Just like Braamfontein, Maboneng, an urban neighbourhood located on the east of the Joburg CBD, is home to some of the hippest cafes, restaurants and design studios.On any given day, and especially over the weekends, the area is abuzz with people from all over Jozi who come to soak in the vibe and try some of the eclectic food that the precinct has to offer.
Arts on Main is the the most popular hangout here with the thriving Market on Main, continuing to attract hundreds of people every Sunday. I have written a detailed post on the market here.
The Living Room, is another eatery that is fast becoming a favourite with me. It literally IS a ‘living’ room! A rooftop venue that is alive with plants, creepers and a hanging garden, that grows and changes as the seasons change. Located in the Main Change building, this urban cafe offers health food against the backdrop of some stunning views of this area. They are open from Thursdays to Saturdays, 12-9pm (unless booked for a private event, its better to call and check). On Sundays, they host a soiree for which booking is essential.
If you stroll down from the Main Change building, you will come across a cute deli at the corner that goes by the name Eat Your Heart Out! It’s small, it’s cozy and makes some delicious Jewish-inspired food like the Shakshuka (eggs in tomato and pepper sauce) and the Latke (a traditional Jewish potato rosti). They are open everyday except Mondays from 7am-4pm.
Adjacent to this deli is the Little Addis Cafe that took Jozi by storm with its delicious Ethiopian cuisine. What first started as a stall in the Market on Main, has now become a fully fledged restaurant, dishing out local Ethiopian food such as Kitfo (minced beef preparation), Doro Wet (chicken stew) and Yebere Key Wet (beef stew). All the food is served on top of traditional injera bread. The restaurant is open everyday except Mondays from 12-9pm.
A little ahead is Pata Pata, an old style eatery with mix-n-match furniture and live music on most days. Not high up on my priority list as the food is just about ok and the service quite slow. However, the fact that the restaurant is open till late (10:30pm) and serves a good mix of cocktails and beer makes it a nice place to hangout once in a while. Open everyday from 8am-1030pm.
If you are craving sushi and Asian food, The Blackanese is just the place. Having met with great success at the Market on Main, Vusi, the owner of Blackanese, opened the modest eatery in 2012. Vusi tries to fuse African flavours with Japanese cuisine. So apart from the regular California rolls, sashimi, nigiri, there is biltong sushi and prawn braai with Thai rice to suit the local palate. Open Tuesday-Sunday, 11:30am – 9:30pm.
My biggest lament with Joburg is the lack of good Mexican food. I’ve been looking high and low and one such search led me to Mama Mexicana. This restaurant is located in the Arts on Main and also runs a stall in the Sunday market. While it is not the greatest of Mexican restaurants, (I am yet to find one in Jozi), it is good enough to satisfy my hankering for some Mex every now and then. Their nachos are pretty good though.
The most recent addition to Maboneng is The Poolside, which I am yet to visit. Located behind the MOAD (Museum of African Design), the concept of the place is based on the Italian aperitivo tradition – pre-meal drink and snack to whet the appetite and provide a space to chill out and socialise. Open Thursdays-Sundays, 12-10pm.
Some of the other eateries and pavement stalls in the area are the Canteen at Arts on Main, The Chalkboard at the Bioscope, Uncle Merv’s on the pavement near the information kiosk and Sha’p Braai opposite Main Change.