The traditional eating experience in Johannesburg
A city of astonishing contrasts, a huge metropolis where opulent wealth and desperate poverty live side by side, Johannesburg is the intriguing, dynamic heart of this turbulent country. If you want to see the real South Africa-and try to understand it-Jo'burg has to be on your itinerary.
There are dozens of award winning restaurants spread in and around Johannesburg and the beauty of a city as diverse as Johannesburg is that there really are restaurants and bars to suit all your needs. You'll find everything from traditional fare and steakhouses, to seafood and fine dining, all in a variety of settings and for a range of prices. So whether you're looking for a fancy venue to impress your business clients, or a more relaxed setting to enjoy a meal out with your family, you can be sure to find it listed right here.
The visitor to Johannesburg will most probably be very keen to try out the local traditional cuisine, and so we highlight three such restaurants here.
The Carnivore (tel. 011 950 6061) is about 30 minutes outside Johannesburg in Muldersdrift, and is one of the main restaurants to get your game meat fix, including the more unusual delicacies of zebra, impala, giraffe, elephant and crocodile. This is a great concept restaurant, which originated in Kenya, and has become a firm favourite amongst tourists. A truly unique dining experience awaits you as soon as you set foot through the door, and when you lay eyes on the massive open fire and tribal spears packed full of meat, you’ll be filled with anticipation for the feast ahead!
In the centre of Sandton, is a restaurant called the Whiteboy Shebeen (011 444 8850). Whilst "shebeen" is the African name for an illegal pub found in townships such as Soweto, there is certainly nothing illegal about enjoying the good food and wine served in this interesting restaurant. The chef manages to offer well prepared main courses that fuse very simple local ingredients such as “pap” (traditional maize porridge) and marog (a wild form of spinach) with more established favourites such as duck and steak. The menu changes regularly, and you will definitely not be disappointed.
When in Johannesburg you have to take a tour to see Soweto and you also have to try the traditional food. So why not do both at the same time ? The way to do this is book yourself on one of the many tours leaving for Soweto each day, and which also includes as a final stop, the restaurant known as Wandies Place. Wandies is a vibrant Soweto restaurant which has become famous for serving typical township food. The meals are delicious and tasty, being spiced up with typical African herbs and spices. Here you can try eating a meal of traditional "pap", as well as rice, samp, dumplings, and vegetables ! You will definitely want to go back for more on your next visit - as much for the atmosphere as for the food. Your will return to your hotel much richer, with a deeper understanding of the wonderful heritage and traditions of the people of Soweto.
These are but a selection of some of the excellent traditional restaurants to be found in and around Johannesburg. Other well known traditional restaurants include Legkotla (011 884 9555) in Nelson Mandela Square, Sandton City, and Moyo's at Melville Arch and the Zoo lake. These traditional restaurants in and around Johannesburg will all be reviewed shortly.