Dining Out

Best around the world cuisine: Choo Choo Junction

Fancy a taste trip to Turkey? Or wondering about the flavours of Chile’s staple dishes? Wonder no more, because Choo Choo Junction gives you a culinary ticket to a new country every month, allowing you to sample some very exciting cuisines. Look out for great promos in between, including happy hour, live music and the ever popular flaming cheese wheel. Check out the social media pages to see what’s happening. – www.facebook.com/choochoojunction, 57 4th Ave Linden, 072 910 3000

Best Asian restaurant: Simply Asia

Absolutely to Thai for! Redolent with the tastes of coriander, basil and mint, Simply Asia’s take on Thai food is fresh and delicious. Choose from well known favourites, or make your own new discoveries. There’s a great kids’ menu and sushi, too. – www.simplyasia.co.za, 021 447 4387

Best beat-the-budget (inexpensive) restaurant and best neighbourhood restaurant: Emzini Restaurant

Everything about Emzini is generous, from its welcoming ambience to its hearty portions. We love the bustling atmosphere, with a little extra colour courtesy of its location in quirky Westdene, along with the bold tastes that owner Richard Griffin perfected during his time at restaurants like Madame Zingaras. – https://web.facebook.com/EmziniLove/, 12 Lewes Street, Westdene, Johannesburg Western Suburbs, South Africa, 081 515 2223

Best bistro: Café del Sol

Just like mama used to make! The warm hospitality that’s Café del Sol’s trademark comes as no surprise when you learn that this is a family-run business, established by Luciana and carried forward by her children Chiara and Ryan. Expect wholesome Mediterranean-inspired dishes, with bold flavours, made with the freshest ingredients. – www.cafedelsol.co.za

Best breakfast: Mugg & Bean

The first thing that strikes you about Mugg & Bean’s breakfast and brunch menu is the sheer variety. Forget the classic bacon and eggs pairing (although you can get that here, too – albeit with a signature twist) and try some of the more unusual benedicts and omlettes. Even those who prefer a healthier start to the day are catered for. There’s something for everyone! – www.muggandbean.co.za, 086 162 7328

Best fine dining spoil yourself restaurant: Marble

First off, let’s talk about that view – easily one of the best in Joburg. Then there’s the décor – so, so stylish; the perfect backdrop for a glam night out. And then, of course, there’s the food – given that everything Chef David Higgs cooks is pure magic, do we really need to say any more about it? Maybe just that, while everything on the menu is delish, the meat is out of this world. Oh, and the cocktails, too. – www.marble.restaurant, Trumpet on Keyes, cnr Keyes and Jellicoe Ave, Rosebank, 010 594 5550

Best Greek restaurant: Mythos

Oh, to be sunning ourselves on an island beach right now! Next best thing? The lemon and garlic laced dips that are part of Mythos’s extensive mezze selection, followed by a wonderfully tender slow-roasted kleftiko. Plate throwing optional.

Best hotel restaurant: Level Four – 54 on Bath

54 on Bath has a distinctive elegance that’s very much in evidence at Level Four, its fine dining restaurant. It’s the perfect address for a business lunch, but offers a mean breakfast, too – and there’s no place like the Perrier-Jouet Champagne Bar for a sundowner with bubbles. – https://www.southernsun.com/54-on-bath/dining/level-four, 54 Bath Ave Rosebank, LevelFour.Restaurant@southernsun.com

Best Indian restaurant: Ghazal

Joburgers being a somewhat fickle crowd, you know that when a restaurant must be good when it keeps a loyal following for more than 20 years. The secret to Ghazal’s success is its complete consistency – every meal is just as good as the last. Our favorite? Although all of the North Indian specialities can be recommended, we keep coming back to the paneer palak. – www.ghazals.co.za 

Best Italian restaurant: Casa Bella

We completely connect with Casa Bella’s motto: “First we eat, then we do everything else.” We’re also here for the restaurant’s sun-kissed flavours, with regional specialties given pride of place. We especially love the Naples-inspired wood-fired pizzas. – www.casabella.co.za

Best new restaurant: Mamasamba

A myriad different experiences under one roof – that’s Mamasamba! But, whether you’re watching the live-fire kitchen from the ground floor, sipping cocktails in the supper-club lounge upstairs or sampling ceviche at the counter, the mood is always festive, and a night here is bound to be fun as well as delicious.
www.mamasamba.co.za, The Zone, Rosebank, mytable@mamasamba.co.za, 010 110 0313

Best Portuguese restaurant: Mozambik

Mozambique on a plate! We love a good success story, and Mozambik certainly fits the bill: your favorite Portuguese (actually, Afro-Porto) restaurant started out 18 years ago in KZN – which just goes to show what you can achieve by dishing up great food in a great atmosphere (think beach vibes at sunset). Our go-to is, naturally, the prawns. – www.mozambik.co.za

Best restaurant for a burger (no takeaways here): RocoMamas

There are burgers, and then there are smashburgers – laden with toppings, juicy and oozing flavour. RocoMamas is, of course, the original home of the smashburger, and this chain can work magic with a patty and a bun. We love the wide choice, and the fact that everything on the menu is just a little different. – www.rocomamas.com

Best restaurant for a business lunch: Doppio Zero

It started out as a bakery in Greenside, and now rules the business lunch scene, thanks to the friendly, efficient service and a menu that offers something for everyone. A great selection of hearty pastas, grills, tapas and health bowls, all served swiftly and with a smile, makes Doppio the place to go when you have a client or colleague to impress. – www.doppio.co.za

Best restaurant for lunch in the country: Casalinga Ristorante Italiano

You don’t just eat at Casalinga – you go there for a full get-out-of-Joburg escape made all the more memorable by the different experiences on offer: book a picnic, stroll through the gardens, or stock your veggie drawer by picking your own organic produce. All of this takes place in a setting that’s just magical. –www.casalinga.co.za

Best restaurant to go for a little romance and best sushi restaurant: Fireroom

Ready to set your relationship on fire? (Sorry, we couldn’t resist the pun!) Fireroom is best known for its Sushi on Fire – literally, sushi of your choice set aflame at your table – but its flambeed fillet on the bone is an equally famous dish. We’d personally end the night with Bar-One sliders (tempura battered Bar-One bites) every time! And the ambience? Just right for wooing. – www.fireroom.co.za

Best seafood restaurant: Ocean Basket

Ocean Basket is one of our perennial winners, and it’s easy to see why. Offering the very best quality seafood with a Mediterranean twist, this chain has become known as one of the top spots to gather with friends and family, break bread and celebrate life. With people visiting Ocean Basket restaurants in 16 different countries, it’s clear we’re not the only ones who think so. Not bad for a chain that started out as a family owned venture! – www.oceanbasket.co.za

Best sit-down pizzeria: Col’Cacchio

You’ve been warned: this is no ordinary pizza, nor is it an ordinary dining experience! That’s because the choices on the pizza menu are excitingly imaginative (we love ‘The Moghul’ with butter chicken, yoghurt, fior di latte, coriander and crispy onion) – but it doesn’t stop there. The pasta and salad options are equally creative. – www.colcacchio.co.za

Best steak restaurant: Turn n Tender

Our mouths water just thinking about this Johannesburg Old Faithful. After more than 40 years of serving up the best cuts of meat, these guys have perfected their recipe, and it all hinges on a classic steakhouse experience, with an atmosphere that’s at once warm and welcoming, and efficient. – www.turnntender.co.za

Best vegan restaurant: Lexi’s Healthy Eatery

For many of us, the thought of healthy food is more appealing than the food itself. Not at Lexi’s, where you feel as if you are becoming more vital with every delicious mouthful. We love that doing good for the planet can become a full-on flavour experience! Best bet? The Black Beauty Bowl, featuring spicy greens drizzled with peanut butter sauce. – www.facebook.com/lexiseatery, lexis.rosebank@famousbrands.co.za

Best Vegetarian Restaurant: Fresh Earth Food Store

Most of us feel that a vegetarian diet is, well, a little limiting, right? One visit to Fresh Earth Food Store puts paid to that idea. The menu is crammed with scrumptious goodies, from breakfasts (the Super Greens Omlette with all your favorite veg and a drizzle of pesto and herb tahina ticks all our boxes) to decadent treats. The harvest table can’t be beat! – www.freshearth.co.za, 74 Hillcrest Ave Blairgowrie, 011 646 4404