The area around Fox Street has seen a massive redevelopment in the last few years, cementing Maboneng’s reputation as the coolest Johannesburg neighbourhood. Although tonnes to do any day of the week, don’t miss Sundays here, when the street comes alive with a colourful street market selling plaited African bowls, vintage clothes, plus dancers and full brass bands and drum ensembles provide entertainment.
Hidden in a leafy courtyard just off Fox Street, Canteen is the perfect pitstop to have a drink in the shade of olive trees. The popular Maboneng haunt serves hearty South African dishes such as biltong with fries, springbok carpaccio and boerewors sausage. On Sundays when the weather is warm, there’s a samba dancing class on the rooftop terrace bar, which even has a vintage car as decoration. On Sundays, spot scene kids sitting on the New York-style fire escape dangling their legs and swigging beer.
268 Fox Street
The arts are alive and well in Maboneng, and PopArt theatre is an independent performing arts centre with a focus on putting on local productions. Almost any night of the week you can catch avant-garde theatre, stand-up comedy and arthouse improv productions on the intimate stage. Make sure you make a night of it and go bar-hopping along the street too.
286 Fox Street
Stepping onto The Living Room’s rooftop terrace is like setting foot in a jungle – plants creep up the walls and trail behind the bar. It’s also one of the best places in the city for sundowners, with the skyscraper-strewn Jozi skyline in the distance providing an impressive backdrop. DJs spin here well into the night, and the bar serves tapas dishes.
5th Floor, Main Change Building, 20 Kruger Street
For an alternative Joburg activity, head to this edgy arthouse cinema, where seats are upcycled from old car seats and you can expect the coolest off-kilter productions and sing-along special nights, and even order a pizza for the film. The adjoining Chalk Board Café serves up great cocktails for pre- or post-viewing.
286 Fox Street
This arty bookshop is keen to support emerging African writers, and helps South African publishers, so you can discover something authentically African and champion local vendors. Drop in for a coffee and spend hours scanning the shelves, or check their website for one of their book events, writing workshops or talks (when we visited, there was one on publishing your first novel).
95 Commissioner Street
This African eatery is always packed, whether it’s for after-work drinks in the snug low-lit wine bar, or for starting the day right with a sunny breakfast at the pavement café (go for the nutrition-packed health bowl). For dinner, order one of their juicy hanging meat skewers. Spend time people-watching on Fox Street through the huge floor-to-ceiling windows.
286 Fox Street
Right next to Canteen, the Arts on Main warehouse complex is a sprawling rabbit warren of interlocking art galleries, printers and studios. Gallery-hop around the small pop-up galleries where often the artists will talk you through the work themselves. There’s a small gift shop in the building too selling arty presents, local artworks and African books.
264 Fox Street
Museum of African Design (MOAD)
The self-proclaimed ‘first design museum in Africa’ is a constantly-rotating schedule of exhibtions, sadly there is no permanent collection here. But it just goes to show how fast-paced and dynamic the art and design scene is here. The cavernous space hosts large-scale shows and talks by artists.
281 Commissioner Street
A cheap and incredibly cheerful Maboneng hole-in-the-wall café made out of an old shipping container where you can try South Africa’s famous braai – that’s barbecued meat. Thin-cut steak comes with a deliciously smoky flavour and with a variety of sides – for the true SA experience go for the potato salad and sweetcorn.
21 Kruger Street
A freelancer’s dream. The achingly cool Origin Coffee Roasters, in a huge brick warehouse at the end of Fox Street has floor-to-ceiling windows and is flooded with natural light. Wooden communal tables and benches mean there’s plenty of space for groups, but bar stools right around the room provide a perfect workplace. The beans are blends of Indian and Brazilian – it serves up one of the best brews in the city, but if you’re venturing elsewhere in Joburg, pop into the equally as hip Father Coffee in neighbouring Braamfontein, too.
Arts on Main, Corner Fox and Berea Street