Before I came to Johannesburg, many people warned against the danger of Johannesburg CBD.
I had driven through it a few times with one of my coworkers to Park Station which is in the heart of Joburg CBD. The crime rate in this area is so high that even the locals are nervous to go there. But tucked away in the city is an up-and-coming place where hipsters can hide in Sunday markets and underground art museums.
The Maboneng Precinct is becoming a hot topic for ‘Burgers because the district is trying to revive the city, but is creating a high-end living area that is pushing out the locals already living there. The developers have been consciously building low income housing options and trying to maintain a level of equality for the residence, but it is a hard balance and many people have not been able to decide how they feel about the developments.
I have explored only the tip of the iceberg in Maboneng, but here are a few spots I’ve found so far that I love.
This small theater is both charming and laid-back. Next to the screening room is a small cafe called “Chalkboard” where you are invited to buy sodas, alcoholic beverages, and food before going in for the showing. Once you enter the theater there are car seats instead of the regular cushioned theater seats, and a pop up sound system. The place seats about 40 people, at most. They only show documentaries or film projects from local artists.
On Sundays they offer classic movies, and I was eager to see my favorite 80’s flick, Say Anything. After the DVD refused to play, they apologized and refunded us our money. I was anything but put off by their hiccup and I look forward to attending more movies there in the future!
Eating Ethiopian food in Africa is such a delight. This small cafe has a limited menu, but with big flavors. Their service is friendly and attentive and the location is right on the main part of the street where you can people watch on the patio or be tucked intimately inside. Before going to a movie you can catch a quick meal here, and enjoy the beautiful flavors of a veggie platter, or a variety of curry. They also have the BEST coffee.
Every Sunday, there is an event called “Arts on Main” in one of the warehouses in the Maboneng District. Downstairs, there are art galleries and food vendors safe from bad weather. Upstairs you will find upscale merchandise which you can purchase straight from the designers themselves. There are wooden bow ties, handmade jewellery, African print clothing, and various little trinkets that would make expensive souvenirs. Many locals come to browse, but mainly come to enjoy the gourmet food stands in the downstairs section.
This Precinct is a great place to go and people-watch, buy local handmade goods, and fill your brain and belly with good stuff. I apologize for the lack of photos! I’m currently in the middle of getting a new camera. Once I have one again, I will be able to show off how beautiful this city really is! For now, check out the websites and links provided above.