Where to find the best food in Joburg’s bustling Kensington
There really is nowhere else to go in Johannesburg for pasteis de nata. In fact, the pastelaria’s custard pies are so popular that weekends see them churn out batch after batch – and still, not a single one remains at close of day. But, before you bite into the gorgeously flaky pastry of your nata, treat yourself to a prego, the tender steak served up on a floury fresh bun that’s just perfect for soaking up homemade peri-peri sauce. With its blue and white tiles, you could be in the heart of Lisbon itself. There’s also a deli section where you can stock up on a host of Portuguese treats.
Craving steak? Bennigan’s is your go-to. This American-style steakhouse offers signature dishes like Blackened Sirloin, seared on the grill and served with a sprinkling of Cajun spice and a drizzle of melted butter, or fillet drenched in creamy mustard sauce. Finish off with a salted caramel brownie or dense Mississipi mud pie.
Regulars swear that Ottimio’s pizza base is the best in Johannesburg, describing it as both crisp and chewy at the same time. How to top that base? Try simple, authentic veg and meat combos: herby Napolitano or Bolognaise that hasn’t strayed at all from its Italian origins – the kind of food that matches perfectly with the homey, authentic atmosphere.
A couple of things stand out when people talk about this Kensington institution. The first is its longevity: after 25 years, its outlived most of its peers. The second is the superb quality of the pizza and pasta, prepared by owners who appear to still have one foot in their native Italy. The lasagne comes highly recommended – or stock up on Italian deli essentials so that you can cook your own Mediterranean masterpiece.
The Rusty Lady Bistro
It’s the atmosphere of this warm eatery that really gets you: located in an old house, its pretty courtyard makes for a delightful change from Johannesburg’s usual sidewalk views during summer, and it’s warm and cosy once winter’s chill has set in. Browse the menu, and you’ll find a solid range of café fare, from beef salad with warm blue cheese, lightened up with apple, to pizza twists oozing melty mozzarella and garlic.
Cut and Craft Bistro
A newcomer to the area, this bistro has captured imaginations with its far-from-ordinary décor. Once you’ve feasted with your eyes, peruse the menu: as befits a craft eatery, it offers everything from gourmet-style French toast to OTT freakshakes, fine coffees and muesli mason jars.
It seems that Jo’burgers are always on the lookout for a Durban-style bunny. Look no further: fans rave about Zest’s feather-light rotis and tongue-tingling curries, all offering excellent value for money.