Up until 18 months ago, the east side of the southernmost block on Melville’s 7th Street (between 1st Avenue and 2nd Avenue) was a merry-go-round of opening and closing restaurants and shops. During the six years that I’ve lived in Melville I remember (just off the top of my head) a combination-cupcake-flower shop, a Scottish kilt shop, a bead shop (which moved around the corner), a pizza place, a bland café, an antique shop, a print supply shop, and a bridal shop (where I never spotted a single bride, or even a customer, in the two-plus years it was there), all open and close on that small stretch of street. This is generally the way things roll in Melville. But that half a block has recently become a hotbed of culinary, rock-and-roll trendiness and I have high hopes that the shops and restaurants there now will hang around for a while. I happened to eat at two of the restaurants on that block this week, and thought I’d do quickie reviews of them both. Hell’s Kitchen Hell’s Kitchen was the first new place to move into the merry-go-round block in late 2014, along with Freedom Hair, which I’ve reviewed before. Hell’s Kitchen […]
Yesterday I went to Rosebank for coffee and donuts. I waited 40 minutes for two Krispy Kreme donuts and 90 minutes for a Starbucks frappucino. At Starbucks with my donut and frappe. (Photo by Wimpie, one of the friends I made while waiting in line outside Starbucks.) It was worth the wait. Not because I’ve never had a Krispy Kreme or a Starbucks coffee before, and not because I couldn’t wait another minute to sample these over-hyped, all-American treats now that they’ve finally arrived in South Africa. It was worth the wait because waiting in those lines was a fun way to spend my Sunday afternoon. Also, I learned something. The line at Krispy Kreme, which remains lengthy even though the shop arrived in November 2015. The line at Starbucks, which opened less than two weeks ago. I’ve always made fun of South Africans who wait in long lines when American and European chains first arrive here. It’s happened a lot recently: Burger King, H&M, Krispy Kreme and now Starbucks. How silly, I’ve always thought, to freak out about such mediocre brands. I drove past the lines, laughing and shaking my head. I wrote snarky Facebook posts. Yesterday, I was sitting at home without much […]
A few weeks ago I organized an Internations coffee gathering at Industry Bakery in Emmarentia. I had been to Industry briefly once before, but didn’t sit down to eat. This time I ordered a couple of coffees and a full breakfast, so I thought I’d give the place a quick review in 400 words or less. Inside Industry Bakery. Before this recent visit I already knew that Industry has a pleasant atmosphere (I love the industrial feel of the interior) and good coffee. But I was surprised by the interesting breakfast menu. Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo of the menu and now I can’t find it online, so I don’t know the exact description of what I ate. But it was innovative and tasty. I wish I could remember exactly what this breakfast dish is called. It was a burrito-like wrap, which tasted sort of like a thin crumpet, with a spicy egg mixture inside. The man sitting next to me ordered these beautiful chocolate flapjacks, which contain no sugar and are therefore “Banting-friendly”. I didn’t try them. The man said they were good but could do with a little Banting-unfriendly sweetener. Either way, I love the look and would […]
UPDATE (OCTOBER 2017): I’m sad to report that Melville’s Turkish restaurant has closed. I believe the Mayfair location is still open. A few months ago, the corner of 7th Street and 3rd Avenue in Melville was a depressing place. One side housed a tired-looking sushi restaurant that no one seemed to go to and the other side housed the boarded-up remains of a bar called the Dollar Table. Looking south on 7th Street from the corner of 3rd Avenue. I would often walk past that corner and bemoan the state of things, especially the abandoned Dollar Table. (If you live in Melville then you probably know the recent history of the Dollar Table. If not, believe me when I say that the Dollar Table was a horrible place and everyone in Melville was happy when it shut down. But the boarded up remains were a depressing reminder of what used to be.) Such a prominent space on 7th Street, totally wasted. But I’m pleased to report that the corner of 7th and 3rd has received a makeover and is now my favorite place to go in Melville. Turkish Shawarma & Grill, the newest addition to Melville’s 7th Street. Turkish Shawarma & Grill, […]
One of the most rewarding things about being a blogger in Johannesburg is the feedback I get from Joburg expats and visitors. Over the years I’ve gotten many nice messages from people who used my blog to help orient themselves when visiting or moving to Joburg, and even from people who used my blog to help them decide to move here in the first place. Several of those people have become lifelong friends. Potential Joburg expats frequently ask me about the best ways to connect with new friends and find things to do here. When I moved to Joburg in 2010, I didn’t have access to many resources for meeting people and it took me a while to make friends. I had a South African boyfriend to show me around the city, but except for him I didn’t get to know many people right away. I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but looking back I realize that my first six to nine months in Jozi were pretty lonely. Unfortunately I didn’t know about Internations back then. Internations is a worldwide community for expats, with chapters in cities all over the world and dedicated online portals for each city where […]
I’ve been meaning to write a breakfast installment of my Jozi Top Five series forever. It’s a tricky one though because there are so many restaurants to choose from. Breakfast is big here and a huge percentage of Joburg restaurants open for breakfast. (On the flip side, a large percentage of Joburg restaurants are closed for dinner.) I don’t make it out for breakfast very often, as I’m hungry in the morning and usually too impatient to leave the house, go to a restaurant, place my order, and then wait for the food to be served. And when I do commit to going out for breakfast it’s usually somewhere close to home. So my list of top breakfast spots is unabashedly biased toward my own neighborhood: I’ve included picks in Melville, Milpark, Parkview, Parkwood, and Parkhurst. The list is by no means comprehensive, but hopefully helpful for those who frequent Joburg’s inner suburbs. 1) Salvation Café 44 Stanley Avenue, Milpark I can’t believe I’ve never written about Salvation Café before. It was one of the first Joburg restaurants I ever ate in — I had lunch there on my maiden visit to Joburg in 2008 — and I’ve been at least 25 times since. Salvation Café is in the courtyard of Milpark’s renovated 44 Stanley complex, […]
On Friday I was walking down Gwi Gwi Mrwebi Street (formerly known as Pim Street) in Newtown. Gwi Gwi Mrwebi is only two blocks long and is kind of a secret street. The only people who know about it are bird-lovers (the city’s oldest bird seed factory, D. Kingsbury, is there), graffiti artists/enthusiasts (the buildings on Gwi Gwi Mrwebi, along with the pillars under the M1 highway nearby, are plastered with graffiti), and people who live/work near the highway overpass in Newtown. Anyway, I was in Gwi Gwi Mrwebi Street on an impromptu graffiti tour with Ray and my friend Fiver. We had just finished admiring the bird graffiti on the walls of D. Kingsbury when we spotted a new glass storefront near the corner, almost under the highway. A coffee shop! We went inside to investigate. Craft Coffee. It’s all shiny and new and populated by coffee-drinkers! Excitement. I had actually heard a rumor a couple of months ago that a new coffee shop was open under the M1 Highway. My friend Louise reported that she went looking for it and came up empty. But the rumor was true, as it turned out. Craft Coffee is more of a coffee roastery/supplier than a […]
Just before the holidays, JHBlive.com asked me to do a review of Kaldi’s Coffee in Newtown. (Read the JHBlive review here.) I’m really glad I did that review, because I’ve been overlooking Kaldi’s for years and now I know that it’s one of Newtown’s gems. I enjoyed Kaldi’s so much that I’m posting my JHBlive review here too. Enjoy: I must have walked past Kaldi’s Coffee at least 100 times before going in. I was under the impression that it was just another Joburg coffee shop, and my list of favorite Joburg coffee shops is already far too long thanks to the saturation in Braamfontein. But oh, how wrong I was about Kaldi’s. Kaldi’s unassuming entrance. Kaldi’s Coffee was founded eight years ago by an Ethiopian guy named – you guessed it – Kaldi. An Ethiopian coffee house/sandwich takeaway shop in the middle of Newtown (right across Mary Fitzgerald Square from Museum Africa) is an interesting concept in itself, but the story gets better. Two years ago, Kaldi’s Coffee was purchased by South African vegan Mmabatho Mokwena and her husband. Mmabatho kept the old Kaldi’s coffee and sandwich menu – “South African” and “vegan” are two words that don’t appear […]
Sixth in my series of Sandton Snapshot posts, leading up to the publication of SandtonPlaces. Browse all of the Sandton Snapshot posts. South Africans like meat. In my experience this stereotype generally applies across races, genders, colors and creeds. Hence, quality vegetarian cuisine is scarce in South Africa and the vegetarian restaurants that do exist tend to remain best-kept secrets. I myself am not a vegetarian. I don’t eat tons of meat but I’m not willing to give up the occasional burger, chicken leg, or chorizo-laced pizza. But I do enjoy vegetarian food and I’m dismayed that it took me nearly four years to discover the best vegetarian restaurant in South Africa. It’s more than vegetarian, in fact — it’s vegan. That means no meat, no eggs, no dairy. It’s also mostly “raw”, meaning the majority of the food is uncooked or minimally cooked. The restaurant I speak of is the Leafy Greens Café. Yummy food at Leafy Greens Café. Don’t ask me what it is. All I know is that there’s no meat in it and it’s good. The first time I went for a meal at Casalinga, an acclaimed Italian restaurant on an organic farm in Joburg’s far-northern suburb of Muldersdrift, I didn’t even […]
Third in my series of Sandton Snapshot posts, leading up to the publication of SandtonPlaces. Read posts 1 and 2. I’m seriously behind in blogging and it’s starting to freak me out — so many stories to tell and not enough time to tell them. I have great stories and photos from Swaziland, the Free State, and even from my Port Elizabeth trip (which was more than three months ago), not to mention tons of Melville stuff. The list keeps getting longer and I’m continually bumping older stories in favor of breaking-news, like the publication of Johannesburg in Your Pocket or my rescue of the Hillbrow kitten. Anyway, blogging woes aside, I can’t let this week come to an end without a quick Sandton Snapshot. Today’s Sandton Snapshot is the Bean Republic.
I recently had a Twitter argument with a guy who said he thinks Joburg “lacks authenticity”. I never got to the root of what he meant (Twitter isn’t the place for complex debate), but I’m glad the argument happened because it got me thinking about what “authentic Joburg” is. My experience last Saturday afternoon, on the last day of the Joburg City Festival, illustrates what “authentic Joburg” means to me. Weekend travelers in Gandhi Square, posing for a photo as I pulled up in a Joburg Squirrel tuk-tuk. The lady on the right was indecisive about whether to wave or cover her face.
Braamfontein is hip. It’s so hip I can barely stand it. Every week at least one new restaurant/shop/bar/hotel/gallery opens in Braamfontein, each one hipper than the last. I love going there (Braamfontein is a 10-minute drive from Melville) and watching the hipness evolve. Father Coffee is the hippest of them all, by a long shot (pardon the pun). Father Coffee in Braamfontein. It’s hip with a capital H.