The best way to start any weekend stay-over in a Joburg suburb – or any new destination for that matter – is with a decent plate of food. Head to the harvest table at Love Food on Ameshoff Street, an ear shot away from Clive van den Berg’s eland statue. Take your time here and enjoy the hearty and healthy scenery. Love Food is the type of place where you feel invited to sit back, relax and enjoy a good meal with a fresh juice or decent double cap of cappuccino.
Braamfontein is the sneaker capital of South Africa, so slip into something comfy and let’s get the evening started on the right note, shall we? Once you’ve got your kicks kitted out, head to Anti Est. on de Beer Street for a little bit of alcohol to get the gears greased for a fun evening. Described as a “vibey hipster pub”, Anti Est. is the place to have a high ball or two, do some people watching and get the engines ready for a fun night ahead. They do serve food but let’s keep that appetite building for the big, fat dinner we’re having later.
There’s a really nice Spur steak ranch in Braamfontein… but we won’t send you there. As nice as a visit to the secret tribe is, we only have so much time to see the extraordinary in this neighbourhood. Head to the Smokehouse & Grill on the corner of Juta and de Beer. Be warned, it’s not the kind of place you go for a salad. The name says it all – they’re big on beef. We recommend you order a big rack of ribs or a prime cut of the most tender sirloin around. Wash all that down with a big pitcher of beer. You don’t drink beer? It’s all good, just order one anyway so that you’ll look cool.
With dinner sorted, it’s time to get down to some real tunes. Skip the dirty bar scene and the noisy night club and head to the Orbit on De Korte Street. Here you can relax with a drink in hand and listen to some of the best jazz music in the city. This is the kind of place where great musicians randomly show up and play a tune. We won’t be surprised if you visit The Orbit on a Friday night and Tweet about watching Hotstix Mabuse perform live. You’re welcome. What can we say? Braamfontein after dark turns into a weird and wonderful creature.
Rise and shine. We’re just in time for brunch at Post on Juta Street. It’s super-hipster but it’s cool, we don’t mind listening to old-school rock on vinyl records while chowing down a pastrami on rye sandwich. They serve really good coffee and cold drinks too. Their sandwiches are a hit for sure. Be warned though, Post is quite small and you might have someone’s elbow in your bifteki breakfast but it’s all good – at least the food is good.
You find yourself in the middle of Braamfontein on a Saturday afternoon. Where to go? Well, you’re in luck. No matter in which direction you move, there will be something to do. Take your time and work your way through the Neighbourgoods Market. Here you can expect to find artisan food, boutique wines and live music. It’s the kind of place where you rock up, get tipsy and buy random pieces of jewellery for the fun of it. Grab something small to eat at the market, like a bowl of paella or a handmade meatball sub.
Round about this time head to Kitchener’s Carvery Bar across the road and get ready to dance to live music. The bar is situated below the second oldest hotel in the city and played a huge role in the rejuvenation of Braamfontein in recent years. Local DJ Andrew Clements rented out Kitchener’s for his music sets. This eventually spiralled into the neighbourhood we know today. Grab a drink here, soak up the energy and realise that the city is not such a scary place after all. (With that said, don’t wander drunk around the back end of Fordsburg, though.)
We’re staying at the Bannister Hotel tonight, and lucky for us they have a pumping night-life at the bar downstairs. The food is pretty good but make sure to get your food order in before 9pm, because that’s the time the kitchen closes. The bar usually shuts down for the night when the last person standing leaves (but don’t take our word for it – we’re usually the first one out the door after the food’s done). As a side note, the Bannister Hotel is one of our favourite places to stay after a night of partying up a storm in town. Their breakfast buffet is quite nice – everything from healthy fruit salads to crazy omelets can be expected.
Rise and shine. Last night was pretty rowdy, wasn’t it? Good. Hey, this is Braamfontein after all, where people work hard and play even harder… when in Rome, and so forth. Let’s get you some coffee and something light to eat. Grab something to go at Double Shot (by far the best coffee in the city… don’t even bother with the other hipster shops in the area) a block up from Neighbourgoods on Juta Street. If you’re not into coffee, then try one of their craft teas. Regardless, let’s head to the Stevenson Gallery before they close. It is Sunday, after all. The art gallery is based at the bottom of Juta Street, next to the Audi workshop. Their list of artists includes Wim Botha (one of our favourite locals), Jo Ractliffe, and Penny Siopis to name a few.
Let’s grab a quick lunch and squeeze in a little more fun before bouncing out of this joint. 86 Public is an artisan pizza place found on that little square where the huge South Point billboard is. Here you can have blue cheese and butternut oven-baked pizza on whichever type of dough you prefer (beer and banting included). It’s a great place to enjoy a Sunday lunch with a bit of craft beer and chilled vibes. After this we recommend a bit of people watching. Take a walk around and soak up the atmosphere. The cool thing about Joburg over a weekend is that no matter which direction you head in you’ll find something cool.
At the tip top of Braamfontein is where you will find the Old Fort now known as Constitution Hill. This site played a huge role in the shape of the city. From being the last stand against the British during the Boer War to being used as a women’s prison and eventually a prison to hold political refugees, it is a great spot to bring the entire trip to a complete circle. Take your time here and go through the rich yet mundane pictures of the past. We’ve come a long way. Onwards and upwards.
By Shawn Greyling