My friend Kamini recently migrated up to Johannesburg and since I used to live there, I promised her a list of foodie gems to check out. I began by drafting Kamini an email, and then stopped… What if I posted the list here for everyone? Sharing is caring, right? If you have a favourite that’s not listed, post it to the comments section with a little blurb as to why it touched you in your special place.
Thomas Maxwell Bistro – These guys perfect iconic dishes like tomato tart, creamy garlic mussels in white wine and crème brûlée. I visit TMB whenever I’m in town, sometimes just to have a glass of Steenberg MCC and a chat with the chefs. Perfect for a first date. Put on some red lips.
Bellini’s – Upmarket cafe food served in cosy vintage Italian black & white interior, just off Oxford road in Illovo. Consistent, tasty food and a decent wine list. I go back for the rare fillet, parmesan & rocket salad and the chicken prego roll.
Moema’s – At the Parktown Quarter in Parktown North. Go for breakfast. You may queue, but press your nose up against the shop window and oogle their enchanting confectionary.
Turn n Tender – at the Parktown Quarter. Tasty ribs and epic flambéed chicken livers. Their BBQ basting sauce is legen-wait-for-it-dary.
Wombles – also at the Parktown Quarter – Run by Zimbos (I know, right?). Best steak in JHB, no spice. Not shy to charge a small fortune for said steak. Roll with bills.
The Local Grill – across the road from the Parktown Quarter – Excellent, more affordable steak restaurant. The guys that run it are so welcoming and will most likely give you a tour round their kitchen. They only serve Chalmar and Greenfields free range beef cuts which have been aged perfectly. Fantastic wine list, wine room for functions, they also hold cooking classes in their kitchen on their weber-sponsored equipment.
La Cucina di Ciro – Parktown North – Ciro is the Don of Italian eateries in Joburg, he blends fresh ingredients with old world techniques, inspiring food that’s perfectly balanced in flavour. Eat the herb & wild mushroom suppli with gorgonzola & aubergine mousse, and the black cherries in rum with chocolate semifreddo. Great vibe.
DW eleven-13 – Beautiful bistro-style food. Saucier got some skills. Relaxed modern atmosphere, attracts the blingy Saxonwold set. Excellent service. Eat the quail with bacon jus or the grilled Mauritian seabass. The rib eye and thrice-cooked chips will melt your mouth. DW eleven-13 got my vote for best dish at Taste of Joburg recently with their dessert: a bitter Valhrona mousse, with chocolate soil and rosewater ice-cream.
Saxon Hotel – go for the sweetbreads if it’s the only thing you eat. Rudi Liebenberg left behind a sweetbreads legacy there. I’m also fond of the chauffeur drive up to the hotel in their very fancy cars and the champagne & canapés on the pool deck before dinner.
Tortellini d’ Oro – My favourite Italian deli, gelateria and restaurant at the Oaklands shopping center. They serve authentic, somewhat obscure (but always delicious) dishes. The orrecchiette with broccoli and anchovies changed me. The tiramisu resembles creamy caffeinated happiness.
Cube – Set tasting menu each night. Eat as many as 23 bite-size courses of fusion genius. Menu changes constantly. Parktown North.
Bottega – 4th Avenue, Parkhurst. Mediterranean dining, well-thought dishes and tasty specials. Strawberry daiquiris of note.
Ruby’s – Sushi on the Parkhurst strip. Not an adventurous menu, but decent sushi. Rainbow roll heaven.
Greenlands Wholefoods – Situated in the old, leafy suburb of Parkview, this is a health shop cafe that serves surprisingly tasty vegan food. Great selection of fresh juices, smoothies and health foods.
Kamini darling, happy adventuring. I’m coming to visit soon to help you check off the list and add more.. Check out all the museums and galleries and take crazy pictures of the inner city architecture. Jozi has some beautiful parks too.