I’m about to hit a big blogging milestone: 500 posts in less than five years. 2Summers is also approaching 500,000 lifetime hits. To celebrate these occasions, I’m planning a series of “top five” posts about my favorite things in Joburg.

Hence, herewith are my top five cheap eats restaurants in Joburg. Some of these are places I’ve written about before and others are new to the blog. You can comfortably eat lunch or dinner at all of these restaurants for less than R65 ($6.00), including a drink.

Disclaimer: These are my five favorites but there are many other fantastic cheap restaurants in Joburg. If there are other places you’d like to suggest, feel free to add them in the comments section below or tag me on Twitter or Instagram.

1) Shayona
74 Church Street, Mayfair
-Open for lunch and dinner

Shayona samoosas small Shayona samoosas.

Shayona is an Indian vegetarian restaurant run by the Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS), an organisation that is part of the Swaminarayan sect of Hinduism. There is no meat served at Shayona, nor is there any onion or garlic; eating onion and garlic goes against the Swaminarayans’ spiritual practice. Shocking as this may sound, Shayona’s meat-free/garlic-free/onion-free curry is some of the best curry I’ve tasted in Joburg, as are the masala tea and Indian sweetmeats.

I recommend Shayona’s Deluxe Lunch curry platter. The platter costs R65 and serves two people, including several different curries, biryani, and samoosas.

I did a full review of Shayona on JHBLive.com.

Shayona curry small

 Veg curry and roti from Shayona.

2) Olives and Plates (Wits Art Museum)
Corner of Jorrisen & Bertha Streets, Braamfontein
-Open for breakfast and lunch

Olives and Plates small

A typical plate from the WAM buffet.

I’ll be writing about the Wits Art Museum (WAM) in a future top five post; it’s a fantastic museum and one of Joburg’s best kept secrets. But the café attached to the museum, run by Wits University catering company Olives and Plates, is a best-kept secret in its own right.

This is much more than a museum cafeteria — it’s a bright, glass-enclosed hall, filled with cheerful Wits University students and staff, serving the best buffet lunch in downtown Joburg. I’m amazed by how fresh and tasty everything is, and how cheap. A good-sized plate from the buffet, with a meat dish and a few colorful salads, costs about R35.

The only downside to the WAM café is that the buffet is only open on weekdays. (The café is open on Saturday mornings but without the buffet.)

3) King James XVI
Maverick Corner, Corner of Commissioner and Albrecht Streets, Maboneng
-Open for lunch

coffee pour

Ethiopian coffee served by King James.

I’ve written about King James XVI before so I won’t repeat myself. But this little known restaurant off a hidden courtyard in Maboneng is my favorite place in town to eat Ethiopian food. The food is delicious and cheap (usually about R25 for whatever dish happens to be available), the coffee is authentically Ethiopian, and James is the most charming restaurant owner in town.


Beef dish at King James XVI.

4) La Camerounaise
Rockey Street near the corner of Bezuidenhout Street (across from House of Tandoor), Yeoville
-Open for lunch and dinner

Table of fish small

Grilled fish platters from La Camerounaise.

I wrote briefly about La Camerounaise in a post about a Yeoville food tour, and I later reviewed it for JHBLive.com. La Camerounaise serves some of the cheapest and best fish in a city where good seafood is hard to come by. And like all the restaurants in Yeoville, La Camerounaise is open late. If you’re nervous about going to Yeoville, don’t be. It’ really not as bad as you think. And trust me, this fish is worth it.

Fish remains vertical

Fish platter remains.

5) Curry-n-All
Sandton Court, Corner South Road and Rivonia Road, Morningside
-Open for lunch and dinner

Curry-n-All bunny chow small

A famous Curry-n-All bunny chow. It tastes as good as it looks.

Again, I’ve blogged about Curry-n-All before and you can read all about it here. Curry-n-All is especially noteworthy because cheap eats are hard to find in Sandton, and this is the most authentic Durban bunny chow you’ll find in Joburg. Note that Curry-n-All moved to a new location in Morningside earlier this year.

Bunny Chow

Another look at Curry-n-All’s lamb curry bunny chow.

Bonus restaurant: World of Samoosas
Shop S186, Oriental Plaza, Corner of Main Street and Lilian Street, Fordsburg
-Open for lunch

Zaheer World of Samoosas small

Zaheer, one of the manager/owners at World of Samoosas, calls out an order on a busy Saturday morning.

Okay, I cheated because it was too hard to choose just five. And World of Samoosas deserves a mention because: 1) These are the best samoosas in Joburg; 2) World of Samoosas is in the Oriental Plaza, which is one of my favorite places in Joburg (read more about the Plaza here and here); and 3) samoosas cost R3.50 (about $.30) each.

I hate to use this cliché but the spinach and feta samoosas from World of Samoosas are TO DIE FOR. Read a bit more about World of Samoosas in this post.

samoosa sm

A spinach and feta samoosa with spicy chutney. Heaven.

More top five posts coming soon.

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