A Little Bit About Kensington
The Kensington suburb was established by Max Langermann in 1897 amongst the hilly slopes to the East of the city centre. Roads were laid in 1902, bringing an influx of families into the area. The streets were planted with broad Jacaranda shrubs and leafy oaks, which still line the streets today. Over the course of a century this large Joburg suburb has seen immense change. However, its many landmark monuments and historical sites give the area a feel of nostalgia.
Kensington is the perfect place to stay over for a night, as it borders the inner city and is only a 20-minute drive from OR Tambo International airport. The area boasts great artisan restaurants, antique stores deluxe and above all else a wonderful sense of community.
Where To Eat
Kensington natives will be the first to tell you to head down to Queen street for a lekker bite to eat. This bustling street is home to a number of restaurants, cafes, antique stores and social hangouts.
The Rusty Lady Bistro
One of our favourite Queen street watering holes is the Rusty Lady. She is a rustic, South African meets Mediterranean bistro with an indomitable spirit. Once a residential home, this restaurant is both perfect for a romantic night out and the place to watch weekend rugby with the boys on the big screen. Ask your waitron for an outdoor table to make the most of the experience.
Our favourite item on the menu is the droewors platter starter. This proudly South African snack is the best way to start a meal (you cannot convince us otherwise, so don’t even try.) For mains we recommend one of the Rusty Lady’s thin-crust wood-fired pizza’s. If you have space for pudding, try out their variety of Belgian waffles.
Another Kensington favourite is Die Kneipe. This German pub and restaurant is a hive of activity, perched right at the top of Queen street. On Wednesdays they feature live music acts and often give patrons a delicious weekly menu special to feast on with their choice of ice cold beer. Don’t expect gourmet dining here, just good old fashioned hearty food. We recommend the pork roast which comes with a variety of veg and roast potatoes.
Jambo African Restaurant
If you are looking for something a little more Joburg authentic, pop into Jambo African Restaurant. This two-storey eatery come club serves up an array of traditional African dishes including, mogoudu (fried tripe), beef isiskopo (boiled cow head parts) and even Durban bunny chow. A section of the restaurant is reserved specifically for coffee lovers, too. They specialise in Kenyan coffee blends, perfect for when you have had a little too much to drink at the bar.
Lastly, for an upmarket, family friendly dining experience, visit Bennigan’s on Langermann Drive. The Bennigan’s family have been in the business of serving up American style steak strips since 1972. Their signature 400g fillet on the bone is a must-try. Otherwise, customise your steak dinner – once you have chosen your cut of premium quality beef, pick your basting sauce or spice crust option. From there, select your adds on such as onion straws, mash potato or straight cut fries. For an extra treat, add a decadent sauce to your meal. We would go for the classic Bearnaise or creamy peppercorn.
Bennigan’s also serves up a range of in-house desserts. These American diner inspired puds are the ultimate way to end off a big meal. From the key lime pie to the Mississippi Mud pie, there is something for every kind of sweet tooth.
Where To Shop
Barter Buy Antiques
If you visit only one antique store along Queen street, Barter Buy is the place to go. This seemingly never-ending antique wonderland boats collections from the Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian eras, as well as fine reproduction furniture. Make sure to explore every nook and cranny of the store to find some of the most magnificent treasure troves. There is an upstairs too, which houses a coffee shop and a collection of retro mannequins adorned in the best of yesteryear’s fashions.
Eastgate Shopping Mall
We know that not everyone is into antiquing. For a more commercial shopping experience, head out to Eastgate Shopping Centre. As a world-class retail mall with over 300 stores, an IMAX cinema and a large outdoor food court, Eastgate is your one-stop shopping haven.
Fun Activities & Tours
Kensington is a history buffs paradise. This suburb is home to a secluded castle (yes, a castle), a Scottish Horse war memorial, a spooky sanitarium and Johannesburg’s oldest public school. There are also lots of fun community activities to take part in, such as open day social bowls at the Kensington Bowling Club and group walks through Rhodes Park.
Kensington Historical Walks
Walk & Talk Tours offer a self-guided tour through Kensington and its neighbouring suburb Troyeville. You can book for a party of eight or more and Walk & Talk will provide you with a handy route map and electronic guidance. Visit the Scottish War Memorial, which commemorates officers, non-commissioned officers and men killed in action and died of wounds, disease and accident, who were members of the Scottish Horse Regiment, in the South African War (1899 – 1902). The view from the top of Calendonia Hill is worth the hike alone.
Mystery Ghost Bus Tour
For those of you not inclined to hike, take the Mystery Ghost Bus Tour of Johannesburg. The tour passes right through Kensington, stopping off at the old women’s sanitarium, the castle and the aptly named Poltergeist House. Passengers board the bus at sundown and travel through the spookiest spots in Joburg, ending the night off in the Braamfontein cemetery at the call of midnight. Are you brave enough?
The October Jacaranda Walk
Finally, for the rest of us easily spooked adventurists, there is an annual Spring walk that takes place along the purple blanket streets of Kensington. The event is organised around early October every year by fitandfunnow.com. Check out their Facebook events page for details on this year’s walk.