Text: Andy Davis
Photographs: Clinton Friedman
1. For a great cuppa: Love Coffee
First come the coffee shops, the foot soldiers of urban regeneration. Start your day and set the tone with a shot of caffeine. You’d be hard-pressed to find a finer cup of Java than those produced by Durban’s Love Coffee chain (the mothership is on Lillian Ngoyi Road). This one lives in a little side street off Florida Road, beneath an arty Spanish-styled office building called Hacienda, so it’s always busy. They brew their fine black gold from Humble Roasting Company beans, which are artisanal, single-origin coffees, sourced and roasted in microbatches. Speak to Amy over your next flat white – she really knows her beans.
281 Florida Road, Windermere; tel: 084 493 2802, lovecoffee.durban
2. For home-style patties: Super Burger
This is a new burger joint operating from a souped-up Airstream caravan in the same courtyard as Afro’s (see #3). Burgers are crafted with care using home-made patties, served with fresh garnish and crunchy lettuce on soft white buns, delivering a delicious smoky flavour complemented by perfect fries. It’s not fast but it’s good – best enjoyed in the shade of the huge fever tree that towers over the wooden seating area. Look out for the massive Jenga set.
233 Florida Road, Morningside; tel: 072 858 5217, superburger.co.za
3. For an eco-friendly lunch: Afro’s
The bold yellow of Afro’s Chicken Shop is a modern Durban classic that’s come a long way from their first container at South Beach. Synonymous with Mozambican-inspired spicy chicken strips and thick-cut chips, this is an easy lunch stop that’s also light on the pocket. Try the chicken salad with extra mango or pineapple for that subtropical twist. Take your tin plate back to the counter and they’ll give you a Wilson’s toffee for your trouble (don’t lose your fillings eating the toffee – they’re serious gum busters). The Afro’s deck in the courtyard behind Starbucks is a fine space to chill and catch up on emails. And the best news yet: Afro’s has stopped using straws and other single-use plastics.
233 Florida Road, Morningside; tel: 072 083 7326, afroschicken.co.za
4. For spicy vegan fare: Falafel Fundi
Sa’ar ben Hamoo, a.k.a. the Falafel Fundi, is a Durban institution who serves vegan falafel platters with a smile and some fine Middle Eastern banter at markets around the city. The Fundi is his first fully fledged restaurant. The crowd around the counter lets you know you’re onto something good. Deep-fried chickpea balls are taken very seriously here, and they’re served with an array of Mediterranean salads, as well as hummus and lots of tahini. The chilli is deadly but entirely necessary. Have your falafel as a wrap or deconstructed on a platter. Tastes like the garden of Eden, before the fall. They also do a great chicken and sesame baguette.
161 Gordon Rd (off Florida Rd), Windermere; tel: 083 783 6172
5. For the ultimate steak: Butcher Boys
On every trip to the strip there comes a moment when it’s time to get serious. No messing around with finger foods or shared platters (you could lose more than a finger). Head straight to Butcher Boys and order the trademark côte de boeuf – prime rib, medium rare, served with roasted marrow bones and a side order of seasonal veg and onion rings. Pair it with a fine South African Shiraz. There’s nothing too fancy about the Butcher Boys, but it offers a quality Durban take on the quintessential South African steakhouse experience: steak and chips.
170 Florida Road, Morningside; tel: 031 312 8248, butcherboysgrill.co.za
6. For substantial sandwiches: Charlie’s Cafè & Bistro
Tucked away at the top of Florida Road, edged by the canopy of verdant Mitchell Park, you’ll find one of Morningside’s finest sandwich shops. Charlie’s Café & Bistro is a small, unpretentious lunch stop, pinched between a high-end jeweller and interior designer. Charlie’s specialises in tasty breakfasts, sandwiches, gourmet toasties and tapas. They also do a fine cup of coffee. You can’t go wrong with the smoked salmon on ciabatta, or mix it up with the fillet, mustard and avo. The Parma ham salad is also sure to rock your taste buds.
366 Florida Road, Windermere; tel: 082 891 7088
7. For craft beer: Dropkick Murphy’s
A hot city needs cold beer. When it’s time to wet the whistle, you know you can count on an Irish pub. Dropkick Murphy’s is Durban punk Irish too, with a cross-section that’s living proof that we can all get along, from blue-collar plumbers to tattooed millennials with assorted piercings. Dropkick Murphy’s loves and serves them all. The drinks menu reflects the diverse clientele, with a fine selection of craft and commercial beers on tap, some lo-fi cocktails and a menu that’s all about burgers and fried comfort food. Try the local brewery Poison City’s Bird Lager, an easy-drinking golden beer best served ice cold at the end of a long day.
219 Florida Road, Windermere; tel: 031 825 1858, dropkickmurphys.co.za