Right here in the 012, we have a vast array of these tucked away and lesser known places, providing hours and many an occasion to people. We have searched, located, and compiled a list of some the best somewhat concealed hangouts and haunts in town.
South African Air Force Museum
Without glorifying the horrors of war and mass violence, being a fan of history and military advancement can certainly be quenched at the Swartkops Air Force Base. Especially, when the SAAF Museum undertakes their annual Pretoria air show with the usual mammoth civil and military aviation exhibition and spectacles. Otherwise, the museum is open daily from Wednesday to Saturday with their conventional hangar displays.
This attraction probably can’t be considered to be a hidden spot of value anymore, but for those who are still not aware of the capital’s proud indoor rock climbing complex, you are entitled to find out about it. The barn is a behemoth for climbing enthusiasts, professionals and beginners alike. It features a vast expanse of climbing walls, and regularly changing routes to keep the layout fresh. They have a wide range of gear for hire and an assortment of beginner classes and personal training courses on offer. The reasonable rates makes it the perfect group activity for team building or a fun day outing.
Les Trois Canard
This should be a proud stop for any self-respecting epicure. A fine purveyor of the source, as it were. In Pretoria we’ve never played host to an abundance of fine French restaurants, but this is certainly something to be proud of. The eatery is hidden in the suburbs of Waterkloof and presents a modest but fine dining traditionally French dining experience. The menu consists of a breakfast, lunch, and dinner variety. The chef also formulates a seasonal menu of specialities featuring handcrafted dishes such as Cuisse de Grenouille (deep fried frogs legs), coq au vin, and quail egg & asparagus salad amongst many others.
Sci-Enza Science Centre
The oldest interactive science centre in Africa is located at the University of Pretoria. It is ideal for scholars of all kinds and ages. This short and exciting day outing includes a broad spectrum of exhibits in the fields of physics and biology. The centre also plays home to the famed Camera Obscura offering an all-round focused view of Pretoria. There are public talks and seminars free of charge open to the general public and students on various subjects administered by well known scientists from across the world. The Sci-Enza building is open to the public from Monday to Friday free of charge.
Wonderboom Nature Reserve
The two-hundred hectare reserve reaching across the Magaliesberg owes its name to the colossal and spectacular wild fig tree in the park, said to be more than a thousand years old and the legend of a local tribal chief being buried beneath the roots. The reserve is the natural habitat of an extensive array of fauna and flora. Dassies live in the caves and crevices overlooking the Apies river, providing food to the black eagles who have been nesting on the Magaliesberg for many years. The conservation area is the site of various archaeological sites from the Stone and Iron Ages, in addition to the notable Wonderboom Fort on the hilltop. There are various hiking trails on offer across the reserve, and the park is a prime picnic spot. Wonderboom is open seven days a week.
A’la Turka Restaurant
It sometimes is surprising how alien Middle Eastern cuisine still is to the Jacaranda city’s palate. This Turkish restaurant is situated in Yadah Castle close to Irene. They also offer a dance studio and a Turkish bath spa on the property. The sizeable eatery consists of various lounges, garden terraces, and restaurant rooms. The classically Turkish aesthetic makes for a traditional but innovative experience. A’la Turka features a wide selection of set menus in addition to their a la carte bill of fare. The food spans from the orthodox meze such as tabouleh, dolma, and koftas, to the delicious sheikh al mihshi and adana kebab. They also provide nargileh, or argileh, hubbly bubbly Middle Eastern pipes with a great assortment of flavours for hire. You can have your halva, and eat it too.
An invitingly rustic village-esque outside shopping experience hidden in plain sight in Hatfield. This is the ideal place to spend some several hours to browse for that special something. Be it jewellery, curios, cosmetics, clothes, chocolates, or deli items. The local restaurant, Papa’s Real Food, also provides the option of having a wholesome lunch or dinner during the trip through the stores and alleyways. The complex is also the home of both a beauty and a hair salon. The setting and space has also become an exceedingly popular spot for photographers to handle those photoshoots in need of a fantastic milieu.
Trent Art Gallery
The capital plays host to many ingenious and fine art galleries. The gallery of Stuart Trent, affectionately referred to as a self-portrait master, is undoubtedly an entry in that very catalogue. Located on Long Street in Waterkloof, the gallery has featured many of the most prominent and brilliant local artists on its walls. A pleasantly congested space which provides a parking lot mingle, with konka fires in the wintertime, as an exhibit opens or showcases. Visit their Facebook page for any and all upcoming shows and exhibits.
Grounded at Echo
This is a not only a purveyor of high grade coffee and various drink varieties. This locale is founded upon the basis that a space that supplies fine food and drink, especially good cups of joe, has the potential of becoming a work space and a platform for collaboration in business and the arts. They pride themselves on being more than just a coffee shop or an internet café. The creative coffee house and space anchors a number of widespread events across the month, and offers Zulu lessons each and every Saturday. Situated in the heart of Villieria, the hangout also functions as a supplier of communal and collaborative workspace. Grounded Work provides services in venue rental and facilities such as hot desks, fibre internet, storage space, print & copy, courier, and a boardroom. All at different, but intensely decent, rates. Not to mention the exceptional interior aesthetic coupled with good food and drink.
There are many factors at play with a good burger, and it takes masters of ingredients and construction to sling out the good stuff. One such lesser known example within our charming city’s limits is located within the Waterkloof Golf Club beneath another fine quality eatery, De Kloof Restaurant. Here you will find DK Burger. They present a minimalist burger menu of predominantly gourmet items, but sticking to one of the more simpler cheeseburger options might just make your month. These could be described as ballistic missiles of delectable goodness. All garnishes are intensely fresh and tasty. Each and every bun or condiment is cooked and produced in-house with locally sourced components, even the ketchup. The patties of proper quality meat, and of many different varieties, are extraordinarily well prepared. It all goes into serving these finely constructed burgers. DK Burger is open seven days a week trading at different hours. They also purvey an enormous medley of craft beers and ciders. Indisputably, one of my favourite eats in my own hometown.v
Honourable Mentions: Faerie Glen Nature Reserve, Brasserie De Paris, Jan Celliers Park, Rietvlei Nature Reserve, Tin Roof Café, Sammy Marks House Museum, Austin Roberts Bird Sanctuary, Magnolia Dell, +27 Café, Pretoria Boeremark, and Pretoria Art Museum.
by David C. Steyn