Inside Mad Giant

Five Amazing New Places in Downtown Jozi (not in Maboneng or Braamfontein)

Downtown Jozi is on fire. There are cool shopping, dining, and art destinations popping up all over the city.

Joburg Ballet at Joziburg LaneThe Joburg Ballet performs at Joziburg Lane, one of downtown’s newest destinations, on its opening weekend.

Regeneration in Joburg’s inner city is nothing new: Exciting stuff has been happening downtown since I moved to Joburg in 2010, and long before that. What’s different about the last year or two — and especially the last six-to-eight months —  is that inner-city regeneration is no longer largely limited to the hipster hubs of Maboneng and Braamfontein. Urban renewal is everywhere and it’s becoming easier to travel between all the new restaurants, shops, and markets. Maboneng and Braamfontein are still great and there is new stuff opening in those areas all the time. But if you’re looking for fun in the city, it isn’t necessary to limit yourself to those neighborhoods.

Here are five of my favorite new non-Maboneng, non-Braamfontein spots, all opened within that past several months.

1) Mad Giant/Urbanologi

The Mad Giant Brewery is a huge, beautifully designed craft beer joint in the 1Fox Precinct in Ferreirasdorp. Urbanologi is a high-end, Asian-inspired tapas restaurant inside the Mad Giant premises.

Outside Mad GiantOutside Mad Giant.

Inside Mad GiantThe upscale interior. Mad Giant also has an outdoor beer garden, open on weekends, with a more casual vibe and menu.

Craft beer and Asian fusion tapas…Sounds too hip for words, right? And it is. But this is the best-tasting craft beer and Asian tapas, in the most beautiful setting, that you’ll find anywhere in the city. It’s so good that I ate there twice last week. Dinner will set you back at least R150-R200 ($10-$18) per person, on the pricey side by South African standards, but it’s worth every penny.

Beer tasters at Mad GiantMad Giant beer tasters. I’m not a huge beer enthusiast but I enjoy Mad Giant’s.

Urbanologi tuna tataki“Tuna tataki, pickled octopus, raw turnip with wasabi and lime dressing.” One of many flavourful, innovative dishes on the Urbanologi menu.

2) Joziburg Lane

I’ve written a couple of posts about Joziburg Lane (see here and here), at No. One Eloff Street just off the M2 highway. But things are ramping up and tons of new stuff is happening there.

Drinks at Joziburg LaneCordials at Joziburg Lane during my recent blog class.

The eatery at Joziburg Lane is now open all week, every day except Monday, and Gerald Garner (of JoburgPlaces fame) is running daily inner city walking tours starting and ending at Joziburg Lane. There are also a bunch of new restaurants, artist studios, and great shops opening up in the One Eloff Street complex.

Tailor at Joziburg LanePayson Peter, who just opened a small tailoring shop in Joziburg Lane.

Nkhensani Rihlamphu studio in Joziburg LaneNkhensani Rihlamphu, a prominent Jozi sculptor, in his Joziburg Lane studio. He’s currently working on a commission to create several bronzes of prominent South Africans. The unfinished sculpture you see here will depict Oliver Tambo.

Baroka Fashions jewelryBaroka Fashions, one of the new shops on the outside section of One Eloff Street. I love everything in this shop.

Follow the Joziburg Lane Facebook page for all its upcoming events. There are many.

3) City Central

I have been eagerly awaiting the opening of City Central, a food court in the same building as Bridge Books. As the name implies, City Central is in the center of Joburg (in Marshalltown at 85 Commissioner Street) and has all kinds of yummy food and drink on offer.

City Central and Bridge BooksThe food stalls of City Central, with Bridge Books above.

City Central is in the process of bringing in more vendors, including a cocktail bar, but right now they have five or six different cuisines on offer. Fiver and I had lunch there yesterday and we loved our burgers from Good to Go Eatery. I’d eaten a Good to Go burger once before at the Soweto Locrate Market and I am so happy that I can now enjoy one in the CBD, too.

Burger from Good to Go at City CentralThis is one of the best burgers in town, people. Go get one.

Vusi from Good to GoVusi, the lovely owner of Good to Go. They ran out of guacamole yesterday but Vusi went out onto the street and bought an avocado, just for us.

Fiver and I also had incredible juice at City Central, from Vuyani at Breakfast on the Go. Vuyani serves breakfast all day, as well as sandwiches and fresh juice.

Vuyani with juice cocktailsVuyani is wearing the greatest apron of all time. The juice was great too — a mix of orange, carrot, apple, beetroot, and ginger. Vuyani also has a mobile business called Jozi Cocktail Bar — you can see photos of his offerings at @jozi_cocktail_bar.

City Central is around the corner from the Capital Café coffeeshop and right below Bridge Books, which also serves excellent coffee. Right now the food court is open mainly during the week until early evening. But that may change — follow their Facebook page for updates.

4) The Milk Bar (CBD)

October 2016 update: The Milk Bar’s Pritchard Street location is now closed. I’m devastated! But such is life in Joburg. The Milk Bar did just open up a new location at the Keyes Art Mile in Rosebank.

The Milk Bar is a charming restaurant/coffeeshop on Pritchard Street across from the South Gauteng High Court. The Milk Bar has two other locations in Kramerville and Rosebank, so if you want to go to the CBD location be sure to set your GPS to 94 Pritchard Street. I would recommend Ubering, as parking by the High Court can be hectic.

Milk Bar coffee barThe Milk Bar coffee bar.

Milk Bar is owned by the people who run Amatuli Artefacts in Kramerville, which means it has beautiful, quirky interior design. The menu is great and this is such a vibey, bustling part of town. Best of all, the Milk Bar is frequented by High Court lawyers wearing black robes and frilly white collars.

Milk Bar flatbreadA delicious vegetarian flatbread from the Milk Bar, which I enjoyed with my friend Laurice from the Johannesburg in Your Pocket guide.

Inside the Milk BarCan you spot the woman in a frilly white collar?

As with City Central, the Milk Bar is a daytime/weekday place geared toward nine-to-fivers. I’m hoping that changes someday because this would be a great spot to hang out on weekends.

5) Work Shop New Town

I just wrote a post about Work Shop New Town a few weeks ago, so I won’t repeat myself.

Fashion at Work Shop New TownRemember Jade and Ntsaki from Work Shop New Town? If not read my previous post.

But briefly, Work Shop New Town is a rad shopping spot with all kinds of locally produced clothes and decor items, as well as a nice place to have a drink and eat dim sum. Work Shop New Town puts on great events and is right next to the Newtown Junction mall, which offers good everyday shopping and dining options. Craft Coffee, one of my favorite Jozi coffee shops, is less than five minutes’ walk away.

Now that I’ve discovered all of these interesting downtown Jozi places, my next goal is to figure out the best ways to travel among them on foot and via public transport. Research has already begin on that topic: Expect a post soon.

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19 Comments

  • Reply Gail Scott Wilson September 21, 2016 at 5:42 pm

    It’s so exciting to see all these amazing developments in the city.

    • Reply 2summers September 21, 2016 at 5:44 pm

      I know, and there are more every day.

  • Reply Expatorama September 21, 2016 at 5:42 pm

    I still haven’t made it to Joziburg Lane, but it’s hard to reconcile your vibrant photos with the decrepit filthy dark space we saw all those months ago on the tuk-tuk tour. I’m looking forward to seeing the positive changes when I finally get around to visiting.

    • Reply 2summers September 21, 2016 at 5:43 pm

      Oh my god, yes. You won’t recognize it!

  • Reply all-TIM-ate September 22, 2016 at 8:32 am

    Ok, that’s it. I’ll have to eat my way around the city (again). The list of new spots to see and eat at keeps getting longer. Exciting stuff.

    • Reply 2summers September 22, 2016 at 9:12 am

      Yes. You will LOVE Urbanologi. Lots of vegetarian stuff and even a raw menu!

  • Reply Sanza Sandile September 22, 2016 at 11:04 pm

    thank you for a jozi summer guide, Faya …

    • Reply 2summers September 23, 2016 at 12:07 pm

      Well thank for the comment, dear Sanza. Hope you’re doing well.

  • Reply Sithembele “H Justini” Kubheka September 23, 2016 at 12:06 pm

    One of the most useful posts I have read all week. Thanks. Will be checking out these places.

    • Reply 2summers September 23, 2016 at 12:08 pm

      Thanks Sithembele! Happy exploring to you.

  • Reply Nolan Jafta September 24, 2016 at 5:50 am

    Just last week I found the most hidden restaurant in the old jeppe town the name was Che it’s somewhere in fox street. The food was amazing they the only restaurant that still makes fillet on the bone. The open till late.

    • Reply 2summers September 24, 2016 at 7:20 am

      Yes, I’ve been meaning to try Che for ages. Heard it’s great.

  • Reply Bronwyn Williams Hume September 24, 2016 at 7:29 am

    Thanks for a great read.. love this city #jozi #southafrica

  • Reply Nicole September 26, 2016 at 10:41 am

    Yessss for pubic transportation/your own two feet/bikes in the CBD! Yesterday my friends and I did a group ride from Maboneng to Braam to pick up more riders, back to Maboneng, to 1 Fox then to Newtown before heading home hours later. Was super lovely day.

    I’m resisting buying a car and have been surviving with the Gautrain/bus, bike + uber assistance. I joke with my friends that I’m starting an NYC anti-car revolution here in Jozi 🙂 If you need a research assistant lemme know!

    • Reply 2summers September 26, 2016 at 11:31 am

      Omg, I totally need a research assistant for this project. Let’s talk 🙂

  • Reply Dog360 January 21, 2017 at 5:56 pm

    Love this, nicely done. Joziburg Lane hosted The Night of a 1000 drawings, it was such a great gig I think they should be inspired to hold it annually. I love what’s happening in the city, it’s real, it feels authentic and I love that you promote it, thank you.

    • Reply 2summers January 21, 2017 at 6:00 pm

      Thanks so much. Yes, I had intended to go too 1000 drawing at Joziburg Lane (I went the year before and loved it) but I was in a post-Trump election depression that week 😩. Thanks for the comment!

  • Reply Lorraine Keenan January 22, 2017 at 8:21 pm

    Thank you heather for highlighting these great places ..

    • Reply 2summers January 22, 2017 at 8:33 pm

      Thanks Lorraine, my pleasure.

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