36 Hours in Johannesburg
Beneath the grit of South Africa’s biggest city, there’s a kinetic urban energy that can be savored in its street art, restaurants, music clubs and markets…
In South African parlance, things happen at two speeds: “Just now” — which could be anywhere from 10 minutes to two weeks to who knows when — or “now-now,” which means, well, now. Judging by the pace at which Johannesburg is evolving these days, you need to get there now-now. The City of Gold originated as a dusty mining center; though it might not have the natural majesty of coastal Cape Town in its court, beneath Johannesburg’s grit there’s a kinetic urban energy: Big-money deals are made in the metropolis’s financial hubs and creative collaborations are unveiled in quirky arts-centric enclaves. While travelers en route to places like Kruger National Park or Cape Town and the Winelands have long treated Johannesburg as an in-and-out stop, many are finally discovering that there are plenty of reasons to extend stays and find out what this lively city is all about.
5 P.M. GALLERY HOPPING
A stretch of the upscale Rosebank suburb has recently been recast as the Keyes Art Mile, lined with boutiques, galleries and cafes aplenty. Stop by before dinner to browse modern art at galleries like Circa, Everard Read and Whatiftheworld(some close earlier on Saturdays, but you can often make an appointment in advance to visit outside regular hours). There are also cute cafes, like the colorful vintage-Afro-chic Milk Bar and the burger joint BGR, but save your appetite — big dinner plans lie ahead.
6:30 P.M. DINING BY FIRE
Ever since its opening in 2016, Marble has been attracting the city’s most discerning diners by the droves. Part of that might be because of a dearth of restaurants of its caliber in the city; but more likely it’s because David Higgs is Johannesburg’s premier chef, and news of his plans to open a temple to meats cooked over an open fire was met with excitement. If you come early enough to the top-floor space in the Trumpet building on the Keyes Art Mile, you can catch sunset views with a cocktail by the bar; afterward, settle in for a feast of sea bass with orange and leek sauce (285 rand), tandoor quail with charred sweet potato chutney, coriander yogurt (215 rand), or the game of the day (options might include blesbok or kudu).
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