10 restaurants in Johannesburg that will blow your mind
Where to get your foodie fill in South Africa's largest city
When it comes to food, South Africa is synonymous with big slabs of red meat sizzling over an open fire. And while you can get your fill of braaivleis in Johannesburg, there are more intriguing dishes on the menu as well, with restaurants putting a local twist on recipes from around the world.
Pasta making at Café del Sol Classico / Image: Roelene Prinsloo
A pasta-tively amazing dish at Café del Sol Classico / Image: Roelene Prinsloo
Italian restaurants tend to be better when they’re family-run and at Café del Sol Classico, Mamma Luciana, daughter Chiara, and son Ryan Viljoen have consistently served up delectable dishes from the motherland since 2007. While the eatery has branched out – there’s a second restaurant in the city called Bontanico and a spin-off, The Landmark, devoted to the aperitivo – the original remains the best, blending a relaxed, homely atmosphere with angel hair-wrapped prawns, springbok carpaccio and porcini roasted chicken.
Cnr Blueberry Street, Shop 305, Upper Level, Honeydew, Roodepoort, 2040
Leaning into Joburg’s reputation as the New York of Africa, Proud Mary is based in The Bank, a striking building with a mid-century modern interior (think plush fabrics, natural wood and brass) that transports you back to the golden age of the Big Apple. The menu here is driven by the philosophy that ‘less is more’ with sparse but supremely tasty dishes like Wagyu beef tartare and West Coast mussels designed to celebrate gorgeous local produce that tastes even better when paired with tipple from independent wineries.
The Bank, 26 Cradock Ave, Rosebank, 2196
Fine-dining restaurant Marble takes South Africa’s love for cooking with fire to the next level. With a grand wood-fired grill imported from Michigan acting as the focal point of the restaurant, award-winning chef David Higgs tosses everything on the coals, from seafood and poultry to fresh, earthy vegetable dishes and even desserts. The décor here is as creative as the food with a string of local artisans providing custom wall panels, ceramic art and tableware and arty photographs shot exclusive for the restaurant.
Trumpet on Keyes, Corner Keyes & Jellicoe Avenue, Rosebank
Asian-inspired fine dining at The Shortmarket Club / Image: Talented Mr Will
This menu is your oyster / Image: Talented Mr Will
After winning rave reviews for a his Shortmarket Club in Cape Town – and dipping his toe in the Joburg food market with a series of pop-ups – star chef Luke Dale Roberts finally opened the Jozi chapter of his restaurant chain late last year. It’s not taken long for the eatery to build up a reputation as one of the best places in the city serving Asian-influenced fine-dining dishes like Japanese pancake with crispy calamari and yuzu dressing and Beef tataki doused in miso.
1 Oxford Parks, 199 Oxford Road, Rosebank
Taking its name from Barcelona’s world famous fresh food market, La Boqueria is a love letter to Hispanic cuisine, whether its Peruvian ceviche, Mexican tacos or Argentinian inspired asado. With the emphasis placed on market-style food, the menu here features a range of sharing plates groaning under smoked pork neck and chipotle pepper chicken, Spanish meatballs and beer battered crispy cubed line fish. The décor gets in on the act as well, referencing the bars in Barcelona down to the slow-turning ceiling fans and hanging macramé plants.
17 3rd Ave Parktown North
After cutting his teeth under Heston Blumenthal, chef Marthinus Ferreira brings his brand of experimental cuisine to Johannesburg with a menu featuring modern South African dishes with a global influence. Given the emphasis on creativity (whether it’s a new creation or a twist on familiar South African grub), the six-course tasting menu changes constantly – from beef carpaccio to gnocchi, aged Gouda and fancy rice pudding – with the only constant being the use of fresh, locally sourced ingredients that’s paired with a superior wine list.
Dunkeld West Shopping Centre, Jan Smuts & Bompas Str, Dunkeld West
The views from Alto234
A prettier croissant we never did see
At Alto234 you’ll come for the view and stay for the food and drinks. Perched on the rooftop of the Leonardo in Sandton, it’s the highest urban bar in Africa with staggering 360-degree views over the city. After your jaw drops you can stuff your gob with a wide selection of tapas including pulled pork belly, a Wagyu beef sliders or west coast oysters. Given that this is the best spot for sundowners in the city, the drinks menu, pleasingly, is twice as long, from local beers to some bubbly and cocktails.
57th Floor, The Leonardo 75 Maude Street, Sandton
Few restaurants in Jozi have a more Instagrammable backdrop then Chaf Pozi. Located at the base of Soweto’s Orlando Power Station with its two iconic mural-covered cooling towers, it’s a spot that gives you a taste of township living. At Chaf Pozi, it’s all about shisa nyama – generous portions of meat cooked outside over the open flame while you stand around having a few cold beers listening to township tunes. If you’re looking for a quiet dining experience this ain’t it. At Chaf Pozi you wade into the crowd, eat with your hands and party until late into the night.
Corner of Nicholas Drive and Kingsly Sithole Street. Corner Chris Hani and Nicholas Street, Soweto
The brainchild of two friends, Tumelo Maepa and Hlompho Chauke, Solo Sandton does everything with a touch of elegance. Every dish here looks gorgeous whether you pick and mix from the tapas menu (which includes a clever take on bunny chow, a local fast food dish that crams curry into a hollowed-out bread) or go for something a bit more comprehensive like a lamb shank korma. The award-winning interior design at Solo Sandton includes a wine cellar that’s worth the trip alone and sports a unique arched wine rack.
Shop 2A, Central Centre Cnr Gwen Lane &, Fredman Dr, Sandton, 2196
Located on Vilakazi Street, the only avenue in the world to produce two Nobel Prize winners – Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu – Sakhumzi in Soweto was once a private residence that cooked up such delicious meals, it lured people from all over the neighbourhood. That welcoming atmosphere remains to this day with diners from all over the world seeking out Sakhumzi’s Ubuntiu ox liver, Phomolong lamb chops and Vilakazi Street chicken wings. Those who fancy a challenge can tackle the buffet and gobble up as much as they can in two hours.
6980 Vilakazi Street, Orlando West, Soweto, 1804