The Backdrop: A World Heritage Site
Vilakazi Street is known for being the only street in the world where two Nobel Peace prize winners (Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu) have lived, which is largely why it's become one of the country’s prime tourist hubs. The street is lined with original four-room homes, curio shops, the now museumed Mandela home, crafty street vendors selling their wares and a selection of charming restaurants, offering an authentic township culinary experience including tshisa nyama (Braai), Mogodu (Tripe) kota and more, attracting locals and tourists alike.
In a League of its Own
At the top of the street is one of the newest additions to the selection of eateries: a two storey, multi-section venue, 1947 on Vilakazi Street. It's a little fancier than its counterparts, yet still very much part of the DNA of the vibrant area. Named as an ode to the Sowetan-born and raised owner, Naomi Ratsheko’s parents' (their birth years) who were respected members of Sowetan society, the entrance to the restaurant sets a nostalgic scene with walls adorned with framed black and white images of the couple who it honours.
And there’s no skimping on the decor with simple but colourful interiors from the seating, tall mirrors at the end of the stairway, and boldly wallpapered restrooms, (including a wheelchair friendly one) giving the space a distinguished quality.
Traditional meets Western
The menu offers plenty of choice with an eclectic mix of both traditional South African and Western dishes to delight a variety of tastes. If it's a traditional meal you’re after, then you might like to try the lamb trotters(amangqina) - a favourite among regulars, and a twist from the usual pork variety, or a generous portion of mogodu with dombolo (tripe with steamed bread). On the more contemporary Western side, you can whet your appetite with a starter of carpaccio or prawns. The sea bass, lamb cutlets, and beef fillet mains also come highly recommended.
Whiskey, Wine (and Gin)- A Connoisseur's Dream
Boasting a wide variety of wine and whiskey stored in top-billing style glass cellars, a gin bar as well as a cigar lounge, 1947 is a venue that would fit easily in any high-end suburb yet feels right where it belongs in its location.
A typical dining experience would involve enjoying boutique wines, champagnes or whiskeys paired with a well-presented meal from the extensive, yet reasonably priced menu (an average meal and drink will set you off R280), while smooth ballads, lounge and jazz play in the background creating a
If gin is your choice of drink, then there’s a specific bar upstairs to cater to you. The “1947 summer-splash, a mix of gin, elderflower, berry liqueur and tonic, is a favourite for cocktail lovers. You can also take advantage of Gin and Tonic Fridays where you can kickstart the weekend with a double G&T for R50 between 18:00 and 19:00. Also, on the second floor, just past the small cigar lounge is the balcony from which you can enjoy a panoramic view of Orlando including the Soweto Towers.
This is a great spot to host international visitors and private events. One of the most recent patrons to host an event is internationally acclaimed muso, Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse, who recently celebrated his 70th with family and friends with an intimate dinner at the long table upstairs.
The restaurant also hosts an occasional fine dining experience labelled “The Chef's Table”, a hosting of a once-off four course meal with each course paired with a special wine by the in-house sommelier and limited to 10 guests. Look out for the next one on their Instagram page.
1947 is open six days a week from 12pm to 10pm. If you want to book for a group, Tuesday to Thursday is your best bet, but if it's the vibrant Vilakazi crowd you are looking for, go on the weekend as the most popular days are Thursdays to Sundays.
Unfortunately, the restaurant's online presence doesn't match its physical charm. If you want to get in touch - call directly and the manager Ernest is likely to take your booking, Also visit their Instagram page for notifications for upcoming events and menu updates,