I am a market aficionado. And after this past weekend I think I can safely say that I’ve been to every market in Joburg and tasted a fair share of the all the food they produce. After a year living in this crazy city I finally feel qualified enough to pick out my favourites and recommendations.
1. Neighbourgoods: Braamfontein
Neighbourgoods is the market that started it all. Sure, there have been farmers markets and small town markets scattered around Joburg since who knows when, but Neighbourgoods is the one that truly kick-started ‘market culture’ in South Africa (along with its Capetonian counterpart in Woodstock). Since its inception, spending a lazy Saturday morning on a rooftop in the sun with some craft beer and market food has become every Joburger’s favourite pastime. Now, visiting all the different markets in Joburg has become not only a trendy way to spend a weekend, but a thoroughly enjoyable one as well, as the quality and vibrancy of the city’s markets has continued to grow.
The thing with markets is that instead of crowding each other out when more begin to pop up, they instead feed the industry with new craftsmen and women able to hop around and sell their wares, and visitors whose interest has been piqued that rush around to see the latest and best in locations around the city. Neighbourgoods did just this, while remaining one of the most relevant spots in town for families, tourists, hungover students and grandparents alike.
1. Bryanston Organic Market: Bryanston
This feels like the Grande Old Dame of markets in Joburg to me. Apparently it’s been around forever, and when you visit you can see for yourself how established it is compared to some of the pop-ups elsewhere. There are beautiful thatch huts that house the stalls of fresh vegetables, spices, soaps, teas and crafted homeware and well-defined pathways that meander through what feels like a little forest. Plenty of interesting goods can be found and it’s a great spot to get gifts or bring the family for a day out. Only the food options seemed slightly lacking. There are some snacks to pick up as you wander through but only about two proper food stalls were open when I was there on a Saturday around midday, both serving pretty standard breakfast food. For crafts and a truly country atmosphere though, it can’t be beaten
3. Maboneng Market on Main: CBD
Maboneng is everything a market is supposed to be. The designers of this cool hipster spot knew exactly what they were going for when they designed Market on Main and how to get there. It helps that the developers of the market complex were the same ones that developed the entire neighbourhood of Maboneng, so that they could create a seamless community and an entire experience for visitors to this little corner of the CBD. Market on Main was their starting and flagship project, and it has been a resounding success. On Sundays there are more food options that you’ll get sick of for a long while, as well as a craft market upstairs that sells the most beautiful and fashionable of goods. There are also permanent art galleries and studios along with antique stores that draw people every day of the week. Don’t miss the ‘I Was Shot in Joburg’ store that sits on the top of the staircase leading up from the courtyard, it’s one of my favourite places to take visitors and a very successful local start-up organization.
The best part about visiting Maboneng is the sheer size of the neighbourhood that’s been created and the atmosphere that comes along with it. The precinct extends for a few blocks in both directions, so there are people roaming the streets to explore the coffee shops, restaurants, boutiques and design shops that line the streets, creating a carnival atmosphere. It’s a great destination any day of the week, but especially on Sundays when the spark in the air is palpable and it feels like one of the best symbols of the famous Jozi spirit.
4. Market at 1 Fox: CBD
Recently renovated and upgraded, one of my favourite spots in Joburg has just re-opened with extra bells and whistles attached. In addition to the awesome Friday night food market and the Good Luck Bar that often hosts local musicians, there is now also a new craft brewery and a restaurant in the complex along with venue spaces that sometimes host art exhibitions and other events. I love 1 Fox for so many reasons. The space itself is just beautiful, an old industrial building with creeping vines and hidden corners filled with antique treasures. The variety of delicious food stalls that fills the warehouse on a Friday evening is one of the best I’ve found, and there is almost always a local band playing either in the market itself or the Good Luck Club next door. I once went to a Wildlife Photography exhibition in a little space hidden in a corner of the building which was also fantastic. There’s always something going on and now that the market is back up and running it’s definitely on the list of places not to miss.
5. Joziburg Lane: CBD
Joziburg is a brand new addition to the city’s markets but one that I do believe deserves its place on this list. Despite not even being a permanent set-up yet, when I visited on a Saturday during one of its pop-up days it was buzzing with people and the set-up was fantastic. Housed in an old industrial building in the part of town that has not yet become trendy, Joziburg is perfectly positioned to be the next hot thing. There are food stalls on the lower level of the huge multi-level building with tables on the open-air balconies on the level above. Dotted around are art studios and craft stalls, but it seems to me that there is massive potential for new sellers to set up and the rest of the building is just waiting for a re-vamp. It feels more like a place for the young trendy crowd than for a family visit, and the food is less quick-market-grub than gourmet-plates that take a while to come out, so be prepared to wait a bit but be richly rewarded for your patience. I’m looking forward to seeing how the market grows once it’s permanently installed and more vendors start to fill up the space, so keep this one on your radar and don’t be afraid to venture into Eloff street!
Disclaimers: I haven’t yet visited the Fourways Farmers Market or the Boeremark in Pretoria, but have heard great things about both. I’ll be sure to write an update when I finally get around to it. Please feel free to comment if I’ve missed any other great ones you know about!