Johanna and Sunday in their food truck

A Tour of Johannesburg Food Trucks

Lonely Planet recently asked me to do some research about Jozi food trucks for a book about food trucks in different cities around the world. Dream assignment!

Once I started investigating the Joburg food truck scene, I realized they’re everywhere and there are all different kinds. There are the hipster food trucks, brightly painted with clever branding and usually selling some kind of ethnic food with a twist. There are the basic South African food trucks — which are technically trailers, not trucks — usually plain white, selling down-home South African staples at rock-bottom prices. Then there are the trucks that fall somewhere in between.

The Hoods food trucksA collection of what I call “hipster food trucks” at the Hoods in Sandton.

Tselane's Kitchen in MidrandTselane’s Kitchen, a traditional South African food trailer in Midrand.

This post is by no means comprehensive. But here is a selection of delicious Jozi food trucks I’ve come across in my recent travels. Note some of these trucks move around so you might not find them in the same places I did.

Hangry Chef: South African/Indian cuisine (Joburg CBD and elsewhere)

I discovered the Hangry Chef, which at the time was called the Chilli Chef, in the parking lot next to Standard Bank’s headquarters on Simmonds Street in downtown Joburg. (There are tons of great-looking food trucks in that spot on weekdays and you don’t have to work for Standard Bank to access them.) Hangry Chef is run by chef Dalmain Samuel and his wife Lynelle, serving South African food with an Indian twist.

Hangry Chef truckA Hangry Chef staff member serves up my lunch.

On the day I visited Hangry Chef I ordered the chicken tikka with cole slaw over naan bread, topped with yogurt sauce. It cost R60 and it was fantastic.

Chicken tikka from Hangry ChefMy Hangry Chef lunch. I loved it. Chicken tikka tastes delicious with cole slaw.

Lynelle and Dalmain are South Africans of Indian descent and they originally come from Durban — South Africa’s Indian food Mecca. But not all of Hangry Chef’s dishes are traditionally Indian. They also serve burgers, beef stew, and all kinds of other Western dishes, with Indian flair. Chicken tikka with slaw is a good example.

Braai Point: South African (Braamfontein Werf)

Braai Point, which sets up daily in Braamfontein Werf (aka Milpark) near 44 Stanley Ave., is somewhere in between a hipster food truck and a traditional South African food trailer. The trailer is nicely branded and has its own Facebook page. But the food is purely South African and very affordable.

Braai Point truckThe Braai Point. (“Braai” is South African style barbecue.)

I was excited to find Braai Point serves South African steam bread, also called dumpling — this moist, sweet, boiled bread that I absolutely love. I ordered three think slices of the bread with a generous serving of beef stew for R40 — yum, yum yum.

Beef stew from Braai PointDumpling, beef stew, and a can of Stoney: There is no better South African lunch.

Braai Point also serves other traditional South African favorites like grilled meat, pap, butternut, spinach, and chakalaka.

Chilli Mania: Korean cuisine (Sandton and elsewhere)

I found Chilli Mania at the Hoods, a parking lot on Fredman Drive in Sandton where food trucks gather every Friday. Full disclosure: I’m not sure Chilli Mania is an actual food truck; it’s more of a stall. But it’s run by a Korean woman (whose name I embarrassingly forgot to ask [UPDATE: It’s Christine!]) and her food was the best-looking offering at the Hoods on the day I went. The Hoods has different vendors every week so check their Facebook page for updates.

I ordered the R60 Korean fried chicken wrap from Chilli Mania. The pork belly also looked amazing.

Chicken from Chilli ManiaChilli Mania chicken.

Chicken wrap from Chilli ManiaMy wrap in progress. The chicken was sweet and spicy at the same time.

Tselane’s Kitchen: South African cuisine (Midrand)

I like Tselane’s Kitchen so much that I drove all the way across town to Midrand to eat there — twice.

Johanna and Sunday in their food truck

Tselane (right) and her colleague Sunday (left) serve up some grilled steak with pap and beetroot salad.

Tselane, who also goes by her English name, Johanna, is a former domestic worker from Tembisa. A couple of years ago she decided to quit her housekeeper job and buy a food trailer. She experimented with a few different Midrand locations before settling on a spot in 16th Road across from the Hyundai dealership.

I’ve sampled Tselane’s beef stew and also her grilled chicken, which I found particularly good. But her most popular item is her chakalaka, a spicy South African relish made with vegetables, beans, and chillies that is often served with pap (maize meal porridge).

Tselane's chakalakaTselane’s chakalaka, made with onions, carrots, green peppers, chillies, and baked beans.

vetkoek and mince

Tselane also makes vetkoek (“fat cake” in English) — fried dough stuffed with curried mince.

Chicken meal from TselaneMy R40 lunch: Grilled chicken, pap, chakalaka, gravy, and morogo (African spinach).

Special mention goes to Doug from the Curbside Café coffee truck. I met Doug while he was selling coffee in Kramerville and he was the first person to tip me off about the Hoods food trucks. I also highly recommend Doug’s coffee, which you can find in various places around the Jozi northern suburbs.

Coffee from Curbside CafeThe Curbside Café — this is one rad hipster coffee truck.

The next time you’re tempted to grab McDonald’s for lunch, consider seeking out a food truck instead. I’m sure you’ll find one nearby. Local is lekker.

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18 Comments

  • Reply Choi June 20, 2018 at 7:13 pm

    Damn that looks delicious!!

    • Reply 2summers June 20, 2018 at 10:11 pm

      It was. All of it.

  • Reply Terry June 20, 2018 at 7:38 pm

    Mmm. Yummy. Have you see Trevor with his fire truck? He bought a beautiful old fire engine on a municipal auction and converted it into a food truck. It’s pretty awesome!

    • Reply 2summers June 20, 2018 at 10:10 pm

      No I haven’t! Will keep an eye out for it.

  • Reply autumnashbough June 20, 2018 at 10:26 pm

    I should stop torturing myself with your foodie posts. Probably won’t though.

    • Reply 2summers June 21, 2018 at 10:01 am

      Please keep up the torture.

  • Reply eremophila June 20, 2018 at 11:48 pm

    Congratulations on the assignment!

    • Reply 2summers June 21, 2018 at 10:00 am

      Thanks! It was a fun one.

  • Reply Tumi June 21, 2018 at 9:00 am

    Aw Heather I’m so happy to see Tselane there. I work in Midrand and sometimes stop by her trailer for a breakfast of vetkooek and mince. It is so delicious and ridiculously cheap – like R2 a pop. Very dangerous for the hips though.

    I’ll go give her mains a try this afternoon and show her how famous she’s become 🙂

    • Reply 2summers June 21, 2018 at 9:08 am

      Oh yes, please do! I sent the link to Sunday on Facebook but I’m not sure how often she checks. I also tried her vetkoek – so good 😍

  • Reply Lani June 22, 2018 at 11:27 am

    Dream assignment indeed! Congratulations! xo

    • Reply 2summers June 22, 2018 at 11:28 am

      Haha thanks. It was fun.

  • Reply PJ June 22, 2018 at 12:56 pm

    Great post, thanks! “Local is lekker” indeed. You’re pretty much a Saffa now…:-)

    • Reply 2summers June 22, 2018 at 12:57 pm

      Guilty as charged.

  • Reply catji June 24, 2018 at 3:50 pm

    It’s not dumpling, it’s potbrood. 🙂 “Pot bread,” cornbread, orginally done in a cast iron pot, fire pot. Dumpling…is an English thing, goes with some meat stew; kind of a ball of dough, cooked in the stew.

  • Reply Nicole June 28, 2018 at 1:58 pm

    Christine is AMAZING! You’re correct, she’s more of a vendor than food truck and does Neighbourgoods + Fourways Market every weekend. She also does catering and did a dinner for me that was absolutely fantastic — super authentic, delicious Korean food. Would highly recommend if you ever need a caterer 🙂

    • Reply 2summers June 28, 2018 at 4:22 pm

      Yes, I can’t wait to try her food again 🙂

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