Giuliano eating pizza at Bistro Dolce Vita restaurant in Morningside

Jozi Restaurant Round-Up

When I first started 2Summers, I blogged about practically every Jozi restaurant I went to. (Even Spur.) I’m a bit more selective these days, as writing about every restaurant in town is neither feasible nor desirable. But I’ve been to quite a few interesting Jozi restaurants in the past few weeks, and as I don’t have time to write eight individual posts I’m lumping them all into one.

Here’s a quick round-up before I dash off on my annual month-long pilgrimage to America.

Jozi Restaurant #1: Che Argentine Grill in Parkwood

Che is not new but it has a new location — the trendy Parkwood retail strip on Jan Smuts, near Rosebank. Many of you will remember Che from its former location on Fox Street in Maboneng, and before that its stall at Maboneng’s Market on Main. Luckily the new location maintains the same cozy, rustic feel as the old one.

Inside Che Argentine Grill in Parkwood
Inside Che’s new Parkwood restaurant.

Che is owned by two South American guys, Oscar and Bernardo, who now live in Joburg. Their multi-flavored empanadas are magical, as is their meat — grilled in the traditional Argentinean way over a blazing fire.

Empanadas from Che
Flaky fried empanadas with a variety of fillings (some with meat, some without).
Food at Che
An Argentinean feast. The chimichurri sauce is delicious.

Che is at 128 Jan Smuts Avenue, Parkwood.

Jozi Restaurant #2: Pablo Dos Manos in Melville

I’m hesitant to write about Pablo Dos Manos because it is such an incredible secret. Owned by the same people who own Pablo Eggs Go Bar, Pablo Dos Manos is inside Pablo House, a Melville B&B at the top of a steep hill overlooking the Koppies. (In addition to having a fantastic restaurant, Pablo House is a fantastic place to sleep.)

Corridor at Pablo House
A corridor at Pablo House.
The restaurant in Pablo House.
The secret restaurant in Pablo House — possibly the most stunning place to eat in all of Joburg.

From the outside you’d never know this guesthouse has a restaurant that’s open to the public, and the owners don’t widely publicize it. But Pablo Dos Manos is indeed open to everyone and it serves delicious pizza and cocktails, among other things.

Pizza from Pablo Dos Manos, a Jozi restaurante inside Pablo House in Melville.
Pablo’s pizza.

Don’t show up at Pablo without booking ahead because there aren’t a ton of tables, and come via Uber if possible because parking is extremely limited.

Pablo Dos Manos is at 3 4th Avenue, Melville.

Jozi Restaurant #3: Maximillien in Sandton

The fancy Sandton restaurant scene isn’t normally my thing. But I accepted an invite to Maximillien, in the Davinci Hotel in Sandton City, because I thought it would be a fun and unusual (at least for me) night out. This dinner completely exceeded my expectations.

Piano man at Maximillien.
Maximillien has a real live piano man, just like in the Billy Joel song. I loved this so much.

Maximillien had released its new, New-York-City-inspired menu a few days before we went. Between the two of us, Nice-Guy-Kevin and I ate beef short ribs, grilled lamb, oxtail stew, and the “Big Apple” dessert — a perfectly round, candy-apple-red chocolate shell with apple compote and cream inside. The entire meal was outstanding and well priced for a high-end Sandton steakhouse.

Beef short ribs at Maximillien.
Mouth-watering beef short ribs, on special at Maximillien.
The Big Apple dessert at Maximillien
The Big Apple dessert. (Photo: Kevin Millner)
Inside the Big Apple dessert
It was difficult to capture the inside of the apple but it looked and tasted glorious. (Photo: Kevin Millner)

Maximillien is at the corner of Maude and 5th Streets, Sandton.

Jozi Restaurant #4: The Prawnery in Illovo

Good seafood restaurants are hard to come by in Joburg. The Prawnery, which opened a few months ago, is one of them. The Prawnery’s menu centers around prawns and other shellfish.

Inside the Prawnery
Inside the Prawnery.
Asian king prawn dumplings, which were delicious but I hate it when tapas are served in threes.

The Prawnery is the only place I know of in Joburg that serves soft shell crab. It’s served differently from the soft shell crabs I grew up eating in Baltimore (in pieces, rather than whole) but I was delighted with it.

Soft shell crab from the Prawnery
Soft shell crab with wasabi mayo and ponzu sauce.

The Prawnery is in Illovo Junction on Oxford Road, Illovo. It gets busy so book ahead.

Jozi Restaurant #5: Bistro Dolce Vita in Morningside

Bistro Dolce Vita is an interesting little café hidden inside a fancy high-rise apartment building in Morningside.

Man on his phone at Bistro Dolce Vita
A distinguished-looking customer at Bistro Dolce Vita.

I discovered Bistro Dolce Vita because I met two of the owners, Jackie and Clayton (who also own the popular Dolci Café in Craighall Park), at my friend Julie’s wedding, and they invited me for dinner. When I arrived I realized I also know Sergio, Jackie and Clayton’s co-owner and the café’s general manager, because he owned Treviso Café in Doornfontein. (Treviso is no longer open but Sergio still bakes his famous bread there.)

Giuliano eating pizza at Bistro Dolce Vita restaurant in Morningside
Sergio’s son Giuliano enjoys a hot slice of Margherita.

Sergio is a true South-African-Italian and the menu at Bistro Dolce Vita reflects this. The night I was there, Bistro Dolce Vita was hosting a pop-up with O’Ver! pizza, which serves authentic Neapolitan pizza. Bistro Dolce Vita also offers an interesting mix of non-Italian dishes and even hosted a French pop-up chef last week. Follow their Instagram feed for menu updates.

Bistro Dolce Vita is at 21 West Road South, Morningside, inside the Regent building.

Jozi Restaurant #6: Reception in Kensington

I can’t say much about Reception yet. I only went once and there was a crowded event happening so I wasn’t able to get a good feel for the place. I’ll go back next month and write a full post about it.

Peacamaker Fibaza, chef and manager at Reception.
Peacamaker Fibaza, chef at Reception.

In the meantime, please go. Reception, on Kensington’s legendary Queen Street, has a special vibe. It has a huge double-decker bus in the back garden with a tattoo shop inside. And the food at Reception is great.

Fish and chips from Reception
Perfectly cooked fish and chips. If I’d known about this a few weeks ago I might have included Reception in my fish and chips post.
Fried mac and cheese from Reception
Gail ordered the fried mac and cheese balls, which she raved about.

Reception is at 141 Queen Street, Kensington.

Jozi Restaurant #7: Winner Winner

I was sad when Perron, a popular Joburg Mexican restaurant, closed its Melville location recently and opened Winner Winner — a chicken restaurant — in its place. But now I think I might like Winner Winner even better than Perron.

Winner Winner restaurant in Melville.
Winner Winner on 4th Avenue in Melville.

Winner Winner is the chicken version of the Prawnery, with a twist: Much of the food on Winner Winner’s menu is vegetarian or vegan. There’s “Vegan Crispy Fried Chicken”, which tastes very much like the real thing, and a sandwich called the “Lindsay Lo-Hen”, with “smokey banana peels” that reportedly taste like chicken. I haven’t gotten up the courage to try that yet.

Dinner at Winner Winner
My first dinner at Winner Winner. The vegan chicken bites are in the middle. The sandwich on the left is the “Yolko Ono”, with barbecued oyster mushrooms and Asian slaw, and the sandwich on the right is the “Princess Lay-A”, a southern fried chicken burger. At the top are crispy fries and a pot of delectable baked mac and cheese.
Cocktail at Winner Winner
Winner Winner also has great cocktails. This is a “Summer Ale Spritz” with aperol, ale, rosemary syrup, and fresh lime.

My favorite dish from Winner Winner is the “Buttermilk Chicken Poutine”. I’m not going to describe it here — this post is getting too long. Trust me though — don’t miss this meal.

Winner Winner is at the corner of 5th Street and 4th Avenue, Melville.

Jozi Restaurant #8: The Shwarma Bar in Fairmount

Again, I’m not going to tell you much about the Shwarma Bar because I intend to do a full post about it upon my return. But if you go to only one restaurant on this list, choose the Shwarma Bar. It’s run by a lady from Ghana and a man from Benin, both of whom are Jewish. They serve Israeli-style shawarmas and a variety of other kosher dishes, as well as West African cuisine.

My friend Tecla and I went last Friday and ordered laffas (basically the same as shawarma but with different bread). We agreed they were the best laffas we’ve ever had.

Falafel laffa from Shwarma Bar
My falafel laffa. It was so, so good.
Tecla eating a laffa from the Shwarma Bar
Tecla’s expression says it all.

More to come on the Shwarma Bar, which is at 10 Bradfield Drive, Fairmount.

Thus concludes my Jozi restaurant round-up. Bon appetit.

My meals at Che, Bistro Dolce Vita, and Maximillien were complimentary. Opinions expressed are mine.

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9 Comments

  • Reply Passport Overused October 9, 2019 at 2:31 pm

    Great post 😊

  • Reply eremophila October 9, 2019 at 10:03 pm

    Have a good trip, and stay safe☺

  • Reply AutumnAshbough October 9, 2019 at 11:44 pm

    The view from Pablo House is amazing. And I want fried Mac & cheese balls.

    I see how you snuck in the return of Nice-Guy-Kevin. LOL

    • Reply 2summers October 10, 2019 at 1:52 pm

      Hahaha I know. He keeps coming back, it’s crazy 😂

      • Reply AutumnAshbough October 10, 2019 at 5:01 pm

        I read the funniest Tweet from a woman today: “I don’t date men, I foster them until they find their forever homes.”

  • Reply Natalie Hilton-Barber October 13, 2019 at 2:46 pm

    And if you do go to The Shwarma Bar in Fairmount, pop into Shulas Bakery next door. Their cheese bintzes are so good, and their fish balls are amazing. And their bagels are everything!

    • Reply 2summers October 13, 2019 at 3:02 pm

      Ooh! I was wondering about that place – will try it for sure.

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