Johannesburg

Rosebank – A neighbourhood guide

15 Nov 2023

Business, leisure and creativity converge in Johannesburg's vibrant Rosebank. It's a cosmopolitan neighbourhood bordering many of the city's most attractive suburbs – known as The Parks – and one that draws a diverse crowd daily for work and play. Rosebank is also a popular residential suburb. Construction was a constant feature throughout the 2010s, strengthening Rosebank as an economic centre, rivalled only by Sandton. This influx of commercial interests and corporate HQs has taken place alongside the establishment of new retail stores, hotels and restaurants in the area, while Rosebank's reputation as an art destination has been bolstered by Keyes Art Mile

By the time the 2020s rolled around, the previous decade's construction began to pay off with more attractions in the neighbourhood than ever before. For anyone who hasn't visited Rosebank lately, the changes in the neighbourhood are a pleasant surprise. While Rosebank has undergone significant development, it's retained its welcoming and walkable character, and despite the many new buildings that dot the skyline you never feel dwarfed here. Thanks to the centrality of its location and an effective network of transport, including the Gautrain and Gautrain midi-buses, the City Sightseeing tourist buses and quick-responding Ubers and Bolts, Rosebank is a convenient neighbourhood to navigate to and from. 

At the district's centre, adjacent to the Gautrain station, is the busy, pedestrianised shopping precinct containing three interconnected malls: The Firs, Rosebank Mall and The Zone@Rosebank. There are regular markets for other kinds of shopping, too: Rosebank's rooftop is filled with interesting vendors every Sunday, while the fabulous underground art and craft market is open daily. 

Many of the city's top contemporary galleries reside in Rosebank, including Everard Read and Circa Gallery, a stalwart in the South African art world, and other newer players like BKhz Gallery at the nearby Keyes Art Mile development where Joburg's First Thursdays touches down once-monthly. Along Jan Smuts Avenue, you'll find Goodman Gallery, David Krut Projects and Kim Sacks Gallery and Ceramics Studio; iconic institutions whose presence is embedded in Joburg's history

Extending the neighbourhood further along Oxford Road, the new Oxford Parks district has brought fresh lifestyle attractions, including the hip hotel Radisson RED Rosebank, while slick new apartment blocks have helped cement Rosebank's status as the neighbourhood of choice for Joburgers looking for a car-free, lock-up-and-go apartment lifestyle. Restaurants are another big draw, whether it's high-end dining at Marble, sweeping views included, or a taste of Cape Town in Joburg at The Pot Luck Club.

Rosebank is a managed district, actively so, and plans for its improvement are continually underway. With 2023 we've seen new accessibility initiatives, aiming to make the neighbourhood more friendly to those navigating it using wheelchairs and bicycles. As is the case in Sandton, corporates are involved in general upkeep with the sponsoring of traffic light maintenance, for instance, like those opposite Standard Bank's Rosebank headquarters. Lower Rosebank comprises residential dwellings while the upper district is predominantly made up of retail, accommodation and commercial buildings. 

GET THERE WITH THE GAUTRAIN: Rosebank has its own Gautrain station, located next to the entrance to The Zone@Rosebank on Oxford Road.

The feel of Rosebank

Rosebank is one of the most compact and walkable neighbourhoods in Joburg's northern suburbs and it fits neatly into a high-rise grid of streets roughly six blocks wide. Rosebank is a major shopping destination, and a healthy mix of residential apartment blocks and major corporate headquarters also means this is a neighbourhood that's busy at all hours, unlike other business districts that generally empty out at night and at weekends.

Lying directly between Joburg’s City Centre and Sandton Central, and with a Gautrain station on its doorstep, Rosebank is one of the most popular places to be in Joburg for locals and visitors. 

If you're heading to Rosebank in search of places to eat and be merry, you are spoilt for choice. There's something for every budget including casual cafés with streetside seating as well as memorable fine restaurants and a huge range of places to grab a quick coffee on the go. During the festive season, this is also one of just a handful of 'always-open' neighbourhoods in a city that gets famously quiet over the Christmas holidays.
 
Coco Safar. Photo: Supplied.
Perfection at Coco Safar, one of Rosebank's many great coffee destinations. Photo: Coco Safar. 

Coffee shop culture

Rosebank is café-central and there's a great choice of places to grab good coffee, most of them with outdoor seating too. Take your pick from a few of our favourites, perfect for morning coffee or a lazy lunch.

Casquette Cycling Café This coffee shop, located in the old Rosebank Firestation, has a warm and inviting atmosphere. It's a great place to stop for your morning coffee and warm up in the sun that streams through its bay windows. The coffee is good, made with their own house blend of Central African and Central American beans, and while you're at it, try one of their delicious bagels and really kickstart your day. Casquette also offers bike repairs and cycling apparel. 

Coco Safar Positioned neatly between Proud Mary and Krispy Kreme, Coco Safar has taken up prime restaurant real estate in the centre of Rosebank’s The Zone piazza. And that's a good thing, as Coco Safar isn’t just any café and bakery; it's where you’ll find one of 'The World’s Best Croissants', according to our reviewers.

Doubleshot Coffee and Tea 'Farm, roast, brew' is the tagline of this speciality roastery, focused on offering authentic tea and coffee in a luxurious yet unpretentious way. Their intimate coffee shop at the flashy Oxford Parks precinct in Rosebank is easy on the eye, with modern finishes and plenty of bench space to enjoy the city’s sunshine.

Father Coffee A blond-wood temple to aesthetics and font design, this hipster coffee shop with its own ping pong table is located a stone's throw from the Gautrain station. There's strong competition for the best flat white in Rosebank, but Father Coffee's might just be the finest. 

Freshly Ground This small coffee shop tucked at the bottom of Keyes Art Mile's Trumpet building exudes a sense of relaxation and calm in the midst of a busy city. The store has a pared-down design and layout, and friendly service. 

Soul Souvlaki Dino Vlachos's Soul Souvlaki chain of neighbourhood Greek souvlaki stops has successfully launched on street corners across Joburg including Parktown North, Richmond, Bedfordview and Craighall Park, although this Rosebank branch still stands as one of our favourites. For one thing, it has one of the finest locations – a repurposed shipping container (with a rooftop deck) that opens onto a courtyard shaded by one of Rosebank's grand oak trees. Just one block down from Rosebank Mall, it's a friendly, outdoor alternative to the mall's fast food options.

Starbucks South Africa's first Starbucks branch is still standing strong. Gratefully, the queues have quietened down some since the initial opening buzz, but the incredible choice of coffees remains the same. For something special visit the Starbucks Reserve Bar where you'll discover the many different ways to brew and serve coffee and have the chance to try Starbucks' exclusive reserve blends. 

Tashas Natasha Sideris's chain of boutique cafés never disappoints, and each branch lives up to the brand's hallmarks – flavourful bistro food presented with flair. The Rosebank branch at The Zone has plentiful terrace seating and the delicious baked goods and freshly squeezed juices make this an ideal breakfast destination.

Iris Garden Patisserie It's easy to miss this gem on a visit to Rosebank, quietly positioned as it is along the busy pedestrian walkway across from the entrance to the Art & Craft Market. But wander inside and you won't be sorry, least of all for their Insta-famous smooth, buttery and creamy crêpe cakes in a variety of flavours.

Pantry by Marble When the owners of Joburg's swanky Marble restaurant open up a convenience store at the nearest Sasol garage, you know you're in for a treat. Visit this innovative, upmarket 24-hour grocery, pâtisserie, ice-cream, pizza and coffee on the go store for everyday basics and unusual treats you didn't know you needed until you saw them. 
 
Delicious bites at Mamasamba in Rosebank. Photo: Mamasamba.
Delicious bites at Mamasamba in Rosebank. Photo: Mamasamba. 

World-class restaurants and relaxed eats

Rosebank suffers no lack when it comes to places to eat or drink. Keyes Art Mile is frequented as much for food as for art, Oxford Parks brings a concentration of Cape Town's culinary scene to Joburg and there are ample options spread across Rosebank's trio of malls, while Park Corner, where Bolton Road and Jan Smuts Avenue intersect, hosts another cluster of great eating spots. 

400 Degrees at Clico Tucked into The Clico Boutique Hotel (located one block up Jellicoe Avenue from Keyes Art Mile) this fine-dining destination boasts some of the most peaceful surroundings in this often busy neighbourhood. The restaurant’s setting is a chic double-volume glass structure that looks out onto a lush courtyard garden. On the menu are flavoursome dishes made using seasonal, locally sourced, and organic ingredients and excellent boutique wines. 

A Streetbar Named Desire This vibey spot stands out from the crowd on the popular Park Corner with its plush, emerald green interiors and expansive first-floor terrace. The staff are fun, friendly and just the right side of flirtatious without forgetting that the most important part of the job is making sure you get a good cocktail. It's also worth bringing an appetite with you to work your way through the small plates menu, also inspired by Turkish, Israeli and Lebanese cuisines.

BGR Two Americans missed the taste of home so much that they decided to open a burger joint. Burgers come in just a few varieties: Cheeseburger, Hamburger or the lettuce-wrapped "Cardio" version. For the very hungry, order the double patty.

Che Argentine Grill As one of only two Argentine restaurants recommended by the Argentinian Embassy in South Africa, you know it's legit. Start out with some sourdough bread and the house chimichurri, a bright Argentinian sauce made with parsley and other herbs. Keep this sauce to pour on everything! With nine steak options to choose from, Che is a paradise for meat lovers. Not sure what kind of steak you’re in the mood for? Ask for a recommendation about what's particularly good that day.

Chiapas Eat Mexican This Mexican food place tucked in The Zone@Rosebank adds a different spin to strictly halaal meals on the go. You get to choose from a selection of burritos, burrito bowls, crispy tacos, nachos and some salad. More excitingly, you can choose to make your own combination of a burrito.

Coalition These accomplished wood-fired pizzas, topped with the freshest buffalo mozzarella, are made according to authentic Neapolitan methods. The two-day, slow-rising pizza dough results in a chunkier and chewier base than you usually find in South Africa, and is also slightly charred on the bottom. Coalition's pizza menu changes seasonally and features just a handful of select choices. Head to Park Corner to see what all the fuss is about. 

Doppio Zero Part of the nationwide Italian bistro chain, many consider this to be Doppio Zero's best branch, loved for its always buzzing atmosphere, live music on weekends and its super terrace on The Firs piazza. 

Ethos This chic, contemporary restaurant in the Oxford Parks development offers Greek-influenced Mediterranean cuisine served in an airy dining room that is a soothing mix of shades of cream and white, natural blond wood, marble and ceramics. The restaurant spills out onto a wide pedestrianised walkway making it a popular venue for lunch on sunny afternoons. 

Kanpai What do sushi, tapas and bubbles have in common? Kanpai at Keyes Art Mile combines three all-time favourites; seamlessly weaving the essence of Japan with a global tapestry of flavours. The perfect place to enjoy a sophisticated yet friendly meal out. 
 
The Fishmonger A casual yet sophisticated choice for seafood and sushi, The Fishmonger on The Firs piazza has been going for years and everything here works like clockwork. The service is friendly, the fish selection is always prime and there are even fresh oysters to start dinner.

The Grillhouse and Katzy's This New York-style grill house at The Firs is an institution. Serving excellent spice-crusted fillet and saucy ribs accompanied by a selection of single malts and fabulous local wines, the service here is excellent. The Grillhouse also has a more casual restaurant venue, Kitchen Grill, on The Firs piazza and an adjoining jazz club, Katzy's.

La Parada Bar De Tapas This vibrant Spanish tapas eatery and bar is hard to miss – La Parada is at the entrance of the open-air piazza opposite Doppio Zero at The Firs Rosebank. This welcoming restaurant is designed for bringing a crowd; share plates to try an assortment of dishes. The menu is a bit of a continental and Asian mash-up as it also includes a sushi menu and pizza. While we tried several dishes we rate the pizza highest. And if you have room for dessert, try the churros with a chocolate ganache dip.

Marble The bar at star chef David Higgs’s rooftop grill restaurant at Keyes Art Mile, with its impressive artwork, a turquoise ceramic tiled wall and light wooden floors, gives the impression of being suspended in a cabin in the sky. There’s an extensive and prominently displayed wine cellar and a pricey list of top-notch cocktails, making this an excellent venue for drinks as well as an upmarket dinner. Reservations are essential.
The Pantry. Photo: The Pantry.
Sushi at The Pantry by Marble. Joburg's 24-hour convenience store with a twist is a must-visit. Photo: The Pantry. 

Mamasamba Drawing crowds since day one, Mamasamba resembles an indoor jungle, the space featuring emerald tiling, tall palms, hanging greenery and a winding green staircase leading to an upper-level bar. The menu incorporates a Japanese foundation with Peruvian flavours, like their nikkei sushi which might have an unusual touch like chipotle mayo or smoked asparagus. The bar has an extensive cocktail menu, also with a Latin American flair, and offers 26 tequilas to knock back or sip.

Momo Kuro Follow an unmarked stairway up past Mesh Club inside the atrium of the landmark Trumpet building and eventually, you'll pop out at this casual, modern eatery with the most enticing rooftop terrace. The menu specialises in bite-sized Asian street food like baos and dim sum and while unlicensed you are welcome to bring your own drinks.

Proud Mary This expansive bar and bistro (part of the voco Hotel The Bank next to The Zone) has one of the sexiest bar counters around and an impressive wine and cocktail menu to match. Describing itself as 'a modern eatery' the polished menu boasts an extensive breakfast and lunch selection, a 'seafood raw bar' and a variety of small plates and 'café plates'. 

Radisson RED Rosebank Rooftop Bar Opened in August 2021 at the cool Radisson RED Rosebank hotel in Oxford Parks, on warm evenings this rooftop bar is the kind of spot that you will find hard to leave. Saturday afternoon it's all good tunes and cocktails as you nestle into comfy seating at the poolside and watch the sun sink over the distant hills and ridges. 

Saigon Suzy The luxurious karaoke rooms alone are reason to visit Saigon Suzy, a hip Asian-inspired joint that attracts an energetic crowd. Conveniently placed along Jan Smuts Avenue's art strip, the food is Asian fusion with plenty of tasty choices ranging from small plates to baos (vegetarians will delight in tasting the steamed bun with pumpkin tempura, honey, chilli and lime). There's also ramen bowls, salads and a superb Thai red curry of beef short rib.

The Shortmarket Club Top South African chef Luke Dale Roberts’s first permanent restaurant in Joburg, The Shortmarket Club, is comparatively less formal than the Cape Town original but no less indulgent. Fantastic fine-dining small plates and an Asian-influenced menu, with some decadent seafood platters and top-notch cocktails, make the high price tag more than worth it. 

Level Four at 54 on Bath Hotel This chic bolthole is tucked away from Rosebank's main bustle. With its distinctive black and white décor, harlequin floors and photographs of contemporary Johannesburg, is a perfect place to polish off an afternoon. The afternoon tea offering at Level Four is a splendid affair, from top to bottom.

Qbar by Quoin Rock A plush wine bar bringing the Cape wineland experience to Joburg. The bar, menu and décor are all designed to showcase the wines, with a selection of small plates to accompany but not overshadow the wine. Three Quoin Rock sommeliers relocated from Stellenbosch to provide a detailed curated experience for Joburg wine enthusiasts.
Citysightseeing bus. Photo: Citysightseeing bus.
The City Sightseeing Bus travels through Joburg, and is based in Rosebank. Photo: City Sightseeing Bus.

Hop-on hop-off City Sightseeing red bus tour

The open-top, hop-on-hop-off City Sightseeing Red Bus is always a major attraction for both tourists and visitors. The bus has two routes. The Green Route starts from Rosebank and links up with the City Centre Red Route at Constitution Hill. Accompanied by an insightful audio guide you'll get to see the city in a new light from the open-top upper-level of the bus. You can get on and off the bus as many times as you like using your one-day ticket to explore stops including Constitution Hill, Joburg Zoo, and the Ditsong Museum of Military History. An easy way to see tons of top attractions in one day. Buy your tickets online in advance and join the bus on Cradock Avenue opposite the Standard Bank building. Find out more about the bus and its operating times, ticket prices and routes here.

Rosebank's art gallery row

Rosebank has one of the biggest concentrations of art galleries in Joburg; serious art lovers won't struggle to spend the day gallery hopping in this district. We recommend starting out at the sister galleries Everard Read and Circa, the former icon in South African contemporary art, established in 1913, while Circa's remarkable architecture is an artwork in itself. Next door, Keyes Art Mile has plenty on offer. Make sure to check out what's showing at the always-fresh Bkhz Gallery, founded by an artist for artists. Explore the latest installations and pop-up exhibitions inside the atrium of the landmark Trumpet building. Origin Art is here too, hosting interesting exhibitions and interactive art events like a fun quiz every First Thursdays

Down the hill at the corner of Jan Smuts Avenue and Bolton Road is the legendary Goodman Gallery, another contemporary art gallery of global standards and a must-visit. A few doors up from Goodman is the Blue House, home of top fine art print studio David Krut Projects, where you'll find an art gallery space and the fantastic David Krut bookstore specialising in unique local and imported art books. At the corner of Wells and Jan Smuts Avenues is Kim Sacks Gallery, which showcases exquisite museum-quality handmade objects by African artists including ceramics and beautiful beadwork. To discover who's up-and-coming in the local contemporary art world, pop in to Gallery 2. 

Down 7th Avenue you should visit Gallery MOMO, known for its exciting list of boundary-pushing African artists like Blessing Ngobeni and Roger Ballen, to name a few. Finally, inside Rosebank Mall itself (next to the arthouse Cinema Nouveau) is the FotoZA Gallery, Joburg's only art gallery dedicated to photography.

Unique shopping experiences

In addition to the hundreds of shops available at The Zone @ Rosebank, The Firs and Rosebank Mall,
Rosebank also has two excellent markets that are worth planning a visit around. Next to the entrance to Rosebank Mall on Cradock Avenue is the huge daily Rosebank Art & Craft Market. Make sure to head downstairs to the lower level to find the market-proper (what you see at ground floor level is but a mere glimpse!). There are more than 100 different stalls selling the biggest collection of handmade items ranging from beaded sculptures and carved masks to hand-woven baskets, ceramics, leatherware, jewellery and colourful African fabrics. Most traders are also able to make custom designs and everyone is more than happy to bargain over prices. 

On Sundays the Rosebank Mall rooftop hosts the Rosebank Sunday Market, a popular destination for lunch and gift shopping with a huge variety of stalls selling everything from antiques to jewellery, vintage clothing and crafts. On the last two Sundays of the month there's also a car boot sale, which brings a fun flea-market atmosphere and lots of bargains. 

For mall-based shopping experiences with a fun twist, head to We Are EGG at The Zone – a next-generation department store with over 180 local and global brands – and SOKO District inside of Rosebank Mall, a creative and engaging space filled with interesting clothing, homeware and accessory brands.

Popular co-working spots 

Working professionals commute into Rosebank daily, and it's host to a growing number of vibey co-working spots for smaller teams and freelancers. All well-equipped and comfortable workspaces in their own right, plug in at Perch or one of two nearby Workshop17 branches at Firestation and The Bank
Jacaranda season In Rosebank  Photo: Marc Herve.
Jacaranda season in Rosebank  Photo: Marc Herve.

Jacaranda district 

For just over three weeks from the third week of October, Rosebank becomes a key destination to see the city's flowering jacaranda trees, which transform the streets with canopies of purple blooms. Each year, Johannesburg in Your Pocket runs a #JacarandaInYourPocket photo competition and an event series, and while any time is a good time to visit Rosebank, spring in the district is a time to see it at its most beautiful. Search for #JacarandaInYourPocket on Instagram and prepare to be amazed!

Where to stay 

While in it's particular glory in October during Joburg's jacaranda season, there are no bad times to visit this fun neighbourhood. Rosebank has an incredible choice of hotels and serviced apartments, all within easy reach of the Rosebank Gautrain station. Whether you're after a city staycation or a serviced rental, a boutique hotel or a budget-friendly spot, you'll find it here. For hotel stays take your pick from Radisson Red Rosebank, 54 on Bath, Southern Sun Rosebank, Holiday Inn Rosebank, Clico Boutique Hotel, The Winston, The Jackrose Hotel or voco The Bank. For short-stay serviced apartments there's The Tyrwhitt, The Vantage, The Residency Jellicoe or The Capital on Bath.

Get the lowdown on the district’s hotels and short-stay serviced rentals worth checking out here. 

Getting around

This bounded district is settled into Joburg's leafy Parks suburbs, surrounded by attractive older neighbourhoods in all directions, making navigation easy. From Bolton Road it's a short hop to Parkwood and Saxonwold, while Jan Smuts connects to Parktown North. Cradock Avenue takes you through to Dunkeld and Oxford Road will take you to Melrose

Related Events

Thursday Mar 7 19:00–20:00
First Thursdays Art Quiz by Origin Art at Keyes Art Mile
/johannesburg/soko-district-at-rosebank-mall_168846v
Situated inside Rosebank Mall, SOKO
Featured

Momo Kuro

Trumpet (top floor), Keyes Art Mile, 21 Keyes Ave, Rosebank

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