Downtown Jozi is on fire. There are cool shopping, dining, and art destinations popping up all over the city.
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
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.
2) Joziburg Lane
Cordials 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.
Nkhensani 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, 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 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.
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 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 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.
A delicious vegetarian flatbread from the Milk Bar, which I enjoyed with my friend Laurice from the Johannesburg in Your Pocket guide.
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.
Remember 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.