Most of the nightlife action is centred on the corner of Juta and De Beer Streets, and in and around The Grove piazza on the corner of Melle and Juta Streets. Friday and Saturday nights are the busiest. Also keep your eye out for parties and concerts at the rooftop venue Randlords, where the 22nd floor view of the city is unparalleled.
CORNER JUTA & DE BEER STREETSThe corner of Juta Street and De Beer Street is Braamfontein’s hipster hub. Easily identified by the huge purple portrait of Nelson Mandela painted by American street artist Shepard Fairey (who also designed the iconic Obama Hope posters) that looks over the corner, this is the ideal place to start your Braamfontein bar crawl. On Saturdays the party starts early at the rooftop Neighbourgoods Market which swells with a fashionable urban crowd who come to enjoy the gourmet street food stalls, craft beers and live music. Downstairs is the always buzzing Urban Eatery which serves some of the best burgers around and rumour has it that the Greek restaurant two doors down has been snapped up by DJ Black Coffee who has some exciting new plans for the place.
On the opposite side of the street three bustling bars are all lined up next to each other. Kitcheners is one of the oldest pubs in Joburg. While the building retains all of its most beautiful period features inside youth culture rules. Look out for regular parties like the queer club night Pussy Party. For a quiet drink arrive in the afternoon, by 19:00 the place is usually packed with students and the young at heart who come to enjoy the DJ sets and occasional live music performances, and by 21:00 there’s already a queue out the door.
Next door is Great Dane, another historic building that attracts a similar crowd. Inside the dark and packed main bar area DJs spin everything from 90s house to 80s power ballads, while in the equally jammed rear courtyard you can take a breather. The next building along is The Bannister Hotel with a bright and airy bar that looks out onto the street and occasionally hosts live music events.
For a different pace to the corner's student-oriented party bars, pop into Testament for a cocktail. Launched by the curators of the edgy Kalashnikovv art gallery next door, this slick minimalist cocktail bar celebrates 'creativity as religion, serves great cocktails and attracts an interesting and alternative artsy crowd.
RESERVE STREETIn 2018 the hip block of Reserve Street between de Korte and Jorissen Streets was transformed from a scruffy row of spaza shops into a chic lane offering a range of trendy haunts, the most notable of which is the DJ-owned bar and art gallery The Artivist. Launched by DJs Kenzhero and Bradley Williams, this effortlessly cool bar, eatery and art gallery appeals to the neighbourhood's post-student, young professional crowd with great food and cocktails on the menu. Even better still, in the basement is another separate cocktail bar and events space, The Untitled Basement, used for private parties and concerts, it is one of the best live music venues in town.
THE GROVEThis attractive urban piazza is a relatively more sedate place to kick off your bar crawl. There’s a bus stop for the City Sightseeing bus so if you happen to be looking for a place to hop off for an afternoon beer The Grove is ideal. The Immigrant at the backpackers hostel Once in Joburg, whose tagline ‘zwakhala’ roughly translates as ‘come through’ or ‘pull in’, is the place to stop for craft beers and an easygoing atmosphere. Facing the bar on the other side of the square is 86 Public, a small and hip pizzeria. The pizzas are decent and the house music on the stereo should keep you in the mood to party on after you’ve eaten.
Just behind The Grove at 94 Juta Street is Republic of 94, a more grownup alternative to some of Braamfontein’s more student-orientated bars that is known for its extra-long bar counter and a massive courtyard beer garden in the back that is home to the popular Sundays in the City DJ party.