10 of the best places to grab a drink in Durban
Serving up everything from old-school coke floats to the hottest cocktails, here are the top spots to quench your thirst in Durban - plus what you should order while you're there.
Signature drink: Mocktail
The drama and opulence of Harvey's fine-dining restaurant continues in its cocktail bar, Harry's. At Harry's you are invited to repose, recline, put your feet up and try some of the best cocktails in town. Some smoke, others flame, some bubble, and as much care and craftsmanship goes into their mocktails - the alcohol-free versions. Favoured by patrons is the Citrus Berry Martini, an invigorating drink of raspberry syrup, fresh lemon juice and grapefruit juice. It's perfect at any time of the day and particularly tasty when accompanied by Harry's deep-fried, stuffed olives.
Visit: Umhlanga Centre, 189 Ridge Road, Umhlanga Rocks 031-561-4977
Signature drink: Bombay Crush
Family restaurant Kikis is most popular for its seekh kebabs, spicy flame-grilled chicken and tikka. Equally important to the savouring of your meal is washing it down with a creamy Bombay Crush (above), in which all sorts of deliciousness - including elachi syrup, ice cream and milk - are blended together for a decadent drink that could serve as dessert to finish off the meal.
Visit: 193 Sparks Road, 082-265-0119
3. DURBAN BOTANIC GARDENS
Signature drink: Coke float
The Kiosk at the botanic gardens is a Durban institution that has been selling pots of tea to raise money for TB patients for over 50 years. Little has changed in half a century. It's still run by volunteers, the crazy paving tables are still there, and you still queue for your cuppa and then share it with the bees, birds and vervets. It's possibly the only place in Durban where you can still get a Coke float, a simple Coca-Cola with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. A taste of pure nostalgia, especially when accompanied by fat crumpets with syrup and cream.
Visit: John Zikhale Road, 031-207-8771
4. PARC CAFE
Signature drink: Shakes
Glenwood is the current cool spot in Durban, dotted with venues that offer a chilled space, locally sourced produce and some of the tastiest food in town. Parc, an unpretentious little café run by a brother-and-sister team, is among the leading lights of the area. Blessed with a wild imagination and endless talent, the chef has created Parc's legendary "Not So Benedict" eggs, a sinful selection of cakes and irresistible milkshakes. The Cheesecake Shake - lemon curd and ice cream - is delicious but pipped at the post by the winning Free Shake, ice cream and avo. It has to be tried to be believed.
Visit: 394 Esther Roberts Road, 031-205-7285
5. UNITY BAR & BRASSERIE
Signature drink: Beer
The guys at Unity (above) are nuts about decreasing the carbon footprint by using local fare, and boast about their brewery. And they put their money where the beer is... a flight of craft beers is a lip-smacking sensation. Smaller-than-pint-sized tastes of That Blonde (a pale English ale, more sweet than bitter); That Good Adweiss (a wheat beer, sweet and fizzy); That Red (an Irish-style reddish ale with a smoky flavour) and That Apa (an American-style dark and fruity ale) go well with any of their appetisers.
Visit: Silvervause Centre, 117 Silverton Road, 031-201-3470
6. ANTIQUE CAFÉ
Signature drink: Iced coffee
The Antique Café is set in a lovely little Victorian house, down a quiet road near Windermere shopping centre. It's a quaint little space, where different rooms offer different shopping experiences - vintage or designer clothing, antiques and collectables. Something is bound to take your fancy. The café is a delightful mix and match of chairs, tables and crockery, spilling onto a little courtyard at the back. The food is simple and appealing - most notably the muffins, baked and served in mini ceramic pot planters. The iced coffee is delicious, rich, smooth, strong and as chilled as the location.
Visit: 93 Churchill Road, 031-303-5959
7. SURF RIDERS FOOD SHACK
Signature drink: Detox juice
Jog or cycle along Durban's beachfront promenade to this rustic café fronting the spectacular ocean. Filled with health-conscious runners, sun-bleached-blonde surfer types as well as families enjoying a stroll, the restaurant is known for a menu that offers healthy and fresh ingredients - so much so that Surf Riders has sprouted a pop-up gym. No wonder then that a health drink invented by general manager Sam Shaw, comprising orange juice, celery and mint, is the detox refreshment of choice for many patrons. Also popular is the beetroot and pineapple juice; a huge hit, particularly with their carb-conscious breakfast.
Visit: 17 Erskine Terrace, Addington, 071-376-8686
8. THE LIGHTHOUSE BAR
Signature drink: Umhlanga Schling
The red-and-white Umhlanga lighthouse is the town's most iconic and picturesque landmark. The bar's terrace overlooking it, and the panoramic view of the coastline, is spectacular while sipping sundowners. According to food-and-beverage manager Michael Smith, the experience is best enhanced with the bar's signature drink, the Umhlanga Schling. About 800 glasses of the drink, made with ingredients that best capture Durban - cane sugar, cane spirit, pineapple, mango, mint and soda water - are sold per month. It's best enjoyed with the bar's snack platter, consisting of samoosas, tempura prawns and halloumi. Yum.
Visit: Oyster Box Hotel, 2 Lighthouse Road, Umhlanga, 031-514-5000
Signature drink: Lassi
Curry is synonymous with Durban and one of the city's older Indian restaurants, Palki, is well worth a visit for its fiery rogan josh or creamy butter chicken. If their spicy fare leaves you sweating, then it's the yoghurt-based lassi that you need. Sweet, sour or mango-flavoured, the lassi, made of yoghurt, water and cumin, is the perfect palate cleanser with its soothing flavour. Parking is available behind the building that houses the restaurant.
Visit: 225 Musgrave Road, 031-201-0019
10. BILLY THE BUM'S
Signature drink: Iced tea
One of the granddaddies of the Durban pub scene, Billy's has been around for almost two decades, offering a perennial good time in an upmarket venue. They are serious about their food - the chakalaka burger is a winner - and even more serious about the drinks. A Billy's Iced Tea (above) is made of almost everything except Five Roses. Vodka, gin, tequila, lime cordial and lemonade is not the half of it. Described as "refreshingly cool", it's best on a hot Durban night with a Big Five Platter (spare ribs, calamari, crumbed chicken strips, boerie bites and Jalapeño poppers) and a lift home.
Visit: 504 Lillian Ngoyi Road, 031-303-1988