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Hot restaurant district: Linden

In the north-west of Johannesburg, the little suburb of Linden is slowly blossoming into a marvellous foodie destination. Nestled comfortably between some of Johannesburg’s more famous attractions like Parkhurst and Greenside, the lesser-known Linden offers a variety of titillating tastes and experiences. Over the past ten years, Linden has assumed many guises. Once the home of Mama Tembo’s, a township-themed watering hole and restaurant in the heart of the ‘burbs, and spots like Cantina Tequila, Linden has shaken off her shabbier inhabitants in favour of lean canines, Bulgarians, Argentines and just a pinch of spice. Should you find yourself in the vicinity of 4th Avenue, grab a bite at one of Linden’s well-established eateries or indulge your palate at one of the neighbourhood’s newer occupants.

The new kids

Old neighbourhood favourites are sharing sidewalks with shiny new establishments, which is why Linden is suddenly all the hype. Linden’s Koffiehuis got a facelift last year, turning into Cafe DeeJon, a tapas bar and restaurant. The café’s extensive menu is complemented by live jazz performances on Sundays, special events with matching food, like the recently-hosted Bastille Day celebrations, and winter cappuccino specials, offering our favourite daytime drink at only R10 a cup.

Right across the street from Cafe DeeJon, The Whippet became a Linden legend within months of opening. This coffee shop offers a rare combination of great food, amazing coffee and stellar service. The Whippet’s unique coffee blend is on sale in store, along with other locally-produced treats, including a selection of delicious jams. Young Johannesburg designers exhibit their latest designs and fashions here, and the coffee shop also stocks a number of delectable South African olive oils. All the furniture inside is handmade and for sale. (If you love a good freshly roasted brew, check out our list of kick-ass coffees.)

The Whippet’s next door neighbour is an oasis of exotic and fragrant dishes and a symphony of colour. Bikaner makes the best North Indian cuisine in the neighbourhood. The restaurant’s extensive menu includes favourites like paneer palak and the owners are always around to make conversation. If you’re not a cricket lover, order takeaways in cricket season or learn to love the game.

Craft makers and lovers can grab a cup of coffee while stocking up for supplies at Crafters and Cravings, a family-owned restaurant established in 2003. Originally a home industry and gift shop, Crafters and Cravings grew into a full-blown restaurant in 2008. Enjoy a Saturday breakfast or stock up on fresh favourites at the harvest table between 11am and 4pm every day. Crafters and Cravings also offers light meals, baked goods and no less than 16 tea varieties.

La Perla offers Bulgarian fare to curious diners and regulars alike. In addition to traditional favourites like Shopska, a traditional Bulgarian salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, peppers and cheese, La Perla interestingly also offers pizza. It’s an eclectic mix worth inspecting.

Many locals were sad to bid farewell to neighbourhood favourite Suan Thai, but eager to welcome in its place Stir Restaurant and Bar. So new it’s practically wrapped in plastic, very little is known of this new wonder, but Eat Out is very eager to investigate. Watch this space.

The old boys

Nobody can mention food in Linden without tipping a hat to the Rembrandt Butchery. For over three decades this neighbourhood butchery has kept inhabitants in a steady supply of meaty treats and good conversation. Stop by on a Saturday for a helping of biltong and grab a treat hot off the grill on your way out.

Only a stone’s throw from Rembrandt Butchery, Picola Pizza and Pasta is perhaps Linden’s most surprising old boy. The strange Mozambican beach-style exterior protruding into the local Spar’s parking lot and the complete lack of inside seating might put the more discerning diner off Picola, but walking away would be a mistake. Picola’s pizzas are delicious and excellent value for money. The friendly service and gratifying meals more than make up for their lack of airs and graces.

If Satori’s walls could talk, they would tell the story of a changing neighbourhood, changing owners and consistently delicious Italian meals. In addition to the usual Italian favourites, Satori offers an intimate, neighbourhood-style dining experience.

The Linden Cheese Market, Fine Food Boutique and Coffee Shop offers something for everyone. Part deli and part coffee shop, it’s the ideal destination for foodies looking for special ingredients such as liquid nougat, artisan cheese or a selection of fresh, delicious breads. Keep this one in mind the next time the girls go out for lunch.

Lindenites have long turned to the comforting cuisine and homely atmosphere of Paputzi’s. A winter wonderland of fireplaces, lounges and oxtail, this spot also sells trinkets, gifts and homemade treats. In summer a large outside seating area, a play area for the little ones and a chicken or two roaming about offers tired parents and playful tots a happy retreat.

The Argentinean in Linden is one of Johannesburg’s best-kept secrets. With the odour of freshly-baked pastries and warm coffee, it’s no wonder this bakery and coffee shop is the destination of choice for early birds and cyclists. Pop in before work for a croissant fresh from the oven. Serious cheese-lovers should try a cheese croissant at least once – it’s worth waking up early.

 

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