Where to hang out on a Harley in Jo’burg

The Pitstop Diner

The Pitstop Diner

In Jo’burg, there are 2 kinds of Harley owners. The genuine H.O.G.s (Harley Owners Group) who don’t give a toss about Peter Fonda, Arnold Schwarzenegger, or Orange County Choppers.

Then, there are the Harley posers.

Like the popular kids at school, the posers always travel in gangs. Kitted out from head to toe in tasselled, studded, HD monogrammed biking leathers, and American eagle headscarves, they’re all desperate to look like the Easy Rider, meanwhile  ruining the illusion by sipping cappuccinos (with pinky finger in the air) at yuppie pavement cafés.

Typically, Harley posers only make appearances on weekends, or when there’s a rally, and they can ride slowly through trendy crowded public places to elicit the maximum amount of admiration and envy.  Ape hangers (those that ride choppers with handlebars above their ears) especially, love urban boulevard cruising.

Then, there are the hardcore H.O.G.’s. They hit the open road, rain or shine, and live in a cosmos ordered as follows: Harley Davidson, then God, with the wife, or the dog, in third place.

It’s their shiny choppers and trikes you’ll see on the weekend lined up outside a junkyard in Muldersdift.

Run by Greek husband and wife team, Yoram and Anastasia, the Pitstop Diner, open since July 2010, according to Anastasia, evolved “When Yoram started building me a cart I could sell boerewors rolls from – and never stopped!”

A Harley Davidson fanatic since he was a toddler, eye-level with a glass of Ouzo, Yoram is an ex-Harley mechanic, truck driver, and general jack-of-all-trades. He’ll tell you the diner came about because he wanted somewhere that fellow Harley lovers could ride out to, enjoy a reasonably priced meal, and relax.

An American diner with a local twist, to take advantage of Jo’burg’s great weather, the Pistop Diner has mostly shaded outdoor seating rather than a conventional counter with bar stools.

Harley, Route 66, and saloon memorabilia from Yoram’s days cruising around the United States clashes with rusty car and truck parts, disused furniture, and in-need-of repair catering equipment. If you’re familiar with the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-in’s and Dives, the Pitstop is all 3-in-1.

There’s even a junkyard dog, a sweet-natured Staffie-cross, who, having just given birth to 8 puppies, is living proof that ugly chicks can get laid, and who’ll happily swap a tail-wag for a morsel of your patty or steak.

The menu is basic and terrifyingly cheap – nothing costs more than R50. Think burgers, pregos, dogs (not the Staffie), and pitas – anything that belongs between 2 pieces of bread. The portions are BIG, though it must be said that about 60% of the serving is bread. Moreover, although it’s fast food menu, don’t go to the Pitstop if you’re in a hurry to eat.

Everything is homemade, and cooked to order. Before I knew the owners were Greek, I ordered a falafel, and it’s the best I’ve eaten in Jo’burg. Others had the pregos or burgers, and pronounced them delicious good value. The lone vegetarian at our table gave the authentic horiatiki salata two thumbs up. We finished with sticky-sweet lemon meringue pie, and mugs of instant coffee. Sorry, Harley-snobs, you’ll have to stay in Melrose Arch if you’re lusting after a latte.

Were there Harley riders chowing-down at the Pitstop? You bet! Home to the Platinum Wings Harley Club, the place was packed  with Hog-wild girls and boys, who love their bikes for their cool factor, and gravelly exhausts, and not because they can afford the merchandise.

Even Hardley-Davidsons are welcome.

How to find the Pitstop Diner: drive out on Beyers Naude Drive in the direction of Muldersdrift (northwest). The diner is on your left, before Incoae Weg (road). If you pass the Hakunamatata sign, you’ve gone too far. Contact: Anastasia on 082 855 8680

Our Readers Comments

  1. Greeting Robyn

    Ironic that you should mix up the groups, HOG members are the posers, they are the people who like to travel in groups and be seen at all the “hot spots”. They are the weekend wheel warriors, the self same people that wear all the gear (only on Sundays or for special HOG events) These are the same people that spend thousands of rands on all the clothing to look the part but would not know a piston from a petrol valve. These are the same people that average no more than 10 000 KM on their bikes in a year.

    A true Harley owner rides his bike every day, it is his primary mode of transport. He lives the brand in every aspect of his life. He is a biker first and a business man or woman second. His wife and kids are an extension of his passion for the motorcycle and the freedom it allows him. And in conclusion it is Harley, Jack, the open road then the girl.

    As I read your article, I sense that you are trying very hard to use misdirection with the pen. I ask this question: Are you trying to make HOG members feel good about a visit to Pitstop, or is it your intension to try get them there?

  2. Hi Grant, I’ll confess I posted this article with some trepidation. Not because I have doubts about the PitStop Diner, but because the owner warned me that Harley riders are a tough crowd! I stand duely corrected on the H.O.G label, and certainly didn’t mean to be a swine by getting myself hog-tied. Before I leave with my curly tail between my legs, the Pitstop, is probably the last place you’ll see a H.O.G, but do give it a try. I think you’ll find their food fits your cosmos rather nicely. And thanks for taking the time to enlighten me.

  3. I had my Birthday celebration there yesterday . The entertainment was great . We have never laughed so much in years . The onwers keep pretty much to themselves which i dont find right but thank goodness for Elvis he made my day .

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