10 Really Cool Jozi Places I Didn’t Blog About in 2017

by | Jan 2, 2018 | Arts and Culture, Food and Drink, Johannesburg, Markets/Shopping, Townships/Informal Settlements | 4 comments

I blogged about a lot of Jozi places in 2017. But there are also a lot of places I visited but never managed to write up, for one reason or another.

Lots of these places are really cool and I don’t want their photos to languish forever in my Lightroom catalog. Also, I want you to visit them. So here is a quick rundown of the 10 best places I never blogged about in 2017.

Jozi Places I Should Have Blogged About in 2017

1) Urban Backpackers/Kafe Noir (Joburg CBD)

Urban Backpackers is a youth hostel smack in the middle of the Joburg CBD, at 98 Anderson Street. The ground floor of Urban Backpackers is Kafe Noir, a funky coffeeshop. The rooftop is a bar and party venue.

Heather on the roof of Urban Backpackers
Chilling on the rooftop of Urban Backpackers after the Hi-Tec #WalkMyCity event. (Photo: Fiver Löcker)

Urban Backpackers is owned by Papy Nakuw, a fashion designer who also owns the Urban Zulu clothing label. Papy is impossibly cool. His design workshop is just across the street.

Papy at Urban ZuluPapy at Urban Backpackers.

I like the Urban Backpackers because it’s an unexpected place in an unexpected location. Kafe Noir and the rooftop are generally open to the public but you should call first to be sure.

2) The Royale (Craighall)

The Royale is a Cuban-inspired restaurant, occupying the spot where Warm & Glad used to be. The Royale is notable for its colorful, Caribbean-inspired decor, which seems to be a trend in the Joburg restaurant scene at the moment.

Bar at the Royale in Jozi
The Royale bar.

Hip new restaurants popped up around Joburg at an alarming rate in 2017 — each one more trendy and glamorous than the next. I visited many and blogged about few. But the Royale was one of my favorites. The Cuban sandwich I ordered was tasty and the rum cocktails were strong. When I was there in late November, a speakeasy was in progress in a back room behind the restaurant. Hopefully it’s opened by now.

Royale entrance signNeon sign at the Royale entrance, which I think was designed specifically with Instagram in mind. 

3) Manny’s – Hillside Fish & Chips (Rosettenville)

Manny’s, which is also called Hillside Fish & Chips (I’m not sure which name is paramount but I’m going with Manny’s), is the opposite of the Royale. It’s not new, nor is it trendy. Manny’s has been around for decades and according to my friend Kate, who frequented Manny’s as a kid, it hasn’t changed one bit.

Staff at Manny's - Hillside Fish & ChipsThe staff at Manny’s. I seem to have lost their names but the man isn’t Manny.

I ordered a sandwich frighteningly named “the pregnant prego roll”. I can’t remember exactly what was on it but there was definitely meat (chicken, beef, or maybe both), a fried egg, slap chips (soggy french fries), and a lot of sauce. Maybe some cheese, too. It was delicious and cost R45 ($3.60).

Pregnant Prego from Manny'sThe Pregnant Prego Roll. Perhaps so-named because eating it gives you a food baby.

4) Rio Douro Fisheries (Rosettenville)

Rio Douro Fisheries is a legendary fishmonger and butcher in the South of Joburg. I went to Rio Douro on the same day I went to Manny’s, on a tour of the South with Kate, and intended to write them up together as a #Gauteng52 post. Somehow it never happened.

Rio Douro Fisheries in RosettenvilleRio Douro.

Rio Douro is worth visiting for its large selection of fish, which is a Joburg rarity. Rio Douro also sells lots of interesting Portuguese foods and cooking accessories.

Best of all, Rio Douro has the coolest security guards in town.

Security guard at Rio DouroPatrick, a cool Rio Douro security guard, in front of an equally cool ocean-themed mural.

5) Linden Swimming Pool (Linden)

I also considered including the Linden Pool in #Gauteng52, but I’d already done the Zoo Lake Pool and one Joburg swimming pool seemed enough.

But the Linden pool is particularly cool, first because it’s one of the few indoor public pools in the city and also for its interesting architecture.

Linden Swimming Pool in JoziThe covered Linden Swimming Pool, whose roof looks vaguely spacecraft-like.

Kids playing in the Linden PoolThe Linden Pool is popular on rainy Saturdays.

I visited the Linden Pool as part of a group project called #20Laps, which you can read more about on my friend Ang’s blog, Jozi.Rediscovered. I think Ang’s Linden Pool post is coming up next.

6) Agog (New Doornfontein)

I think I held off on writing about Agog because it’s difficult to describe. It’s a wine bar, whiskey bar, restaurant, and art gallery, with multiple floors and a rooftop with interesting views of downtown Joburg. Agog is part of the Maboneng Precinct, in a formerly industrial section of New Doornfontein.

Marie-Lais and Patrick at AgogMarie-Lais and Patrick, who works at Agog, enjoy a bottle of wine.

Agog’s ground floor is home to Nine Barrels, the wine bar, which features a huge variety of local and international wines by the glass. The middle floors house art exhibitions. The top floor is a whiskey and gin bar.

View from AgogA view to the north from Agog, featuring Ellis Park stadium and an evening commuter train.

Good wine by the glass is hard to find in Joburg, and Agog is the best place to find it. It’s also just a lovely spot to spend an afternoon in the city.

7) Tembisa

Tembisa is a large township in Ekurhuleni, Joburg’s East Rand.

I included Winnie’s Tuck Shop, a kota restaurant in Tembisa, in the #Gauteng52 series. But I never got around to writing about Tembisa as a whole, which I experienced with a local tour guide named Walter Msibi.

Tembisa has an interesting history. It used to be an Afrikaans family farm and there are some buildings still standing from the original farmstead.

Farmer in TembisaA farmer growing cabbages and spinach in the middle of Tembisa, on a plot irrigated from a natural spring. 

I can’t go into Tembisa’s full history here, but I encourage you to book a tour with Walter. His number is 078-248-8598. You can also book Walter through Mozee Tours and Transport.

Tembisa fieldNatural spring water flows through Tembisa.

8) The Stuff We Love (Melville)

The Stuff We Love used to be a vintage shop on 7th Street in Melville. But the owners, Susan and Gwynn, recently closed the shop and went mobile, selling their beautiful clothes at various pop-ups in Melville and surrounds. I visited one such pop-up a few months ago at Poppy’s Restaurant and had an insanely fun time.

Susan and Gwynn of the Stuff We LoveSusan (left) and Gwynn (right) at their Poppy’s pop-up.

Susan and Gwynn are fabulous. The clothes they sell are fabulous. Their customers are all fabulous. And they always have champagne.

Heather in skirt from the Stuff We LoveI didn’t buy this skirt but maybe I should have. (Photo: Marie-Lais Emond)

The Stuff We Love is working on a website so they can sell online. In the meantime, follow their movements on Facebook.

9) Victoria Yards (Lorentzville)

Victoria Yards is also difficult to explain. It’s a brand-new complex in Lorentzville, which is between Bertrams and Troyeville, developed from a sprawl of old industrial buildings. Victoria Yards currently houses artists’ galleries and studios, event space, an urban garden, a chair factory, and a brewery/pizza parlor. There’s new stuff happening all the time.

Victoria Yards in JoziVictoria Yards.

Art gallery at Victoria YardsCrazy chairs at an art gallery in Victoria Yards.

I’ve got a couple of smaller posts planned about various businesses in Victoria Yards, but for now I think the whole place deserves a mention.

10) The Jazzfarm (Lanseria)

I hesitated to include the Jazzfarm as a #Gauteng52 entry because it is not a public place, per se. But it’s too interesting not to mention here.

The Jazzfarm is home to Myrtle Clarke and Jules Stobbs, aka the Dagga Couple. I found my way to the farm with Marie-Lais to do a story about the Dagga Couple’s labyrinth, which is extremely beautiful.

Labyrinth at the JazzfarmA labyrinth is kind of like a maze, except you can’t get lost because there is always just one direction to walk in. I loved it.

The Dagga Couple don’t publicize the location of their farm for obvious reasons. But they do have a Facebook page and they said people are welcome to come by appointment to walk the labyrinth. I recommend this. Also, it’s a great activity to combine with lunch at the nearby Culinary Table.

Thanks again to the friends who accompanied me to these places and especially to Marie-Lais, whose “Other Side of the City” column in the Saturday Citizen newspaper — Marie-Lais writes the column and I take the photos — motivated several of the visits.

There will be many more stories in 2018.

Heather at the JazzfarmFloating around at the Jazzfarm. (Photo: Marie-Lais Emond)


  1. catji

    Wow, all that and The Dagga Couple too. 🙂

    • 2summers

      I know, right? It was that kind of year 🙂

  2. Kevin k m Collins

    Thanks for the update – always love your blog. Please do come back to the REEA farm in Craighall as the Gerakaris Winery is open, licenced and running tastings – new grapes arrive in Feb for a winemaking and would be lovely to show you around again.

    • 2summers

      What? I had no idea there was a winery in Craghall! I’d love to come.


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