The summer season is almost over, so now’s the perfect time to squeeze in a few more social outings before the cold sets in and hibernation becomes unavoidable. Dining out during the fading summer season feels like a tonic for the soul: technicolour cocktails, healthy food trends, rooftop views and an enduringly lively atmosphere.

Johannesburg hides several spots that are ideal for lazy sundowners, sunrise cocktails and midday pick-me-ups. So we took the liberty of compiling a bucket list for you to eat and drink your way through as you luxuriate in the final glimmers of summer.  

1. Hell’s Kitchen


With a name like that, something sinfully delicious has to be cooking, right? Well, it is. If you took the attitude of a dive bar and combined it with modern flair and an elevated interior décor, Hell’s Kitchen in Melville is what you’d get. It has a welcoming yet irreverent ease that marks it as the perfect hangout for outcasts, rebels and misfits with a taste for good food and seriously boozy cocktails. Their outdoor area is excellent for winding down on a lazy Sunday afternoon having my-hangover-is-bigger-than-yours conversations with friends over some craft beer.

Get: The cheekily named cinnamon whiskey, Hellfire.

2. The National Eatery and Speakeasy


The National Eatery and Speakeasy (or simply The National if you’re a regular) was established by the same talents behind successful Parkhurst restaurants, Coobs and Il Contadino, and The Federal in Melville. It uses the same farm-to-table philosophy that undergirds its sister restaurants, but with a more casual feel and simpler dishes. The dining area opens up on to the street which adds a coastal bistro dimension to this Parktown North venue. Go for a late lunch and stay for the three-and-a-half-page wine menu. The place transitions from day to night with remarkable ease. Closed on Sundays.

Get: The Moroccan Suffolk lamb leblebi. It will change your life.

3. El Jalapeño


If Linden doesn’t cross your mind when you think of an eclectic dining experience, then perhaps you’re not daring enough. Several unique restaurants have recently energised the Linden area including The Whippet, Brian Lara Rum Eatery and my personal favourite, El Jalapeño. The menu is the biggest selling point with truly Mexican dishes you’ve probably never heard of before. Flautas, gambas and aperitas are just a few of the new flavours you can expect besides the more popular burritos, enchiladas and tacos. It’s a breath of fresh air for 2018 food trends.

Get: The bistec de res al chipotle. The only word you need to understand in that dish is chipotle which is a smoky, dried jalapeño seasoning. Consider the rest a surprise for your taste buds.

4. The Secret Tea Garden


For a more family-friendly outing, discover the Fourways gem, The Secret Tea Garden. It’s an outdoor venue set against the backdrop of Cape Dutch colonial architecture. There’s a playground for the kids and a menu full of delectable breakfast and lunch treats. If you ever need a last-minute venue for your weekly book club or just want to escape the chaos that comes with the city, The Secret Tea Garden is an idyllic treasure. It also adds something unusual to your Instagram feed.

Get: The tomato, mozzarella, chilli and coriander tramezzini. Trust me.

5. Gia’s at Montrose


If you like your dining spots with a bit of character, you’ll love Gia’s at Montrose. It’s located at the back of a garden nursery, which is about the least odd thing about the establishment. It’s like a slice of pastoral heaven in the middle of Morningside. The waitrons are small-town-friendly, the herbs are freshly picked and the décor is quirky enough to prop up entire conversations. And once you’re inside, it can’t get any more quaint when you meet the adorable couple who own and run the place, Wayne and Michelle Groenewald. This venue makes you leave with renewed faith that there’s still a great strength in beating your own path.

Get: The John Gotti breakfast. It lives up to its mobster name.

6. Roving Bantu Kitchen


Situated in Brixton, the Roving Bantu Kitchen has a bit of a longer story than most restaurants, and you should definitely corner owner Sifiso Ntuli and make him tell it to you. He is the eponymous Roving Bantu and the kitchen is a tribute to his South African upbringing and his years spent in exile. The menu is never the same and relies on what’s available in the local community. And the interior is reminiscent of the warmth and kitsch of a township home. The Roving Bantu Kitchen hosts several regular live music nights that draw crowds from all across the city. This weekend-only establishment is the perfect cultural experience to cap off a balmy day.

Get: Whatever’s available. It’s always good.

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Author : Rudi Badenhorst