After a long day of soaking in South Africa’s history, some fine dining was in order. The better restaurants in Jo’burg offer a sort of nouveau cuisine with African infusion. The more adventurous diner might like to try Ostrich spring rolls with a tangy sauce for an entree, and a Springbok filet with a side of Caesar for main. Two cool little restaurants spring to mind: Lucky Bean in Melville, and jazz and dinner at Sophiatown in Newtown. At Sophiatown, live jazz is played and patrons all look like rock stars with their wild afro hairdos and big decorative shades.
The fledgling suburbs of Jo’burg are set to give our trendsetting likes of Paddington, Sydney, and St Kilda, Melbourne, a run for their chicness. Melville offers a buzzing nightlife where artists and poets and hangers-on hang out in coffee shops and bars, alongside cool second-hand clothing stores. Parkwood is dotted with cool little galleries that offer everything from the genuine African tribal artefact to contemporary simulations in the form of jewellery and homewares.
For a more traditional shopping experience, Sandton and Rosebank provide the full glossy mall experience. The former is home to all the great designer labels from Louis Vuitton to Christian Lacroix, and boutiques like Gerani where you’ll find rare designer pieces; while the latter, though it too has its share of designer outlets, also invites shoppers to its African Crafts Market where you can score unique artisan pieces for small change. If you get a chance during the day, stop in at 44 Stanley Street for lunch and a spot of shopping. La Basse-cour has some really cute homewares, and Duka Art offers one-off traditional artefacts as well as contemporary kitsch objet and accessories.
For all its dichotomies, and sometimes the shocks it provides international visitors, Johannesburg is utterly loved by its people. They cherish its vibrancy and blended African energy; love to get eclectic in aesthetics, whether it’s filling up their art galleries with a mix of traditional artefacts and modern installations, diversifying their a la carte menus, or decorating their stunning hotels.
With a little security-consciousness and a streetwise attitude, Johannesburg does indeed have a lot to offer tourists looking for something a little extra-exotic. And it certainly toughens you up for any challenging safari that might lie ahead…
Pictured previous box above, clockwise from top left: interior of Lucky Bean in Melville; artefacts at Deku Art in 44 Stanley Square; traditional African dolls at the Crafts Market in Rosebank; exterior of jazz restaurant Sophiatown in Newtown.
CONTACT DETAILS & WEB LINKS:
Cnr Northern Parkway & Gold Reef Road Roads
Phone: +27 11 309 4700
8115 Vilakazi Street
Orlando West, Soweto
Phone: +27 11 936 4244
Lucky Bean Restaurant
16, 7th Street, Melville
Phone: +27 11 482 5572
Sophiatown Bar Lounge
1 Central Place
Phone: +27 11 836 5999