Surf Riders Café has found a home in one of Ballito’s best beachside spots. The Get It team enjoyed a leisurely lunch in this lovely new space.
Father and daughter team Tania and Yiannie Tsiantos have been working on the local culinary scene for years. They have been running Nikos in Ballito since 2021, so when the space next door came up for sale, they grabbed the opportunity to grow the family business. “Working next-door to each other is proper Greek-style,” laughs Tania, who is proud of her Greek and Portuguese heritage. Tania says that Surf Riders Café in Durban was always their favourite restaurant, and they felt it would be the perfect fit for the North Coast. After three months of renovating, they have recently opened their doors and are excited to be starting a new chapter.
On entering Surf Riders Café, we were greeted with a light and fresh interior – blue murals and painted surf boards give the place a relaxed, beachy feel – but it is the sea views from the deck that really take centre stage. And when it comes to the menu, there’s a wide variety of options available, with plans for an even bigger selection on the cards. Tania says they want the restaurant to be family-oriented and to be a space where people come straight off the beach to enjoy music, drinks and good food. The restaurant is also pet-friendly, and even boasts a special doggie menu – think honeyed bacon dog biscuits and poochinos, to name a few.
With perfect views, a relaxed atmosphere and fresh flavours, it was easy to while away a few hours at Surf Riders Café.
In the name of research, we thought it only right to try a range of dishes. Tania says the woodfired pizzas are already proving popular, so we went for the vegetarian option with artichokes, olives, peppers, mushrooms and aubergine – with a thin base and fresh tomato base. It didn’t disappoint. Next, the habanero burger had just the right amount of spice, while the crispy fried calamari with sumac yoghurt dipping sauce really hit the spot. Yiannie personally recommended the yaki gochujang udon noodles – these came served with chicken, bok choy, mushrooms, carrots and broccoli in a spicy broth, with peanuts, cumin rub and a poached egg on top – and were packed with flavour (and a bit of a bite).
For something different, we couldn’t resist a sushi hotdog. This came beautifully presented with deep fried rice and packed with ginger, avocado, cucumber, toasted peanuts, seaweed dust and prawns. Because there’s always space for dessert, we ended with some sweet treats from the deluxe ice cream bar.
Besides an impressive food menu, the restaurant also has a passionate mixologist on the team. Kay Scott has always been drawn to creative pursuits and says mixing cocktails feels to her like making magic. She has designed a drinks menu especially for the restaurant that includes classics like espresso martinis, Aperol spritz and mojitos, as well as some signature cocktails, each of which has been paired with a Spotify link for an extra bit of fun. “Cocktails should be about the experience,” says Kay. We tried some non-alcoholic cocktails – the Innocent Pirate, made with raspberry syrup, lime and soda; and the Tiki-Tiki, made with coconut, pineapple and a touch of spice.
With perfect views, a relaxed atmosphere and fresh flavours, it was easy to while away a couple of hours at Surf Riders Café. It’s the perfect spot to spend a summer day or evening, and we’re already dreaming of our next visit.
Details: 17 Compensation Beach Road, Ballito; 032 032 0196; IG: @surfriderscafeballito