The Maboneng Precinct is an exciting urban renewal project taking shape on the eastern end of downtown Johannesburg. Already it has established itself as a cultural, commercial and residential space and a ‘place of light’, the translation of the Sotho word maboneng. The precinct transforms on a monthly basis, as an increasing number of entrepreneurs find a creative home in the area.
A bunch of eclectic restaurants and bars have set up in Maboneng. At the Arts on Main development you’ll find Canteen, wedged between art galleries and olive trees. Canteen’s menu offers pies and burgers and fish ‘n chips.
In Main St, Chalkboard is located next to The Bioscope. Diners eat at chalkboard-topped tables, and the fare includes bagels and pizzas. The restaurant also serves craft beer brewed in South Africa. It has wi-fi for the benefit of business executives grabbing a working break, and sometimes stages live entertainment.
Pata Pata at the Main Street Life development is a 1950s-style diner with live entertainment – usually Afro-Cuban rhythms. Cocktails are served in jam jars and you can create your own pizza with a selection of toppings. Also recalling times gone by is Uncle Merv’s Original Shakes in Fox St. It serves smoothies, coffees and healthy snacks to eat on the go.
At the Fox St Studios is Little Addis Cafe, where Ethiopian dishes, eaten with the staple injera bread, can be sampled. Fillings of cheese, lentils, meat and eggs are the accompaniments. In the same vicinity is Eat Your Heart Out, a deli with a menu of kosher-style dishes such as hot pastrami on rye, potato latkes and vegetarian treats.
You’ll find a braai stand in Kruger St called Sharp, for boerewors rolls and shisa nyama (the isiZulu term for barbecued meat, literally meaning ‘burn the meat’), while at The Main Change the Living Room serves health food on a rooftop garden with a great view. Lastly, there’s sushi, noodles and wine to enjoy at the Blackanese, also at The Main Change.
On Sundays, Arts on Main comes alive with its weekly market. Stalls making paella, curries and all sorts of cosmopolitan dishes set up around the perimeter of a large undercover area. Buy what appeals to you and eat as you mingle with other diners at trestle tables running down the centre of the space. It’s a fun communal experience.