Eating Out

Johannesburg's role as the economic hub of South Africa, if not the entire continent, has attracted businessmen and investors from all over the world and a wealth of restaurants to cater for them. Johannesburg restaurants offer a wide range of cuisine, with ethnic African fare and traditional Afrikaans dishes, as well as international options to satisfy every craving imaginable. Dining out is a fun and important part of Johannesburg's social culture and should delight tourists.

Eating out in Johannesburg offers not only variety in cuisine ethnicity but price and quality too, with a range of upmarket, casual, fast-food, and street vendor options. Upmarket Johannesburg restaurants, featuring both local and international menus, are located in areas like Rivonia, Sandton, Illovo, and Melrose Arch. More casual eateries, such as cafés and steakhouses, can be found in Parktown North and Benoni.

There are fast-food outlets throughout the city, as well as various local street vendors selling savoury pies, (sausage) rolls and flame-grilled (maize) cobs. The more adventurous diners could venture out to Soweto to dine at one of its numerous (communal bars/canteens). This huge variety of Johannesburg restaurants makes eating out in the City of Gold quite a rewarding experience.

Many restaurants are closed on Mondays, and reservations are recommended for fine-dining venues. Credit cards are almost always accepted at restaurants, but American Express cards are sometimes declined. A service fee may be added for large tables, but a tip of minimum 10 percent is expected by waitrons for good service.

Shopping

As the financial hub of Africa and home to its highest proportion of wealthy individuals, it is no surprise that Johannesburg is a true shopper's paradise. From designer boutiques and world-class specialist shops in the prestigious Sandton City to curios and bargain buys at local markets, Johannesburg has something for just about every kind of shopper.

The northern suburbs are the place to start a day of shopping in this bustling city, and Mandela Square provides a wonderful location at Sandton City for shoppers to take a load off and eat at one of the many restaurants surrounding the square.

The Bruma Flea Market specialises in African souvenirs and crafts such as wooden sculptures, paintings, beaded masks, and jewellery, and is highly recommended for those looking for something authentically African.

The Rosebank Rooftop Market, which is held on Sundays and public holidays on the roof of the Rosebank Mall, is an absolute must for bargain-hunters. There are also wonderful food stalls where shoppers can rest their legs and brace themselves for round two. Other popular shopping malls include Eastgate Mall, Northgate Mall and Fourways Mall.

Shopping hours in Johannesburg are generally from 9am to 6pm from Monday to Friday, and from 9am to 1pm on Saturdays. Smaller stores usually close on Sunday afternoons. VAT is 14 percent and is levied on all goods sold, excluding flea market purchases, and visitors can reclaim this when departing at airports or land borders, provided they produce the goods and all necessary receipts.

Nightlife

South Africa's biggest and richest city has got the nightlife to match, from world-class theatre and live music to mega-hip lounge bars and epic nightclubs. The locals are known to be keen socialites and tend to be very friendly and happy to meet new people.

Jazz fans should make their way to legendary Kippies in Newtown, and to the nearby Bassline. In fact, the young, hip and multicultural Newtown is a great place to begin night-time explorations of the city for anybody. The Civic Theatre hosts major live productions, while plenty of smaller venues have minor plays, cabaret shows, and reviews.

Nightclubs tend to open around 11pm and will charge an entrance fee. They stay open into the early hours and drinks can be expensive. Many top clubs are positioned in the lively city centre of Johannesburg, or areas such as Orange Grove and Melville.

The affluent suburbs of Sandton, Hyde Park, and Melrose Arch are home to the more plush and modern clubs frequented by an unlikely collection of models, stock brokers, and bikers.

Travellers who live for thrills should head for the many casinos on the outskirts of the city. Montecasino, near Fourways, and The Emperors Palace, near the OR Tambo Airport, are considered the best. Apart from the various gaming tables and slot machines, there are live shows aplenty.

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