Ten Of The Best Joburg Bars

Ten Of The Best Joburg Bars
When you get down to it, you can probably draw a pretty straightforward graph to sum up the life of your average Joburg office worker, and that graph starts at a desk and ends at a bar. Everyone (even the Jehovah's Witnesses among us) like to get down with a little wine/whiskey/beer/tequila/vodka/gin/whatever the hell you like drinking despite it being green and tasting like your sad childhood.

But it's not just about what you drink, it's also about where you drink: Do you like to get Cape Town homeless man drunk or inappropriate uncle wasted?

We racked up ten of our favourite bars in Joburg. Dare we say they're ten of the best. The question remains, though, which of these bars is really the best of the best of the best of our favourites? In no particular order, they are...


10. Zoo Lake Bowls Club, Parkview

Daniel G: It's not just the cheap booze and tasty food that makes this place an absolute treasure. It's the way you walk in and you just unconsciously feel at home. The way, during the summer, everybody both young and old gets to enjoy a drink on the lawns while giving the actual game of bowls a bash. The way, like clockwork, flocks of birds are silhouetted overhead while you order another round.

Throw in that giant screen for sports, regular live music and the unpretentious vibe, and it's easy to see why Zoo Lake Bowls is an absolute winner.

Prince Of Wales Drive, Parkwood

9. The Radium Beer Hall, Orange Grove

Daniel M: The Radium Beer Hall is something of a myth but with a bit of actual substance. It started out as a tea room even before some people knew 'apartheid' was a word, and has been going strong ever since.

They've got bands playing regularly to packed crowds, the beer is relatively cheap and the food is some of the best pub cuisine around. From my experience, trying anything Portuguese from there is an excellent choice. Always fun with a very local vibe, it's a proudly South African bar that's ingrained with a whole lot of history and culture at its foundations.

282 Louis Botha Avenue, Orange Grove

8. Liquid Chefs, Rosebank

Nicole: How did Liquid Chefs (a place in a shopping centre!?) make it onto our list of the best bars in Joburg? Because it's different to our usual haunts and, sometimes, you need a change of scenery. 

If you're anything like me there are (very rare) occasions when you feel like putting on clothes that are too shmancy for your favourite dive bar and feel like knocking back drinks that have been dreamed up by the gods of tastebuds, instead of slamming tequilas over a sticky counter.

Who could say no to rooibos and honey flavoured vodka? Go on a date, go with the girls, go feel fancy. Do it before throwing your heels or square-toed shoes off and heading back to your usual joint.

The best part: you can make your own drinks in the same way you can make your own pizza at Andiccios. 

Shop G01, Ground Floor, The Zone, Rosebank

7. Zebra Inn, Jeppe

Nas: I get bored easily so for me to enjoy a bar, I need a good story to tell. Something that is its own adjective, if you will. Nothing encapsulates that better than the dive bar-come-brothel Zebra Inn, located directly across the road from the Jeppe Police Station. The place is decorated from the front door all the way up the stairs and into the bar with the taxidermied remains of several dead animals, all eerily watching you from their perches along the yellow walls, stalking you like prey.

The atmosphere is kind of crummy but the crowd who shows up is a mix of people from surrounding Jeppe and Troyeville. When you're tired of the jukebox (which boasts a fantastic selection of classics), you can drift down the corridors of what may still be a brothel boudoirs, and burn some calories on one of those shitty old Air-Walkers someone bought from Verimark to keep in shape.

252 Albertina Sisulu Road (corner Kruger Street), Maboneng

6. Zebra Pond, Yeoville

Anele: Not to be confused with its cousin with a similar name, at Zebra Pond you'll find a lot of people speaking a lot of different languages all in one room. All nations in one place talking about how they ended up in Jozi. A big part of what makes this city interesting is all here.

One dude is telling his story about his search for the place of gold; another is talking about his experience with Somali pirates; stories of crocodiles and people crossing the Limpopo River. There's even a local guy sharing his story of how a pickpocket got his hand axed on Rockey Street.

That's what makes this place such a significant part of our city. You get to meet people from foreign lands and hear stories of their epic journeys to be here at the Zebra Pond.

1 Railegh Street, Corner Joe Slovo and Railegh Streets, Yeovlle

5. Kitchener's Carvery, Braamfontein

Nicole: Kitchener's is great. You know it, we know it and we know you know it. New bars are cropping up all the time so we thought we'd remind you why the second oldest bar in the city is still up there with the best of them.

They're open during the day, so if work/relationship/life in general is not going quite as you'd hoped, plonk yourself down on the corner couch and hit some cheap tequilas hours before anyone at work has deemed it socially acceptable. Or just start the party early - however you want to look at it.

They serve pub food. All. Night. Long. So when the notorious party-ender that is drunken hunger makes you want to call it a night, just stumble over to the bar and you're sorted. Hello, hot chips.  

Plus: The party's always different. You might even walk in on a comedy show, so no matter your preference, you're pretty much golden.

Plus+Plus: The party don't stop at 2am. Winner. 

Corner De Beer and Juta Streets, Braamfontein

4. Guildhall, Marshall Town

Daniel G: This is not only the oldest bar in the city but also one of the coolest. They must be doing something right having survived for so long and the truth is, not much (apart from the prices) has changed. The décor and atmosphere is a throwback to when the City of Gold was little more than a prospecting town and we couldn't think of a better watering hole to raise a glass to the old girl.

The food is varied and delicious and the view from the balcony overlooking Beyers Naudé Square is hard to beat. Chilled vibes, tasty food and bucket loads of history all in one place.

42 Harrison Street, Johannesburg

3. The Fox Den, Jeppe

Nas: I'm still stuck on the Jeppe side of town, but this time on the opposite side of the Maboneng property development. The Fox Den is an aptly named little place that allows me to also stick with my animal theme.

If you're up for R20 quarts and the perfect selection of local house tunes, The Fox Den is where you need to end up on a Saturday night. It gets full in there, and the last time I was in, there were a lot of people just taking in a Van Damme movie on the screens all over the room, but if you're willing to squeeze go with a group and take in a proper Joburg bar, ne?

Kruger Street, Johannesburg (opposite Pata Pata)

2. Jolly Rogers, Parkhurst

Daniel M: Many a famous night has been had at Jolly's. It's often talked up as being the best bar in Joburg and I seriously wouldn't be able to disagree. As soon as you enter you get the feeling that you're at a bar.

I know that sounds strange but there've been a whole lot of times when I arrive at a bar and just don't get the same energy and vibe that Jolly's has. With delicious pizza, ice cold draught beer and fun tunes on the jukebox, all provided at relatively low prices, it feels like the type of place you'd want your local to feel like.

And hey, if you stay late enough on a Sunday night, you never know what might happen.

10 4th Avenue, Parkhurst

1. Jo'Anna Melt Bar, Melville

Nas: My favourite bar in the city for all those times I don't want to destroy myself and lose my identity in a dance-off. This is the place I go to sit down, grab a few drinks with friends at a table or the bar, and watch a little football or 90s music videos queued up by people with average music taste. Yes, another place with a jukebox. You may be noticing a pattern emerge here from me, yeah?

They also serve the best pub food because it actually tastes kinda like food. Order one of their fat cheese sandwiches at midnight.

7 7th Street, Melville


And there you have it, our list of some of our favourite bars in the city. Do you agree? Disagree? Throw us your suggestions and we'll see how right or wrong we really are.
by Editor
From the dives to the upmarket cocktail fests, Joburg has some of the country's best bars. Here's our list of the ten best places to whet your palette.