The city of “eternal summer”, an ever-growing surf culture, gorgeous Art Deco buildings and unapologetic shark fascination, Durban is one exciting spot. Recognised as one of the New7Wonders Cities in 2015, it’s a place rapidly becoming more than just a blip on peoples’ travel radar. So if you plan on venturing to the KZN coast any time soon (and believe us, you should), take note of a few of our suggestions on where to eat, play and shop.
Beachfront and promenade
One of the city’s most defining features has to be its long stretch of beachfront that runs from South Beach (where you’ll find the famous uShaka Marine World), all the way to the Suncoast Casino and Entertainment World. It is known as the “Golden Mile” and also includes the promenade and a direct route leading to Moses Mabhida Stadium. Sit out in the sun on the promenade and look out for dolphins in the early morning. Walk, cycle, skate, mosey, surf, SUP – take your pick of outdoorsy activities. If people-watching is your fave, then get some of that done at:
- Surf Riders Café – coffee, food served all day, craft beer and cocktails. Below Xpressions on the Beach where you can hire bikes or SUPs.
- Afros Chicken – a yellow shipping container you can’t miss. Great coffee and the most tender chicken ever.
- Café Jiran – just off the promenade at the bottom of Belaire Suites Hotel. Grab a coffee, tea, smoothie and some tasty food.
- Bike & Bean – awesome coffee with muffins, toasted sarmies and goodies when you’re peckish. Hire bikes from here too.
At night head to:
- The Chairman – a suave ensemble of whiskey, jazz and uber luxury amid historic, crumbling edifices of the Point development area. A real classy joint.
Berea (including Glenwood and Morningside)
Berea overlooks the city, harbour and sea. Scattered across the suburb, dotted between its gracious old homes and Art Deco buildings, you’ll find artisanal coffee shops, bakeries, antique stores, décor and vintage shops, and little galleries. Spend time floating between them and picking up some treasures. Pop by one of these when it’s time to graze:
- 9th Avenue Bistro – fine dining and one of the best places to do it in the country. Expect cutting edge gastronomy and works of art on a plate.
- Market – for all-day brekkie that can be enjoyed in a gorgeous enclosed courtyard (the cinnamon hotcakes served with banana, crème fraiche and honey is beyond delicious, as is the French toast croissant topped with honey-glazed bacon and passion fruit curd – the diet can start tomorrow).
- Art’s Café – caters for everyone from vegetarians to banters and kids. Located in an art gallery with a secure and supervised play area, so you can enjoy your breakfast without worrying about the little people.
- Mark Gold Café – overlooks Mitchell Park. Sit on the terrace while drinking your cappuccino. Light food menu (our pick: the garden salad with avo and artichokes). An oldie but a goodie.
- Glenwood Bakery – great vibe, communal seating and hearth oven-baked bread. Out of this world Colombo coffee and homemade ice-cream – not much convincing needed required here.
- Unity Bar & Brasserie – cold craft beer and an uncomplicated yet delicious menu featuring sustainably sourced ingredients.
Station Drive Precinct
This is Durban's first urban renewal and creative district, and it’s home to a wide range of innovative businesses in a dynamic setting. There’s a range of offerings, from a craft brewery, to restaurants, pop-up shops and fashion designers. What was once considered a no-go area has been transformed into a hip spot that’s frequented by the trendiest of Durbanites.
The Morning Trade Market also takes place here every Sunday, where you can get the freshest farm produce, as well as top-quality meats, home-made specialities and locally produced food at one of the many stalls. It’s a popular and buzzing meeting spot that draws people from all around the city, but it’s especially satisfying for foodies.
- Pop next door to the market to check out Con Amore, a luxury furniture and home décor store that not only stocks exquisite bits and pieces, but also sells a mean cup of coffee. The double-strength brew available here is a product of a shorter extraction period (15 seconds) as opposed to the usual 22/25 seconds. So what does this mean? Simply that you get all the rich-bodied flavour without all the bitterness.
The buzz of well-known Florida Road in Morningside is extending north, across the Umgeni River. Two roads feature a host of restaurants and ‘holes in the wall’ where you can sample curries, sushi, Portuguese, Mexican, seafood – you name it, you’ll find it on either Mackeurtan Avenue or Broadway.
- El Toro – step aside craft beer because this place is all about craft COCKTAILS (and imported tequilas).
- Republik – gourmet burgers, craft beers and comedy or live music on some evenings.
- Brewhaus – right above Republik with one of the largest craft beer menus – (for the serious beer drinkers).
- It’s All Good – organic café, grocery and shop that just happens to offer fab coffee too (gosh, Durbs sure has some amazing coffee).
- Green Parrot – Japanese restaurant serving delicious yakitori (street food), dim sum and noodle hot pots (affiliated to the Wok Box next door). Crispy duck wontons, anyone?
- Union Square – American-inspired; fast-paced-casual vibe and DIY menu – burgers, wings, ribs, craft beers. Yum.
While there’s always been a great vibe in the village, especially being just a short stroll from the beach, further up the road around the Gateway Shopping Mall there are some awesome eateries and watering holes.
On our radar:
- Old Town Italy – “authentic Italian market”; unique combo of market-style stalls, fresh produce counters and restaurants – a real taste of Italia.
- Greedy Buddha – Asian tapas with the idea of sharing food being at its centre. Try the tasting menu and get the full Greedy Buddha experience. Wash down with one of their bespoke cocktails.
- Lucky Shaker Cocktail Bar – quirky pineapple-inspired décor, classic cocktails and fresh inventions. New whiskey and G&T featured every week.
And in the village:
- The Dutch – trendy bar/music venue with oysters, sliders, cocktails and craft beer.
- The Oyster Box – oh so colonial! Famous high tea. Sundowners at the top Lighthouse Bar overlooking the ocean and lighthouse. Stay for dinner downstairs.
- Ile Maurice – yes, a fabulous taste of Mauritius and like the Oyster Box, an institution.
- Little Havana – excellent steaks and grills, free-range and hormone-free, processed and aged in the in-house butchery – a meat lover’s heaven!
- 14 on Chartwell – for the very best chicken wings basted in a honey-Sriracha sauce and served with a blue cheese dipping sauce. Stylish setting and sophisticated crowd.
We hope this has ignited a fire in you to pay Durbs a visit. Our friendly res team can help you find the perfect place to stay – just drop them a line. In the meantime, have a look at all of Portfolio’s Durban establishments right here.
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