Though Melville is popular for new restaurants, the rest of Jozi is also busy popping up new foodie spots all the time. These are the ones to try.
A whole menu is in development to be enjoyed at Joburg’s highest bar, but for now it’s amazing enough to be up on the 51st floor brunching on beignets (puffy fried pastry-like doughnuts) and smoked mackerel. At sundowner time, try the beautiful and delicious 5101 cocktail put together by Joburg’s new mixology genie from Mootee to celebrate the spectacular view.
Some of the folk connected to Jamie’s Italian at Melrose Arch have started this different concept. The irresistible little spot serves those bubble waffle cones around seemingly anything. Fresh juices and innovative flavour ice creams like cream soda or black cheesecake are a couple more good reasons to stumble into Ciao.
Coco Reinarhz is the seasoned chef of many great restaurants like Sel et Poivre and Petit Sel, but now he’s poised to open a new place in Central Square called Épicure. Chef Coco is originally from Burundi with much experience in Africa and Europe. His food signature is elegant, modern African-French dishes that are perfect in presentation and deliciousness. Épicure by Chef Coco will have an al fresco section and here the emphasis will be on fresh, healthy eating. This includes breakfasts, which will start at 8am every day of the week. Also within the space is a cigar bar with its own humidor; Épic, the bar specialising in rum; and the appropriately named Cure, a deli.
The yeasty smells of both the artisanal beers and the artisanal pizzas at Impi make it a little difficult to move past and keep exploring. Step inside and note the tables designed like the Zulu men’s earpieces. The pizzas are yours once you’ve chosen your own toppings. The bar is made of plastic crates and the two owners’ collection of Zulu artefacts.
A bright row of yellow daisies draws the eye to @Kate’s Kitchen. Inside is more yellow cheer and an elegant interior. The name of the game here is different cultural homely foods, including vegan ones, vegetarian ones, the meaty ones and fish ones. The goal is for your plate to be reminiscent of eating at your mother’s house. A popular dish is the oxtail served with a choice of sides like creamy samp, mushroom mash, peas and grilled vegetables. Also popular is the creamy chicken and prawn pasta. The desserts here are also becoming infamous among the local businessmen.
Jono and Malcolm of Hell’s Kitchen and Santa Muerte have developed their new slightly smarter restaurant a bit further downhill in Melville’s 7th Street, on a rather classy property they’ve restored. The menu has been developed with the wonderful new Spanish charcoal oven in mind, featuring Basque and Spanish influences. The food comes as tapas, though non-sharing dishes are also on offer. The excellent food is to be enjoyed with the wonderful wines to the tune of pre-1980s music.
This one is already very popular with families, the sundowner crowd and hipster couples. The signature dish is a steamy pleasing char siu pork ramen, based on a broth of chicken or pork, red miso and soy, and comes topped with pork belly braised in soy, mirin and sake, plus egg, spring onions, shiitake mushrooms, and bok choy. Experienced ramen lovers can even build their own bowls. Cocktails are fun, especially the Japanese-style candy-store inspired ones.
If you’re one of those people who feel no urge to visit the largest mall of anywhere, The Mad Nomad may just change this attitude. Iskendar – charcoal-grilled minced lamb and garlic wrapped in flatbread and slathered with a rich tomato sauce, yoghurt, butter, real sumac, onion, rice and grilled vegetables – is here to eat whenever you like. You’ll feel like you’re on holiday in Turkey.
Third in a sequence of reliably wonderful Momos run by the well-known Tim, Laurence and their partner Aadil, this new Momo has its focus on ramen. This is where its name hails from – pronounced Momo Ando, it refers back to Momofuko Ando, the original inventor of these phenomenal noodles. Momo &O’s prime example of this deliciousness is the shio ramen, which is a traditional style with a double broth of chicken and dashi. It’s a dish both rich and delicate in flavour, balanced by the rye noodles and finished with tender roasted brisket, endamame beans, pickled bamboo shoots, egg, and sweet miso that changes the flavour of the broth as you eat. All the sharing baos for are also available on the menu, in addition to poké bowls.
Despite being new, there are queues outside Mootee Bar. A band of multi-award-winning bartenders – Dominic Walsh, Peter Good, Devin Cross and Denzel Heath – formed the new Melville bar that serves trendy food and cocktails. The cocktails are must-tries – stunning and delicious. You can even watch them being made in the glass-box inner area. The food is a big draw too, like the biltong ‘bitterballen’ or the chicken bunny chow. Choose your seat on the fabulous outside rooftop deck, in the open-air garden alley or in the private lounge.
This is where the news channels and publications operate in Joburg, so the WiFi is exceptional and the Bean There coffees are even better. The food is simple but rather yummy, like the bacon melt sandwich. There are larger meals too and pastries to accompany your coffee. It’s answered a real need in the area.
This place has a wonderfully exciting Cuban-ish vibe and look. The food is really good and doesn’t have to be faithfully Cuban to taste very good – it’s all about enjoyment. Chef Marcel and his manager have put together some magic and their prawn curry, mojo-rubbed pork belly and Cuban sandwiches are winners. The bar and its rum are prominent contenders for your attention. You’ll want to try one of the cocktails.
Saigon Suzy comes from the same people who brought you the Bolton Road Collection. It’s a unique and playful experience, featuring clever Asian-inspired cocktails and street food and tapas items from Thailand, Vietnam, China, Korea and Japan. The cherry blossom garden is cute and there are ‘No Tell Motel’ secret karaoke pods. The Miso Awesome is their popular ramen bowl with a choice of chicken breast, pork belly or vegan agedashi tofu. The signature cocktail is China Girl, made with vanilla vodka, plum liquor, cranberry and lime, but we love the Hidden Dragon coffee with condensed milk and vanilla vodka.
Caitlin and Dennis Human once had a market stall so popular with gin lovers that they had to find permanent premises. They sidled in next to A la Bouffe, whose starred chef is a brother-in-law. Newly opened, they are extremely unlikely to look back. There’s gin here but there’s also damn good food. Specially sought out are the gin-prepared items, like the gin and beetroot-cured salmon. There are also some warm gin and citrus olives that should really be patented. There’s no wrong drinks choice to make. Popular choices, though, are the Basil Box and the Lucy In the Sky with Diamonds.
Brought to you by Retail Capital, sponsors of the Eat Out Retail Capital New Restaurant of the Year Award. Want to find more new restaurants in your city? Check out our new restaurants section.