Dining at the colourful District Six Eatery in the Johannesburg suburb of Emmarentia is not unlike eating at the kitchen table of a family home. Here you'll find spicy comfort food, brightly coloured decor and a carnival atmosphere that will make you long for the Cape, even if you've never been there.

Did you know?

The Cape Minstrel Carnival, usually held on 2 January, is Cape Town’s longest-running street party, having been held for 200 years.

So authentic is the menu at District Six Eatery in Emmarentia, Johannesburg, it feels like you're sitting at the foot of Table Mountain.

The original District Six was a vibrant neighbourhood in the shadow of Table Mountain where people from all walks of life and race groups lived and worked together before apartheid took hold in South Africa. But then, in the 1970s, the predominantly coloured population was removed to the bleak outlying Cape Flats and the buildings demolished by bulldozers, in accordance with the notorious Group Areas Act which disallowed people of different 'races' from living together. The scar of this forced removal remains visible today on the edge of Cape Town's city centre.

But the memory of District Six lives on in the hearts of former residents, among them co-owner and chef Clarence Swartland Gorlei and partner Romano Gorlei who have recreated the spirit and atmosphere of this legendary neighbourhood in an intimate restaurant in a Johannesburg suburb.

The restaurant is compact, with a maximum of 12 tables, some of which spill out onto the pavement. The vibe is fun and laid-back as friends get together over good food and lively conversation. The décor is eclectic with pink and green walls and red boudoir chairs and old family photographs decorate the walls. (Much of the crockery was salvaged from Clarence's family home.)

On the menu is traditional South African fare and there is a sense of pride in the authentic Cape Malay cuisine. Here you can sample bredies (stews), bobotie (a baked mince dish), snoek (a local fish), curries and the best milk tart this side of the Orange River. You'll also find denningsvleis (lamb cooked with tamarind), oxtail, roasted lamb shanks, pumpkin fritters, chicken pie and koeksisters (deep-fried dough dipped in syrup).

D6, as its known to the locals, always feels festive, recalling the vibrancy, colour and laughter of a neighbourhood that was once filled with the music of the Cape carnival, the spicy perfumes of curries bubbling on the stove and the chatter of neighbours catching up with each other's news on a street corner.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

District Six Eatery
42B Greenhill Road, Emmarentia
Johannesburg
+27 (0)11 486 7226

How to get here

Barry Herzog Ave is the main access road to Emmarentia, next to the suburb of Greenside. An easy way to access it is by taking the Empire Rd off-ramp from the M1, which becomes Barry Herzog. It is also possible to weave your way through the suburbs known as ‘the Parks’.

Best time to visit

District Six is open for lunch (from noon) and dinner Tuesdays to Saturdays (from 7pm) and lunch only on Sundays.

Around the area

The Emmarentia Dam is a green space in Johannesburg with lovely trees, picnic grounds and a large rose garden. You can canoe and sail on the dam, or feed the ducks.

Tours to do

While visiting Johannesburg, you might want to take a tour of Soweto.

Get around

Having your own car is a good idea when travelling around Johannesburg.

What will it cost

An average main course will cost between R100 to R120 per person. There is a corkage fee of R20 per bottle of wine you bring along.

Where to stay

In the suburb of Emmarentia, as well as neighbouring Greenside and Melville, there are several B&B/guesthouse options, as well as a backpackers' lodge. More conventional hotel accommodation is available in nearby Auckland Park, Braamfontein, Rosebank and Sandton.

What to eat

A traditional bredie with all the trimmings.