Tonino’s has been on my hit list forever.
I first noticed Tonino’s a few years ago during a visit to the fabulous Kalahari Books, which is across the street. The restaurant caught my eye immediately with its bright yellow facade. I made a mental note to check it out sometime, then forgot about it.
Then last month I saw this article in Hello Joburg magazine about Jozi’s top five dive bars, and Tonino’s made the list. I also noticed the restaurant has a buy-one-get-one-free deal on the Entertainer app. (Side note: The Entertainer app is awesome. Here is a post I wrote about it a few years ago.)
The universe seemed to be telling me I should go have fun at Tonino’s. So I did that.
Having Fun at Tonino’s
I first visited Tonino’s on a Friday night with a group of friends. I’m really not much of a bar fly normally, but I loved this place the moment I stepped through the door. The walls are full of character, decorated with interesting pictures and neon signs and old-school car bumpers with functioning lights. The bar area feels divey but not dingy. The crowd is rowdy but not rude, with a nice mix of ages and races. The beer costs R15 a bottle. Also, I hear there is karaoke although none that night as far as I could tell.
We sat in the balcony upstairs and looked down over the pool table, where an ancient man played like his life depended on it and danced funny jigs in between shots. We sang along to Kenny Rogers and enjoyed the beer and it was all so cheap and so much fun that I forgot to use my Entertainer discount. So I had to go back the next week for lunch.
I met my friend Tecla for pizza at Tonino’s on a freezing-cold Tuesday at noon. It wasn’t the same vibe as a Friday night but it wasn’t totally empty, either. The pizzas are tasty and well priced, with thin, very flaky crust. The service was fast and friendly.
Tonino’s bills itself as a Portuguese restaurant and there are quite a few legit-looking Portuguese dishes on the menu (trinchado, chicken livers, bacalhau, etc.), which I’ll have to try next time.
But even without the food, this is a restaurant worth visiting. It’s…real. I’ll be back.
Tonino’s is at 3 Dunottar Street, Orange Grove.