Babies are known to turn people into homebodies. It’s just such a mission to go anywhere. You need to bring so much along for your kid – nappies, wipes, bum cream, toys, change of clothes… the list seems to just go on and on. I know so many people who hardly leave the house once they spawn. However, Dean and I like going out for a drink. We like eating a meal out of the house sometimes. And it really is a lot easier than you might think. We often frequent Hogshead – we sit in the non-smoking section and they are absolutely lovely to us. That said, there are some really easy and nice places to go with your baby and even toddlers or kids that don’t include the likes of Spur.
I’m not trying to knock Spur – it’s certainly got its place. However, I generally prefer to support smaller businesses, local restaurants and pubs rather than chains. I also want a place where the kid can be happy but the adults can also enjoy above average food/drink. So, here are my picks for the best places to eat with a baby in Joburg (or with a toddler or small kid), just in time for school holidays where you might be wondering where on earth you can go with your munchkins. Please feel free to comment with your picks, too – I certainly haven’t managed to try all the places, so these are just the ones that have impressed me so far.
State 5, Free Range center, Witkoppen (Fourways)
From the outside, this place looks like a dump. No, literally. It’s an outdoor building and garden center and seriously looks dodgy from the road, like a place to buy sand or bricks or something. However, once you actually drive in, there are a ton of nice decor stores and other cool things. But best of all, there is State 5. They have a fantastic selection of craft beers and other trendy drinks, as well as a delightful menu. Their breakfast is great, but honestly my favorite things were the trinchado and the flat breads – skip straight to lunch and enjoy!
There is a huge play area for kids, with different play sections for 0-3 year olds as compared to the older kids. There’s also a craft store inside, so if you little one wants to paint a box or decorate a picture frame, they can do that, too. Plus, the bathrooms are complete with a changing areas for babies that is really quite lovely.
State 5 employs a ton of child minders, too, and they are top notch. You will want and need to tip them, but they are worth every cent for the opportunity to drink your coffee while it’s still hot.
Papachinos, Broadacres Shopping Center (Broadacres)
Apparently, this is a chain, so I might already be breaking my rule. However, it really is fantastic. The food is pretty good, the ambiance is fun and the staff are seriously nice and friendly. The kid’s play area is enormous, including the options for kids to decorate their own pizzas, play mini-cricket, ride on merry-go-rounds and so, SO much more. Each activity does seem to cost money, though, so be prepared to bring plenty of cash so your little one can be entertained for a while. Plus it seems to cater more for bigger kids, although my little one was able to scream and have fun without irritating too many people thanks to the music and vibe of the place.
I was blown away by the kids’ changing area, though. There’s a lovely changing section in the same stall as a toilet and baby toilet. So, once you get in with your kid, you can also have a pee and encourage them to try, and then wash hands or change nappies as needed, all from within the same stall in the bathroom. Obviously, this does mean that you might have a bit of a wait for that specific stall, though.
Annica’s Designer Cakes (Ferndale)
I adore Annica’s, mainly because it feels like an undiscovered gem. While State 5 and Papachinos can get very full and super busy, Annica’s always seems manageable. The parking is limited, but I’ve always found a spot, and I’ve only ever encountered one or two other families with small kids. The play area isn’t massive, but it’s quite serviceable, complete with swings (Harley’s favorite), slide and jungle gym set up. Plus there’s plenty of grass for a little one to crawl or run around on.
While your kid is busy, the food is great. Their coffee is amazing and I adore their breakfast offering. Even their kids’ breakfasts are nice – I’d know thanks to “sharing” Harley’s french toast. Plus the staff is quick and attentive without ever feeling overbearing.
There aren’t child minders at Annica’s, though, as it really is a quiet place. I’d particularly recommend it if you’re meeting up with a fellow mom with small kids – you can take turns watching the kids play and even bring your cappuccino along with you to the swings while pushing your little one.
Where else do you suggest?? I’ve recently tried the cafe in Fruit and Veg City at Hillfox and I wasn’t too impressed. Have you found other hidden gems with nice food that also work with your tiny people?