While Sandton City and Nelson Mandela Square shopping malls can still be considered Sandton Central's centre, the district has grown considerably over the past decade. The Marc shopping centre, with its pavement cafes and swanky nightlife offerings, and the soaring The Leonardo (Africa's tallest building), have cemented their place among Sandton's key lifestyle attractions, while Sandton Central's green space Mushroom Farm Park is always an attraction both for its green space and its outdoor restaurant, Truffles on the Park.
GET THERE WITH THE GAUTRAIN: Sandton Central has its own Gautrain station at the corner of West Street and Rivonia Road. All of the biggest attractions are within a 10-minute walk. Turn left out of the station and walk one block down West Street to Nelson Mandela Square. One more block further is Maude Street where you'll find The Marc and The Leonardo.
The Sandton Central vibeFrom High Street brands to designer fashion labels, shopping is a major Sandton attraction. The huge interlinked Sandton City, Nelson Mandela Square, Legacy Corner, and Michelangelo Towers malls together make up one of the biggest shopping precincts on the continent. Drinking and dining is another major attraction with a host of glamorous venues to enjoy a taste of the Champagne lifestyle. Don't forget to dress up and flash your designer labels. Sandton loves bling.
Lazy lunch or casual dinner
If you're in Sandton for lunch or dinner, you are spoiled for choice. The shopping malls of course offer plenty of local chain restaurants, but here we have highlighted the venues we think stand out in the neighbourhood.
The Big Mouth
We love this slick joint with its nod to Art Deco that replaced a tired Nelson Mandela Square tourist trap serving sad pizzas. The Big Mouth has an innovative Asian-inspired menu with plenty of variety, that includes signature sushi dishes (we love the fish 'n' chips roll), or choose from bowls, ceviche, grills, or pan dishes.
This quirky African-retro-styled café's wide terrace, jungle gym and beer garden make it perfect for a family lunch in the sun and their TV means you don't have to worry about missing the Saturday rugby or football.
‘African glamour’ inspired the Nelson Mandela Square branch of the chic local bistro chain Tashas. The decor is dramatically elegant (the rose gold and pink Flamingo room is favoured by the boujee crowd) and the menu is Mediterranean-inspired, and perfect for a lazy lunch. There's also a second branch at The Marc on Maude Street.
Fine boulangerie and patisserie Just Teddy's second store in Nelson Mandela Square has some of Joburg's most moreish pastries (which is saying a lot given the number of patisseries popping up) and their Middle Eastern flourish means you can try flavourful creations such as sweet tahini macarons, karak chai tea and pistachio religieuse.
This Northern-Italian-inspired restaurant is located in Acorn Lane, a rambling and secluded estate on Rivonia Road, about 15 minutes walk from the Gautrain station. Ideal for lazy afternoon meals, the restaurant flows out into a large and picturesque courtyard and garden.
Olives & Plates Embassy Towers
A popular spot for ladies who lunch, this bistro at 175 Empire Place has a bulging menu that runs to several pages and it may take you longer to choose from than it actually does to eat your meal. The food here is always good, albeit a bit fussily served.
Truffles on the Park
Located in Mushroom Farm Park, this is a great spot for summer with a fun beach-style beer garden looking over the park. There's plenty of tapas and sharing plates on the menu and great summer cocktails.
A brilliant brunch destination serving Mediterranean and Middle-Eastern-inspired dishes and excellent wood-fired pizzas. Located at the Mint Hotel, Pablo has a breezy space that offers outdoor seating looking onto a poolside.
Ribs and Burgers
Another casual eatery, this family-owned chain hails from Australia. Enjoy juicy burgers and saucy ribs while sitting on the wide sheltered sidewalk at The Marc on Maude Street.
Where to enjoy the sunsetThe Grillhouse
Admire one of the best sunset views in Sandton at Alice Lane Precinct, two blocks down the hill from Sandton City, on the terrace at the excellent steakhouse The Grillhouse.
Another sunset favourite is Sandton Sun hotel's rooftop bar and restaurant. On weekend evenings DJ sets and a fire pit add atmosphere, although the view is not as unrivalled as it once was. Still, if you enjoy celebrity spotting, it's also a good place to be.
For the most superior sunset views head to Alto234, the dizzying Sky Bar situated on the very top of Africa’s tallest building The Leonardo (234 metres above the street). Offering unparalleled 360-degree views, booking is essential.
Dining and nightlife hotspotsIf you really want to get into the Sandton spirit, then we recommend getting dressed up and making a booking for a blow the budget evening out at one of Sandton Central's glitzy dining hotspots. Charge those credit cards and don't expect low key. This is after all Africa's richest square mile and Joburg is forever the gold rush city. Extravagance is the order of the day.
Launched in winter 2021 Tang is an ultra-glam luxury Asian restaurant and bar overlooking Nelson Mandela Square. The menu designed by Chef de Cuisine Wesley Chen focuses on Japanese Izakaya-style dishes, sushi and other delights. Start by taking a seat at the luxurious Moët & Chandon Champagne bar and toast the evening with bubbles.
On the 7th floor of The Leonardo, Aurum is an elegant dining and leisure destination in a cathedral-like setting with vaulted ceilings and soaring windows. There's an extensive global wine list and the menu offers easy all-day eating options and more refined dinner fine dining options. For sun-worshippers there's also an expansive pool deck.
Star chef David Higgs' Saint is a knockout super-sexy space at The Marc, packed with atmosphere. In the evenings the bar fills up and of course Champagne is the drink of choice. The menu is Italian, and their wood-fired pizzas are excellent.
Located opposite Saint restaurant, Zioux (pronounced "zoo") is also led by David Higgs and the Marble group. It's a glitzy bar and bistro serving fancy cocktails and a small plates menu focused on the tastes of Latin America, particularly Peru.
The name is a nod to the impressive feature garden wall and ceiling and on a warm evening this bar's wide-open terrace is a great after work place to soak up a cocktail or two. On weekends DJs turn up the heat while accompanying the party is a classy menu of contemporary small plates, many of them Asian inspired.
For those Sandtonistas who love dressing to the nines to head out for an evening of fine food, Champagne and lots Instagramming, this wine restaurant with its Insta-famous wine cellar tunnel is the spot.
Kicking down the door to get the party started in late 2022 – welcome to Amazon Nightclub where the drinks are as loud as the music. Operated by the Boulder Group (who also own the pumping gay club Babylon in Illovo), Amazon is a nightclub with a jungle-themed wild side.