Nearly three years ago was the culmination of one of the biggest decisions I have made in my life. Having never been to Johannesburg, I boarded a plane and flew 16 hours, halfway around the world, into the unknown. I was moving to a city where the only person I knew was the woman who had hired me. Mid-flight I awoke from an exhausted sleep in a panic about the decision I had made. It was the only moment in the past three years, that I doubted my decision to leave home.
Johannesburg can feel inaccessible and unlike Cape Town, which people fall in love with handily because of its natural beauty and laid back lifestyle, Jozi is a hardscrabble city that is always churning. If Cape Town is a watercolor, than Johannesburg is a high contrast photograph that requires an interpretive guide. Past Experiences founder, Jo Buitendach, is just such a guide and her Braamfontein Art Tour provides an interesting perspective of the city.
On the odd weekend I am in Johannesburg, I usually spend Saturday working which explains why it has taken me so long to to visit the highly recommended Neighbourgoods Market. This is the kind of hip place where friends gather on a Saturday for good food, conversation, and day drinking.
There is something about The Leopard in Melville with mismatched mid-century chairs, faded Micky Mouse printed napkins, and right next to my table a framed photo of an Air Gabon airplane that I loved from the second I settled into my table. The menu is eclectic and a bit cheeky.
Having eaten my way through many of South Africa’s top restaurants, Five Hundred at the Saxon Hotel is my favorite; rivaling other fine dining experiences I have had in Europe, New York, and San Francisco. There is an element of theater at fine dining restaurants with the choreographed, efficient movements spilling out from the kitchen to the service, and no where in Johannesburg is this more on display than at Five Hundred.
The latest addition to Joburg’s flourishing food market scene is The Sheds @ 1 Fox located in converted warehouses in Ferraistown. I hope the denizens of Jozi add this to their market rotation because this is a welcome addition to the burgeoning Jozi food scene.