Joburg Itinerary: Bedfordview

18 Aug 2023
Bedfordview, an upmarket suburb that's just under a 20-minute drive from Johannesburg's City Centre, is renowned as much for its quaint, small-town ambiance as it is for being a mobster's playground. This is where Johannesburg meets the East Rand, and slips into other neighbourhoods that include Bedford Gardens, Senderwood, St Andrews, Oriel, Essexwold and Morninghill.

Travel blogger Maxwell Opoku Buabeng explains in a blog post the origins of Bedfordview can be linked to the gold discovery made in 1886, which lured prosperous miners and industrialists to this part of the world. Among them was Randlord (mining magnate) Sir George Farrar who had acquired a farm that he named Bedford (now St Andrew's School for Girls), paying tribute to his birthplace in England. The story goes that the present name emerged from a contest won by one Daisy Dollery due to her admiration for the delightful scenery surrounding the farm. Initially registered as "Bedford View," this suburb officially embraced its current name in 1926.

The neighborhood's origins and accompanying narratives are vibrant, surprising, and heavily intertwined with campfire-like tales. Opoku Buabeng – also known as Mr Pocu – relays the apparent historical account of the area being the strategic planning site for the infamous Jameson Raid in 1895. Additionally, there is a fascinating anecdote about British cavalry soldiers who planted majestic oak trees along Van Buuren Road while based in Bedfordview, and the tale that an Indian monarch was laid to rest somewhere within this neighborhood adorned in his full regalia alongside a jewel-encrusted sword. 

Bedfordview's allure, however, extends beyond its history. Notorious former inhabitants include strip club kingpin Lolly Jackson and Czech organised crime boss, Radovan Krejčíř, giving the suburb a somewhat seedy reputation. Along with its tree-lined streets and ostentacious, multi-million rand mansions on Kloof Road, the area holds great appeal for families, professionals who want to be close to the airport, as well as a handful of green areas for those who need some nature in the city.

Often miligned yet sorely underrrated, this suburb is a must to explore as there's plenty of quirky attractions. So, here's our guide on where to dine and what to do in Bedfordview.  

Where to eat

Bedfordview is a melting pot of cultures from Italian, Portuguese and Greek to Chinese, Irish, German, Indian, Ethiopian, and many others. The neighbourhood's diversity is evident in the multitude of eateries and popular cuisines available. 

Kaylee's Eatery 

A delicious vegan spread at Kaylee's Eatery. Photo: Kaylee's Eatery via Facebook. 

Established in 2018 by Kaylee Gottschalk, Kaylee's Eatery is an award-winning vegan market and restaurant dedicated to cultivating a nourishing, joyful, and empathetic way of life while promoting local labels and enterprises. Leave your bias about vegan food at the door and prepare to be wowed by their inventive menu offerings such as wholewheat apple pie pancakes, a spicy take on macaroni and cheese, and a Hawaiian poke bowl that promises pure delight. Additionally, Central Bark at the Eatery offers an outdoor recreational haven for your furry friends with occasional Puppy Yoga events. 
Find it at: 147 North Reef Road, Bedfordview

SetteBello at the Italian Club

The 'ortolana' pizza at SetteBello. Photo: Johannesburg In Your Pocket.

This casual spot boasts a restaurant overlooking the Italian Club's green sports fields, and a sizeable wraparound terrace to enjoy an Aperol spritz in the sunshine. SetteBello is exactly what you’d imagine from an authentic Italian experience, along with a huge playground including a tricycle track for the little kids, while the older ones often play soccer on the lawn. The menu includes Italian classics like Neapolitan pizzas, signature pastas, and vitello (veal) al marsala. For pasta, our server recommended filetto con tagliatelle which did not disappoint – homemade egg noodles tossed in a creamy mushroom sauce with steak strips and a hint of truffle. 
Find it at: 7 Marais Road, Bedfordview

The Fat Mermaid and Santorini Island 

Experience the beauty of Greece in Bedfordview. Photo: The Fat Mermaid via Facebook. 

A little Greek island in the most unexpected place – next door to a sprawling Mormon church, this Mykonos-inspired restaurant and attached accommodation, The Fat Mermaid, serves home-style, Mediterranean food fused with South African flavours. The menu highlights include: yiros served with tzatziki and chips, zucchini fries, traditional keftedakia meatballs, and of course, baklava and ice-cream. If you find yourself in desperate need of a holiday soon, the cozy rooms of the Santorini Island Stay Over and Spa will undoubtedly transport you to a wholesome seaside homestead. It's the perfect location for an upcoming stay-cation, especially in the summer as their poolside experience (with floating sun loungers and day beds) is a must.  
Find it at: 4 Jasmine Road, Geldenhuis Estate, Bedfordview.

What to do 

While one wouldn't necessarily head to Bedfordview in search of roaring nightlife, there's plenty to do that's on the casual side. 

Bedfordview Night Market

Family-friendly fun, good food and more on the menu. Photo: Bedfordview Night Market via Facebook. 

Experience street food and international delicacies that reflect the mixed cultures of the neighbourhood at the Bedfordview Night Market. The vibrant atmosphere is excellent for a family-friendly outing where you'll find an eclectic mix of craft stalls, live entertainment, and a range of beverage options including craft beer and cocktails. Let the little ones have fun and explore at the dedicated kids' corner while you unwind. The market is on hiatus until Fri, Aug 25, 2023. Be sure to follow them for more information.
Find it at: 101 Van Buuren Road (Bedfordview Country Club). 

Comic Warehouse

Pop-culture enthusiasts will be in heaven at Comic Warehouse. Photo: Comic Warehouse via Facebook.

If you've followed our recommendation and made your way to Kaylee's Eatery, you'll be pleased to find Comic Warehouse located right next door. They sell collectable comics and pop-culture merchandise from the world of Harry Potter, Lego, Marvel, DC, and more. Their extensive inventory covers 3,000 square metres and includes a wide selection of graphic novels, action figurines, table-top games, life-size collectables, clothing, games, and model cars, and Comic Warehouse also provides a platform for enthusiasts to buy and sell previously owned comics.
Find it at: 147 North Reef Road, Bedfordview.

Ivy Champagne Garden

The ideal spot for a relaxed and friendly hangout. Photo: The Ivy via Facebook.

Immerse yourself with a gorgeous view of the Joburg skyline at the upmarket Ivy Champagne Garden. From what we've heard, 'The Ivy' is where Bedfordview's young and upwardly mobile hang out to see and be seen. Its intimate and inviting atmosphere is an ideal spot for stylish rooftop sundowners with friends (they have an impressive drinks menu that includes 18 different Champagnes), or sampling offerings from their Afro-Asian-inspired menu that also includes tapas, sushi and burgers. 
Find it at: 2 Arbroath Road, Bedfordview (across from Bedford Centre in the HQ Building)

Spas and shopping 

If you fancy yourself a lover of boutiques and unique stores, then Bedfordview is a great place to visit. From clothing and designer furniture at Bedford Centre to a surprising place to get a European-style shopping experience at Village View, you just have to know where to look. 

Tasko Sweets 

Satisfy your sweet tooth at Tasko Sweets. Photo: Tasko Sweets via Instagram. 

Established in 2017, candy store franchise Tasko Sweets will have you finding your inner child. The shop offers a wide range of imported and local sweets and chocolates including Charms Candy sour balls, Gobstoppers, Ark Mexican Candy and Fini Jelly Berries. Their Bedford Centre location (much like their other 40-plus stores) is colourful and filled with the sweetest treats that will make you feel like you've found Willy Wonka's golden ticket. They carry a variety of products imported from America, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, England and Switzerland, sold in-store and online. 
Find it at: Shop U49A, Bedford Centre (Entrance 2, next to Pizza Perfect and Mugg & Bean)

Malila Thai Spa

Leave your worries at the door. Photo: Malila Thai Spa.

This unassuming Thai spa may not catch your eye at first glance, but once you step inside, you'll be greeted with warmth and friendliness that will make you want to return time and again. We had the pleasure of visiting them earlier this year and let's just say it won't be the last. Malila Thai Spa offers a range of affordable massage treatments (ranging from R250 to R750) from traditional Thai massages and aromatherapy to invigorating hot stone, reflexology and sports massages. They're conveniently open Mon – Sun, with last bookings accepted at 19:00. 
Find it at: 24 Bradford Road, Bedfordview. 

Finessed Studio 

Nails done by Fallon at Finessed Studio. Photo: Finessed Studio via Instagram. 

This adorable studio, owned by high school friends Fallon Santowski and Micaela de Pontes, opened its doors in July, 2023. Finessed Studio is a boutique beauty salon offering nail art, waxing, massages and make-up. If your nails are in need of some serious love and attention, nail technician Fallon will provide it. And if you're looking for make-up or other beauty services, you'll be in good hands with Micaela. Many of their clients are alumni of their alma mater Assumption Convent School, or friends and family – really magnifying the community aspect of Bedfordview and the people who live there. 
Find it at: 15 Nicol Road, Bedfordview


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