Home to world-class entertainment venues, fine restaurants, day spas, boutique hotels, authentic African craft markets and fantastic jazz venues, Gauteng has it all.
From shopping malls, African street markets and café societies to restaurants, upmarket shebeens and the great outdoors, this is a province that offers instant gratification and no dull moments. Why not hang out at a cigar bar in Tshwane, pop into an African market in Ekurhuleni, rediscover your soul in Metsweding or head off for some bona fide township hospitality in Jozi?
The store owners and street vendors in Rosebank, Johannesburg, are a prime example of European sophistication and African ingenuity complementing each other. At the African Craft Market, crafts and curios, porcupine quills and traditional carvings vie with nearby shopping malls offering gold jewellery, diamonds, artwork and designer couture.
Visitors are often dazzled by the quality of Gauteng’s shopping malls, declaring them some of the best in the world. Sandton City is one of the most upmarket shopping centres in the southern hemisphere. The centre features two of the country’s most luxurious hotels and over 200 shops. In fact, it is a covered village where you can park, bank, do business, dine, relax, shop, pamper yourself and go to the movies – all under one roof.
Most visitors would not want to miss Gauteng’s many craft markets, where strong local and African flavours dominate goods on offer, whether they be art, carvings, colourful Kaftans, beadwork, leather footwear or interior design items.
Some of the bigger permanent markets are the African Craft Market in Rosebank, the Rosebank Rooftop Flea Market, which operates on Sundays and public holidays, and the weekly Bryanston Organic and Natural Market, which sells only organically grown products and items made from natural materials.
The Irene Village Market in Tshwane is held weekly and sells handmade articles.
For fresh produce and more in Johannesburg, there’s the Fourways Farmers’ Market opposite Montecasino; Jozi Food Market at Pirates Sports Club in Greenside; the popular Neighbourgoods Market in Braamfontein; and The Sheds@1Fox.
In Pretoria, try the Hazel Food Market, the Boeremark and Market@theSheds.
On any journey through Gauteng you will find a variety of wonderful farm stalls selling fresh produce and home-made foods. Readers of out-of-print books can take advantage of a fine selection of second-hand bookstores, where you can find everything from old classics to nearly new editions by young African authors.
Gauteng is known for its restaurants and authentic local fare. You will find anything from Thai, to Portuguese, to Cape Malay, to Italian (the real thing), to home-grown boerekos (farmers’ food) and authentic African cuisine.
To understand South African food it is important to know that a number of very distinct communities live within Gauteng’s borders. Africa features heavily as can be expected, and a few very famous names specialise in the continent’s unique cuisine. The Moyo group of restaurants serves modern, pan-African food in a theatrical setting that includes face painting and storytelling.
Authentic shebeen restaurants in Soweto and Thokoza serve traditional specialities such as tripe, wild spinach, great T-bone steaks and the African maize meal known as pap. Carnivore in Muldersdrift, on the West Rand, serves exotic meats, such as eland, crocodile, kudu and ostrich. These are grilled over open fires on large spears, which are brought to the table when ready. Diners are then invited to carve off choice bits to be enjoyed with typical accompaniments and local wines and beers.
Uniquely South African and very much in evidence in Gauteng is African-inspired Portuguese cuisine. It is unlike anything you are likely to encounter in Portugal itself. Chilli features heavily in this tradition, as do seafood dishes such as prawns, crab, calamari and codfish.
Good Indian cuisine is served in abundance in Gauteng, particularly North Indian food. Dishes like rogan josh (mild but spicy lamb), tandoor (cooked in a clay oven) and korma (cream and cashew nuts, with the meat of your choice) are all available. Fordsburg, in Johannesburg, is home to the finest Indian restaurants. Kapitans Cafe in the city centre was one of the few multiracial restaurants during the apartheid era and offers traditional Indian fare.
Don’t forget to pop into Johannesburg’s Chinatown (near Cyrildene) for the best Chinese food this side of Beijing.
Also, a visit to Gauteng’s only wine farm, the Loopsruit Wine Estate in Metsweding, is a must-see, world-class entertainment venue.