Exploring the beating streets of Braamfontein

Winona Griggs

Discovering the Vibrant Streets of Braamfontein

Step into the captivating world of Braamfontein – an ever-changing fusion of history, culture, and modernity. Known as the city of gold’s hippest destination, this lively neighborhood has a story to tell.

In the 1980s, Braamfontein may have been in a state of disrepair, but it has since undergone a remarkable transformation. Today, it stands as an attractive and sought-after community, packed with alluring qualities. Once bustling with law firms and advertising agencies, this suburb was once the heart of economic activity on the outskirts of the inner city in the 1950s. However, the rise of suburban office parks and shopping malls brought about a shift in dynamics, leading to urban decay.

So here’s the thing about Braamfontein: it’s got character. It’s home to Wits University, which means it’s always been a spot for students. And you know what? They actually like it that way. They’re into the grungy bars and hidden gems. But recently, something cool has been happening. Some awesome murals popped up, there’s a bustling artisan market, and a bunch of awesome entrepreneurs set up shop. And you won’t believe what happened next.

Now, Braamfontein is attracting all sorts of people. It’s becoming a melting pot all over again. And let me tell you, Juta Street is where it’s all happening. It’s the heart and soul of Braamfontein, the place that makes this neighborhood cool. Seriously, there’s amazing coffee, awesome shops, art that makes you go “wow,” and views that’ll take your breath away.

Let’s Talk About Kitchener’s Carvery Bar

A beloved spot for students in Braamfontein, Joburg’s second-oldest bar has a rich history. It used to reside in the elegant Milner Park Hotel, attracting businessmen who enjoyed lunchtime lagers. But in 2009, things changed. Andrew Clements, the owner and a DJ, started throwing parties at the old hotel, drawing in a new crowd of young creatives, musicians, hipsters, and students. During the day, it’s a quiet and cozy pub, but at night, it transforms into a lively space with DJs playing everything from soul to house to groovy Afrobeats. Keep in mind, Wednesday night is student night, so it can get pretty wild.

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A place so awesome that you instantly feel awesome just by being there. The Neighbourgoods Market has come alive again, and the Playground is the spot to be on Saturdays in Braam. It’s a unique and diverse space that offers a wide range of handmade market treasures. You’ll find live music, incredible food (think mouthwatering gourmet desserts, delicious shawarmas, and tasty vegan flatbreads), refreshing cocktails, trendy South African fashion brands, and local DJs rocking the turntables.

And the best part? The Playground has its own generators, making it the coolest place to hang out during power outages. You don’t have to worry about finding parking either, as it’s recommended to take an Uber. The Playground is open every Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm.

Now let me tell you about the JFF Rooftop Farm.

I am delighted to introduce you to JFF Rooftop Farm, an enchanting hidden gem located in Braam. This delightful rooftop farm serves as both a plant nursery and a cozy teahouse. It is a precious oasis in a neighborhood dominated by towering concrete buildings. Led by the visionary Ashleigh Machete, JFF Rooftop Farm is at the forefront of a movement that transforms rooftops into lush gardens and mini-farms, producing fresh, organic ingredients for local restaurants.

To reach JFF Rooftop Farm, you’ll need to climb a ladder (ladies, leave your heels at home, and skirts too!). At the top of the ladder, a few benches and tables await, inviting you to while away the afternoon with a good book and a refreshing iced tea. This spot provides a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of the city below, offering a space for quiet contemplation and relaxation.

JFF Rooftop Farm is a hidden treasure that might not be on everyone’s radar, but those who discover it are rewarded with a tranquil retreat amidst the urban chaos. Whether you are a plant enthusiast, a tea lover, or simply seeking a peaceful spot to unwind, this rooftop farm has something special to offer. Come and experience the magic for yourself!

Imagine strolling through the vibrant streets of Joburg, discovering hidden gems and experiencing the city’s artistic soul. In this bustling metropolis, you can find a haven for green thumbs at Negin Monkoe’s tea garden, where she not only offers a delightful selection of aloes and houseplants but also shares her wisdom on urban gardening, guiding Jozi residents to create their own beautiful patio gardens.

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Step into the world of Kalashnikovv Gallery

Let me introduce you to the captivating Kalashnikovv Gallery, a space curated by two cultural instigators who are reshaping the art scene in Joburg. This unique gallery goes beyond the traditional norms of fine art, welcoming new and emerging artists with open arms. It’s an artist-run sanctuary, a project venue, and also a commercial gallery. They value artists based on their talent and creativity, irrespective of their academic background or marketability. The result? A vibrant, refreshing art narrative that captivates and inspires.

Explore Braamfontein’s artistic wonders

Put on your favorite kicks and join me for a street art walking tour in Braamfontein, where inspiration is painted on every wall. This neighborhood is an open-air gallery, showcasing a diverse array of artistic expressions. From the striking giant eland on Jan Smuts Avenue to hidden artistic treasures waiting to be discovered, Braamfontein is a playground for art enthusiasts like you and me. Let’s wander through the streets and uncover the art that adds color and life to this vibrant corner of Joburg.

Hey there! If you’re into street art and want to explore one of the coolest graffiti spots in the world, you should definitely check out City Skate’s Walking Tours of Braam’s street art. Trust me, it’s an experience you won’t want to miss!

So, the tour starts at 70 Juta Street and takes you on a journey through the vibrant streets of Braam. Along the way, you’ll see incredible murals created by talented artists from all over the world. It’s like walking through an outdoor gallery!

If you’re interested, the tours are available on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 2pm, as well as Saturdays at 11am. They usually last for about two hours, giving you plenty of time to soak in the amazing artwork and learn about the artists behind it.

But wait, there’s more!

Welcome to a trendy and sophisticated establishment where art, dining, and entertainment blend seamlessly. The chic gallery/restaurant/bar fusion I’m talking about caters to the stylish and working professionals of Braam. Each month, a fresh exhibition or culinary partnership takes center stage, providing an ever-changing ambiance. But that’s not all – venture down to the Untitled Basement and you’ll discover a hidden gem where private gatherings and concerts hosted by DJ Kenzhero and Bradley Williams come alive. Get ready for some jazz performances, cocktail soirées, and even outdoor movie nights this summer. The excitement never ends!

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When it comes to Braam locals looking for delicious food and a vibrant atmosphere, there’s one place that stands out: Wing Republic. While they do serve amazing burgers and ribs, it’s their top-notch wings that truly steal the show. People flock to this self-explanatory restaurant, drawn in by the tantalizing aroma and mouth-watering flavors.

One of the reasons Wing Republic is so popular is its laid-back beer garden vibe. The moment you step inside, you’re greeted with a relaxed atmosphere that instantly puts you at ease. It’s the perfect spot to hang out with friends and enjoy some good food and conversation.

But it’s not just the food and atmosphere that make Wing Republic special. The restaurant’s exterior is a work of art in itself, thanks to artist Karabo Poppy. The bold and eye-catching design is Instagram-worthy and will definitely make your friends jealous when they see the photos.

What sets Wing Republic apart even more is their dedication to providing entertainment. They regularly host live music gigs, adding an extra element of fun and excitement to your dining experience. It’s the perfect place to enjoy great food while grooving to some fantastic tunes.

And let’s not forget the convenience factor. Wing Republic is open seven days a week, so you can satisfy your cravings whenever they strike. Plus, they offer guarded parking, so you don’t have to worry about finding a spot for your car.

If you’re in the mood for a memorable dining experience, you can’t go wrong with Wing Republic. From their irresistible wings to their vibrant atmosphere, it’s a place that will leave you wanting more. So gather your friends, head over to Wing Republic, and prepare to indulge in a feast for your taste buds.

This article originally appeared in the February 2023 print issue of Getaway.

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