KEYES ART MILE
At this fun contemporary African retro-themed café you’ll find a basic café menu of local fare that includes bunny chow and prego rolls, plus excellent coffee sourced from Rwanda, Ethiopia and Tanzania, and African beers. Named after Abu’s Milk Bar in Addis Ababa, quirky retro items, colourful fabrics and traditional artworks abound. Regular events such as live music and quiz nights provide plenty of reason to linger longer in the evening, especially if it's a warm evening and you can get one of the street side tables.
The bar at star chef David Higgs’s rooftop grill restaurant, with its impressive artworks, a turquoise ceramic tiled wall and light wooden floors, gives the impression of being suspended in a cabin in the sky and uninterrupted views over Joburg's western suburbs stretch west for miles. There’s an extensive and prominently displayed wine cellar and a pricey list of top-notch cocktails made with premium spirits making this an excellent venue for drinks as well as an upmarket dinner. The heart of the restaurant is Higgs' live fire grill, with the spectacular flames cooking up everything from meats and seafood to freshly baked bread.
Join the sophisticated set at this sexy cocktail lounge, housed in what is by day part of the private members’ club Mesh. Savour your drink with a fabulous view over Joburg’s tree-filled suburbs from the large terrace or continue your experience of art admiration by taking a look around the striking art collection on the walls inside (and, yes those Pierneef paintings are the real thing). The DJ sets are slick and the bespoke furniture and interiors ooze contemporary luxury. The brief but satisfying food offering mixes African sides like jollof rice and cassava fries with a predominantly meat focused menu - think flame-grilled boneless Jamaican jerk chicken and craft beer braised beef short rib.
Two Americans missed the taste of home so much that they decided to open a burger joint. Originally located at the old petrol station that sat directly behind the Keyes Art Mile development, BGR now find its home in the landmark Trumpet building, opening out directly onto Keyes Avenue. BGR serves burgers three ways: the cheeseburger, hamburger or the lettuce-wrapped “Cardio” version. For the very hungry, order the double patty or try the frozen custard for dessert. Ground beef patties with no basting, super fresh buns and basic toppings is the simple formula which make BGR’s burgers such a hit. Service is fast and friendly and for under R100 you can add crispy french fries and a drink.
Tucked into Clico Hotel (located one block up Jellicoe Avenue from Keyes Art Mile.) is Clico restaurant, a fine dining destination headed by chef Marnus Scholly. The restaurant’s setting is a chic and intimate triple-volume glass structure that looks out onto a lush garden, making it an intimate dinner venue with low lighting, or a gloriously lit breakfast spot.You’ll find flavoursome dishes using seasonal, locally sourced and organic ingredients. The six-course dinner menu has a well-considered wine list to match and changes with the seasons, and service is sophisticated and charming.
BOLTON CORNERBOLTON ROAD COLLECTION
The anchor of Rosebank's hip Bolton Corner area has transformed a formerly unremarkable Rosebank corner into a bustling neighbourhood hangout. The interiors mix industrial chic with natural elements to create a casual but glam atmosphere and the pavement tables are perfect spot for late afternoon sundowners. The regularly changing menu includes tapas-sized plates and a wide selection of mains, cooked up from locally sourced and organic ingredients. The cocktail menu is great (we love the house negroni) and craft gin fans will be delighted with the 'gin locker' menu.
Expect to be touching elbows and ears with neighbouring diners at this tiny pizza bar which only seats around 25 people with a handful of tables inside and out on the pavement and a small counter overlooking the street. Coalition’s accomplished wood-fired pizzas, topped with fresh buffalo mozzarella, are made according to authentic Neapolitan methods and there are nine variations on the menu.
SIN & TAX / SPEAK NO EVIL
Having to supply a password to enter through a secret door which seems to change its location every other week may seem a little pretentious, but then it wouldn't be a speakeasy if you didn't have to jump through some hoops to get in. Sin & Tax serves some of the most exclusive drinks in town. The themed menus, with names like Amber and Gardenia, change with the seasons and while the drinks take time to prepare, it's fun to watch the supremely talented mixologists work. If you're finding it difficult to figure out the way in, have a drink at the bar at the easy-going bar Speak No Evil next door which faces out onto Bolton Road and you should crack the code soon enough.
The luxurious karaoke rooms alone are reason to visit Saigon Suzy, a hip Asian-inspired joint that attracts an
energetic trendy crowd (even David Beckham was spotted here on a recent visit to Joburg). The food is Asian fusion with plenty of choices ranging from small plates to baos, build your own 'Wok n' Roll' plates, ramen bowls, salads and curries. The dishes sometimes get mixed reviews (we certainly would favour some extra spice in the noodle bowls), but the lively atmosphere and Instagram-worthy decor can't be faulted.
BLAQUE WINE BAR AND GRILL HOUSE
The latest kid on the block is Sizo Henna's petite minimalist wine bar and restaurant located next to art spaces David Krut Projects and Gallery 2. A chef and wine lover, Henna's career has seen him cooking for the likes of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and business tycoon Tokyo Sexwale and also starring on his own cooking show Rustic Chakula on SABC3. On the menu expect classic South African steak paired with a fine selection of local boutique wines.