We’re fully into summer with the festive season behind us, and for reasons unknown to me, it’s the time of the year I frequent Parkhurst. If it’s not meeting friends for a coffee, I seem to have business meetings scattered around the fabulous assortment of eateries. Perhaps it’s because it’s so very central?
Parkhurst ‘Village’ and its ‘high streets’, 4th Avenue and 6th Street, are thorough-fares from Greenside, Emmarentia, Linden and Melville to Craighall Park, Parkview, Dunkeld and Rosebank. In the 19beeps my mum drove these routes daily ferrying us to extra-mural activities after school.
Back then, Parkhurst was non-descript; a drab suburb with a building society, estate agent and corner café. Oh my, how this suburb in Johannesburg’s green belt has grown up.
Its history dates back to just post the Anglo Boer war. The British put a suburb development system in place and a competition was held to name suburb number 67. It was said to have a climate superior to any neighbouring suburbs. 49 people proposed the name Parkhurst but some of the other suggestions, peculiar for a suburb’s name were nevertheless truly prophetic – Just Right, Real Investment and Lovely Place to Live.
Today Parkhurst is definitely all those things and is very, very chic. The streets are shaded by low canopied trees and most of the houses have been renovated or rebuilt. Properties advertised are called stylish, contemporary, or sophisticated and this is definitely prime ‘location, location, location’.
The suburb has a very active Residents’ Association and this has helped Parkhurst grow into a sought after hub. They have strict rules about trading hours and as such Parkhurst mixes good-vibes socialising in the heart of a residential area – thus maintaining Parkhurst’s village atmosphere.
Indeed it’s one of the most successful café societies in Jozi – great vibe, great food, great shop browsing, and because it’s situated along ‘the delta’ of the Braamfontein spruit, it’s a favourite watering hole for passing mountain bikers and runners.
Adding to its easy access to main Johannesburg arteries and the Gautrain’s Rosebank station, a weekend bus service has been introduced from the station for tourists. It loops Rosebank Station to Parktown North and the Zoo Lake Precinct. Tuktuks are becoming a common sight in these areas, so if you’re visiting from out of town, it’s really easy to get around.
If you’re looking for home from home accommodation I’d like to share Elizabeth from Durban’s rave about the luxury Bridge House Guest House. She wanted somewhere ‘we could bring our dogs and spend most of our week … relaxing in a peaceful garden with a pool…Bridge House was it! The house is very quaint and looks over a river …’
If you don’t want to watch DSTV with warm toes from the under-floor heating, or sit in the garden eating a large English breakfast and looking for the Giant King Fisher, then you’ll probably want to start your exploration of Parkhurst at 4th Avenue Coffee Roasters for what most say is the best cup of coffee.
There are so many fabulous cafes and restaurants along this road that there isn’t enough space to mention them all here. What follows is a small selection, but if you just follow your eyes and nose (there’s an optometrist, florist or a pharmacy if need be) you’re sure to find taste-bud satisfaction.
That may be before, or after, you have explored the antique shops (last count more than five), the speciality stores – Egality Boutique with only South African labels and great pavement displays, l’Emile et Son with its eco-chic design and the Modernist’s vintage furniture, or Santos which a number of my friends say is the real Parkhurst gem for gifts.
But let me not torture you anymore, if you’re a foodie like me you have to have your meals planned out to give peace of mind. So, here in random order – I love Bottega Café’s early morning scrambled eggs; Coobs’s delicious desserts (rhubarb tart and the lemon verbena syrup cake); Squires Loft’s avo & biltong rump steak – and enjoying casual drinks, sweet potato chips and burgers on the upper deck of The Wolf Pack. Nice even serves crumpets for tea.
If you’re dating, Rocket has recently been voted as one of the top three first date restaurants. I wish I’d know many years back, my first accidental date was at the Jolly Roger in Parkhurst (I know, what an admission!) Affectionately called the Jolly by Joburgers, it’s one of the few actual bars in the city that stays open late. You can meet advocates to artisans and anybody in between.
Not enough variety yet? Be on the lookout for the recently opened The Play Station Theatre and their dance, music or theatre menu.
Your dog (and you) will enjoy a walk at Verity Park and to Pet Paraphernalia for a treat. If you’re into pain highs then The Chinese Martial Arts and Health Centre offers Kung Fu, SA Hardcore Tattoo Studio offer tattoos and piercings, and the Parkhurst Paint and Hardware sells nails for that nail bed you’ve been thinking about making.
To recuperate I suggest Aura Skin Care on 6th street. In January you can book a champagne pedicure for R280, or a full body massage for R350. Their February special is hard to resist – a six facials package.
Local tip: Saturday morning must is the Jozi Food Market supporting locally grown produce. Have a coffee or beer while the kids are entertained. Remember to also pass by Braeside Meat Market as they stock ethically-raised meat.
Once again, there is no doubt that you’ll enjoy your visit to another of the green suburbs of The Parks. Do let us know what you discovered.