Joburg makes Time Out’s 20 best cities for food

05 Jun 2024
We know Joburg is a great city when it comes to eating out. It's a city of diverse cuisines, to suit any pocket. We don’t need anyone to tell us this, either, but we always love it when our city gets the nod of an international publication.

Last month (May 2024), Time Out published a list of the world’s 20 best cities for food in celebration of global culinary culture. Not only did Joburg make the cut; we landed the second spot!

In deciding who to include in the list, Time Out Market chefs were asked to nominate three culinary capitals that deserve a spotlight for their food offering. They then asked thousands of locals around the world’s culinary capitals for their feedback, particularly on how good, and how affordable, it is to eat in their hometown. They asked these locals about their city’s must-visit restaurants, must-eat meals, and best-value dishes.

“What makes a great food city? It isn’t its number of plaudits and Michelin stars, but something a bit more simple: options. Good quality meals at reasonable prices."

To get to the final list, they looked at the highest-scoring city for each country and then asked their editors and writers for the lowdown on what makes these cities exciting on the food front, and what their recommended places are to eat right now.

“What makes a great food city? It isn’t its number of plaudits and Michelin stars, but something a bit more simple: options. Good quality meals at reasonable prices,” they wrote. And if we’re talking options, Joburg has plenty.

“Cape Town might steal the limelight for its international cuisine (and our newly opened Time Out Market, on the V&A Waterfront, is testament to the culinary talent in the Mother City), but Jo’burg is a worthy rival for the title of South Africa’s food capital,” wrote author Grace Beard.
The kota is Time Out's recommended food item in Joburg. Photo: Jozi Kota Festival via Instagram.

“From Ethiopian cafes in Little Addis to Nigerian and West African eats in the south of the city, you can eat your way across the continent here – though the majority of locals we surveyed recommended the city’s traditional South African delicacies, like the Sowetan kota sandwich, bunny chow, and mala mogodu.”

But where exactly do they recommend visitors go and what must we be eating? The “kota sandwich” was named the must-eat dish, while the neighbourhood of Braamfontein came out as the top spot to visit.

They quoted Johannesburg food writer Thando Moleketi-Williams (@jozifoodiefix): “If Jo’burg is the soul of South Africa, Braamfontein is the pulse of the city. This central neighbourhood is home to some of my favourite places to eat, people-watch and dance, with some of the most innovative ventures combining the forces of food and culture.”
Thando Moleketi-Williams recommends brunch at Artivist. Photo: The Artivist via Instagram.

Where exactly does Moleketi-Williams recommend Time Out readers go? We’ve been saying it since they first opened: Mamakashaka and Friends on De Beer Street is the perfect spot for weekend wine, hip-hop, cocktails, their monthly Bookish events, and exciting food collaborations.

She also recommends another favourite, Artivist and Untitled Basement, for their recently launched monthly fine-dining Sunday brunch club residency by the talented chef Katlego Mlambo and a night of live music.

If you’re wondering which other cities we’re rubbing shoulders with, Naples, Italy clinched the number-one spot (they are world-renowned for their Margherita pizza). There’s also ceviche from Lima, Peru; Vietnamese pho Saigon from Ho Chi Minh City; Peking duck from Beijing; and som tum from Bangkok. Get the full list here.
Thando Moleketi-Williams recommends a visit to Mamakashaka and Friends in Braamfontein. Photo: Johannesburg In Your Pocket.

Of course, a good meal doesn't start and end in Braamfontein. There are so many places we love around the city; last year we shared a snapshot of our team’s favourite restaurants to eat out in Joburg with our We Eat Out awards – Where to eat in Joburg.

We should also give an honourable mention to the classic shisa nyama (the township style of braai). One of our favourite Joburg food ambassadors who discovers places off the beaten path, Nick Hamman, recently went to Kyalami Shisanyama and it looks delicious!

Then there's Mogodu Mondays which you can enjoy at spots like Solo in Sandton and Tempo Luxury Restaurant in Sunninghill.

Or head to The Social Table in Maboneng where you can fill up on South African food served with a modern twist, and Kings Kraal in Bryanston for live jazz enjoyed alongside tradtional African food.

Let us know if there are any spots we should add as a special mention. This is one of the world's best cities to eat out in, after all!


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