Johannesburg’s “villages” are unique shopping venues
Johannesburg has a number of unique suburbs that offer a “high street” ambiance, where the local communities have wisely resisted the influx of national chain stores.
These villages are mostly set in beautiful leafy suburbs, a splendid backdrop to a range of specialised owner run stores and a wide range of eateries, from street cafés to top flight gourmet restaurants.
Visiting the villages is a great way to while away some time, away from the urban rush. There are many “slow” activities, like browsing through books and antique shops, finding just the “right” outfit, or picking up some wonderful home bakes or fresh produce for your dinner party. And when you are done shopping, kick off the shoes and relax with a glass of vino and light lunch in one of the chic street cafés.
Craighall Park has a high street of sorts along Jan Smuts Avenue, but it is behind the main street that you will find hidden shops in a leafy suburb reminiscent of a country town. One of the oldest suburbs in Johannesburg, the properties are spacious and a lovely backdrop to the shops. Just up the hill, on Jan Smuts Avenue, is the Dunkeld West Shopping Centre, with fresh flowers, fresh fish, a bakery, butchery and other interesting shops.
Craighall also has one of the best neighbourhood pubs, Giles, with a long bar counter and a large enclosed deck that has a pretty outlook. The CNR Café offers simple, fresh and creative food and excellent coffee. A vibey spot, popular for breakfast, lunch or dinner (dinner booking advisable), the design, clientele and service make for a good experience.
Craighall is situated along the Braamfontein Spruit and borders the grassy Delta Park, a spot frequented by runners and cyclists, dog walkers and believe it or not, horse riders. The Craighall Stables has a number of horses for park rides. On the second Saturday of the month, a small market on the grounds of Colourful Splendour Nursery, next to the stables, has organic veggies for sale, straight from the garden.
Linden is typical of the older garden suburbs of Johannesburg, with a mix of large houses on big stands, apartment blocks, film production houses, businesses and many small shops.
Go to the corner of 7th Street and 3rd Avenue, to savour the cheeses of the Cheese Gourmet. Just a bit further down 7th Street is a bakery, flower shop, wonderful relaxing tea garden and a public swimming pool.
Parkhurst is perhaps Johannesburg’s quaintest village. The homes surrounding the village are on small plots and beautifully renovated.
The high street is 4th Avenue, and exudes a classy ambiance. Book stores, antiques, new furniture, clothing and café culture are among the many options. This highstreet is frequented by those that care about ambiance, unique products and a wonderful meal.
Park at one end and walk along 4th Avenue for a great day out.
Nearby is the Saturday Morning Jozi Food Market.
Parktown North, neighbour to Parkhurst, is home to many popular restaurants, deli’s and a weekly food market. Parktown North is definitely a paradise for foodies.
The leafy suburb is ideal for the sidewalk cafés found on 7th Avenue. It is also home to the Parktown Quarters, with its interesting food shops, restaurants and the Jozi Foodmarket that takes place every Saturday morning in the Quarter’s parking lot.
Parktown North also sports galleries, clothing, antique and speciality furniture shops. Parktown North is close to Parkhurst and Craighall Park.
Greenside is a tranquil suburb with beautiful trees and gardens that belies the very hip, village high street, close to Barry Hertzog Avenue.
A popular hangout for late night party goers, there are still choices for the quieter restaurant clientele and the breakfast crowd.
Vibrant restaurants are full on most nights and popular places for drinks are often overflowing. Greenside is as much a place to browse for used books as it is to have a Thai massage or get a tattoo. There is a mosaic-making studio and a shop that sells crystals, incense and tarot cards, as well as a couple of antique shops along the way that are well worth a visit.
Parkview is a real village with tree lined streets and a high street, Tyrone Avenue, not far from Greenside. It is conveniently close to the Johannesburg Zoo and Zoo Lake.
The local shops include a greengrocer, supermarket and pharmacy as well as Franco’s Restaurant and the excellent Beauty Salon, the Mask.
The friendly and relaxed St Columba’s Presbyterian Church is loved by many, and draws its congregation from afar.
Norwood is a village that followed in the steps of Melville, and renovated its homes dating back to the 1920s and 1930s, making it the most expensive real estate per M2 in South Africa in the 70’s.
The high street is popular for its eateries, which offer an ethnic mix of cuisine, emanating from the residents that live side by side – Jewish, Muslim, West African and South Africans – adding to the cosmopolitan feel.
There are boutiques, coffee bars, cafés and other interesting shops. Follow the main street (Grant Avenue) towards Highlands North, and you will find the Pick and Pay Supermarket, one of the first in S.A.
Melville has one of the prettiest locations in Johannesburg. It is situated high on a hill with sweeping views of the city skyline and the forest of trees towards the north.
The beautiful Melville Koppies Nature Reserve is nearby. Melville was one of the first areas in Johannesburg that restored its early 20th century homes and became the suburb of choice for many artists.
Many other villages were based on the Melville model, with a vibrant high street. Today, urbanisation has changed the feel of 7th Street and 4th Avenue, which are now packed with late-night bars, making this a hip place to be after the sun goes down.
There are still some good restaurants and cafés and plenty to see for the daytime shopper. Just down the hill towards Parkview, you will find the Bamboo Centre on your left. It is a small shopping centre and arts complex with a restaurant called the Service Station, that serves excellent coffee .
44 Stanley Avenue, Milpark
Take a series of old industrial buildings and maintaining their history, transform them into a chic complex with winding passages and exciting spaces – and you will have 44 Stanley Avenue, in Milpark, Johannesburg.
44 Stanley is home to boutiques, restaurants and design studios. The goods on offer here make a fantastic alternative to shopping at the mall, if you are after something unique and creative – beautifully-crafted furniture, gorgeous clothing and rare books that you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else.
44 Stanley is also a foodie haven, boasting some of the most popular daytime eateries in Jozi, including the Salvation Café, a Vietnamese café and an artisan bakery.
Take the Empire Road off-ramp from Johannesburg’s M1 highway and head towards Milpark. Under the bridge, turn left into Owl Street and right into Stanley Avenue. Parking is not easy to find. Drive slowly down Stanley Avenue and pray that one of the parking attendants beckons you into a free parking space.
Vilikazi Street in Soweto is not only rich in struggle history, but is abuzz with street cafés, craft stalls, museums and public art.
This street was home to Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, and is also the fateful route taken by the 1976 Soweto uprising, when Hector Peterson was tragically shot. His heroic death was the start to changes in South African politics and the eventual end to apartheid.
Visit the Mandela House Museum, and choose from a number of great restaurants where you can enjoy African cuisine, or visit a shebeen and see how the locals enjoy a drink and meal.
|More info on the Johannesburg area|