While we’re the first to argue that what’s on the plate is the ultimate deal-breaker when eating out, there's something to be said for how much a sexy space adds to your restaurant experience. Here's our guide to some of the city’s most stylish restaurants, where the food, the look and the atmosphere all make the grade.
THE BIG MOUTH
This slick joint with marble counters and art deco-inspired monochrome and brass interiors has raised the tone of what used to be a tired tourist trap serving sad pizzas on popular Nelson Mandela Square. The seafood and sushi-focused menu oﬀers plenty of choice and some innovative twists. We love the fsh and chips 'sushi' roll with crispy hake or choose from the sashimi salad (poke-style) bowls, ceviche, grills or pan dishes. The caramel popcorn pot that arrives with your bill also keeps us sweet on this place. Nelson Mandela Square, Sandton. Read the full review here.
A friendly neighbourhood café in the historic suburb of Brixton with superb retro 1970s decor, the name comes from the neatly painted 1970s breezeblocks lining its sunny courtyard. The eclectic menu is filled with home-style comfort food from an eggplant shakshuka to baked butternut dumplings with hot butterscotch sauce. Dave the owner is a cycling junkie and also offers cycling lessons for beginners. Chiswick St, Brixton. Read the full review here.
BRIAN LARA'S RUM EATERY
Be transported to a Caribbean island in this quirky and kitsch beach bar-themed joint with its tropical plant feature wall, abundant palms and colourful garlands of lights, while sipping daiquiris served in cute pineapple-shaped glasses or a classic piña colada. Named after the great Trinidadian cricketer the menu is dedicated to West Indian favourites like jerk chicken, fsh cakes, crab curry and ribs. 4th Ave, Linden. Read the full review here.
EB SOCIAL KITCHEN
You couldn't ask for a more novel setting then this restaurant and bar set in one of the city's best bookshops. The books ﬂow into a semi-industrial space filled with mismatched furniture pieces and endowed with a grand view of the urban forest of the northern suburbs. A brass-and-tile bar comes with books scattered across it for your reading pleasure. The classy contemporary menu is always evolving to match the seasons and there’s an excellent wine list and selection of literary-inspired cocktails from which to choose. Hyde Park Corner, Hyde Park. Read the full review here.
At star chef David Higgs’s rooftop restaurant impressive artworks, a turquoise ceramic-tiled wall and light wooden ﬂoors give the impression of being suspended in a cabin in the sky. The lounge bar and terrace (separated by a gorgeous glass wine cellar) with views stretching towards the Magaliesberg is a perfect sundowners spot while the heart of the restaurant is the live-fre grill in an open kitchen, the spectacular ﬂames cooking up everything from meats and seafood to freshly baked bread. Keyes Art Mile, Rosebank. Read the full review here.
Inspired by The Cuban Royal Palm Hotel, the 1950s tropical playground of high rolling Americans, you'll be lured in to The Royale by the salsa music playing in the background and the de rigueur rum cocktails. A pastel pink and green tropical colour scheme with statement neon signs perfectly conjures up a lively atmosphere and the space ﬂows out into an enclosed alleyway where there’s a separate ‘speakeasy’-style bar. As one food critic described it the menu is Cuban-ish, casual fare that includes empanadas, sliders and crispy potato skins. Jan Smuts Ave, Craighall. Read the full review here.
The plush karaoke rooms – reached by a backlit staircase bearing classic Rick Astley lyrics – are reason alone to visit this Asian-inspired joint. And you'll fnd a young roaring crowd here, particularly on Thursday and Friday nights. Rough facebrick walls host attractively kitsch murals and the ceiling is festooned with dozens of classic posters and pretty parasols. The food style is Asian fusion with plenty of choices ranging from small plates to baos (although of late we have heard murmuring from food fans that Saigon Suzy is more a fun destination than the place for gourmet tastes. You be the judge). Asian beers and sake join some cheeky cocktails on the drinks menu. Bolton Corner, Parkwood/Rosebank. Read the full review here.
TASHAS NELSON MANDELA SQUARE
‘African glamour’ inspired this branch of the chic local chain Tashas. The decor is dramatically elegant adding atmosphere to what was previously an unremarkable corner of tourist-heavy Nelson Mandela Square. To be among Sandton’s movers and shakers, book a table in the Flamingo Room at an extra charge. Order from the extensive Mediterranean-inspired menu or from Tashas “signature” dishes. Tashas dishes are always ﬂavourful and generously portioned. Read the full review here. Nelson Mandela Square, Sandton. Read the full review here.
Located in an old downtown warehouse with a history stretching back to Joburg’s gold rush town heyday, Urbanologi shares space with the Mad Giant brewery. The said Mad Giant looms above the main concrete bar (designed to resemble a bottle top) as an immense metal figure, looking over the innovative Meccano-inspired décor. A show-stopping space serving exciting small plates drawn from Asian street food styles, many of the choices are meaty but there some vegetarian plates. Check the menu in advance if this concerns you. 1 Fox Precinct, Ferreirasdorp. Read the full review here.
A cosmopolitan destination serving up exceptionally tasty small plate options that are presented with ﬂair. This is innovative and exciting fare with ﬂavours from a range of cuisines and the menu changing to reﬂect the seasonal availability of produce. While Workshop 55’s aesthetic is pared-down industrial chic, the adjoining gin bar Lounge 55 is inspired by the glamorous cocktail lounges of 1920s Miami. You are almost obliged to try a gin cocktail or two with your meal as there's a great selection of fresh infusions. Parktown North. Read the full review here.
VIEW AND PRE VIEW
One of Joburg’s most luxurious hotels, Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliﬀ is a sedate Shangri-la set across Westcliﬀ ridge and boasting some of the best views of the city. At fine dining restaurant View the interior is all contemporary restraint, a shot of acid yellow upholstery reviving the inky tones that were designed to conjure the evening cityscape. Service is polished and the dress code is smart casual. The awe-inspiring views come standard. Pre View is a more 'casual' cocktail and tapas-style small plates aﬀair perfect for after-work drinks. Bookings are essential for View, while Pre View encourages walk-ins. Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff, Westcliff. Read the full review here.