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The only guide you need to eating your way through Maboneng

18 restaurants, café's and shisa nyamas not to be missed in Joburg's creative and vibrant Maboneng precinct.

by: Mamello Sejake | 26 Aug 2016

Call it a creative hub, a place of inspiration, the cool kid's playground or the home of the hippies, whatever floats your boat the; Maboneng Precinct is a neighbourhood renowned for the arts, the infectious vibe and food so good you’d think it's God sent.

The precinct is a chic urban metropolis neighbourhood that wears a plethora of clothing boutiques, a theatre, an independent movie house, bars, a market and of course, restaurants,  gracefully around its neck. There are so many reasons to visit Maboneng and every time you go you’ll find another, but part of living your best life includes eating the best food so here’s where you can get your fill:

Von Pickartz Belgian Waffles

According to them they’re the only place in the country where you can get REAL liege waffles. It’s literally a solace for anyone looking for a place to park their sweet tooth, a place to take the kids or simply take a seat and plan your next move over a serving of warm crispy waffles and a glorious scoop of ice cream.

Pata Pata

If the name evokes the same joy that the memory of Miriam Makeba’s song then believe me when I say that the food will instigate the same pleasure in your tummy. The restaurant serves African dishes and is a great place to be on a Sunday when there’s usually something special for the music lovers.

(Image by Pata Pata)

Sha’p Braai

The shisa nyama is probably the closest you’ll get to enjoy a good ol’ fashioned kasi experience. The finger lickin’ cuts of meat are accompanied by your favourite braai add-ons. And it’s a damn good place to cure your Sunday babalas.


Make a stop here for a pizza and a beer before a movie at the Bioscope or just go there because it’s a cool place to chill. They sell a range of craft beers and have an appetizing selection of pizzas. For the locals, it’s one of those places where you intend to go for one drink but walk away after a few more and with many stories to tell.  

Eat Your Heart Out  

The small deli-like restaurant makes yummy healthy and wholesome Jewish inspired dishes. If you’re a breakfast person, they’ll put a smile on your face with their all-day breakfast. They’re also in the business of whipping up scrumptious lunches - try the halloumi salad, and maybe the falafel for dinner.

(Image by Eat Your Heart Out)

Origin Artisan Coffee Roasters

At Origin they’re dead serious on the business of making coffee or as they call it crafting coffee. From the selection of the beans, to the precise roasting, the blending, grinding and pouring all that goodness into your cup; they’ve turned their craft into an art. In each fresh cup you’ll taste traces of passion, patience, and pride.


They specialise in two things that are poles apart, curry, and frozen yoghurt. Even I’ll admit that the combination of the two isn’t very enticing but take my word and try them separately or one after the other, preferably the curry first, you’ll be happy. The frozen yoghurt is homemade and there’s a rich variety of flavours for you to take your pick of.

Mama Mexicana

Probably the best place to go if you’re in the mood for nachos, burritos, quesadillas, chimichangas or enchiladas all made authentically. The owners began at the Sunday market on Main and decided to turn the Sunday gig into an everyday gig. It’s a cosy spot where each meal is packed with flavour and you’re at liberty to indulge in good ‘ol Mexican beer.

(Image by Mama Mexicana)


The setup itself commands you to give it a chance. The old truck/shipping container has to be the home of one of the best toasted cheese sarmie you’ll ever have. They make delicious frozen treats and desserts and you can enjoy it all from the pavement which gives you a great view of life at the precinct.

Grain – Food And Wood

Grain stands alone on the edge of the precinct and serves mouth-watering fresh and healthy gluten-free foods. It’s easy to think that food that is free from gluten, wheat, sugar, MSGs and preservatives are boring, bland and overpriced but Grain busts the myth on that one. The space also doubles up as a showroom with décor goodies and furniture.

(Image by Grain)


Canteen is the fantastic little restaurant at Arts on Main. The restaurant looks out onto the main courtyard which is speckled with olive trees and wrought-iron tables and chairs. The menu isn’t too extensive but anyone who knows anything will tell you to try the beer battered hake and chips.

The Living Room

The eco garden offers a spellbinding getaway. The ever-green setting is dreamy, the cocktails are alluring and potent and the food looks like appetising servings of art. Over the weekend tropical beats fill the rooftop but, Sundays at The Living Room are sessions most people live for.  

Love Revo Café

The bistro brings a fresh and youthful electro spark to the precinct. They serve tapas portions and everything on the menu reflects the vivacious community around it with each dish being named after a place in Maboneng. It’s ideal for curbing your carnivore cravings or toasting to making it through another day on the rooftop.    


Thalis serves classic South African Indian cuisine. It’s a small family owned restaurant where you’re always made to feel at home with their hearty food. Take some time out and sit down for one of their curries, samoosas, bunny chow, rotis or my personal favourite, the thali. The thali offers all the 6 different flavours of sweet, salt, bitter, sour, astringent and spicy on one single plate.

Che Argentine Grill

Che has brought Argentina to Maboneng. Just stepping inside is an experience on its own; you’re bound to find something on the menu that’s sealed with approval from the grill that’ll tickle your taste buds. Although a bit pricey you’ll definitely get your money’s worth and if you’re lucky you’ll catch Argentinian tango dancers strutting their stuff on the floor. Read our review here.

(Image by Che Argentine Grill)

James XVI

James XVI is a modest little spot in Maboneng, for what it lacks in aesthetics it makes up for with the food which comes in huge portions. There isn’t that much to choose from on the menu but they do brew Ethiopian coffee and a cup of coffee from the birth place of coffee is enough reason to make a move in that direction. During the week it’s a lovely place to enjoy a juicy piece of literature over a cuppa something good.

Lenin’s Vodka Bar

Lenin’s Vodka Bar houses more than 40 different kinds of vodka – I’m just putting out there. The bar is only open from Thursday until Sunday and is a perfect place to forget about your worldly responsibilities and let hedonism take flight. They also serve meals so you can comfortably eat as much as you drink.

Stuff Café

Stuff Café give new meaning to the hot dog with their American-style gourmet hotdogs. With the traditional foot long roll and bockwurst sausage as your base you can go wild with a variety of add-ons. From the restaurant you have a panoramic view of the city to fix your gaze on while you enjoy your meal.

Vleis Café

Vleis Café is also on the outskirts of the community and is easy to miss. It’s mainly a shisa nyama and they screen sports. It’s a contemporary, cool place with a vibrant atmosphere and serves all the meat you can imagine.

READ: Joburg's best coffee shops

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