Joburg City Guide: 14 things to do in Fordsburg
Busy streets, colourful scenes, culinary delights and deep historical roots make up Fordsburg, one of Johannesburg’s enchantingly gritty areas that’s just waiting to be explored. From the best samoosas to a remarkable artists’ studio, here’s how to navigate this diverse spot.
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1. Oriental Plaza
A microcosm of the area, the Plaza is a good starting point for your exploration of Fordsburg in a contained, slightly more comfortable space than the street. At first glance, it seems there are mostly Indian fashion, fabric and food shops, but upon closer inspection, you’ll discover myriad stalls that sell virtually everything. And then of course, there are the remarkably good prices... We highlight a few must-see places. 38-60 Lilian Ngoyi St, Fordsburg, 011-838-6752. orientalplaza.co.za
2. Bhamjee's Shoes
Bhamjee’s stocks a wide variety of formal and casual footwear for men and women. Like most things in Fordsburg, there’s plenty of Eastern flair in their products, but there are also everyday ‘Western’ options. Shop C108, Grand Bazaar, Oriental Plaza, 011-834-5160.
What started as a small family concern in 1974 has grown into one of the country’s biggest men’s suit retailers. From formal to business casual, Khaliques offers traditional workwear, suits, shirts, shoes and accessories. Shop N47, Grand Bazaar, Oriental Plaza, 011-836-4418. khaliques.co.za
4. Kay's Bridal World
One of those Jozi go-tos that most people with forthcoming nuptials have visited when scouting for good deals, this is a real one-stop shop that sells everything from wedding gowns to table napkins. Shop N41, Oriental Plaza, 011-838-7200/1. kaysbridalworld.co.za
5. Golden Peacock Curry Pavilion
When hunger hits mid-stride, head here for a wonderful selection of Indian dishes and casual light meals – expect humble yet delicious options ranging from toasties and chip rolls to bunny chows and breyanis. Shop N28, Grand Bazaar, Oriental Plaza, 011-836-4986.
6.World of Samoosas
Samoosas from this outlet are a given when visiting Oriental Plaza: they’re always hot, fresh and delicious, and we recommend getting a few to snack on while you peruse. Shop S186, Oriental Plaza, 011-833-1139. worldofsamoosas.co.za
7. Devine Bakery and Confectionary
Devine sells delectable baked goods in an incredible setting: the unassuming storefront opens up to the beautiful old walls and high arches of an old church. 55 Mint St, Fordsburg, 011-836-3898
8. THE JUICE DEN
Ever tasted sugar-cane juice? The Juice Den sells a range of freshly made fruit libations from tiny premises between the main square (site of the famous weekend market) and Mint Street, which boasts some of the area’s best eateries. If you’re game to venture past classics like orange, mango and carrot, try the avocado, pomegranate or granadilla drinks. Shop 02, Fordsburg Square, Commercial Rd, Fordsburg, 082-503-1901.
9. Swadeshi Prayer Shop
A stalwart store for practising Hindus (with supplies from garlands and lamps to statues and spices), this is also a place of learning and appreciation. You’ll be greeted by the welcoming scent of incense and a range of material at the door if you’re interested in reading more about the religion. 45 Central Rd, Fordsburg, 011-021-1682. swadeshi.co.za
10. Dosa Hut
Dosa Hut has perfected the southern Indianstyle rice-flour pancake and enhanced it with a selection of over 20 dosa fillings that are bound to have any foodie swoon. Shop 6, 48 Central Rd, Fordsburg, 061-300-8946. dosahut.co.za
11. Shalimar Delights
No celebration of Diwali – the Indian festival of lights – is complete without Indian sweetmeats. Fortunately, you don’t have to wait until this celebratory day to indulge, as Shalimar Delights sells every kind you can think of – and they are colourful, beautiful and delicious. 228 Main Rd, Fordsburg. 011-832-1675
12. Istanbul Kebab & Shawarma
For authentic Turkish dishes in a casual, comfortable setting, Istanbul Kebab & Shawarma produces a range of kebabs and shawarmas, but there’s also a mixed plate filled with a variety of grilled meats that is perfect for sharing. Wash it all down with hot Turkish tea. 52 Central Rd, Fordsburg, 011-056-5749. istanbulkebab.co.za
13. Bag Factory Artist Studio
Transformed from an old bag-manufacturing warehouse into a hub of creativity and visual art in 1991, Bag Factory provides artists from diverse backgrounds with studio space to practise their craft, learn and be inspired by peers. In addition to public exhibitions, there are workshop tours and talks, so you can interact directly with the artists and chat about their work on a more intimate level. 10 Mahlatini St, Fordsburg, 011-834-9181. bagfactoryart.org.za
14. Fordsburg Night market
When the week is done and the sun goes down, the square at Mint Street and Albertina Sisulu Road erupts into a vibrant, pulsing market space that every Joburger should experience at least once. Indian music blares from stores while aromas of delicious street food waft through the air as you browse the stalls. It’s an absolute treasure trove for everything from Bollywood DVDs to beautiful costume jewellery. Fridays and Saturday evenings in and around Mint St, cnr Albertina Sisulu Rd, Fordsburg.