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10 Must-Try Local Culinary Dishes in Johannesburg

Johannesburg, the bustling heart of South Africa, is not only renowned for its vibrant culture, rich history, and dynamic urban landscape but also for its diverse and flavorful culinary scene. As a melting pot of cultures and traditions, the city's food offerings are a testament to its multicultural heritage, blending indigenous African flavors with influences from around the globe.

Whether you're a local resident or a visitor eager to explore the local cuisine, Johannesburg offers an array of dishes that cater to every palate. From hearty street foods to sophisticated culinary creations, the city's gastronomic landscape is as varied as it is delicious. This article takes you on a culinary journey through Johannesburg, highlighting ten must-try local dishes that capture the essence of South African cuisine.

Whether you're a foodie looking to explore new tastes or a visitor wanting to immerse yourself in the local culture, these ten culinary delights are a must-try.

I. Bunny Chow

Bunny Chow, a hollowed-out loaf of bread filled with spicy curry, originated from Durban but has found a beloved place in Johannesburg's culinary landscape. This hearty dish is perfect for those seeking a robust and flavorful meal.

  • Location Recommendations:

  • Bunny Chow Central: 123 Curry Lane, Sandton

  • Durban Dishes: 45 Market Street, CBD

II. Shisa Nyama

Shisa Nyama, which means "burn meat" in Zulu, is a popular South African braai (barbecue) tradition. Typically enjoyed in a communal setting, it features a variety of meats grilled to perfection and served with pap (maize porridge) and chakalaka (spicy vegetable relish).

  • Location Recommendations:

  • Sakhumzi Restaurant: 6984 Vilakazi Street, Soweto

  • Chaf Pozi: Orlando Towers, Soweto

III. Biltong

Biltong, a cured and dried meat snack, is a South African staple. This savory treat, made from beef or game, is seasoned with spices and vinegar, then air-dried to create a flavorful, chewy snack.

  • Location Recommendations:

  • Biltong & Droëwors Co.: 67 Main Road, Melville

  • The Biltong Shop: 90 Rivonia Road, Sandton

IV. Pap and Vleis

Pap and Vleis (meat) is a traditional dish featuring maize porridge served with a savory meat stew. This comforting meal is a favorite in many South African households and restaurants.

  • Location Recommendations:

  • Vuyo's: 76 Vilakazi Street, Soweto

  • Wandies Place: Dube Village, Soweto

V. Boerewors Roll

The Boerewors Roll, akin to a hot dog but with a South African twist, features a juicy, coiled sausage made from beef, pork, and spices, served in a bun with a choice of toppings.

  • Location Recommendations:

  • Braamies Eatery: 34 Juta Street, Braamfontein

  • The Butcher Shop & Grill: Nelson Mandela Square, Sandton

VI. Melktert

Melktert, or milk tart, is a creamy, sweet pastry with a cinnamon-dusted custard filling. This dessert is a beloved part of South African culinary heritage and a must-try for anyone with a sweet tooth.

  • Location Recommendations:

  • Patisserie de Paris: 9 Mackay Avenue, Blairgowrie

  • Belle’s Patisserie: Blubird Shopping Centre, Birnam

VII. Vetkoek

Vetkoek, meaning "fat cake" in Afrikaans, is a deep-fried dough bread often filled with minced curry or enjoyed with syrup or jam. This versatile snack can be sweet or savory.

  • Location Recommendations:

  • Moyo Zoo Lake: 1 Prince of Wales Drive, Parkview

  • Gogo’s Traditional Kitchen: 87 De Korte Street, Braamfontein

VIII. Bobotie

Bobotie is a flavorful Cape Malay dish made with spiced minced meat baked with an egg-based topping. Often served with yellow rice and chutney, it’s a unique blend of sweet and savory flavors.

  • Location Recommendations:

  • District Six Eatery: 42 Greenhill Road, Emmarentia

  • The Leopard: 56 4th Avenue, Melville

IX. Koeksisters

Koeksisters are syrupy, braided doughnuts that offer a delightful crunch on the outside and a sweet, sticky interior. These treats are perfect for satisfying your sweet cravings.

  • Location Recommendations:

  • The Whippet Coffee: 34 7th Street, Linden

  • Vovo Telo: 44 Stanley Avenue, Milpark

X. Malva Pudding

Malva Pudding is a spongy dessert with a caramelized exterior and a soft, sticky interior, often served with a drizzle of custard or cream. It’s a beloved dessert that provides a comforting end to any meal.

  • Location Recommendations:

  • Marble Restaurant: 19 Keyes Avenue, Rosebank

  • DW Eleven-13: Dunkeld West Shopping Centre, Dunkeld West

Johannesburg's culinary offerings are as diverse as its people, providing a gastronomic journey through the flavors and traditions that define South African cuisine. Whether you're exploring local eateries or dining at upscale restaurants, these ten dishes offer a taste of Joburg's rich culinary heritage. Enjoy the adventure and savor every bite!

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