Due to poor planning, I probably won’t have time to visit a roadhouse in March. But if you’re eagerly awaiting the next installment in my Roadhouses of Gauteng series, the Chilli Pepper Restaurant on Immink Drive in Diepkloof, Soweto, is a great substitute.

Outside the Chilli Pepper Restaurant
Saturday night at the Chilli Pepper on Immink Drive. Similar to a roadhouse, many of Chilli Pepper’s customers are eating in (or around) their cars.

Immink Drive, a trendy Soweto street lined with restaurants and shops — like Melville’s 7th Street or Parkhurst’s 4th Avenue — is the place to be on a Saturday night. And Chilli Pepper, self-proclaimed home of “Kasilicious Flame-Grilled Chicken”, is the place to be on Immink Drive. (“Kasi” is a South African slang term for township.)

My boyfriend Thorsten is working on a film project in and around Immink Drive. Ever since he told me about Chilli Pepper, I’d been waiting for him to schedule a mission there so I could invite myself along. I finally got my chance last weekend.

Chilli Pepper is known for its spicy pulled chicken, which is served in kotas, wraps, skewers, sandwiches, salads, and “casadillas” — quesadillas with a Chilli Pepper flair. The menu also includes 1/2- and 1/4-chicken meals, chicken strips, chicken fillets, chicken wings, chicken livers, and a variety of sides.

Basically Chilli Pepper is like Nando’s, but way cheaper and more fun. (Most single dishes cost around R40, and nothing on the menu costs more than R100.)

Staff member at Chilli Pepper on Immink Drive
Inside Chilli Pepper.
Line at Chilli Papper Restaurant

My group ordered two chicken platters for two, which included chicken wings, skewers, casadillas, and chips (fries). The two platters provided plenty of food for four hungry people.

Chicken platter for two at Chilli Pepper
A chicken platter for two, which costs only R83.
Cross-section of the pulled chicken casadilla, the best thing I ate at Chilli Pepper. It was spicy and cheesy and delicious.

Thorsten’s colleague Ntate had the “Nu’skul kota”, a hollowed-out loaf of bread filled with chicken breast, chips, lettuce, gherkins, and cheese sauce. If you want to read more about the kota, one of South Africa’s most iconic street dishes, click here and here.

The Nu’skul kota.

Even during covid, Immink Drive is totally insane on Saturday nights. Fancy cars lined the block while we were there, and dozens of people hung around outside eating chicken, drinking beer out of their car boots, and smoking shish-a.

It was a fun vibe but I was glad to retreat inside the restaurant where it was possible to social-distance. (The restaurant doors were open so the space was well ventilated.) I had to venture outside to take a few pictures though.

The green hill at the end of the street is actually a mine dump, which looked strangely beautiful after all the rain we’ve had this summer.
Guys outside Chilli Pepper
This is Sanele. He asked me to take his photo and Whatsapp it to him, which I promised to do. But I must have taken his number down wrong because the message I sent hasn’t gone through. If anyone out there knows Sanele, please send him this link.

I highly recommend the Chilli Pepper. It’s easy to find on Google Maps and is only 20 minutes from central Joburg. Just don’t go on a Saturday night if you want to sit outside — at least not until the pandemic is over.

I look forward to exploring more of Immink Drive on a future visit.

The Chilli Pepper is at 15369 Immink Drive, Soweto. Call 011-985-0162.

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