Johannesburg is one of South Africa’s largest cities and the country’s economic hub, but too often, for outsiders it is a place that one goes to merely to leave as soon as possible. It is a place of transits and transients rather than a destination in itself. Yet Johannesburg is an amazing city and deserves a lot more respect. It deserves to be more than just a quick stopover en route to Cape Town, Pilanesberg or the Kruger Park.
Johannesburg, or “Jozi” as locals call it, manifests its vitality in the fresh local food scene, a world-beating arts community, and the sense of freedom and possibility that comes with living in one of the world’s most diverse place. For visitors it’s quite tricky to feel the inner city vibe, because it’s true that Jozi has its discreet, even hidden, corners. There’s only one way to get to know the city: Go where the locals go, into the heart of Johannesburg’s… So as a local ambassador let’s share with you some Jozi’secrets!
Market on Main – For the people of Joburg by the people of Joburg
While many Joburgers still keep their distance from the inner city on weekends, others flock to the buzzing Maboneng Precinct. There are a host of activities in the precinct, including a spa, restaurants, a cinema, shops and the popular Market on Main, which runs every Sunday and the first Thursday night of each month.
The market offers food, furniture and fashion. You will get to taste SA’s finest, including Indian curries, fish and chips and boerie rolls (South African popular sausage). I strongly recommend to arrive hungry. Start with some Asian spring rolls, then move on to the Mexican stall for some nachos, and finally head to one of the plentiful cake stalls for a brownie or a red velvet cupcake. Once you are done, indulge in some retail therapy. The upper deck of the market offers trendy South African clothing, including vintage and second hand items. Finally, end off your day with some Ethiopian tea under the olive trees.
The Steamworks gastropub – The British-born concept of gastropubs
In a grungy yet chic industrial space, the Steamworks Gastropub in Fourways, is the latest eatery-bar opened by trendy dining duo Thomas Hughes and Martin Jakoby. Nominated for the 2014 Boschendal Style Award after only one month in operation, The Steamworks is set to gain the same popularity with its steampunk décor.
The setting may not gel with the retro steampunk look, a fantasy world loosely inspired on the rise of steam power in America’s Wild West or the Victorian era. But the interior is impressive. Sip a Twisted Kraken cocktail or your favourite craft beer at the bar in front of the enormous brass clock and cog installation. Or grab a seat at a table made from re-purposed pipes and tuck into classy grub such as the braised lamb and harissa pie with tender-stem broccoli and mash.
The Beach – Who said there is no beach in Joburg?
What’s better than chilling at the beach? Yes, that’s right, chilling at The Beach overlooking the city of Joburg on a Saturday afternoon. If you are a sand addicted, drive to Braamfontein, look upwards and find The Beach on Juta Street, this unusual bar is definitely a must-visit spot during summer. Sand, deck chairs, funky coloured beach umbrellas, exotics cocktails chilled tunes spun by the best DJs, welcome to Jozi’s beach. The rooftop spot might not have a sea view but it does have a spectacular view of the city and Nelson Mandela bridge, so next time you come in Jozi, check it out and remember to pack your sunscreen
Underground dinner – A secret club only for the food lovers!
Imagine you are seated at a dinner table set for ten in a 1920s power station. You are savouring the finest cuisine cooked by the best chef in town, alongside industrial refurbished turbines. An unusual setting for a gourmet dinner isn’t it!
So, you must be one of the lucky few who managed to acquire a seat at the Underground Dinner, hosted by The Forum in the old Turbine Hall, this iconic venue in the trendy arts and culture precinct of Newtown, offers monthly unique and not to be missed Underground Dinners. Do not worry if you are around and want to experience a heavenly three-course meal in Johannesburg’s oldest power station, ask us you will jump the queue!