Five Secret Spots for a Romantic Dinner in Jozi

I’ve had the privilege of eating at a lot of nice Joburg restaurants over the years, especially around Melville and the northern suburbs. For some reason, I’ve found that the best restaurants tend to be the ones that are trickiest to find. The best restaurants also tend to put little focus on publicizing themselves (or simply don’t know how to), and hence not many people know about them.

For the past few weeks I’ve had a list of romantic, hidden Jozi restaurants bumping around in my head. Here are my top five favorites. (I like to present my lists in fives.)

1) Eatery JHB
Corner 11th Street and Victoria Avenue, Sandton

I’ve written about Eatery JHB before, but I’d like to reiterate that this is one of the best restaurants in Sandton and way better than anything you can find at Nelson Mandela Square, which is only five minutes away.

Eatery JHB is hard to find because it’s around the corner from the other restaurants on 11th Street, in a rather dark spot on Victoria Avenue. If you don’t see it right away, just walk a few steps further. You won’t be disappointed. I love the unpretentious atmosphere as much as I love the food.

Eatery JHB outside

The glass entrance to Eatery JHB.

Eatery JHB meal

My first-ever meal at Eatery JHB: a mussels and calamari dish. The menu changes regularly.

2) La Luna of Melville
9 7th Street, Melville

UPDATE (JULY 2017): Sadly, La Luna was forced to close suddenly last month due to a sudden hike in rent. Let’s hope this excellent restaurant is able to re-open soon in another location.

La Luna is the least physically hidden of all the restaurants listed here; it’s actually in quite a prominent spot in the middle of Melville’s main drag. But La Luna gets lost amidst all the more boisterous bars and restaurants surrounding it. I’ve been meaning to write about it for ages but somehow never have until now.

La Luna was founded by the former chefs of the Westcliff Hotel, after the Westcliff closed a couple of years ago to become a new Four Seasons Hotel. Chefs Klaus Beckmann and Lindy Pretorius, besides being great cooks, are friendly and hilarious people who bring an interesting energy to the restaurant.

The menu is mainly Italian but also diverse and eclectic. Like all the restaurants on this list, La Luna is the perfect place to go to impress a date.

La Luna steak small

I recently attended a lunch at La Luna after an exhibition at the new Mzansi Gallery across the street. I couldn’t believe how delicious and fun our meal was. This grilled steak dish was the main course.

3) The Great Eastern Food Bar
Bamboo Centre, 53 Rustenberg Road, Melville

While I’m on the subject of romantic restaurants in Melville (I’m biased toward Melville because I live here), the Great Eastern Food Bar is another one of my favorites. I wrote about it last year when it first opened but I’ve had several romantic meals there since. Ray and I go whenever we can afford it.

The Great Eastern Food Bar — or GE for short — is easy to miss because it’s on the top level of the Bamboo Centre, at the back. Just park in the lot behind Bamboo and walk across the footbridge to the top left corner of the centre.

GE serves an ever-changing Asian fusion menu and the open-air balcony looks right out over the Melville Koppies. My only complaint about GE is that I think the portion sizes are too small for the prices. That won’t stop me from going back again and again.

Great Eastern Food Bar view

The view from GE.

Phat Thai

I love GE’s noodle dishes.

4) La Vie En Rose
Killarney Country Club, 60 5th Street [NEW ADDRESS AS OF 1 JUNE 2016]

As with several of these restaurants, I first discovered La Vie En Rose while doing research for SandtonPlaces. La Vie En Rose is homey and charming and the owners, Yanky and Rony, add to the charm. The restaurant’s seating is mostly outdoors in a pretty garden — perfect for summer. The food is tasty and creative; I particularly love the iced tea menu.

I had a great lunch at La Vie En Rose last year, and Ray and I went again last month for dinner with a group called Come Wine With Us. We’re planning to go back as soon as we can for dinner by ourselves.

La Vie En Rose meal

A wine and steak dinner at La Vie En Rose. This particular meal was more raucous than romantic but I still loved it.

5) The Winehouse
10 Bompas Road, Dunkeld West 

The Winehouse is the most secret of all these secret spots. Located at the Ten Bompas boutique hotel in Dunkeld West, there is no way to know that there is a public restaurant inside. (Again, no sign.) I suspect that the owners are intentionally trying to keep the place a secret for some reason, but I’m going to foil their intent. The Winehouse is one of my favorite high-end restaurants in Joburg and I think the world should know about it.

The Winehouse is named for an arresting painting of Amy Winehouse, which presides over the entire restaurant, that the owners bought a few years ago in Paris. The restaurant also has a lovely terrace that overlooks the hotel’s gardens and pool.

But atmosphere aside, the food and service are the best things about the Winehouse. I just ate there a few nights ago with my friend Erin (we were both celebrating something) and we had such a good time with Abby, our waiter. The food and wine were great too, and comparatively affordable.

Winehouse Abby

Abby presents our wine.

Winehouse interior

The Winehouse namesake.

These are only five of a countless number of hidden romantic spots in Joburg. There are many more so keep your eyes peeled. Just like every other city, Joburg’s best places are its hidden places.

Dinner at these restaurants will cost R200-R300 per person, possibly more. Looking for something more affordable? Check out my cheap eats post.

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12 Comments

  • Reply namz March 2, 2015 at 6:32 pm

    Such a great list. ..and I seem to have been to all but one – the Winehouse! And actually its thanks to you that I tried Eatery JHB and GE!

    • Reply 2summers March 3, 2015 at 9:41 am

      Oh, you must try the Winehouse — you’ll love it! It’s a great spot for lunch too, and it’s even open for breakfast although I’ve never tried it.

  • Reply Caz July 4, 2015 at 10:13 am

    Just discovered this page accidently and am enjoying reading. JHB has so many wonderful places that catch you off guard. You MUST TRY Pulp Fiction in Melville and Hell’s Kitchen’s Sunday Specials 🙂
    Thanks for the info!

    • Reply 2summers July 4, 2015 at 10:14 am

      Thanks Caz. I love the tacos at Hell’s Kitchen – haven’t been to Pulp Fiction yet but it’s on the list!

  • Reply A Cheap, Easy Way to Have Fun in Joburg – 2 Summers September 19, 2015 at 8:45 pm

    […] and massaging. Fortunately our next stop was La Vie en Rose, one of my favourite Jozi restaurants. I’ve written about Le Vie en Rose before so I won’t go into too much detail. We enjoyed a fantastic lunch in the […]

  • Reply Tshepi October 27, 2015 at 1:03 pm

    my first experience at La Luna of Melville was just AMAZING… i was passing by looking for a Chinese joint and boom!!! i spotted this amazing, intimate restaurant… i couldn’t believe that its even situated in Melville. Great and Lovely spot. Couldn’t stop raving about it.

  • Reply Garbs April 9, 2016 at 10:00 pm

    Try ” BIFE ON 14th” recently opened in Northcliff, check out Facebook page.

  • Reply daltonkadams April 25, 2016 at 12:19 pm

    Went to La Luna this Saturday for my anniversary dinner, based on this blog entry. Suffice to say, it was incredibly good, and lived to up to my expectations (not to sound like a snob, but I’m pretty discerning when it comes to food). My husband had a mind-blowingly tasty filet and I had trout on a bed of pickled cucumber (sounds odd but it was really good), insalata caprese for starter, and a shared bayleaf-infused pannacotta with strawberries for dessert. Oh, and LOTS of pinot grigio for me 🙂 I love that they sell carafes of wine. Thank you for your suggestion!

    • Reply 2summers April 25, 2016 at 12:24 pm

      Yay! I’m so happy to hear that. ???

  • Reply Joburg Cravings on Twitter – Joburg Cravings October 18, 2016 at 12:32 am

    […] final tweet is by 2Summers and is a post about 5 secret spots to have romantic meal. It is always good to know where to go for a good meal, that is also […]

  • Reply Amber S Lomax March 12, 2017 at 3:24 am

    I am visiting Johannesburg soon with my husband for our anniversary and we would like to go out and dress up for dinner and or a some type of show one night. Do you have any suggestions for a place to wear a dressy cocktail dress?

    • Reply 2summers March 12, 2017 at 10:38 am

      Hmm, Joburg is a pretty casual city but that doesn’t mean you can’t dress up for a night on the town. Do you like live music? If so you might want to go to a show at the Orbit Jazz Club in Braamfontein. There are also good shows on at the Joburg Theatre – right now they have Westside Story playing and I’ve heard it’s great. For dinner, I haven’t been to Marble in Rosebank yet but I’ve heard it’s great and very upscale. Just a few ideas – hope that helps!

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