Old faithfuls: 8 Joburg restaurants that have stood the test of time

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Joburg’s restaurant scene is booming – there’s always somewhere new to try. Sometimes, though, you want the familiarity of the tried and trusted. These are the restaurants that we keep turning to again, and again.

1. Espresso Cafe & Bistro Parkhurst
Would Parkhurst be Parkhurst without 'Espresso’s'? Doubtful – while other restaurants on the strip come and go, this landmark eatery has become an icon of the suburb. Hungry patrons scrabble over the pavement tables every weekend in their eagerness to get their fix of the legendary cubed fillet; tender morsels of meat seasoned to absolute perfection with chilli, garlic and olive oil.

2. Thunder Gun Steakhouse
Best steak in Joburg? Thunder Gun, hands down. When the restaurant first opened in 1968, you could buy its famous fillet for just R1.75 – and while prices have obviously changed, the rest of the menu hasn’t. Regulars still flock to the Northcliff institution for Monday night specials and weekend carveries.

3. Radium Beer Hall
If you’re looking for a side order of history to go with your trinchado, the Radium is it! First opened in the 1920s, the restaurant doubled as a shebeen during its early days. Many regulars remember their own parents popping in for a night of jazz and whisky at the 100-year-old bar. The restaurant had something of a rebirth in 1994, when a new owner introduced Portuguese-inspired dishes along with live jazz evenings, ensuring that the legend lives on.


4. Coachman’s Inn
Deceptively humble from the outside, the x-factor that makes the Coachman’s Inn so special is palpable from the moment you enter. It could be the fact that the restaurant is still managed by the owner who launched it when Bryanston was just a collection of dusty roads – or it could be that, in a time of food fads, there’s still nothing more romantic than an evening of candlelight and French cuisine.

5. Restaurante Parreirinha
There’s a reason that Johannesburg’s southern suburbs are known as the place to go if you’re looking for authentic Portuguese food – and this restaurant is one of them. La Parreirinha is justifiably famous for its prawns and although everything on the menu delivers on taste, you’d be missing out if you didn’t order them. Douse them in the restaurant’s homemade peri-peri sauce.

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6. Bellinis 
Long before Illovo became a foodie favourite, there was Bellinis, welcoming the sidewalk cafe crowd with its cheerful awnings. Your menu must have? The smoked salmon rosti is all kinds of delicious.

7. Walnut Grove
Restaurants in malls generally aren’t a favourite, so the fact that most Sandtonites have a childhood memory of sipping tea at this Sandton City establishment shows that it must be doing something right! According to some patrons, that would be the cakes: from the cookie dough stack to the strawberry cake, they’re just heavenly!

8. Troyeville Hotel
There’s nothing fussy about the Troyeville Hotel – and that’s what regulars love about it. They come here for the kind of food a Portuguese mama would serve her family on any Wednesday night, knowing that everything on the menu can be relied on to be scrumptious. That said, it’s the baby chicken that made this restaurant famous, and which continues to draw the crowds.

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Do you think there should be other restaurants on this list? Email us and let us know what they are!