Some of the best tacos in Johannesburg are served at a restaurant in Alexandra Township. Who knew?
I certainly didn’t. But luckily I do know Asanda Daza, and Asanda knows everything about food in Alexandra (a.k.a. Alex).
I’ve been on several adventures with Asanda over the years (see here and here), and she recently invited me and a few friends to check out some of her favorite new and old eating spots in Alex. We met Asanda outside the Marlboro Gautrain station and piled into a Toyota Avanza — Alex’s version of a minibus taxi — for a culinary afternoon in the kasi. (“Kasi” is a South African slang term for “township”.)
Eating (and Touring) Our Way Through Alexandra
Our first stop was a place called the Junk Park on the northwestern edge of Alex. When Asanda first told me we were going to the Junk Park, I pictured a literal park with sculptures made of scrap metal. But the Junk Park is actually a restaurant specializing in high-end junk food.
We needed some time to get hungry again after the Junk Park, so we visited a couple of non-culinary tourist spots. First stop was the historic Kings Cinema, Alex’s only movie theatre, which I’ve blogged about before. Unfortunately we couldn’t go in — the owner, who lives in the theatre with his family, had covid. But I wanted to see the theatre anyway. It’s recently been revived and is home to a local film club, screening movies on a regular basis.
After Kings Cinema we headed to the Alexandra Heritage Centre, which is an excellent historical/cultural museum about Alex. I’ve been before, but the museum is a must-see for every Alex tour. Right now the museum has an exhibition documenting the life of anti-apartheid activist Vincent Tshabalala with photos by Gille de Vlieg.
A Meaty Snack at Joe’s Butchery
We went for our next mini meal at Joe’s Butchery, a legendary Alex shisa nyama joint that I’ve visited several times over the years.
One normally goes to Joe’s Butchery to gorge on massive quantities of meat and beer. Since we needed to save room for another meal, we all shared a plate of grilled beef liver with pap and a side of spicy chakalaka.
Finally it was time for our last stop at Siga Culinary, a Mexi-Kasi (i.e., Mexican food in the kasi) restaurant in Alex’s Eastbank neighborhood. Asanda mentioned Siga to me several weeks ago and it prompted me to organize this tour.
I love the story of Siga Culinary. Gift Sedibeng grew up in Alex, studied hospitality, and eventually earned a spot as a culinary intern in San Antonio, Texas, where he fell in love with Tex-Mex food. He moved back to Alex and opened a restaurant in the front of his family home, which sits on a pleasant, suburban street.
Siga also serves burritos, quesadillas, chilli cheese fries, and nachos, along with more conventional South African meals like tramazinnis, steaks, and hake and chips. I will definitely go back.
And that was the end of our tour, which was a good thing because we were all very full.
If you’ve never been to Alex before — and I know many of the Joburgers among you haven’t — do yourself a favor and schedule a tour with Asanda. Alex has so much to offer and it’s nothing like most people imagine. Asanda has lived there all her life, is an excellent tour guide, and knows the township like the back of her hand. You can reach her at +27-63-515-4437 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alex from Siga has been our customer for a while now and he is so passionate about his food!
Great blog 😊
Oh yes, we spoke about you! He was impressed I knew about Azteca 🙂
I would never have imagined finding a decent Mexican restaurant in Alex!! Looks good though.
Alex is full of surprises.
So Tex-Mex with a South African spin? How cool, although I think the Junk food looked pretty amazing, too. I’ve been meaning to ask if there are usually desserts at the restaurants in South Africa, or no?
Oh yes, desserts are popular here. I think I just don’t post about them often because I rarely order dessert. I’m always full!
Thank you so much for the blog and the visit, Heather. This is a beautiful piece.
Thanks so much for the great tour, Asanda!