Circus-Circus Cafe.
Circus-Circus Cafe.

Iconic South African restaurants still thriving during the pandemic

By Lutho Pasiya Time of article published Sep 7, 2021

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The pandemic has certainly put a strain on the restaurant industry, but some legendary eateries endure.

From casual dining to family-style, read on to discover some of South Africa’s most iconic places to satisfy a grumbling tummy and get a taste of local and international flavour.

Firstly, let’s look at what makes a restaurant truly iconic? If you notice, the most iconic restaurants have one thing in common.

A strong staying power that only grows with time. The restaurants that have lasted for years and surpassed the harsh competition have been following certain practices that resonate with their customers.

Thus, it would be right to say that the longevity of any restaurant brand depends on doing the right things, which are:


Besides continuous advertising and promotions, a restaurant needs to be consistent to achieve long-term success. Without a dedication to consistency, failure is almost guaranteed. And to be successful, a restaurant needs to be consistent with the food and the service. Consistency builds trust with customers, creates a reputation, and ultimately, enhances what the restaurant is about.

High-quality food

A good restaurant sets a high standard for its food quality and ensures that guests receive the same quality with every meal. Serving quality food can earn your restaurant a good reputation and compel your guests to return for repeat visits. High-quality ingredients and an experienced cook are important to serving good food consistently.

Offer an experience

What makes a restaurant iconic is the experience it offers to the customers. Apart from serving good food as mentioned above, many factors elevate the overall experience of the customers and make their visit memorable. It can be an amazing view that your restaurant offers, presentation of the food, exceptional service, or the personalised touch in the overall ambiance.

There are great restaurants all across SA, but few offer history so compelling and food so legendary that you have to try them at least once in your lifetime. These six famous restaurants fit that bill.


KREAM Restaurant

Founded in 2007 by Tufan Yerebakan, Kream has established and developed itself into a trendy, one-of-a-kind experience for many. Serving delicious modern cuisine in an artistic environment combines to provide a great sensory experience. Kream is a stylish upmarket restaurant that strives to provide only the best food and service, bringing this together to create an unforgettable dining experience.

Call: 010 591 0023

Signature Restaurant

Signature Restaurant is one of the most exciting fashionable fine dining restaurants in Gauteng. Situated in Morningside in Sandton, the restaurant offers a unique mix of exclusivity, flexibility, comfort, sophistication, and design. It boasts an exquisite lunch and dinner menu, with a local and international wine list for even the most discerning palate. Signature Restaurant has floor-to-ceiling windows that frame a panoramic view and sets the scene for magnificent sunsets, and of course, signature cocktails.

Call: 087 940 3880

Cape Town

Kyoto Garden

Kyoto Garden is an award-winning Japanese restaurant located in Tamboerskloof in Cape Town. This restaurant offers much more than sushi and sashimi. At Kyoto Garden, fresh seafood is the speciality, with top-quality, unusual ingredients sourced from around the world. It also boasts SA’s largest collection of Japanese whisky and is renowned for authentic cocktails.

Call: 021 422 2001

Greenhouse Restaurant

At Greenhouse, head chef Farrel Hirsch and his team look long and hard at what we eat and where it’s from. They look to the sea and the garden, to the fields and orchards; they open old cellars and pantries to find ingredients that have meaning. Hirsch says he loves finding new ‘foreign’ flavours and combinations that he had never imagined would go well together. He says it’s not just about coming in for dinner at Greenhouse. It’s about the experience and how you feel during the meal and well after you leave the dinner table.

Call: 021 795 6226


Circus-Circus Cafe

A part of the Durban eating culture since 1994, Circus Circus is a restaurant and cafe, offering customers a wide variety of meals: salads, steaks, seafood, pasta, and curries, to name a few of the choices on the menu. Or, if you prefer, pop in for a cortado, flat white, cappuccino, or the like, perfectly brewed by one of our baristas.

Call: 031 377 700

Roma Revolving Restaurant

This legendary exclusive revolving restaurant was officially opened in February 1973. The Roma Revolving Restaurant specialises in Italian cuisine. Delicacies include continental dishes, seafood, and fresh game dishes. The restaurant undoubtedly offers the best views in Durban. While it rotates, diners can see the city from all angles, with excellent sea and bay views and a spectacular view of Moses Mabhida stadium.

Call: 031 368 2275

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