Seventh in an occasional blog series called This Is the East, about hidden spots on Johannesburg’s East Rand. This edition features Hodad’s, a locally owned fast-food joint in Edenvale.

I love supporting small, locally owned businesses that do their jobs better than big, international corporations. Hodad’s in Edenvale is a perfect example of this.

Hodad's restaurant on Van Riebeek Street in Edenvale.
Hodad’s on Van Riebeek Avenue in Edenvale.

Why would you buy a bland, assembly-line-style burger and fries from McDonald’s or Burger King when you can buy the same meal — only way better — from a charming, independently owned shop for basically the same price?

Hell if I know. Go to Hodad’s.

Hodad’s, Born in Edenvale

Hodad’s is owned by a guy named Dylan, who used to work for Nando’s (a South African fast-food chicken restaurant) and hence ate chicken for lunch almost every day. After work Dylan often craved a good beef burger, and he went everywhere looking but couldn’t find one to his liking. Dylan swore to himself that if he ever opened his own restaurant, he would serve the best beef burgers in town.

Dylan, owner of Hodad's, and his staff.
Dylan and his staff. Dylan was in the kitchen making burgers on the day I visited.

In 2014 Dylan opened Hodad’s, on a friendly little food strip in Van Riebeek Avenue, Edenvale’s main drag. And although Hodad’s does serve flame-grilled chicken, like Dylan’s old employer, burgers are their specialty. I ate one and it was delicious.

Hodad’s offers a large selection of burgers, with toppings like mushroom and bacon and avocado and biltong. They also offer a Mexican burger with jalapeños and a Dagwood burger with a fried egg on top.

I ordered the bacon-avo burger, which in addition to bacon and avocado has tasty fried onions and a light coating of mayo and barbecue sauce. (I used to hate how South African burgers always come with sauce on them — I prefer to add my own ketchup. But nine years after moving here, the South African burger sauciness has finally started to grow on me.)

Burger and fries from Hodad's.
My meal. The burger cost R60 (about $4) and the side of chips was R17 (about $1).

Hodad’s has friendly service, nice branding, and a pleasant atmosphere — far more pleasant than your average fast food joint. There’s a TV on the wall, and a group of young guys was watching soccer while I was there. I liked that the staff weren’t bugging the guys to leave even through they were only drinking Coke and not eating.

I also liked the fact that I watched a delivery guy walk in to drop off a cardboard box full of vegetables for the kitchen. You’d never see that at McDonald’s. Clearly Hodad’s uses local produce and supports other businesses in the area.

Decor in Hodad's
I’m guessing Dylan’s wife, whose name I forgot to ask, has something to do with the particularly pleasant vibe in Hodad’s.

Hodad’s serves breakfast, affordable toasted sandwiches, salads, milkshakes, and all the other usual South African fast food items. It’s the perfect place for a quick, affordable meal. When are you coming to Melville, Dylan?

Hodad’s is at 65 Van Riebeek Avenue, Edenvale. Call 081-737-7903 or follow them on Instagram.

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