This neighbourhood is the city’s student heartland as well as a hub for the city's creative industries, NGOs and tech start ups. Braamfontein's streets positively burst with youthful creative energy, filled with students, fixie bike hipsters, bearded baristas, rebellious artists and street fashion royalty.
As Braam's status as Joburg's cool capital continues to grow, so does the quality of the neighbourhood's restaurants and cafes. Where just over five years ago there were few sophisticated lunch options to choose from, these days in Braam you are spoiled for choice. From old school bakeries and family-run Indian takeaways to classy harvest table lunches and a chic art gallery and bistro, here's our round-up of the best places to eat in Braamfontein.
A cosy pizza joint with chequered cloth and vinyl banquettes and street views that spills out onto the square at Braamfontein's The Grove development, the hip 86 Public specialises in pizza, to such an extent that there's not much else on the menu. So ditch any fussy friends and order crusty pizza with ample toppings and a range of vegetarian choices. There's also a wide variety of cocktails and cocktail jugs to choose from, making this a good choice for a night out in Braamfontein.
The Grove, 87 Juta St, tel. +27 61 157 1823. Find out more here.
GALATA BAKERY & COFFEE
A charming bakery and café tucked into the corner of The Grove square, this Turkish family-run business offers authentic Turkish cuisine at affordable, student-friendly prices. Named after an ancient neighbourhood in Istanbul, Galata is the culmination of a family’s dream to come to Africa. Through the matriarch’s superb baking, they aim to make a difference, one full tummy and satisfied sweet tooth at a time. We recommend the Turkish Breakfast, a veritable feast for one, which includes menemen (Turkish-style scrambled eggs), gozleme (a traditional Turkish flatbread) as well as side dishes of cheese, tomatoes, olives and honey. Wash it all down with the strong Turkish tea that accompanies all breakfast orders. The Grove, 87 Juta St. Find out more here.
At this bar, gallery and restaurant there's a new art exhibition on the walls each month and some of the best food in the neighbourhood, making it a great place for kick-starting an evening. Set around a statement grey marble bar which is looked over by a more discrete mezzanine (ideal for private parties) the floor-to-ceiling windows looking out onto Reserve Street while in the kitchen an impressive wood-fired grill adds flavour to the meaty mains including a superb black bun burger and healthy bowls full of goodness that will delight vegetarians. 7 Reserve St. Find out more here.
This family-run Indian takeaway sells the full range of local Durban-style takeaway lunch favourites such as samoosas (R5 each), breyanis, roti rolls and, of course, the classic South African bunny chow. Portions are generous and you can easily get lunch and a drink here for under R50. Your hosts are Patrick and Amy Ankiah, Durbanites who have been running this friendly local takeaway since moving to Joburg in 1997. 87 De Korte St, tel. +27 11 403 9618. Find out more here.
BLACK FOREST BAKERY
One of Braamfontein's longest running businesses, the counter at this busy traditional German bakery has been staffed by the indomitable Maisie for more than 35 years and many of her customers have been buying their daily bread here for just as long. It's easy to miss the entrance to this tiny spot, unless you happen to be passing by early in the morning when the queue stretches out into the street and delivery vans come and go. Behind the counter is an array of super-authentic traditional German baked goods including pretzels, a multitude of different rye breads, Berlin-style jam doughnuts, irresistible orange cake, strudel and traditional biscuits like spekulaas. If you are lucky enough to get one of the four chairs crammed into the tiny space by the window you can also order a filter coffee or tea and eat your morning pastry while listening to Maisie and the other ladies manning the counter enjoying friendly banter with the regulars. 102 Juta St, tel. +27 11 403 0065. Find out more here.
A cute streetside eatery with a sumptuous daily harvest table of freshly-made salads and meat, fish or chicken dishes plus a daily changing 'meal of the day' and a great choice of sandwiches. The 20-something owner Jamie Lorge is always around, serving up plates of her wholesome food. Favourites include charred green beans with creamy blue cheese, charred carrot with fennel and red onion and the fish cakes. The selection of dishes changes daily and the day's menu is posted every morning on the Love Food website. Desserts are good too – if you are lucky there will be an unforgettable chocolate pie or ask for Paul's homemade ice-cream. Very popular with the business crowd and academics from the nearby university. 4 Ameshoff St, Braamfontein, tel. +27 83 602 6511. Find out more here.
THE BANNISTER HOTEL
At the hip budget hotel perfectly located on busy, buzzy De Korte Street The Bannister Hotel’s Bistro and Sushi Bar offers an eclectic menu featuring dishes from around the world. The atmosphere conjures a more tropical climate, with overhead lamps made from recycled mason jars, ceiling fans, abundant palms and a long counter opening onto the street (perfect for watching Braamfontein’s colourful street life). On the bistro menu expect plenty of fun takes on local and global street food favourites with a strong focus on African dishes. 9 De Beer St, Braamfontein, tel. +27 11 403 6888. Find out more here.
Transplanted from its native Cape Town into an urban city block, Neighbourgoods now attracts up to 4000 people to Braamfontein every Saturday. The market has a great selection of pricey food and drinks, with queues for the ever popular paella stand and Balkan burgers, along with frozen mojitos and craft beer. Other favourites include LoveMeSo's delicious ramen bowls, Korean barbecue and The Orbit's mouthwatering lamb spit braai. The happening crowd takes over the top floor terrace which offers great city views and live music, the place to see and be seen on a sunny Braamfontein Saturday lunchtime. Cnr Juta and De Beer Sts. Find out more here.
THE WING REPUBLIC
Open until 23:00 at weekends this smart casual cafe specialises in buffalo wings with a choice of 13 different basting flavours ranging from classics like barbecue, sweet chilli and peri-peri to unusual pairings that include garlic parmesan, miso and ginger and lemon pepper. Those who like it spicy will be satisfied with the peri-peri, while the peri sacana comes with a disclaimer - 'not for the faint hearted, you have been warned!' - that is absolutely worth taking note of, this is some serious blow-your-head-off levels of heat. 6 De Beer St. Find out more here.
Attached to Braamfontein's excellent Wits Art Museum (which is free to enter) the lunches at the busy canteen-style café run by Olives and Plates (who also have a cafe inside the Wits University campus and in Sandton Central) are excellent value, making WAM Cafe a popular stop for local students and academics. Choose from a regularly changing menu of hot and cold dishes from as little as R30. Wits Art Museum, cnr Bertha and Jorissen Sts, tel. +27 11 717 1723. Find out more here.