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.
I didn’t give much thought to internet access when I lived in the United States. American broadband internet is cheap and easy to get. Just about every home has it. And as far as I know, internet in the United States is always unlimited. I had never heard of a “data cap” before moving to South Africa. I didn’t think of internet use as “data”, and didn’t realize it could be “capped”. But in South Africa, most internet plans come with a data cap. You pay for a certain number of gigs (gigabytes) of data per month, and when those gigs run out, you pay more. The more YouTube videos you watch, the more photos you download, the more skype calls you make, the more gigs you use.
Today was my last day in D.C. Before leaving town I had hoped to visit (and blog about) the brand-new Martin Luther King Memorial. (We love our memorials in Washington.) But time and weather weren’t on my side. MLK will have to wait for my next trip home. Instead, I’ll leave you with some pictures of Filter, one of my favorite D.C. coffeehouses. Filter is hidden away on a residential street, just north of Dupont Circle at 20th and S. I’ve spent many happy mornings sipping coffee at Filter with my friend Bob, and that’s exactly what I was doing when I took these photos. A skilled barista brews me a single cup of Ethiopian Sidamo. Filter serves single-origin coffees from around the world, roasted locally in Annapolis, Maryland.
Note: A “cuppa joe” is an American slang term for a cup of coffee. I’ve just been informed that people outside the U.S. might not know this. When I left Washington D.C. for Joburg, I thought I was leaving coffee culture behind. I was under the impression that South Africa, like many other African countries I’ve visited, is ruled by tea drinkers. I was dead wrong. People take coffee seriously in Joburg. And unlike D.C., where most people (including me when I lived there) get their caffeine fix from flimsy cardboard or styrofoam containers while driving or hurrying down sidewalks, Joburgers tend to drink their coffee from real, washable coffee cups, stirred with metal spoons, while sitting on actual chairs.