noodle Bar in Glenwood for its original Pan-Asian menu and creative flavours. ‘This small but explosive space brings you colour, flavour and Durban serendipity,’ says Robyn.
Trend forecaster Roxanne Robinson has a best-loved spot for every meal of the day. ‘Take a drive out to Ballito and have breakfast at Delish Sisters out at the Litchi Orchards,’ she says. ‘Be sure to grab a bag of lemons on your way out from the honesty table.’ If lunch is the question, then Glenwood Restaurant is the answer. ‘Their pastas are made from scratch and so is their ricotta… among other things.’ When dinner sets in, Delfi on Windermere Road in Morningside is place to go. ‘Delfi is the kind of place you go to when you’re far from home and want a good meal in a place that feels comfortable,’ Roxanne comments. ‘Come hungry, and dive into Maria’s famous prawns – all 1kg of them.’
Owner and founder of the popular I Heart Market, Anna Savage recommends The Digs Kitchen, which has just opened behind the iconic Lion Match Factory. ‘The Digs Kitchen’s lofty ceilings provide a cool reprieve in Durban’s heat and the Asian Chicken salad is sublime.’
Discover the best places to stay in Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town according to the locals, here.