The Pure and Cool Roadhouse, Malvern

by | Jun 7, 2021 | Food and Drink, Johannesburg, Roadhouses of Gauteng | 8 comments

Fifth in my “Roadhouses of Gauteng” series. Browse all of my roadhouse posts or view a map of the roadhouses I’ve visited.

Malvern — a suburb east of downtown Joburg, sandwiched between Kensington and the industrial suburbs of Denver and Cleveland — is rather downtrodden. Jules Street, the main road through Malvern, is populated mainly by chop shops, small factories/warehouses, and dilapidated apartment blocks.

Unless you’re shopping for auto parts or a used car, there are very few reasons to go to Malvern (especially for those of us on the west side of town). But Pure and Cool Roadhouse is one of those few reasons.

Entrance to Pure and Cool on Stanhope Road
Entrance to the roadhouse on Stanhope Road, just off Jules Street.
Pure and Cool raodhouse, Malvern
Pure and Cool Roadhouse.
William Ratsoma, waiter at Pure and Cool
William Ratsoma, a waiter at Pure and Cool, has been working there for 43 years.

Early Dinner and Milkshakes at Pure and Cool

Thorsten and I drove out to Pure and Cool on a Friday afternoon, fighting surprisingly heavy month-end traffic to get there before sunset. Our friend Gail, who lives in Kensington, met us there for a milkshake.

Gail at Pure and Cool
I like the way Gail’s lime-green milkshake contrasts with her pink hair. Thorsten and I ordered chocolate milkshakes and they were great.

I first learned about Pure and Cool in an informative blog post Gail wrote about Malvern in 2018. Thanks to Gail’s post I know Pure and Cool used to be a branch of the legendary Doll House roadhouse chain, before being sold to new owners and renamed about 40 years ago. You can see this history in Pure and Cool’s distinctive doll’s house design. (The Lollipop Roadhouse in Pretoria, which I blogged about a few months ago, also used to be under Doll House ownership and has a similar design.)

Pure and Cool
Those signature dormer windows are a clue that Pure and Cool was once a Doll House branch. Check out some great pictures of the original Orange Grove Doll House, which sadly closed in 2017, in this Sunday Times article.

We went to Pure and Cool at an odd hour, after lunch and before dinner. But there was still a steady trickle of customers pulling up in cars and eating at the cluster of tables on the edge of the lot.

Citigolfs at Pure and Cool
These two young guys pulled up together in twin VW Citi Golfs, had a quick snack, and left again. I like to think they were on their way to a drag race. For some stupid reason I didn’t go over and ask them.

Pure and Cool has a fantastic menu. It offers the usual burgers, pizzas, and toasted sandwiches that all roadhouses have, along with a list of special sandwiches with names like “Winston Spl”, “Kennie Spl”, and “Jughead Spl”. I went with the “Popeye Spl”, a toasted sandwich with mince (ground beef with a tangy sauce, kind of like Sloppy Joe), egg, cheese, and tomato for R53 (about $3.85).

Popeye Spl sandwich from Pure and Cool
The Popeye Spl — simple but deceptively delicious.
Prego from Pure and Cool
Thorsten pronounced his beef prego roll (basically a steak sandwich with a Portuguese name) to be “okay”. You can’t win ’em all. The chips were great though.

I was a little disappointed when my sandwich arrived and it didn’t come with chips. But I didn’t need chips, as it turned out; the Popeye was perfect on its own. The bread was perfectly toasted, the egg was perfectly fried, the meat was perfectly seasoned. Even the tomato slices were perfectly red and juicy — highly unusual in South Africa. I find that South African sandwich tomatoes are usually a disappointing shade of pale pink, with taste to match, even in “nice” restaurants.

I felt super happy after eating the Popeye. I think it was the most flavorful roadhouse sandwich I’ve had yet.

Heather eating at toasted sandwich at Pure and Cool roadhouse, Malvern
Can you tell I’m happy? (Photo: Gail Wilson)

Unfortunately the lights in the Pure and Cool neon sign aren’t working right now. Nonetheless, I loved the building with its jaunty red stripes and old-school painted signs. I took tons of pictures.

Pure and Cool from the side
2021 or 1981? Hard to tell.
Pure and Cool
A lonely Pure and Cool staff member.
Roadhouse entrance sign
At least the sign at the entrance lit up.

The streak continues: I have yet to visit a roadhouse that doesn’t delight me. Please give Pure and Cool a try. They’re on Uber Eats.

Pure and Cool is at 105 Stanhope Road, Malvern East. Call 072-064-2820.


  1. dizzylexa

    Love the photo of William and the two Golf’s.

      • Cynthia Ryan

        One of my happiest food memories is the toasted curry sandwich at the Pure and Cool in the early 70’s. I’d love to think it’s still on the menu. I used to work in Germiston Industries East.

        • 2summers

          Yep, it’s still there!

  2. Maureen Dubery

    One of our favourite roadhouse. Stop there for toasted sarmies then to the drive in just down the road. Those were the best Fridays

    • 2summers

      I’m sad I missed the drive-in years!

  3. Orlando Geraldo

    Got a photo of me and wife after we just got married and were en-route to Rhodes Park – stopped at Pure ‘n Cool for a quick milkshake. Taken in 1993. If I could upload I would

    • 2summers

      That’s so cool! Would love to see it.


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