Inside City Perk Cafe

10 Rad Joburg Things I Didn’t Blog About in 2018

It’s that time again: When I look back on all the cool stuff I did in Joburg last year but didn’t get around to blogging about. There were many such things in 2018 — I didn’t blog as much as normal last year, especially toward the end. But I’m planning to change that in 2019. I think I’m a much happier person when I blog.

Anyway, I did a similar post last year and everyone seemed to like it. If I had written ten more blog posts in 2018, here’s what they would have been about.

1) The Moral Kiosk

The Moral Kiosk is one of those hard-to-explain Joburg places. It’s part coffee shop (beans from Father Coffee), part vintage clothing shop, part vinyl record store, part live music venue. The Moral Kiosk is whatever it wants to be on a given day, and I love that.

Quiet Mnqali in the Moral Kiosk
Quiet Mnqali, fashionable fixture at Melville’s Moral Kiosk.
Inside the Moral Kiosk on 7th Street in Melville
Pure vintage zen.

I especially love the Moral Kiosk because it’s on 7th Street in Melville, my favorite place.

2) Joubert Park Greenhouse

Joubert Park greenhouse
The greenhouse in Joubert Park, beautiful without its glass.

Joubert Park is Joburg’s version of Central Park: a huge green space right in the center of town. I’m not gonna lie — Joubert Park is not the cleanest and probably not the safest so visit with care.

But on the northern end of the park, behind a beautiful wrought-iron gate, stands the tall, graceful skeleton of Joubert Park’s Victorian greenhouse. The greenhouse has lost most of its glass and it appears abandoned. But looks can be deceiving. There’s a nonprofit operating at the Greenhouse, called the GreenHouse Project, and things are happening there.

I showed up at the Greenhouse with my colleague Marie-Lais and found a lovely woman named Mary hoeing away inside. Mary is an experienced permaculturist and was really excited to show us around.

Joubert Park greenhouse in downtown Joburg
Old tires, potentially saved to become planters, stacked up in front of the greenhouse.

I have no doubt Mary and her colleagues will keep the GreenHouse Project alive. Read more about it here.

3) 99 Juta Street

99 Juta Street in Braamfontein, Joburg
99 Juta Street — a bit of Miami in Braamfontein.

99 Juta Street is in Braamfontein, a couple blocks up from from the Neighbourgoods Market and right across from the Black Forest Bakery. It’s a building filled with the most beautiful furniture and interior design shops, including Dokter and Misses and Joe Paine. 99 Juta also hosts occasional events. It’s a must-visit for anyone stylish.

Apartment 2B in 99 Juta.

4) Pick-a-Book boxes

The Pick-a-Book boxes aren’t one place per se, but rather one thing appearing in several places. Local reading enthusiast Derek Smith is putting them up as a way to encourage Joburgers to share books.

Pick-a-book Box in Melville
Pick-a-Book box on 3rd Avenue in Melville, next to Bonolo’s Garden.

There are seven or eight boxes scattered about — send me a message if you’d like their exact locations. But if you have books you’d like to donate, my number one Pick-a-Book recommendation is the box in the parking lot at the Wilds. Going there is a great excuse to visit what has become my favorite public park in Joburg. The box at Kingston Frost Park in Brixton is also fun to visit.

Pick-a-Book box at the Wilds.

5) Streetbar Named Desire/Saigon Suzy

Okay this is actually two places, not one. But Streetbar Named Desire and Saigon Suzy share the same building on Jan Smuts Avenue in Parkwood, and they are both so fun I can’t choose one or the other.

Streetbar Named Desire bar in Parkwood, Joburg.
The beautiful first floor balcony at Streetbar Named Desire.

Streetbar Named Desire, named for the Tennessee Williams play, serves fancy cocktails and tapas. Saigon Suzy serves Asian fusion and has karaoke. Both places are insanely hip, which sometimes annoys me, but the food and atmosphere are too much fun to be annoying.

Indoor wall mural at Saigon Suzy.

I recommend going to Parkwood on a weekday evening (preferably not Friday because too many hipsters) and have drinks upstairs at Streetbar followed by dinner at Saigon. Or visa versa — you can’t go wrong either way.

6) Spinning at GOG Gardens

GOG Gardens, in the Protea Glen township in Soweto, deserves a post of its own and I may yet write one. I went to GOG Gardens to watch a spinning demonstration by legendary driver Jeff James.

Jeff James, climbing out the window of his BMW while the car spins around madly amidst clouds of burning rubber.

Spinning is too complicated to describe in one or two paragraphs, but basically it involves driving old BMWs very fast in circles while creating as much smoke as possible and climbing outside/on top of the car as it spins. I only witnessed one or two minutes and that was enough to take my breath away several times over. But GOG Gardens hosts spinning nights on a regular basis along with various other events.

How??!!

7) St. Martin’s School

Most people know about St. John’s College in Houghton, the oldest private school in Joburg. But how many know about St. Martin’s School — almost as old as St. John’s and designed by the same architects, originally founded as a school for black boys — in the rough-and-tumble suburb of Rosettenville?

Campus at St. Martin's School in Joburg
The St. Martin’s campus.

St. Martin’s, which used to be called St. Peter’s, was once known as “Black Eton”. Oliver Tambo and Hugh Masekela attended school there. Then the apartheid government closed the school down in the 1950s an reopened it a couple of years later as an all-white school named St. Martin’s. (Typical dick move, apartheid.)

Today St. Martin’s is thankfully integrated and has the most beautiful chapel.

The chapel at St. Martin’s.

8) Love Me So

Love Me So (play on the word miso) is yet another Asian fusion restaurant in Jozi. Asian fusion is super trendy here but there’s a reason for that — it’s freaking delicious.

Looking inside Love Me So, on 4th Avenue in Melville.

I love Love Me So because: a) it’s just around the corner from me on 4th Avenue in Melville; and b) the menu has this great make-your-own-ramen option and it’s currently my favorite thing to eat in all of Joburg.

My own ramen creation, with noodles and tofu and egg and bok-choy.

Love Me So is cozy and cool and has a nice selection of wine and cocktails.

9) City Perk Café

I walked past the City Perk Café, on the Main Street pedestrian mall in the downtown Mining District, at least 100 times before finally eating there two weeks ago. City Perk mainly serves the 9-to-5 workers from the nearby mining companies and banks and is only open during the week, which is probably why I kept missing it.

Anyway I’d been missing out — City Perk is delightful.

City Perk.

The Main Street pedestrian mall is one of the most pleasant places in downtown Joburg and City Perk is in the center of it all. There is tons of outdoor seating, and on Friday afternoons the restaurant lends space to clothing and souvenir vendors and musicians. The menu offers solid sandwich fare and other South African basics. I love the art on the walls inside.

Sandwiches from City Perk Cafe
Lunch at City Perk.

10) Ellis Park Pool

I’ve written about Jozi pools before — see this post about Zoo Lake Pool, and the Linden pool featured in my “stuff I didn’t blog about” post from last year. This city’s public pools are fantastic and Ellis Park Pool is the best of them all.

The Olympic-sized Ellis Park Pool.

Ellis Park Pool is smack in the middle of downtown Joburg, in a very underprivileged neighborhood. But it’s huge, beautiful, and relatively well-maintained. It’s also heated.

Read more about the Ellis Park pool and the “#20Laps” project on Jozi.Rediscovered.

Selfie time at the pool.

Happiness.

The Ellis Park Pool makes me optimistic about Joburg. And I think that’s a good place to end this post.

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14 Comments

  • Reply Andy January 6, 2019 at 7:46 pm

    Great New Year’s post! I look forward to going to many of those hot spots in 2019.

  • Reply dizzylexa January 6, 2019 at 8:09 pm

    Great collection of amazing places. I keep on forgetting about the Moral Kiosk when I’m in Melville, must make a plan to visit.

    • Reply 2summers January 6, 2019 at 8:11 pm

      Yeah it’s a fun place to just wander into.

  • Reply autumnashbough January 6, 2019 at 8:22 pm

    What an amazing greenhouse. Are there any plans to restore the glass?

    • Reply 2summers January 6, 2019 at 8:29 pm

      I don’t think so. During our visit Mary and Marie-Lais were discussing the fact that the greenhouses really aren’t necessary for growing plants in Joburg. We have such a great climate and the temperature hardly ever goes below freezing. The original greenhouse was used mostly for exotic decorative plants I think, and now the project is all about urban, edible gardening. But the greenhouse is beautiful anyway so hopefully it will just stay as it is 🙂

  • Reply Kerry Wilson January 6, 2019 at 9:13 pm

    We Saigon Suzy’s and just eat up stairs on a friday to aviod the hipsters. Will gove 99 Juta street and Moral Kiosk a visit.

    • Reply 2summers January 6, 2019 at 9:21 pm

      Does Saigon Suzy have an upstairs? I don’t think I saw that!

  • Reply catji January 6, 2019 at 11:33 pm

    🙂 Good one!

    Ramen…so i finally googled it; it’s been slowly dawning on me that it’s not another word for instant noodles. :-p

    And hipsters Why is it such a thing, when all around the world, people make disparaging comments about it.

    • Reply 2summers January 7, 2019 at 6:15 am

      Yeah I think the instant-noodle ramen was initially named after the ‘real’ ramen like you see in this post. And good point about the hipsters – hahaha I don’t know how to answer that question 😂

  • Reply Barry Payne January 7, 2019 at 5:30 pm

    The government closed the school known as St Peters because of the ‘Group Areas Act’ and it was reopened in 1958, as St Martins, not by the government but as a private school and has been a beacon of excellence in the south for 60 years. Owing to the decline of Rosettenville and surrounding suburbs, plans are afoot to relocate the school to a location near Alberton.

  • Reply Nikki Brighton January 7, 2019 at 6:25 pm

    You make me want to plan a little trip up North immediately.

    • Reply 2summers January 7, 2019 at 6:50 pm

      Do it! Best time of the year in Jozi 🙂

  • Reply Lani January 11, 2019 at 12:42 pm

    Killer list!!!

    Spinning…how, indeed???

    • Reply 2summers January 11, 2019 at 12:44 pm

      It’s TOTALLY insane.

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