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restaurants

Salmon sushi at La Marina

#Gauteng52, Week 41: Fresh Fish at La Marina Foods

Welcome to Week 41 of my #Gauteng52 challenge, for which I visit and blog about a new place in Gauteng Province every week for 52 straight weeks. This week I visit La Marina Foods, a fish and specialty food supplier in Modderfontein. Marie-Lais and I drove into a bland office park in Modderfontein. We blew right past La Marina Foods the first time, asked directions twice, and eventually made our way to an imposing metal gate. Is this place really open to the public? I thought. It looks very warehouse-like from the outside. But the security guard opened up for us. We parked, stepped inside, and found ourselves in a culinary wonderland. The La Marina deli. La Marina is first and foremost a food supplier — mostly seafood — supplying restaurants and hotels all over Joburg and South Africa. If you live in Joburg you’ve probably driven past many La Marina delivery trucks without noticing. But La Marina also has a retail shop and deli, again mostly seafood, but also selling cheese, meat, and exotic packaged foods from all over the world. The food at La Marina made me really, really happy. Kirsten Jooste, owner of La Marina, in front of the […]

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The Best Massage in Joburg

In 2014, while working on the SandtonPlaces book, I made a brief visit to the Indaba Hotel in Fourways. I took a walk around the hotel grounds with the marketing person, looked at the rooms, the restaurants, etc. Then we went to see the spa, and my eyes widened. I vowed to go back there someday for a massage. Three years later I finally got my chance, when Hello Joburg Magazine invited me to participate in a blogger event at the Indaba. I got to have dinner at the hotel, spend the night, and then enjoy an entire morning at the hotel’s Mowana Spa where I received not one, not two, but three incredible massages. The Hotel First, the hotel. The Indaba is a large hotel and conference center, just off William Nicol Drive in Fourways. I know what the locals among you are thinking: William Nicol Drive does not seem like the most peaceful place for a relaxing getaway. Trust me though, once inside the hotel grounds you’ll have no idea that you’re steps away from the horrors of Fourways traffic. Everything is green, the fountains are trickling, the birds are singing. The real world disappears. The Indaba Hotel […]

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Solly's fish and chips with seasoning

#Gauteng52, Week 32: Joburg’s Best Fish and Chips

Welcome to Week 32 of my #Gauteng52 challenge, for which I visit and blog about a new place in Gauteng Province every week for 52 straight weeks. This week I visit Solly’s Corner, a takeaway shop serving fish and chips and other fast-food delicacies in Fordsburg. A few months ago I stumbled upon an article in Roads & Kingdoms called 18 Things to Know Before You Go to Johannesburg. It was an odd collection of tips, in my critical opinion. But the article’s 18th tip caught my attention: “Get stuffed” at Solly’s Corner. The article described Solly’s Corner as Joburg’s “epitome of comfort food”, yet I’d never heard of it. I started to ask around. Apparently Solly’s is famous for fish and chips. Solly’s Corner is in Fordsburg, Joburg’s historically Indian neighborhood and one of my favorite cheap-eats dining destinations. It’s strange that I never stumbled upon Solly’s before. I usually go to Fordburg for curry or samoosas, and I suppose it’s never occurred to me to seek out fish and chips. The entrance to Solly’s Corner. Solly’s Corner, true to its name, is at the corner of Lilian Ngoyi Street (formerly Bree Street) and Central Road. There isn’t a big sign […]

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Click Boutique Hotel garden

Quickie Restaurant (and Hotel) Review: Clico Boutique Hotel

Last month Ray and I were invited to enjoy dinner, bed, and breakfast at the Clico Boutique Hotel in Rosebank. I jumped at the chance. People are always asking me for Joburg hotel recommendations, but I rarely have much to offer because who spends the night at hotels in their own city? I was also eager to try Clico’s restaurant as I’d heard good things. My birthday was in July so I decided to schedule our visit on that day, and Clico turned out to be a great place for a sumptuous birthday feast. Dinner at Clico. The garden and pool area at Clico Boutique Hotel. What I liked about Clico: 1) The location. Clico is in Rosebank, just a couple of blocks from the Gautrain station and across the street from the Keyes Art Mile. 2) The service. The reception staff, wait staff, and everyone working at Clico were particularly outgoing and friendly. I offered some feedback after my stay via email, and the Clico management responded immediately in a positive and proactive manner. 3) The wifi. Clico has free, unlimited wifi with a simple password and no silly vouchers or megabyte limits. WHY DOESN’T EVERY HOTEL DO THIS? 4) The […]

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Rosto in Linden - outside at night

Quickie Restaurant Review: Rosto in Linden

Linden, a quirky Jozi suburb not far from Melville, has always been one of my favorite dining spots in town. The Cheese Shop is there, as is Hashi. There are at least five great Linden restaurants that I’ve eaten at but never gotten around to blogging about, and at least five more that I’ve heard great things about but haven’t eaten at yet. So when I received an invite to have dinner at Rosto, I jumped at the opportunity to expand my Linden repertoire. Rosto, which is right in the middle of Linden’s 7th Street restaurant row. Rosto is new — less than a year old — and specializes in Italian-inspired roasted chicken and street food. [Did you know that Leonardo Da Vinci invented the automated spit-roaster more than 500 years ago? I didn’t, until my meal at Rosto.] This is a Quickie Restaurant Review so I’ll be quick. What I liked about Rosto: 1) The decor. The restaurant is bright and cheerful and there is enough light to read the menu at night. Inside Rosto. 2) The staff. The people working at Rosto are nice, responsive, and knowledgeable about the menu, which is important because the menu is extensive […]

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Chef Martin holding a rainbow cake at Café Patisse

#Gauteng52, Week 25: Scrumptious Pastries at Café Patisse

Welcome to Week 25 of my #Gauteng52 challenge, for which I will visit and blog about a new place in Gauteng Province every week for 52 straight weeks. This week I visit Café Patisse in Emmarentia. I’ve been hitting the bakeries hard in this #Gauteng52 series. Out of 25 posts so far (browse them all here), at least five are about bakeries or bakery-like dining establishments. I wasn’t planning to add another so soon. Then I tagged along on a visit to Café Patisse and changed my mind. A woman gazes through the window of Café Patisse’s new location on Komatie Street in Emmarentia. I don’t blame you, lady. Everything in there looks delicious. Here’s what she was gazing at. Café Patisse, which belongs to South African pastry chef Martin Ferreira, recently moved from the industrial neighborhood of Wynberg (near Sandton) to the inner suburb of Emmarentia. I had never heard of it before but according to Marie-Lais, who tipped me off about Café Patisse, Martin has had a pastry-loving cult following in Johannesburg for a while and is also a supplier for hotels and other restaurants. Martin is best known for his eclairs but he also produces spectacular cakes and other pastries. Inside […]

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Cocktail at Social Kitchen + Bar

Three Bars for Great Cocktails in Jozi

I’ve never been a big cocktail drinker. With the exception of an occasional margarita at a Mexican restaurant or gin and tonic on a game drive, you’ll rarely see me sipping liquor. I feel like most cocktails are 80 percent ice, and I find myself finished after five minutes and wishing I’d ordered wine instead. However, I’ve recently been to three new bar/restaurants in Joburg that transformed my perception of cocktails, inspiring me to write my first-ever cocktail blog post. Here they are: 1) Social Kitchen + Bar Thami Gobedi, bartender at Social Kitchen + Bar. Social Kitchen + Bar is notable for several reasons. First, it’s a restaurant inside Joburg’s largest and best known retail bookstore: Exclusive Books in Hyde Park Mall. Second, Social Kitchen + Bar has one of Joburg’s top chefs, Russell Armstrong, and the food is spectacular. (I haven’t eaten a full meal there yet but I’ve tasted some mind-blowing samples.) Third, the bar takes inspiration from its location and offers a creative menu of literature-inspired cocktails. The Social Kitchen dining room which, unlike all the other restaurants in Hyde Park Mall, has actual windows. A cocktail inspired by Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, made with Bulliet bourbon, lemon, orange marmalade, and Angostura […]

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Shepherd and his beaded hoopoe in Melville, the best antidote to the Trumpacolypse

Melville: The Trumpocalypse Antidote

Perhaps it’s the combination of jet lag and grief, but I am not recovering well from Trumpocalypse. I tried to put on a brave face with my gratitude list, but the truth is I’m horrified and I’ve lost a piece of my identity. I often remark upon the fact that when living in South Africa, the first thing everyone notices about me is my American-ness. This has never really bothered me. I’ve always been more or less proud of my country. I’ve been happy to be known as an American in Quirky Johannesburg. But now, suddenly, my relationship with America feels like a relationship with a spouse who I just discovered has been cheating. Who is this country I thought I knew so well? How could you humiliate me like this, America? What did I do wrong? How did I miss the signs that we were growing apart? How could you leave me, and how will I cope without you? Worst of all, what will happen to the millions of other betrayed spouses who are still living with you? What will happen to the entire world? We trusted you, America, and you’ve let us down. Fortunately, I live in Melville. A sign outside Junkie Charity Store, one of my favorite hangouts in […]

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Inside Mad Giant

Five Amazing New Places in Downtown Jozi (not in Maboneng or Braamfontein)

Downtown Jozi is on fire. There are cool shopping, dining, and art destinations popping up all over the city. The Joburg Ballet performs at Joziburg Lane, one of downtown’s newest destinations, on its opening weekend. Regeneration in Joburg’s inner city is nothing new: Exciting stuff has been happening downtown since I moved to Joburg in 2010, and long before that. What’s different about the last year or two — and especially the last six-to-eight months —  is that inner-city regeneration is no longer largely limited to the hipster hubs of Maboneng and Braamfontein. Urban renewal is everywhere and it’s becoming easier to travel between all the new restaurants, shops, and markets. Maboneng and Braamfontein are still great and there is new stuff opening in those areas all the time. But if you’re looking for fun in the city, it isn’t necessary to limit yourself to those neighborhoods. Here are five of my favorite new non-Maboneng, non-Braamfontein spots, all opened within that past several months. 1) Mad Giant/Urbanologi The Mad Giant Brewery is a huge, beautifully designed craft beer joint in the 1Fox Precinct in Ferreirasdorp. Urbanologi is a high-end, Asian-inspired tapas restaurant inside the Mad Giant premises. Outside Mad Giant. The upscale interior. Mad […]

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Corner House Capital Cafe coffeeshop ceiling

Downtown Joburg’s Newest Secret Coffeeshop

2017 Update: I’m very sad to break the news that the Capital Café has closed. Sniff. 2017 Update #2: A new coffee shop has moved into this space. Yay! It’s called DM Coffee. I haven’t been yet but I’ve heard good reports. Secret coffee shops are popping up in downtown Joburg, in strange, wonderful little corners where the city is coming alive. Craft Coffee in Newtown was my favorite discovery last year. This year’s discovery is Capital Café in the center of the Joburg CBD. Capital Café. I first glimpsed Capital Café a few weeks ago on my friend Jay Jay’s Instagram feed. (Jay Jay’s feed is fantastic, by the way. You should follow him.) I have been looking for an excuse to go there ever since, and finally found one last weekend when I scheduled an Internations Coffee Time get-together there. Capital Café’s coffee is decent. The café also serves nice breakfast sandwiches, baked goods, and other light fare. But this café’s big selling point is not the food or the coffee. It’s the ceiling. Have you seen a more beautiful coffeeshop ceiling in your life? I haven’t.  Another look at the Capital Café ceiling. It looks like there was once a grand chandelier hanging from the center. […]

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Hashi sushi ball

A Good Sushi Restaurant in Joburg

This is a quick post to inform you of a good sushi restaurant in Johannesburg. Having spent most of my life on the American east coast, where great sushi restaurants abound, I struggle to find decent sushi in Joburg. The fish is often bland and lacking in variety, there is too much mayonnaise, and the sushi rolls are uncreative. I suppose this should come as no surprise; Joburg is a land-locked city and there aren’t many Japanese people around. But similar to my quest for good Jozi Mexican food, my quest for good Jozi sushi is ongoing. I have discovered a few exceptions to the bland Joburg sushi rule, and Hashi is one of them. A Hashi sushi roll. Hashi Fusion Japanese Cuisine, on 7th Street in Linden, is an actual Japanese restaurant, rather than an Asian restaurant that threw some sushi on the menu as an afterthought. They have all kinds of crazy sushi roll combinations that I haven’t seen anywhere else before, which is a sign of a good sushi restaurant in my opinion. The fish is fresh and the sushi is well crafted. Hashi also serves sushi pizza. Sushi pizza! I wish I could remember what this dish — a […]

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Cosmopolitan outside in 2014

Joburg’s Cosmopolitan Hotel: Then and Now

The Cosmopolitan Hotel, at the corner of Commissioner and Albrecht Streets, is one of Joburg’s most legendary buildings. Built at the turn of the 20th century, the Cosmopolitan is big and Victorian, its columned, curly-cued cupola looming high above the street. The crumbling facade is strangely magical, like something from a Tim Burton film. The Cosmopolitan, once a prominent gentleman’s club, was in a state of disrepair for decades, its lower-level windows bricked up to prevent trespassing. (Read more about the Cosmopolitan’s history here.) But there have been rumblings of change for a few years, especially since the Maboneng Precinct started sprouting up around the Cosmopolitan. Now, the wait is over. The Cosmopolitan has been made over into a restaurant/retail/gallery space, and it’s officially open for business. I was lucky enough to take some photos inside the Cosmopolitan in May 2014, when a soon-to-be-stalled renovation had just begun and the place was a complete mess. I’ve been sitting on these photos for two years, waiting for the renovations to finish so I can show the before-and-after. While the renovations aren’t 100% finished yet, I can’t wait any longer. Outside the Cosmopolitan Hotel: 2014 and 2016 The front of the building looks more or less […]

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