Jozi’s bustling Maboneng Precinct is home to some of the city’s most eclectic restaurants, shops and galleries.
The area that was once neglected and forgotten due to urban decay is now regarded as one of the city’s most successful inner city rejuvenation projects.
Maboneng is a Sotho word meaning “place of light”, an apt description of the vibey area that draws people from far-flung suburbia to experience the creative energy of the precinct.
1. The main attraction is still Arts on Main, which features the Market on Main food market every Sunday from 10am to 3pm. It’s a celebration of this gritty city’s allure and of its diversity with a delicious hodgepodge of different nationalities and their food.
Many of those who trade at eateries in the area throughout the week sell their goods at the market and you’ll find everything from Spanish paella and Argentinean asado to Chinese dim sum and Israeli shakshuka.
If you’re looking to buy food to take home, there’s artisan bread, home-made cordials, cheese, cupcakes, olives, pesto sauces and the now ubiquitous macaroons in an explosion of colours and flavours.
Canteen is the restaurant in the courtyard, the heartbeat of the area, where you can try beer-battered fish, burgers and salads or homemade chicken pie while sitting under olive trees drinking a craft beer and watching the world go by.
In one corner you’ll be transported to Addis Ababa thanks to a low-slung coffee station with plump brightly coloured cushions. An ancient proverb “buna dabo naw” (coffee is our bread) best describes the stature of the magic bean in Ethiopian life. Strong coffee aromas mingle with the scent of burning frankincense while bowls of popcorn are passed around.
You can visit the various galleries and clothing shops and stalls in the precinct and neighbouring streets and take a leisurely stroll while deciding exactly where to eat.
One thing is for certain: you will be spoilt for choice.
2. The Blackanese Wine & Sushi (The Main Change) is one of the newer establishments in the precinct and specialises in sushi and Asian food, including a noodle bar.
3. Canteen (Arts on Main) sits between the olive trees and art galleries. It’s open from Tuesday to Sunday during the day, and in the evenings from Thursday to Saturday. The breakfasts are delicious.
4. Chalkboard Café (Main Street Life) is The Bioscope’s en-suite diner. It specialises in bagels, pizza and light meals, and sells SA brewed craft beer.
5. Eat Your Heart Out (Fox Street Studios) is a kosher deli that serves shakshuka, latkes, bagels and hot pastrami on rye. The rustic restaurant also has vegan or vegetarian-friendly, gluten-free and fat-free options. It is open Tuesdays to Sundays from 7.30am to 4pm.
6. Little Addis (Fox Street Studios) has now found a permanent home in Maboneng. A staple of the Ethiopian table is its spongy injera bread, which serves as the “tablecloth” on your plate, with variety of dishes arranged on top of it. A small portion of the bread is torn off and wrapped around a mouthful of each selected dish. The food is flavoursome and delicious from the iab, fresh cheese similar to cottage cheese, to the doro wat (chicken stew with whole hard-boiled eggs) and lentil alitcha. Open Tuesday to Sunday from 11am.
7. The Living Room (The Main Change) is a health food restaurant situated on a terrace with hanging gardens and glorious views of the area.
8. Pata Pata (Main Street Life) is a 1950s-style diner offering gourmet meals and with a DJ playing Afro Cuban rhythms. It’s open all day and for dinner. There’s a wood-burning oven where you can create your own pizzas. There’s a good selection of cocktails served in jam jars.
9. Sharp! (Kruger Street), the latest addition to Kruger Street, braais up a storm all week. This is a shisanyama where patrons select their steak, chops or wors and have it braaied to their liking.
10. Uncle Merv’s Original Shakes (Fox Street) is a smoothie shop serving old classics, perfectly brewed coffee and on-the-go healthy snacks. Open Monday to Sunday from 7am to 4pm.
By Janine Walker