Restaurant renaissance: How foodies are rebuilding Johannesburg

Or it could be the doorway to one of the city’s gourmet food markets, havens of organic produce, Seussian cupcakes and fresh roasted coffees.

Three major markets have turned into anchors of redevelopment in the city, driving Johannesburg’s renaissance as the surrounding blocks become magnets for restaurateurs, artists, students and increasing numbers of tourists.


The Neighbourgoods Market (73 Juta St., Braamfontein, Johannesburg; +27 11 403 0413) is a place people hear before they see it.

On Saturday mornings, artisanal food and hipster fashion fill the second and third floors of a parking garage.

The entrance is down an alley off DeBeer Street and then up a ramp, but the way is marked and decorated with lights.

It shouldn’t be a struggle to find the entrance, just follow the crowds of Beautiful People who come every week for lunch.

It’s the food, and drink, that draw in the crowds.

Bartenders pull pints of craft beers, next to an American-style barbecue stand and a taco stall.

There’s a curious Latin infusion in many of the food stalls, with an emphasis on spicy salsas and novel chocolate sauces.

And there’s the full range of traditional South African market fare, including biltong and fantastic cheeses, but also a surprising selection of bubble teas — the milky drinks often filled with tapioca pearls or fruit jellies that originated in Taiwan.

The driving force behind The Sheds is Gerald Garner, whose passion for Joburg history has turned into a beloved series of walking tours, books and now this market that aims to turn into more than a weekend event.

They’re currently open Thursday through Sunday, with a busy calendar of live music and performances.

Griffin Shea is a writer and traveler based in South Africa. His latest project is a travel app for African cities for iPhone and Android.