Vovo Telo, Lonehill

Head to Vovo Telo in Lonehill for their take on freshly baked bread, rich coffee and truly yummy confectionery and pastries. While snacking on these delights, sit outside with your pooch and enjoy the fresh air. Sip on a Salted Caramel Mocha Brownie Shake while your dog enjoys a bowl of Vovo Telo's finest water of the day. Just be sure to grab a loaf of bread to take home before you leave.

Contact details: 011 024 2233 | Shop LL42, Lonehill Shopping Centre, 22 Lonehill Boulevard, Lonehill | [email protected] | vovotelo.co.za

Salvation Café, Milpark

There are few places as ideal for spending an afternoon with your pup than Salvation Café. Here, you and your furry friend can spend a lazy afternoon in the leafy courtyard. Tuck into the Salvation Gourmet Burger, with beef, bacon, caramalised onion, guacamole and local cheddar. Finish off your indulgence with the famed New York Cheesecake served with berry coulis.

Contact details: 011 482 7795 | 44 Stanley Avenue East, Milpark, Johannesburg | [email protected] | www.salvationcafe.co.za

Walkhaven Dog Park, Zwartkop

Walkhaven Dog Park in Zwartkop is the perfect place to spend some much needed time with your furball. The 22 hectares offers plenty of space for the dogs to run, play and burn off some excess energy. You can pack a picnic full of treats for you and the pooch or even have a braai. If you're too hungry to cook your own food after all the fun, then head to The Walkhaven Kitchen and grab a cheesy pizza instead.

Contact details: 071 212 9955 | Plot 77, Walkhaven Farm, Zwartkop

Royal Coffee Roasters, Edenvale

If you need a caffeine fix before, during or after a long walk with your furbaby, stop by at Royal Coffee Roasters at Stoneridge Centre in Edenvale. Sip on a cup of expertly prepared coffee alongside a decadent red velvet cake while you and your pooch enjoy the sights and scenes of the busy Vale. This is a great spot for you and your pooch to relax before tackling a hike through the avenues.

Contact details: 011 452 2751 | No 1 Stoneridge Drive, Stoneridge Centre, Greenstone Park, Edenvale | [email protected] | www.royalcoffee.co.za

Nice on 4th, Parkhurst 

For an impeccable breakfast with your dog, visit Nice on 4th. The home of good breakfast, this restaurant offers a variety of must-try delicious early morning eats. Options include the famous breakfast baskets, breakfast bunny chow and crumbly croissants. There's no better start to the day than with good food, strong coffee and a lovable fur ball at your feet.

Contact details: 011 788 6286 | 37 4th Ave, Cnr 14th street, Parkhurst | [email protected] | niceon4th.co.za

Voodoo Lily Café, Birdhaven 

Situated in Birdhaven, Voodoo Lily Café is the ultimate place to stop by for a light nibble with your dog. Not only do they offer a divine selection of breakfast, small plates, sandwiches, salads, burger, sushi and desserts, they also have yummy options for your pooch. Dogs can choose between chicken breasts, chicken livers and doggy biscuits, while you dine on a mouthwatering Tuna Melt.

Contact details: 011 442 6965 | 64 St Andrews Street, Corner Wrenrose Avenue, Birdhaven, Johannesburg | [email protected]

Milkbar, Parkmore

As the most popular hangout in Parkmore – from Friday after-work drinks to long lazy weekend lunches – Milk Bar is also a dog-friendly restaurant in Johannesburg. Provided they’re well-mannered and on a leash, they can join you for an afternoon beer and burger in the sun.

Contact details: 083 282 3758 | Holt St, Parkmore, Sandton, Johannesburg, Gauteng, 2196 | [email protected]

Source: Dineplan

Arbour Café, Birdhaven

Are you looking for a dog-friendly restaurant in the north? No sweat! Arbour Café, located right next to Voodoo Lily Café, offers a French take on dining out with your beloved dog. Visit this establishment and taste their Crispy Duck Confit and five-spice cherry sauce, with your best friend at your side. Your buddy can enjoy the fresh air and all the attention from passersby while you get in some much-needed French comforts.

Contact details: 011 788 4111 | Corner St Andrew St and Wrenrose Ave, Birdhaven, Johannesburg | [email protected] | arbourcafe.co.za

The Usual On Grant, Norwood 

If you happen to be in Norwood, pop into The Usual On Grant. There is nothing ordinary about this restaurant, despite the name. Sit outside and enjoy the sunshine and fresh air with your furry friend. Refresh yourself after a long stroll with a well-deserved milkshake. Choose between Vanilla Cookies, Peppermint Crush, Caramel Crunch and Mixed Chocolate and Nut while your dog makes new friends.

Contact details: 011 483 0799 | 66 Grant Avenue, corner Nellie Road, Orange Grove, Norwood


Delta Café, Craighall Park

If you're dining out with your family, dogs included, there is no better spot than Delta Café. At this eatery, dogs can laze about on the green lawn while the kids go wild playing on the jungle gyms. While the furry and non-furry kids burn off their extra energy, you can take a break and enjoy a chilled glass of wine or even sneak in a slice of chocolate cake.

Contact details: 010 900 3850 | 20 Marlborough Road, Craighall Park, Johannesburg

Pizza Del Forno, Benoni

Are you looking for a dog-friendly restaurant in the east? Benoni has become a new go-to suburb for entertainment, dining and spending time with your beloved dog. Dine outdoors under the shade of the umbrellas at Pizza Del Forno in Farrarmere. While Rover tucks into a bowl of refreshing water, you can feast on your choice of traditional pasta or gourmet pizza. But be warned, Farrarmere is a dog-loving neighbourhood and there may be a chorus of "Ooh, he's so cute".

Contact details: 011 849 5870 | Farrarmere Shopping Centre, 20 Sheridan Rd, Cnr Bayley Road, Farrarmere, Benoni | [email protected] | www.delforno.co.za


Do you know of any other dog-friendly restaurants in the city? Let us know about them in the comments section below!

Remember that our “Top Picks” are not paid for and are compiled at the discretion of the journalist. We only write about what we love.

Walter Sisulu Botanical Garden

The Walter Sisulu Botanical Garden is a vast expanse of stunning flora and fauna. It has a beautiful cascading waterfall, educational walks and even a black eagle which nests atop the waterfall kraans. It is open on weekdays and weekends and will sometimes have a show or event taking place. The Garden also has a mini-train that operates on weekends which is great fun for the kids (and possibly the only operational mini-train in Gauteng).

Tip: Make sure you call before going as sometimes the Botanical Garden hosts events which can be loud and interrupt your idea of a quiet afternoon picnic.

Details: End of Malcolm Road, Poortview, Roodepoort


This one’s for all the dog lovers out there. Walkhaven started in 2006 with the strict purpose of being a safe environment to exercise your pooches. Walkhaven has a restaurant, a kennel and a function venue with hordes of families making the trek to spend the day with their furry best friends. It’s situated in quaint Muldersdrift on a 22-hectare plot of rolling grassland and features a little dam for your dogs’ enjoyment.

Tip: Visit their website for info on getting an annual pass, which also entitles you to other perks.

Details: Plot 77, Zwartkop, Johannesburg

Gillooly's Farm

Gillooly’s Farm is another great picnic venue on the more eastern side of town. This big piece of grassland features everything from braai areas (very rare in parks these days) to conference venues. They even have a restaurant on the property. It’s beautiful, safe and perfect for picnicking with friends as you can braai, play sport or suntan on the soft sprawling lawns.

Tip: Saturdays tend to be a little busy and at times, so there can be a bit of a ruckus (they don’t only allow braaing but alcohol too, which is fun for some… but not for all).

Details: Boeing Road West, Germiston, Johannesburg

Emmarentia Botanical Gardens

This central Joburg contingent is the perfect venue for a picnic. You don’t pay an entrance fee, are exposed to a world of beauty and have a brilliant view of the city. The Emmarentia Dam and Botanical Gardens is known for its dam and, more recently, for the big live music shows hosted there. They also offer paddle boat hire and benches skirting the dam. This is the most popular park in central Johannesburg and is a must for people who haven’t yet visited it, as well as for those who have.

Interesting Fact: The Emmarentia Botanical Gardens is in fact not one of the eight National Botanic Gardens and is run by the Joburg Parks Department. Walter Sisulu, on the other hand, is a National Botanic Garden and is therefore run by the South African National Biodiversity Institute.

Details: Olifants Road, Emmarentia, Johannesburg

Van Gaalen Kaasmakerij

A personal favourite is Van Gaalen, which is actually a cheese factory (although we feel that using the word factory when referring to this little slice of tranquillity is blasphemy). They do Gouda and only Gouda as they do it so damn well. From aged cheeses to young, softer ones, their Gouda is immaculate! But enough about their cheeses before we start drooling on our keyboards. The property boasts a restaurant, a small quiet river and, of course, the cheese ‘factory’. They provide tours of the cheese-making process and allow patrons to use their property for picnics.

Tip: If you phone a day ahead they will make you a picnic basket on the banks of the Skeerpoort river. Another tip would be to book ahead for their restaurant if you plan on heading out there because it can get busy.

Details: Skeerpoort off the R512 (turn off towards Magaliesburg). Call or visit their website for more info.

Zoo Lake

As Joburg’s original park, Zoo Lake used to be the place where the Randlords went to have picnics. With 9 hectares of play area and almost nowhere to park, Zoo Lake is one of our favourite spots to check out. If you forget the picnic goods at home, you can pop into Moyo and grab a bunch of stuff to eat. You can also go for boat rides on the lake – at R10 a pop (it’s been R10 since forever, but just make sure as this price can change before we know it).

Tip: The weekends get pretty packed so try and go early to get a decent parking spot. Alternatively, you can park at Moyo but then you have to buy something from the restaurant.

Details: Zoo Lake, Parkview, Randburg, 2122

Ethel and James Grey Park and Bird Sanctuary

Give me odorous at sunrise a garden of beautiful flowers where I can walk undisturbed…” The poet Walt Whitman said that. Though he’s never been to Ethel and James Grey Park and Bird Sanctuary, we’re pretty sure he would have enjoyed walking the path around this beautiful piece of flora and fauna. The soft green grass, the chirping of birds and the sun shining softly on your cheek makes for a great picnic experience. With 36 hectares of land to put your blankie down on, we highly recommend the old Ethel and James Grey Park and Bird Sanctuary.

Details: Edgewood Avenue & Melrose St, Melrose, Johannesburg, 2000

Riversands Farm

Hands down the friendliest park in Jozi, Riversands Farm on the outskirts of Fourways (just past Dainfern) boasts tons of activities. Above and beyond soft grass and a relaxed atmosphere, this picnic hotspot is a great place to take the pups for a walk. There’s also a zipline, cafe, sports grounds and other cool stuff to get up to if the picnic basket runs empty. Riversands Farm is also known for hosting events such as the SA Gin Festival, so it’s worth keeping an eye on their events calendar. Oh, and before we forget, there’s a Sunday market happening, well, every Sunday. Count us in, please!

Tip: Bring sunblock. There’s not that much shade.

Details: Riversands Commercial Park, Rose Road, Knopjeslaagte, Midrand, 2189

Rietvlei Nature Reserve

Just past Pretoria, you will find 4 000 hectares of prime picnic fun. Rietvlei Nature Reserve is home to 404 species of birds, a big fat dam and loads of trees. So grab some blankets and picnic baskets, get the kids in the car and drive on over.

Tip: Don’t take a wee in the water. Rietvlei Dam supplies over 41 million litres of water to Pretoria on a daily basis. Also, if you’re driving through from Jozi, pack a snack to keep your wandering fingers out of the picnic basket on the way.

Details: 14 Game Reserve Ave, Rietvallei 377-Jr, Pretoria, 0181

Your Very Own Back Yard

Yup. We went there. It saves you a drive, you can keep the beer cold, and no one is going to yell at you for making a fire.

Tip: If you don’t have a backyard, check out the other nine venues… just saying.

Venue: Where the Wi-Fi connects automatically.

By Shawn Greyling

Remember that our “Top Picks” are not paid for and are compiled at the discretion of the journalist. We only write about what we love.