It's Day 1 of the Essence Festival Durban 2017 and it seemed like most of the city descended to the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre for the festival. 

From the celebrities in attendance, including actors Rami Chuene, Nomzamo Mbatha, Thembi Nyandeni, Connie Chiume, Brenda Mhlongo and Mpumelelo Bhulose; the first day got of to a good start from what I saw. 

This is how we get down on #EmpowermentExp * WASHA* #essencefestdbn

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While I didn't attend any of the seminars, I did spot comedian and presenter, Jailoshni Naidoo, mid-act at the Articulate stage at the festival. 

She had the audience eating out the palm of her hand. Shoppers milled around the Style and Beauty section, purchasing garments, fragrances and getting their make-up touched up, all while a fashion show is happening. 

And when they were done, they left the ICC for the white marque on Walnut Road- the Essence Eats Food Court.

What's a lifestyle festival without any food? 

There's only so much shopping and enlightening talks one can go to before tour stomach starts rumbling and clearly a lot of people were ready for some grub, judging by how packed the marquee was. But which food stalls should one try out? Here's five of the best:

D'Urban Burger Co. 

For a good burger I always say it's not always about the meat, but more of the condiments used, how fresh the roll is, the quality of the ingredients used and of course how much care is taken when it comes to presentation. D'Urban Burger Co. get it and that's why they are on this list. I had their chicken burger on a panini, their amazing pesto and caramelised onions, with the fresh green salad with a sweet and sour dressing, feta and even more pesto. They served their burgers in a box, complete with wooden cutlery, which makes it easier for you to carry around while shopping or sitting down and eating it like how a burger should be eaten- with both hands.  If you're vegetarian, try their falafels. They are also really good. 

Bars Equipped

The food marquee is centered around mobile bar, Bars Equipped. It's one of the first stalls you see as it's in the middle of the marquee. The bar service is famed for it's great service, cocktails and drinks. They also served virgin drinks, so everyone is catered for. 

031 Shisanyama

The meat platter at 031 Shisanyama Picture: Facebook/Nokwanda Zondi
The new kid on the block is clearly doing something right if everyone is willing to queue to order their meal. Its standard shisanyama, sure, but it's still lip-smackingly delicious. Try their braaied meat and wors with their freshly made sambals (raw chillie chutney) and your choice of starch, whether pap or jeqe. 

Durban Kota House

A new Kota special created specially for Essence Fest Durban Picture: Facebook
What's great about this food marquee is that there's all kinds of food on offer and another new kid on the block, Durban Kota House, also had a number of people trying out their food. It's also freshly made and you can choose the fillings you want in your kota. 

Ink Foods
Ink Foods burgers and shakes: Facebook
"You need to try out Ink Foods," a friend told me as I arrived at the ICC and boy was he right. The healthy fast food joint serves buritos, wraps, burgers, freshly cut chips and their smoothies are really delicious. It's a best of both world situation, as the other stalls don't really sell drinks. 

Essence Eats


Don't forget to head to the Durban Exhibition Centre to see Durban's top chefs and foodies in action, talking and cooking the latest food trends, show you how to make simple dishes and more.