Sitting between the M1 highway and Linksfield Ridge, Norwood is one of the city’s oldest suburbs with most homes dating back to the 1920s and 1930s.
During the early 1950s many immigrant Italian families moved into the area and up until the late 1980s the area was known as Johannesburg’s “Little Italy”. Although the Italian community is not so prominent today as it once was, you’ll still find a few old-fashioned Italian restaurants, as well as Jewish delis, African restaurants and Middle Eastern cafés in this area.
Norwood’s high street, Grant Avenue, is an attractive suburban street with plenty of shops and cafés. The street is known for its cosmopolitan mix of cafés and restaurants, including the popular Schwarma Company, which serves probably the biggest schwarmas this side of the Middle East; the Jewish delicatessen Alexander’s, with its famous bagel menu; and the traditional Ethiopian restaurant Queen Sheba.
For gigantic pizzas to share try the trendy Nonna Mia’s Kitchen or stop at Baha Taco for the best Mexican food.
Set over three floors around a central courtyard on the middle of Grant Avenue, the Factory on Grant sees itself as an “anti-mall” with small shops promoting locally made artisanal goods, such as the quirky Merkati gift store and Smelt Glassblowing Studio. While you are here stop for coffee and buy fresh bread or pastries at Vovo Telo bakery or have a drink at the rooftop bar.
From 1908 to 1909 Mahatma Gandhi lived in a simply decorated house in Orchards (bordering Norwood) where he devoted his time to promoting his philosophy of satyagraha (passive resistance and nonviolent civil disobedience). The historic home is now a peaceful guest house and museum dedicated to Gandhi’s principles and offers visitors a contemplative and spiritual experience. Overnight guests can book meditation and yoga classes and enjoy home-cooked vegetarian meals.
If your taste is more for antiques and bric-a-brac, pay a visit to Norwood’s quirky antiques shop, The Lamp Post, and if you enjoy rummaging through junk in search of potential treasures, join the flea-market traders in the search at the huge Hospice Corner charity shop on Louis Botha Avenue.