If you’re looking for more than just ham and cheese sandwiches for your next lunch break, check out these top places to go for lunch in Johannesburg.- by Getaway Magazine.
1.Oakes Brew House, 33 High Street, Modderfontein
In an industry traditionally dominated by men, it is significant to note that Oakes Brew House is the first all-girl brew house in Johannesburg. If you are looking for both relaxation and entertainment, this venue satisfies equally (for grown-ups and kids). Oakes Brew House specialises in Portuguese and wood-fired oven delicacies. Upon entry, you are greeted by huge tables perfectly placed under big oak trees, creating a backyard ambiance. The open area houses a kiddies play area which adults can easily monitor from the tables.
The Brew House produces thirst-quenching, home-brewed and hand-crafted beer with quirky names like Butt Stout, Easy Blonde and Oakes Ale. If the idea of beer doesn’t excite you, the brew house also offers six variants of roasted coffee beans that are just as thorough. The menu is wonderfully diverse; the messicana pizza is always a winner! Book your seat in advance.
If not to meet the charming four owners of this first in our country, you have to make time to bask in the ambiance and spend a day experiencing something new.
2.Il Giardino & The Room, 44 Stanley, Milpark
The combination of olive groves in the courtyard, live music and the scent of garlic-infused homemade pasta swirling in the air presents guests with the perfect escapism: a piece of Italy in Jozi. Il Giardo and The Room is a family-run restaurant and the staff are friendly and enthusiastic. Be sure to try the traditional Afrikaans boerekos, or Cape Malay curry (find great Cape Malay recipes here). The delectable fish dishes are paired with a white wine from their generous selection and is well suited to toasty summer days.
The popular slow-cooked lamb, dates, apricots, goat’s cheese, and mint pizza is just a taste of the restaurant’s twist on what we have come to expect from Italian restaurants. Not one to shy away from an eclectic dish, I had to try the slow-cooked lamb pizza infusion for myself! You know that expression “silence is golden?” Well … gold!
Il Giardino & The Room is the perfect weekday lunch retreat and will equally satisfy on weekends. Budget beforehand as prices are a little more than average. Booking is essential.
3.Kong Roast, The Terrace at Cedar Square, Fourways
The new and improved Kong Roast is divided into a oriental-style “eastern” section and the more modern “western” section. Having relocated to Cedar Square the restaurant is plush, airy and strangely familiar – boasting a new cocktail lounge, and an elevated smoking/private dining area encased in glass. If you are an avid drinker of wine, you will be pleased by the full wine cellar you immediately notice as you relax into your seat.
To start things off, why not try the duck samosas (never disappointing) and the chef’s tasting platter. Everything under the dim-sum section never lets me down but I would recommend the Hong Kong pears which, for R50, come as a portion of three potato dumplings stuffed with duck, chicken and prawn. It’s possibly the best dim-sum combination I have had. Another great option is the gyoza: pork with leeks, carrot and chives in wheat wrapper, lightly fried, then steamed. These come as a portion of four, for R42.
Kong Roast in one of those special occasions restaurant’s that provide a great daytime escape. Not to mention they have a dim sum menu to die for!
4.Daleahs, 6 De Beer Street, Braamfontein
The developments in the Johannesburg CBD has made me really happy. What it has meant for the inner city is more diversity and the introduction of local proudly South African business, like Daleahs. If you appreciate a casual-chic, laid-back and unpretentious spot that serves breakfast all day, Daleahs is the right pick. It’s situated near the trendy 70 Juta Street hub; look out for the bright green building or listen out for the sounds of soft indie music playing. The restaurant, owned and run by Daleah Arvanitis, who is not only cool along with the hipsters strewn across the cosy restaurants interior, but makes the effort of making her guests feel at home. And at home you feel.
The menu is updated on the chalkboard daily and often influenced by customer feedback and favourites. Try the beef sliders which are even better than they had been rumoured to be. If you’re in the mood for something a little sweet, you must try the peanut butter cake. I call it a slice of glee!
WiFi is free and unlimited, and the atmosphere decidedly relaxed and friendly. Alongside coffees (Americano – R10), specialty teas and fresh pastries, there is little that this daytime eatery doesn’t offer.
5.District Six Eatery (D6), cnr Greenhill & Barry Hertzog Road, Emmarentia
There are a very few places in Johannesburg that hold as authentic a South African-ness within them as the eclectic District Six Eatery (D6). This quaint little place is a treasure tucked away in Emmarentia and one of Joburg’s best-kept secrets. Kaapse musiek plays over the sound system, the decor is kitsch yet charming and the lanterns and hats on the pink walls add delightful retro accents. D6 is perfect for a lunch date, or to enjoy with family or friends. There is a BYOB policy (bring your own bottle) so don’t forget your bottle of wine!
The dishes – served with helpings of love and attention to detail – are deliciously spiced and come in big portions that can be shared among the table. The samosas are the best I’ve had! Try them as starters served with crispy onion, laid atop a bed of tomato, avo, lettuce and pawpaw. With a wide selection of vegetarian, chicken and lamb bredies, bobotie’s (try this tradition bobotie recipe) and curries with home made rotis, rice and sambals, both South Africans and International visitors would equally scoff down the Cape Malay recipes.
District Six Eatery’s desserts are known to satisfy: try the melktert, a Cape Malay style of a koeksister and a coconut pastry known as a hertzoggie.
6.The Wolfpack, 4th Avenue, Parkhurst
I don’t need much convincing when it comes to a good burger and beer. Upon my hearing that newly opened The Wolfpack on 4th Avenue in Parkhurst was serving burgers and craft beers, I had to go see for myself.
Choose from the craft beers on tap from their choice of seven, with one of them being their very own Wolfpack Big Bad APA. There is a further selection of 20 bottled crafted beers should you want to go beyond your comfort zone and try something new. You must try one the 10 select burgers on the menu, all served with a choice of fresh salad or fried side. The Moroccan-inspired burger is a must-try, keenly followed by the mouth-watering beef teriyaki. A side selection of six different options from fillet to pastas are also available. All ingredients, food and produce used in the kitchen are locally grown and prepared in house. If you don’t eat burgers or are perhaps looking for something a little lighter, burgers can be prepared without a roll or simply try the sweet potato chips and hummus dip. The salads are dainty and marvelous and there’s a certain joie de vivre of freshness in each crispy bite!
Wolfpack is certainly a den made for the pack. Come hungry!
7.Coobs, 4th Avenue, Parkhurst
It’s a tough task trying to drive past Coobs on 4th Avenue without straining your neck. The grand, open-plan floor and double-volume face-brick, are pleasantly contrasted with wood finishing, bright quirky artwork and perspex chairs. The result: an eclectic contemporary feast to the eyes.
Every evening there is a different type of freshly baked bread (often bursting with beetroot, spinach or various other surprises). Roughly 75% of the food used in the restaurant is sourced from the owner’s free-range organic family farm in the Magaliesberg. You’ll be please to know that the focus here is on comfort food. Choose the organic beef steak tartar with free range egg yolk, red onion, anchovy, gherkins and a homemade ketchup (R70.00) as a starter, or get straight into the mains with the organic BBQ chicken in home made tacos with corn cream, guacamole and a tomato salsa (R80.00). The lamb rogan josh bunny chow (try this fantastic lamb bunny chow recipe) with mint bread and sambals is the perfect spoil-me-lunch-treat. Book a seat in the outside area for the perfect balance of sun and shade. And since you’re spoiling yourself, why not finish off the experience with the delectable rhubarb tart with honeycomb.
If not for the food, visit Coobs for a drink at their handmade bar and marvel at the architecture that surrounds.
8.The Blackenese, Kruger Street, Maboneng Precinct
The Blackenese is more than just a restaurant. The township chic restaurant also operates as a catering company and also hosts regular sushi classes. Owner Vusi Kunene, is all about bringing sushi (with a twist) to the people and has brought the right dose of African flavour to the Japanese art. An assortment of curries and sushi can be enjoyed throughout the week, with Sundays being a treat as you can relax while staff prepares tasty prawns on the braai (if you’re visiting the Maboneng Precinct on a Sunday, be sure to check out Market on Main too). Sushi classics like sashimi, California rolls and nigiri are given modern African twists: like biltong sushi, wasabi parcels and vegetarian rolls containing cucumber and strawberries. Definitely try the strawberry and cream cheese dessert sushi for a bit of sweetness after your meal.
Although The Blackenese is not yet licensed, the waiters are very keen to pop out to get you a glass of wine, whiskey or a cocktail at one of the neighbouring restaurants. This experience will certainly redefine what you’ve come to know about sushi!
9.Junipa’s, Hobart Grove, Bryanston
Junipa’s, also affectionately known as The Junipa’s Experience is, well, an experience. An all-day café and bistro, Junipa’s has captured the hearts of children and parents for its ability to extend children’s offerings further than most restaurants claiming to be child friendly.
It is hard not to be hypnotized by the aroma of baked goods trailing from the on-site bakery, or the stirring intensity of freshly roasted coffee alluring you in. An all-day gourmet fare; come in for lunch and enjoy a fresh loaf of Black Olive Ciabatta, or a white loaf of Potato, Thyme and Onion bread. You’ll certainly be glad you did! Open seven days a week, Junipa’s offers a wood-fired pizza oven area for children to create their own pizzas and also allows kids to order anything off of the menu, but in smaller portions. How do you like that!
A coffee roastery, bakery producing a range of fresh ‘artisan’ breads, pastries and cakes (made on-site, the old fashioned way), a child friendly menu… the combination truly is a thrill worth visiting. Even in your just popping in, make an effort, even if its just for the award winning croissants!
10.86 Public, 87 Juta Street, Braamfontein
Braamfontein is slowly becoming one of the hippest places to be seen in Jozi’s inner city (check out the Neighbourgood Market in Braamfontein). The Grove in Braamfontein recently welcomed 86 Public, a gourmet pizzeria named after the year in which gold was discovered in Johannesburg.
Small spaces generally make for very cosy eateries and this venue is an intimate way to spend a relaxed afternoon lunch. The visible pizza oven at the back is the first feature you will notice, before the retro checkerboard walls, high bar stools and quirky light fixtures. There are over 20 pizzas to choose from and you will certainly find a one to suit your palette. If you are vegetarian, you’ll be pleased to know that 86 Public offers six delicious choices. Try the rewarding affair of roasted butternut, sweet corn, zucchini, basil pesto, sour cream and rosemary. Or, if that seems too bold, the classic margarita made with plum tomatoes and fresh basil wins every time!
Expect live bands on Sunday afternoons for a great way to close off your weekend.
11.Little Addis Cafe, Fox Street, Maboneng Precinct
Try the meat and veggie combo injera (a sour spongy flatbread served) platter, or vegetarian stews with red lentil stew, spicy butternut, potatoes and cabbage salad. A little bit of adventure is what you will have to bring along as meals are eaten by hand by tearing the bread (injera) and soaking it in different stews. If you enjoy your coffee, you have to experience Little Addis’ coffee ceremonies. Small cups of strong Ethiopian blends made from ground coffee beans and served with popcorn, which enhances the flavour of each sip by neutralising your taste buds in between. The ceremony is a traditional ritual done to welcome visiting guests to one’s home.
Little Addis is little so book in advance to secure your experience.
12.Stanley Beer Yard, 44 Stanley, Milpark
Because wine is not beer and Stanley Beer Yard is all about beer, this is not really the place for wine. But in a world where craft beers are all the rage, if you want really good, top-quality craft beer, this is one of the best spots.
Based on &Union, Cape Town‘s craft beer pleaser, the venue stocks a full range of craft beers (which is what brings all the boys, and girls, ‘to the yard’). Enjoy lunch on a Saturday and appreciate diverse live music from country sounds to retro DJ’s entertaining Jozi’s hipsters and trendsetters. The indoor bar is rustic and loungy, while outside there is a beer garden with long tables and benches.
Stanley Beer Yard also serves food: simple, straightforward meals that pair well with a good beer and do a superb job of filling you up. Enjoy a gourmet prego (chicken or sirloin) served with a side of gherkins and fries for R60, or share a ‘sausage fest’ – a selection of German sausages served with mustard and cool cabbage as a snack between beers. All orders are to me made and paid for at the bar.
13.Thomas Maxwell Bistro, 11th Street, Parkmore
The term ‘class’ doesn’t quiet suffice when referring to the lovely Thomas Maxwell Bistro in Parkmore, in the heart of Sandton. The modern French bistro is bare-brick, New York-style restaurant serving delicious Gaelic-inspired food. The interior incorporates historical pieces and boasts leather, suede, wood, brick, raw concrete, metal and glass in a chic modern mecca. A large wine cellar sits at the head of the room.
If you are courting a potential client, this is a great place to secure a deal. The apt wine list features both South African and French wines and Champagnes. You can’t go wrong the warthog carpaccio as a starter, and enjoy the delectable rabbit risotto sautéed with lemon, mustard, turmeric and garam masala and onion as a main. If you have room for dessert try the Kevin Rocky Road hot pot: lightly toasted marshmallows with chocolate sauce. You can even take the experience home by purchasing Maxwell’s truffle oil to add a touch of class to your next meal. Wine labels for your bottle, as well as signature name cards can also be bought to personalise your home table. Prepare you wallet because prices aren’t cheap.
This eclectic and highly unique restaurant is no longer JHB’s best-kept secret – booking is essential!