Where To Eat
Hey, Joburg, you owe the West Rand a high five. The original Founders Restaurant and Grill was established in 1984 in Florida North and has since grown into one of the country’s favourite old-school steakhouses. Today you can get your rump on, enjoy good pork ribs and hang out with family and friends in a comfortable environment at the top of Gordon Road. Though the Cresta branch closed its doors a couple years back, the original is still open for business!
Hidden in between Ruimsig and Honeydew, Ramkiki acts as a little escape from the rest of the world. This lodge is a prime wedding and events venue, as well as a great place to have a couple of drinks and something to eat. The vibe is very laid back, with friendly service, and they also host interesting events every now and then, such as cocktail evenings and food-truck days. Food includes the usual suspects – platters, steaks, ribs… you know, good old South African food!
Tony’s Spaghetti & Grill
Beautiful gnocchi, homemade pizza bases and sangrias fit for any day of the week. That’s Tony’s Spaghetti in a nutshell. Do yourself a favour and wait for a sunny afternoon, book a table on the terrace and go enjoy the super-relaxed atmosphere, awesome staff and prices fit for a journalist.
Where To Sleep
The Rabbit Hole Hotel
Feel like taking a trip to Wonderland? Then follow Alice to the Rabbit Hole Hotel on Viljoen Street. Enjoy excellent food in a charmingly surreal setting where colourful design combined with attention to the functional requirements of visitors are met without even breaking a sweat. Each room is decorated in a different theme and explodes with vibrancy and quirkiness. The Rabbit Hole Restaurant is a popular spot for diners to relax, kick back and have a beautiful bite to eat. Patrons can expect big burgers, massive slices of cake, mojitos that kick like a mule and the best BBQ chicken wings this side of Joburg.
Where To Shop
Food Lover’s Market
Nothing comes close to walking into the Food Lover’s Market with a fistful of grocery money and an urge to spend every last cent of it. At the FLM at Hillfox Centre on Hendrik Potgieter Road you can expect the usual fresh produce with an added bonus: the cheese section. Oh my waistline! The cheese section is where all great dishes are born. From a mature cheddar to something more robust, like an aged parmesan (read that in your best Massimo Bottura voice), this rendition of the friendly green grocer has got you covered. The shop often runs specials on fruit, veg and cheese, so keep an eye on the papers.
With 225 stores, 27 restaurants and over 5 200 parking spaces, Clearwater Mall is to the west what Sandton City is to the north. Here you will find top-of-the-line retail stores (such as an iStore, Edgars, Guess, etc.), as well as a top-notch entertainment area complete with a 3D theatre complex. There’s also a dedicated kids’ play area with supervision over weekends. It’s the perfect place to shop, meet up with friends or do some serious people watching (hey, there’s nothing wrong with that!). Clearwater Mall is a great place to visit during summer, as the roof over the main food court can be opened to let the sun shine in.
Key West Shopping Centre
Once just a flea market by the dam, Key West Shopping Centre has evolved into one of the top shopping and entertainment destinations on the West Rand. It boasts great restaurants, major retail stores and even a free concrete skate park. There’s ample parking, a big Spur and some cool spots to chill along the banks of the dam.
Where To Hang Out
Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens
This West Rand location is by far the most stunning place to have a picnic, go on a hike or take a leisurely stroll through the verdant vegetation. Known as the ‘Rocky Highveld Grassland,’ the area consists of a mosaic of grassland and savanna with dense bush in kloofs and along streams, and it is home to over 600 naturally occurring plant species. It’s also a prime setting to do some bird watching, as the indigenous Verreaux’s eagle can often be spotted hunting for its chicks in and around the park. On most weekends you’re likely to catch some live music being played at the amphitheatre, which adds a lovely, lazy ambience to the experience. There is a cafe that serves the type of food you would expect, and a kiosk that sells drinks and snacks. Note that braaiing – or any fire for that matter – is not allowed. Entrance to the park offers student and pensioner discounts.
By Shawn Greyling