November Restaurant of the Month: Kafe Noir

by | Nov 30, 2018 | Arts and Culture, Food and Drink, Johannesburg, Johannesburg City Centre, Restaurant of the Month | 6 comments

In the very heart of downtown Joburg, on a block no one would expect, is a magical corner of African style. Papy Nakuw, acclaimed Congolose-South-African founder of Urban Zulu, has his fashion design business there, as well as a hip backpackers and a hair salon.

But this post is about the culinary magic at the corner of Anderson and Van Brandis Streets. The culinary magic of Kafe Noir.

Papy at Kafe NoirPapy, the King of Cool, at Kafe Noir.

Kafe Noir is the restaurant attached to Urban Backpackers. It’s been there for a couple of years but up until recently it was more of a small coffee shop; Papy recently expanded the space and it’s now a full-on restaurant.

Entrance to Kafe NoirThe entrance to Kafe Noir. 

Inside Kafe NoirCool people hanging out in Kafe Noir.

The menu at Kafe Noir looks quite basic at first — black type on white laminated paper, mostly sandwiches and burgers with a few South African dishes mixed in. But look again.

Find the listing for carapau, a grilled Portuguese mackerel, and order it. Don’t ask questions, just do it.

Fish from Kafe NoirGrilled carapau with chips (fries) and salad.

This fish, prepared by South African chef Bokang Legele and costing only a few dollars, is hands-down the best thing to eat in downtown Joburg. The fish is juicy and delectable, with spices tucked under the crunchy skin. The salads are fresh and tangy. The chips are crisp and well seasoned. The service is friendly and the atmosphere is hip and unpretentious. It’s all perfect. If you’re not in the middle of a workday, as I was, you could wash your carapau down with a cold beer or a gin and tonic.

After lunch, take a stroll across the street and you might find Papy with a mouth full of pins, fitting a starry ballgown onto an Australian gospel singer who traveled across the world to own an Urban Zulu original. But only if you’re lucky.

Papy and his tailor at Urban ZuluPapy with singer Laurette Chala, who came from Australia for this dress and I don’t blame her one bit. The man on the right is the ridiculously cool manager of Papy’s fashion studio but I’ve forgotten his name. (Papy, if you read this please remind me.)

Laurette Chala in her Urban Zulu dressLaurette in all her starry glory.

Kafe Noir is at 100 Anderson Street, Marshalltown.

Read the rest of my 2018 Restaurant of the Month series.


  1. Ashly Pashlee

    This place looks incredible!!! I’ll have to check it out if I get any time to visit! Also, you have amazing photography skills!

    • 2summers

      Thank you 🙂

  2. sebby holmes

    Great review. Food looks amazing. I love your style of writing. Many thanks for sharing. Best wishes Sebby

    • 2summers

      Thanks so much Sebby!

  3. Charmain

    Inspired by your review, a small group of us (4 adults and 2 kids) went to Kafe Noir for Saturday lunch on 15 December. To our disappointment, they only had wings and chips or steak and chips on the menu, and only beer for drinks. The lone guy on duty appeared really surprised at our request to have lunch. I don’t know if Kafe Noir is more of a weekday place?

    • 2summers

      Hi Charmain, oh no I’m so sorry to hear that! I will investigate. Sorry you didn’t have a good experience.


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