How often have we heard visitors ask “But where does one eat in Jo’burg?” Our visitors tend to stick to shopping centres instead of enjoying what is often called the best weather in the world. If you really must shop (it’s unavoidable, especially as the Christmas season approaches), here are some of my favourite restaurants. These are situated in or near shopping centres, so you can enjoy good food and perhaps even some views of those big blue skies.
The refurbished Rosebank Mall and the precinct around it offers a myriad of options for al fresco dining. The Firs is connected to the Mall via walkways with more dining and interesting shops along the way. A firm favourite – people are even prepared to queue for a table – is the vibey Doppio Zero. There’s good, fresh, tasty fare, tasty cocktails, decent wines and yummy coffee.
Next door, the Fishmonger is perfect for light (or banting) eaters: a grilled sardine starter accompanied by a small portion of Greek salad with top quality olives and feta is just the thing. Banters can also opt for calamari heads and a green salad with parmesan cheese. Alternatively you could head to Koi for some Asian-inspired fare.
Inside The Firs centre you’ll find the award-winning The Grillhouse– classic in both look and taste – with excellent grills that have the place packed to the rafters.
More or less a five minute walk from the Benmore Gardens shopping centre is the French-flavoured Thomas Maxwell. Here you’ll find eccentric décor with a front door opening right onto the main street and unmissable, French-inspired cuisine. They keep doing it right.
At the Morningside Shopping Centre, head to the Afro-Asian Green Peppercorn. It offers a view of those blue Jozi skies which, plus some top-notch cuisine and service.
Do some shopping of a more artisanal kind in Juta Street at the Neighbourgoods Market. Take a taxi (there are oysters and champagne on offer, you see), or the Gautrain, which stops nearby. The market is an offshoot of the Neighbourgoods Market at the Old Biscuit Mill in Cape Town and equally as popular for its gourmet artisanal cupcakes and enormous pizzas. The idea is to buy a glass or six of wine (depending on the size of your group) or a couple of micro-brews, and hang out. Fabulous chocolate from Fine & Raw or some pâté from Jacques Coetzee’s Apple Tree Terrines will also do very nicely.
Pavement eateries abound in this area and especially over weekends, sidewalks are packed with grazers. Across the road, the ‘luxury budget’ Bannister Hotel offers a tight, but outstanding menu and is a perfect perch to watch the fashionistas parade past.
If you’re into cutting-edge art and ready to celebrate the rejuvenation of downtown Jozi’s east side, head for Arts on Main on a Sunday. After shopping your little heart out, lunch at Little Addis (traditional Ethiopian) or the Living Room (a showroom for a green lifestyle and design). It’s a great spot for brunch or – with that view – sundowners. They area also offers Happy Hour at Lenin’s Vodka Bar; a funky cinema, and a monthly night market.