Browsing Tag

restaurants

Chicken and waffles from the Kwoffee Shop in Melville

Chicken and Waffles in Melville (Lockdown Day 62)

It’s Day 62 of the South African lockdown. But I barely care about that right now because I’m just excited to write about cool things I saw and did today in Melville — like I used to do on this blog before there was a pandemic. I know you all want to hear about the chicken and waffles. But first let me tell you the rest. My first stop was the Heritage Baptist Church — one of Melville’s prettiest churches at the top of the hill on 7th Avenue, right next to the Melville Koppies — where my volunteer friends were packing food parcels for distribution tomorrow. I won’t say too much about this because I blogged a lot about the food parcel program last week and I’ll blog about it again tomorrow, when the actual distribution happens. But I want to reiterate what a wonderful group of volunteers this is and how grateful I am to be a part of what they’re doing. And I’m so happy they’ve been able to move their operation to this church, which has a lot more space than Tanya and Sean’s house and will allow them to help more people. After a couple […]

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Bamboo Thai, one of my favorite Asian restaurants

Is It Still Okay to Blog About Restaurants?

I’m not trying to be trite or make light of a serious situation. I’m just legitimately baffled and sad and unsure what to say or do about basically everything. For the purposes of this post I’m wondering if it’s currently acceptable to: A) Eat meals in restaurants; B) Order food from restaurants; and/or C) Write a blog encouraging others to go to a restaurant. I have no f*cking idea about about A or B but I’ve decided to go ahead with C. Bamboo Thai is a great restaurant serving solidly good Thai and other Asian cuisine. Also it’s in Melville and three blocks from my house. If there’s any restaurant that it’s still okay for me to go to, and blog about, Bamboo Thai is it. Bamboo Thai is at the corner of 5th Street and 4th Avenue (next to Winner Winner), where the Dizzy Lizzy laundromat used to be. The menu is mostly Thai (pad Thai, green and yellow curry, massaman curry, etc.) but they also have sushi, dim sum, and poke bowls. My favorite dishes are the pad Thai and the salmon poke bowl. The atmosphere at Bamboo Thai is extremely pleasant, with giant windows opening onto the […]

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Thandeka of Sweet Tea and Chickadee serves American biscuits to grateful customers like me

Mouth-Watering American Biscuits, in Joburg

On many occasions I have tried to explain American biscuits to my South African and European friends. “They’re not cookies. They’re savoury…kind of like scones,” I say, grasping for words to describe that dense yet flaky, crispy yet soft, impossibly buttery biscuit mouth feel. “But not really. Actually not at all.” In the summer of 1991 I worked as a hostess at a Bob Evans restaurant in Columbia, Maryland. Part of my job was to lift thick, fluffy biscuits out of the steel oven, arrange the piping hot biscuits onto plates, and set them onto customers’ tables. I consumed so many biscuits that summer. When customers left with their plates of biscuits untouched (crazy people!), I sometimes carried the plate into the back and gobbled them all down. It never occurred to me that American biscuits could exist in South Africa, just as it would never occur to a South African that boerewors could exist in America. Biscuits, like many foods originating in the American South, just don’t make sense outside the United States. Until now. Thanks to Sweet Tea and Chickadee, American biscuits have arrived in Joburg. They totally make sense and they are spectacular. The Story of Sweet […]

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Green chile cheeseburger

Green Chile Cheeseburgers (and Other Wonderful Things in New Mexico)

I lived 45 years without knowing there was such a thing as a green chile cheeseburger. Then I went to New Mexico and my world changed. A quick word on spelling. In most of America, this spicy pepper is a “chili” with one L. In British English, it’s a “chilli” with two Ls. Due to Spanish influence in the southwestern United States, the spelling in that part of the world is “chile” — one L, one I, one E. (Learn more on merriam-webster.com.) Confusing, I know. For the purposes of this post I’m going to use the southwestern American (i.e. Spanish) spelling of “chile” because that’s how it appears everywhere in New Mexico. The New Mexico Green Chile Now, some more information on the pepper itself. New Mexico chiles are not like jalapeños or habaneros or any other hot chiles I’ve eaten before. New Mexico chiles are bigger and just plain better, with a half-spicy, half-tangy flavor that I could easily eat in every meal for the rest of my life. When New Mexico chiles are harvested earlier, they’re green, and when they’re harvested later, they’re red. The red and green chiles have slightly different flavors, and New Mexican diners […]

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Giuliano eating pizza at Bistro Dolce Vita restaurant in Morningside

Jozi Restaurant Round-Up

When I first started 2Summers, I blogged about practically every Jozi restaurant I went to. (Even Spur.) I’m a bit more selective these days, as writing about every restaurant in town is neither feasible nor desirable. But I’ve been to quite a few interesting Jozi restaurants in the past few weeks, and as I don’t have time to write eight individual posts I’m lumping them all into one. Here’s a quick round-up before I dash off on my annual month-long pilgrimage to America. Jozi Restaurant #1: Che Argentine Grill in Parkwood Che is not new but it has a new location — the trendy Parkwood retail strip on Jan Smuts, near Rosebank. Many of you will remember Che from its former location on Fox Street in Maboneng, and before that its stall at Maboneng’s Market on Main. Luckily the new location maintains the same cozy, rustic feel as the old one. Che is owned by two South American guys, Oscar and Bernardo, who now live in Joburg. Their multi-flavored empanadas are magical, as is their meat — grilled in the traditional Argentinean way over a blazing fire. Che is at 128 Jan Smuts Avenue, Parkwood. Jozi Restaurant #2: Pablo Dos […]

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Bacon-avo burger from Hodad's in Edenvale

This Is the East: Hodad’s of Edenvale

Seventh in an occasional blog series called This Is the East, about hidden spots on Johannesburg’s East Rand. This edition features Hodad’s, a locally owned fast-food joint in Edenvale. I love supporting small, locally owned businesses that do their jobs better than big, international corporations. Hodad’s in Edenvale is a perfect example of this. Why would you buy a bland, assembly-line-style burger and fries from McDonald’s or Burger King when you can buy the same meal — only way better — from a charming, independently owned shop for basically the same price? Hell if I know. Go to Hodad’s. Hodad’s, Born in Edenvale Hodad’s is owned by a guy named Dylan, who used to work for Nando’s (a South African fast-food chicken restaurant) and hence ate chicken for lunch almost every day. After work Dylan often craved a good beef burger, and he went everywhere looking but couldn’t find one to his liking. Dylan swore to himself that if he ever opened his own restaurant, he would serve the best beef burgers in town. In 2014 Dylan opened Hodad’s, on a friendly little food strip in Van Riebeek Avenue, Edenvale’s main drag. And although Hodad’s does serve flame-grilled chicken, like Dylan’s old […]

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Mexican food at Picasso's in White River, Mpumalanga province

South Africa’s Best Tex-Mex Restaurant

Picasso’s Mexican Taqueria, which I’ve decided is South Africa’s best Tex-Mex restaurant, is not in Joburg or Cape Town. It’s in a small tourist town in Mpumalanga province called White River, not far from the Kruger Park. My anointment of Picasso’s as South Africa’s best Tex-Mex restaurant (I’m officially calling it Tex-Mex because the food is more like the Mexican fare you get in the United States, rather than Mexico) is not meant to disparage all the other South African Tex-Mex/Mexican restaurants I’ve written about over the years (see here and here). But Picasso’s, more than any other Tex-Mex restaurant I’ve been to in this country, has the full package — great atmosphere, great variety, great service, and (perhaps most importantly) great tortilla chips. Of all the Mexican-inspired restaurants I’ve been to in South Africa, Picasso’s feels the most like my favorite Tex-Mex restaurants in America. Picasso’s is owned by South Africans, inspired by a restaurant in Greece, and named for a famous Spaniard. I was really confused by all this at first but here’s some of the story: A South African couple named John and Lyn went to a Mexican restaurant called Picasso on the Beach while in Naxos, […]

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Owner Christophe at Ophelia in Emmarentia

My Favorite Jozi Coffee Shops: Ophelia in Emmarentia

This post, featuring Ophelia Café, is the ninth in an occasional series about my favorite coffee shops in Joburg.  Making a great coffee shop is about more than just serving great coffee. In the global indie coffee culture of 2019, coffee shops must also have style. They must be bright and Instagrammable, in a cool but unlikely location, with pretty tableware and light fixtures. The food must be good. The servers must be attentive and friendly, preferably with tattoos and cool but effortless-looking hairstyles. The furniture must be attractive and comfortable but not too comfortable, as customers need to stay awake as they type away at their MacBooks. Ophelia Café in Emmarentia checks all these boxes. Ophelia opened a couple of months ago in this funny, retro little shopping center/apartment cluster at the corner of 5th Avenue and Thomas Bowler Street (just behind the Johannesburg Botanical Gardens) in Emmarentia. I go past this center all the time — it’s a four-minute drive from Melville — and have been waiting for years for something cool to open there. (The fantastic Craft Beer Library, which used to be up the road in Linden, is now at the back of this same center.) I had […]

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Ba-Pita: A New (Old) Restaurant in Melville

Ba-Pita opened at the end of last year in Melville, at the top of 7th Street where the old Golf Tea Room used to be. A few weeks after it opened, a great article on Ba-Pita’s interesting origin story appeared on New Frame. I shared the article on my Facebook page and it got so much traffic that it somehow felt redundant to write a post of my own. Now that a few months have passed, I can’t let another day go by before getting Ba-Pita onto my blog. I went there for lunch again today — the food tastes so damn good and the vibe of the restaurant is so damn nice. So here’s an abridged version. (Read the New Frame article above for more detail.) To cut a 30-year-long story short: Ba-Pita opened in 1986 in Yeoville, which — as I’ve been told — had a similar kind of hippy-ish/hipster-ish vibe to what Melville has today. The Middle-Eastern-style restaurant became a legendary eating and drinking hangout for Yeoville’s bohemians. Times changed, the city changed, and Ba-Pita closed its Yeoville doors in the late 1990s. In 2018, the eatery re-opened in Melville under the same ownership. Lunch at Ba-Pita […]

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Fussy Vegan restaurant in Blairgowrie

The Hidden Vegan Restaurant in a Blairgowrie Petrol Station

I’m not a vegetarian and definitely not a vegan. While I totally recognize the benefits of a plant-based diet, both for myself and the planet, I love the occasional burger just a little too much to make that leap. (Don’t even get me started on cheese.) That said, I do limit my meat consumption at home and I often order vegetarian dishes in restaurants. And I empathize with the plight of vegetarians and vegans in South Africa, a country full of rabid meat-eaters. So when I heard — twice in the same week — about a mysterious takeaway restaurant called the Fussy Vegan hidden at a Caltex garage in Blairgowrie, I headed right over. An Unfussy Lunch From the Fussy Vegan I love everything about the Fussy Vegan. I love the name, which is evocative and easy to remember. I love that the Fussy Vegan is hidden in plain sight, sandwiched between a petrol station convenience store and a car wash. I love the branding and the friendly staff and the interesting selection of products, almost all locally sourced. Most importantly, I love the taste of the food. I showed up around 12:30 on a Thursday afternoon and the shop […]

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Gin cocktail from Tonic

Five Fantastic Jozi Cocktail Bars

There’s a cocktail revolution happening in Joburg. New cocktail bars seem to be opening on a monthly basis in this town. By “cocktail bar”, I do not mean a smokey pickup joint with a disco ball serving florescent cosmos made by a bartender with slicked-back hair and a shiny shirt. (For some reason this was my cocktail bar stereotype until recently.) I’m talking about classy, cool, thoughtfully designed establishments run by people who are as much artists and chefs as they are bartenders. There’s not a shiny shirt to be found, and the cocktails these bartenders concoct are not of the two-for-one variety. Each drink is a carefully crafted work of art meant to be savoured slowly, like a French meal. Don’t expect to order more than one or two. So, in a continuation of my long-running Jozi Top Fives series, here are my five classy Jozi cocktail bar picks. 1) Mix Mix, in Rosebank’s Keyes Art Mile, is the bar I visited most recently so I’ll write about it first. Mix is inside Mesh, which is a fancy members-only club during the day but open to the public on evenings and weekends. Confusing, I know, but don’t let this […]

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Restored wall at Rand Steam Laundries shopping centre

The Dramatic Story of Rand Steam Laundries

Once upon a time, about 130 years ago, a group of Zulu men called the AmaWasha ran a business washing clothes beside a stream, on the outskirts of a ramshackle mining town called Johannesburg. The water in this stream was particularly good for clothes-washing. Soon a bustling laundry called Rand Steam mushroomed on the spot, displacing the AmaWasha. South Africans hotels shipped their linens from from as far away as Cape Town to be washed at Rand Steam. The laundry closed many decades later but the original buildings — some of the oldest industrial structures in Joburg — received protected heritage status from the city. The buildings remained until the early 2000s, when a company called Imperial Holdings — to the rage and dismay of heritage activists and other onlookers — illegally tore down the Rand Steam Laundries to build a car dealership. Enter the heroes of this story: the formidable Flo Bird and her colleagues at the Johannesburg Heritage Foundation, who organized a resistance, picketed the site, raised a ruckus with the city government, and ultimately blocked the car dealership from being built. There wasn’t much left of Rand Steam save a few discarded elements of the buildings and […]

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