We all fond memories of visiting diners, drive-ins and roadhouses as children yet most of us don’t make an effort to visit these spots now, as adults – mostly because a large number of them have closed down! We were super bleak when all our favourite spots started disappearing but fear not because there are still a few gems hiding in South Africa! We searched high and low to bring you this list of awesome, must-try diners, drive-ins, roadhouses, and dives in Cape Town, so you’ll miss an opportunity to take a drive down memory lane again!

1. Burger Fair – Bellville

Burger Fair Cape Town

If you haven’t been to Burger Fair in the Northern Suburbs yet, then you are truly missing out on an exceptional experience. Jack Parow bought Beliville’s Burger Fair back into the limelight with his music video for Cooler as Ekke and now hungry customers head to the spot in the droves whenever they feel like a retro burger and milkshake fix. The best thing about visiting Burger Fair has got to be that they still serve your food in an old-school foodtray attached to your car window! The portion sizes at this spot are generous and diners can choose from a wide range of burgers, sarmies and shakes such as the Hawaiian Burger and chips (27.50), Yankee Dog and chips (R28.40),  strawberry or banana milkshake (R12.40 for R240ml), and Milo shake (R16 for 240ml).

Burger Fair is open from 09:15 – 00:15 Mondays to Thursdays, from 09:15 – 01:45 on Fridays, 09:15 – 01:15 on Saturdays and from 09:15 – 22:45 on Sundays.

For more information, visit their website
Tel: 021 948 3434
Address: Corner of Park Street & Strand Road, Bellville, Cape Town.

2. Franky’s Diner – Sea Point

Franky's diner

This real-life 50s style diner smack-bang in the middle of Sea Point is a retro lover’s dream. The Franky’s menu offers authentic 50s diner eats and treats including a range of delicious hamburgers, footlongs, sloppy Joes, curly fries, shakes, sundaes, waffles and so much more. Our favourites include the Franky’s Footlong Hotdog (hotdog with fried onions, dill pickles, BBQ sauce, and mayo served with chips, onion rings & coleslaw – R59) and the Franky’s Burger (a beef, chicken or veggie patty with lettuce, tomato, fried onions, dill pickles, and mayo – R63 for a single patty). The curly fries are also not to be missed! You can have them straight or spice them up with cheese and bacon bits for an extra R14! Click here to read our full review on this spot.

Franky’s Diner is open 21 hours a day, 7 days a week.

For more information, visit their website.
Tel: 021 433-0445
Address: 303 Main Road, Sea Point, Cape Town. 

3. Wembley Roadhouse – Athlone 

Wembley Roadhouse

This fully Halaal spot has become quite an institution in Cape Town and is famous for the killer Wembley Whopper (a burger with a chunk of Prime-cut steak, topped with braised onions, and sliced potatoes – R39.90). This spot is always busy so you can either wait for a waiter to come to your car window or squeeze your way to the front of the busy crowd waiting order from the window in front. Other favourites from the menu include the Double Hot Dog (two extra long juicy grilled viennas on a toasted roll served with potato chips covered with tomato sauce – R33.90), Pumpkin and Banana Fritters (R3.90 each) and the Mutton Salomi (Deboned leg of lamb in a corn wrap – R59.90. As for the drinks, locals say you can’t leave without trying the Falooda (a cold and sweet drink made by mixing rose syrup, jelly pieces, vermicelli, ice-cream and milk, topped with subja seeds – R30.90 for a large) and the Wembley Crush (a refreshing sweet drink of milk, jelly pieces and vanilla ice-cream topped with sprinkled nuts – R27.90 for a medium).

For more information, visit their website.
Tel: 021 697 1435
Address: Wembley Centre, 21 Belgravia Road, Athlone, Cape Town.

4. The Dog’s Bollocks – Gardens

Dog's Bollocks burgers

If you’re yet to visit the Dog’s Bollocks (AKA Yard) then boy are you missing out! This no-frills hotspot serves burgers the size of your head (true story) has burger lovers coming back for more, and more. Go hungry because options include burgers (with a beef or vegan patty) such as the New Yorker (s like the New Yorker, which is whipped up with olives, capers and cheese sauce, and Pepperberry Blue sauce). The spot has grown exponentially since it first opened and these days hungry customers can grab a table and order a craft beer to enjoy along with their meal. Be warned though, the spot does put a limit on the amount of burgers they sell a night so it’s best to arrive early.

Dog’s Bollocks is opening from Monday to Sunday from 17:00 – 22:30.

For more information, visit their Facebook page.
Tel: 083 440 7843
Address: 6 Roodehek Street, Gardens, Cape Town.

5. Woodies Burgers – V@A Waterfront

Woodies burgers

Picture credit: Raeeq Gamieldien

This takeaway spot in the V&A waterfront specialises in burgers… big burgers. Tuck into delights like the Woodies Orginal TLC Burger (mozzarella, cheddar, lettuce, onions, tomato and gherkin – R49.50) or the Saffa Burger (Pepperdews, chutney, mild chilli basting, mozzarella, cheddar, lettuce, onions and tomato – R55). All burgers are served with either a beef patty or a chicken fillet and you can also add an order of hand-cut chips (R15) to your meal. If you’re super brave then you can also try one of the Woodies Challenge Burgers which offer an eating challenge of note due to their enormous size. Choose between the Triple Stack beef burger (three 10g beef patties, mozzarella, cheddar, lettuce, onions, tomato and gherkins – R65.50) or The Colossus burger (four 100g beef patties or two chicken fillets, mozzarella, cheddar, lettuce, onions, tomato and gherkins – R77.50) and make sure you arrive hungry! This spot can get pretty busy on the weekends and orders can sometimes take as long as 30 minutes to come through but it’s worth the wait!

For more information, visit their Facebook page.
Tel 079-125-7228

Address: Market on the Wharf, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town.

6. Starlight Diner – Bellville

starlight diner

Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, this 200 seater diner in the northern suburbs has been open for more than 13 years! The spot has a reputation for its good food, large portions, and excellent prices with special offers during the week. Their extensive menu includes everything from oxtail and curry to pizzas, burgers, wraps, steaks and, of course, good desserts. Weekly specials include happy hour, burger special, rib & wing special and kiddies specials. Menu must-tries include the Yankee Doodle Burger (a giant 500g beef patty on huge a sesame seed bun with lettuce, tomato, gherkins and onions – R87.95) and the Kitchen Sink Sundae Dessert (12 scoops of vanilla ice cream with brownies, chopped nuts, crushed pineapple, berry compote, hot fudge, hot caramel, bananas, Orea crumbs, whipped cream, four cherries and who knows what else – R94.95).

For more information, visit their Facebook page.
Tel: 021 9496864
Address: 15 Mispel Road, Bellville, Cape Town.

7. Cosy Corner – Wynberg

Cosy corner

This spot is known for its incredible Gatsbys (in fact some might say they have the best in town) but did you know they also serve up a mean burger? Try the Fried Masala Rump Steak Burger with chips and salad (R52) or the Chargrilled Beef Burger with chips and salad (R42) for a real burger fix and top it off with delicious Banana Split (R35). If burgers aren’t your thing then try one of their yummy hot dogs and chips – the Double Hotdog and chips (R29) topped up with a dash of Mango Atchaar (R6) is always a winner. And, if you’re thirsty the Double Thick Milkshakes in a variety of different flavours at just R24 for 500ml are also a must-try!

Cosy Corner is open from 09:00 – 00:00 every weekday (closed from 12:30 – 13:30 every Friday) and Saturdays from 09:00 – 02:00, Sundays from 09:00 – 23:00.

For more information visit their website.
Tel: 021 797 2498

Address: 19 Ottery Road, Wynberg, Cape Town.

8. Cafe Manhattan – Green Point

cafe Manhattan

Madame Zingara recently transformed this de Waterkant hangout into a must-visit of note for foodies and socialites. With a super fun Wild West theme complete with booth seating and industrial chic decor, Cafe Manhattan is like a diner on steroids. There’s loads to enjoy on the menu – their ribs are the best in town and their sliders will leave you begging for more. Some of our favourites from the menu include the House Burger (a classic burger cheese – R68) with a dollop of Mad Pepper Sauce (Madagascar Peppercorns in a cream and white wine sauce – R25), the Smoked Ribs (served with chips and onions rings – R170), and the Southern Fried Chicken (buttermilk soaked, Texan coated and double fried served with fries, onions and slaw – R98). As for drinks you can choose to sip on everything from a delicious milkshake (including Apple and Cinnamon, Lemon Meringue and Chocolate Brownie) to a classic root beer float, craft beer, soft drinks or cocktail.

Cafe Manhattan is open from Monday – Sunday 10:00 – 23:00.

For more information visit their website.
Tel: 021 421 6666

Address: 74 Waterkant Street, Green Point, Cape Town.

9. Rockstar Dinner – Table View

Rockstar Diner

This rock ‘n roll themed diner in the northern suburbs specialises in gourmet burgers and pizzas. With light fixtures fashioned from old drum kits and comfy booth-style seating this place is just the spot for those who love to listen to a little old school while the chow down. On the menu you will find delights like the Red Hot Chilli Pepper burger (Jalapeno chilis, cheddar and hot sauce – R65 for a 110g patty), Rockstar Burger (bacon, crumbed jalapeno, Brie cheese and sweet chilli relish – R75 for a 110g patty), and the Rock Star Deluxe Pizza (bacon, ham, salami, jalapeno, chilli, mushrooms and peppers – R90). Top up your meal with an order of fries (crispy potato fries with bacon and cheddar dip – R20) or Beer Battered Onion Rings (served with a sweet chilli relish – R20). To drink, there’s a variety of milkshakes (including Toasted Marshmallow, Peanut Butter and Oreo – R30), cold drinks and hot beverages.

For more information visit the Facebook page.
Tel:  0822284550 
Address: 1 Porterfield Rd, Table View, Cape Town.

10. Junior – Tamboerskloof

Junior Burgers Cape Town

This Kloof Nek spot is the little sister restaurant to the much-loved Royale Eatery on Long Street. The tiny burger restaurant makes fresh burger buns every day and serves up a variety of burgers including beef, fish and vegetarian burgers. The menu is quite simple but sounds oh-so-good! Alongside classic burgers, you will find chilli cheese fries, coleslaw, assorted baked and fried doughnuts, shakes, craft beers, and a range of homemade drinks including homemade lemonade. Burgers start from R38 each and reach up to R58 for a Double Trouble burger with all the trimmings (2 beef patties, 2 slices of cheese, lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, onion, and Junior sauce).

Junior is open from 12:00 – late Monday – Saturday and closed on Sundays.

Address: 12 Kloof Nek Road, Tamboerskloof, Cape Town.