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Johannesburg, South Africa eats?

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  • vpei Jul 12, 2006 02:43 PM
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Hello all,

Going to Joburg for the first time next month and wondered what is new and yummy on the food scene (have read the few previous posts on the destination but they date from 2 years ago). Also what kinds of food stuffs are worth bringing back? I beseech you oh Chowhound gurus!

Ta very much!

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  1. Joburg is a huge city and you can find most anything there. The national staple food is cornmeal that has been cooked to a firm consistency (so it can be picked up by hand). It is called Pap in South Africa but does by different names in different countries (e.g. Sadza in Zimbabwe and Nshima in Zambia). Pap is eaten with everything but most usually with some form of meat stew. You will see it listed on menus as Pap and Vleis (pronounced Flyce).

    The other thing to make sure to try is Biltong and Droewoers (pronounced dryvorse). The first is airdried meat and the latter airdried sausage. These are true South African delicacies and put American Jerky to shame. Ask around for a good butchery to find who has the best.

    South Africa has excellent seafood. Try the Codfather in either Joburg or Capetown (which you should make every effort to see).

    Whatever you do make sure to try Nando's. This is a fast food chain that started in South Africa selling Portugese style grilled chicken. The place is amazing and I have been waiting for years for them to enter the US market. Best to order a quarter chicken and a roll. The chicken comes in different degrees of spice, and the extra hot IS extra hot. Peri-Peri is how spiciness is referred to in SA (e.g. Peri Peri Sauce)

    Finally, do your best to get invited to a real South African Braai (pronounced Brye). This is the SA term for BBQ and they have very definite ideas about how it should be done. Enjoy your trip

    2 Replies
    1. re: deepyarn

      Thanks so much for your advice! I have had Nando's in London where it is a popular chain and I love it. Could it be better where it originated? Probably! And I'll make sure to bring back some biltong and droewoers, love air-dried meats ;-)

      1. re: vpei

        re the bringing back biltong - check on the rules before loading up, as it might get confiscated..
        There's a variety of very nice restaurants in the suburb of Melville, in Joburg, on Seventh Avenue. Get a local to take you.. Xai Xai is pretty good (pronounced 'shy shy') and Soulsa down at the bottom end of Seventh Ave used to be amazing, food-wise, also next door to Xai Xai is 'Nuno's - very nice Portugese/South African foods..
        Lots of restaurants in that little area - but those two are of note.. (I used to stay above Nuno's in the apartments upstairs, and hangout in Melville).

        You can find insanely overpriced foods in the expensive 'northern suburbs' (rosebank/sandton etc) - but to get a good glimpse of normal South Africa and eat good food, Melville and Seventh Ave is the place. Get a local to take you around, as some side streets are not good to walk on, but the main street (Seventh Ave) is fine..
        EDIT: I make my own biltong - so if you fall in love with the stuff, and are too nervous to smuggle huge loads of it - then just load up on 'biltong spice' from SA butcheries, and make your own on a regular basis..see
        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/398671

        As a former resident of Joburg - I'd suggest you find a local to babysit you around and/or play tourguide - as some areas generally aren't too safe these days. Crime is SERIOUS nowadays.Like really really serious. Joburg is fabulous - but use a hidden moneybelt, and don't flash your valuables - and try find a local person to show you around, as the lines between safe and unsafe areas isn't easily visible to outsiders.

        The cheap and safe car taxi service in Joburg is Maxi Taxi - 011 648 1212
        (at the airport you'll only see the very expensive other taxi services waiting with ripoff prices to get to wherever you want to go) if you do Maxi Taxi, ask for taxi numbers 13 or 241 - If you get either of them, tell 'em Ian in America says hello, and they should give you a good price and not try to rip you off :)

    2. I have been in Johannesburg for work for the last two weeks and the best places that I have eaten have been in Soweto. I would advise going as part of tour package but these places often come up as options for lunch or dinner when exploring Soweto's history. They are considered shebeens which are local, informal hangouts. I feel these are a little more touristy than your average shebeen but that does not affect the food.

      Fanny's Place, 294 Ramolongwana Street, Zone 8, Meadowlands

      Proprietor Fanny Mokoena is the first black woman to be inaugurated as a member of the ‘Brandy Guild’ by the South African Brandy Foundation. She has brought together women in the liquor trade and formed forums. She is also a key founder of the historic Soweto Shebeen Route. African and western food is served.

      Wandie's Place

      618 Makhalemele Street, Dube Village, 011 982 2796

      Buffet style food with more meat than you could shake a stick at including lamb, beef, chicken, and ribs. Sides include pap, sweet potato, and pigeon peas. Seating is family style and you will often be sharing your table with other locals. Visitors are encouraged to leave the business card on the wall and you will hundreds of them acting as testament to the popularity of this restaurant.

      I am living in Sandton and while the food around is great, it is nothing that you could not get any other place in the world.

      The one exception I would make is the Butcher Shop in Nelson Mandela Square. The place is exceptional. The wine list amazing, and you can actually work with the butcher to carve out the piece and size of meat that you want. They have a variety of sauces, sides, and desserts. There is also a cigar bar for those of you who want to end the night in style.

      The only other stand out is Col'Cacchio Pizzeria in Benmore Gardens Shopping Centre on the corner of Benmore Road & Grayston Drive. Great pizza, pasta, and salads. If you have kids in tow a wonderful place to go.

      1. I am sure my suggestions are a bit unusual, but for what they are worth:

        On a visit last fall, I got hooked on lime and sodas which are often made with Rose's Lime Juice. The Roses sold in SA does not have the additives that are found in the USA version. I would buy a few bottles to schlep home if you live in the US. As crazy as that sounds, I was very sorry I did not do this myself!!

        Some people like Rooibois tea, too. Of course you can buy it in the US (if that is where you are from) but I shipped home a few boxes from SA. (Along with other things I had purchased on my trip)

        And if you develop a taste for smoked snoek, you can always bring a few cans home!!

        Oops, just realized that you have likely come and gone long ago..well, I will keep these suggestions here just the same!

        1. Hi there-
          My family and business take me to Joburg frequently. Here is a list of favorites:

          Moyos: African/Fusion. Indoor/outdoor dining. Very colorful, great ambience. Over looking Zoolake.Wide range of food. Service sometimes a bit slow.
          Zoolake, 1 Prince of Wales Drive, Parkview 011 646-0058

          Soulsa: Contemporary fusion. Very experimental, but tasty. Lots of Asia, wonderful arty ambience that flows into Melville's unique street-culture vibe. Resident chef is top SA chef Nicky Gibbs.
          16 7th Street , Melvilee 011482 5572

          Moemas: Contemporary
          Elegant ambience with bright white and pastel decor. Out of this world pastries and coffee, savories also.
          Shop 1 Parktown Quarter, Parktown North 011 788 7725

          Gourmet Garage: Burgers
          Trendy retro place designed to look like a service station. Creative take on burgers that leaves out greasy junk food variety. Wide range from salmon to ostrich burgers! Good for vegetarians also.
          Atholl Square Shopping Center, corner Katherine St. and Wierda Road East, Sandton
          011 883 2226

          Rosebank Rooftop Market: great for fresh cheese, bread, cold meats, pastries, etc. Great vibe, lots of African-style arts and crafts. Sundays 9-5. Upper level, Mall of Rosebank. 011 442 4488

          If you have a moment, please visit my online shop: www.JacarandaStyle.com
          We specialize in unique tableware, serving accessories and fine gifts handmade by some of South Africa's master artisans.
          Have a wonderful trip!