I thought that a world in one city would be a great sub-title for this post because well, Johannesburg is just that. Due to our country’s history, there’s a person – and hence bite to be found from every corner of the world here. It was also quite difficult to narrow this list down to 5, but I chose these spots because I have met the owners, like their stories and like their food. So if you ever do find yourself in this part of the world, drop in and say howzit.
Hidden under the post office in the suburb of Illovo, Escondido (meaning hidden in Portuguese and Spanish) is a delightful little tapas restaurant. That being said its influence is – you guessed it, is a bit of everything! You’ll still find traditional Spanish flavours like patatas bravas but also unique SA dishes like mini boboties (spicy mince with an eggy topping). When I was there last, I had some deep fried carbs in the form of smoked salmon arancini (risotto balls) – how yummy and comforting. The menu changes weekly and uses seasonal, local ingredients, so you’re bound to find something to suit your taste buds. There’s also a huge (over 400 huge) wine selection and if you’re lucky enough, you can get Henri, the owner to recommend you the best ones to go with your meal – he’s very hands on at the restaurant – and it shows.
30 Rudd Road, The Post Office Centre
+27 11 268 0084
Global Healthy Bite
I chose Jacksons not only because of their delicious food, but also their food philosophy. Cleaner, healthier eating is becoming more mainstream around the world – and JHB is no exception. Founded by Gary Jackson (I also like that Jackson is a real person), a former fast food chain owner (believe it or not), his own health battles inspired him to change his diet and hopefully inspire others to do so too. The food he serves is organic as far as possible, nutrient dense and comes from over 250 local suppliers. There is also a market alongside the restaurant so you can do your healthy grocery shop at the same time. I had the rainbow salad which was delicious and nutritious. They also have a wide range of burgers, sandwiches etc. so you can still find something healthy, even if you’re not necessarily a salad person.
300 Bryanston Drive, Entry on St James Crescent, Bryanston
+27 11 463 1598
South Indian Bite
I love Fordsburg. Originally a mining suburb, it is now home to a diverse mix of Middle Eastern and Asian communities – as you can imagine, there are soo many taste options to choose from. My favourite so far (I still have not tried them all…) is Dosa Hut. It’s run by Mr. Joseph, who arrived in SA from Kerala over a decade ago. Despite it’s name, it does not look like a hut – It’s actually a cute little place, that’s both cheap and cheerful (two great things!). The food is also delicious – a third great thing. I had the Mysore Masala dosa, which is a traditional South Indian pancake filled with spicy potato and accompanied by a variety of condiments. You can also watch the chef make the dosas while you wait.
Shop 6, 48 Central Road, Fordsburg, Inner City, Johannesburg
+27 71 147 4811
Run, by Ethiopian-born, Kassa, Little Addis is my favourite place to eat when in Maboneng – a vibey district, close to central JHB. There are many authentic Ethiopian options, all served with Injera, a traditional, tangy flat bread made with rice or teff flour (an Ethiopian grain). I usually have the Beyaynetu, an assortment of veg dishes. They also have meaty options and their portion sizes are huge – this was the half portion!
180 Fox Street City and Suburban, Johannesburg
+27 11 039 7975
South African Bite
Last, but definitely not least is Roving Bantu Kitchen, run by Sifiso and his wife Ashley. I like RBK for their traditional dishes – think samp (traditional maize dish of dried corn kernels) and beans – and of course curry! Curry is an SA staple due to our large Indian community. (One of the largest outside of India I think?) I also like the quirky décor, interesting mix of clientele and cool music events that are held there regularly. They also have walking tours of the historic suburb they are in, Brixton. I’ve been lucky enough to share a drink and chat with Sifiso, who shared his passion for Brixton, good music – and life with me – may you be just as lucky.
Roving Bantu Kitchen
125 Caroline street, Brixton, Johannesburg, Gauteng
+27 72 223 2648
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