Urban professionals who want to reconnect with their roots, in a spot where they can eat and drink, are spoiled for choice these days. Gone are the days when “bo mmaseapei” were just women providing affordable takeaway meals on the streets because the city is now experiencing a surge in street food with panache through the advent of roadside eateries.

Urban professionals and students alike in the city are now opting for shisa nyama vibes on the roadside for their week day lunch meals as opposed to the restaurant setting. These eateries have quickly evolved over the last 5 years and are now much more than venues to grab a quick plate.

Today, it is where you go to read the paper on your lunch break, have a conversation on politics and plan your weekend while you chow down a braai meal, washing it down with an ice cold homemade gemere. On the weekends, you might go floss your Range Rover, listen to good local music and catch up with peers while having your meat braai’d.

Popular spots in the city include Jarateng in White City, Edlas in Extension 12, Chilli Bar in Oodi Matebele, which all serve sizzling braai meat, accompanied by pap and a cold beer. While Riverwalk, CBD and Old Lobatse roadsides are punctuated with mmaseapeis, cooking up traditional meals that, as described by regulars, “went to private school”. While all these outlets offer meat, no two places are the same. And it is this contrast that keeps clients coming back.

Speaking to a professional who frequents the roadside eatery just behind Riverwalk mall, she said “we are here for that home-style touch offered by these eateries. We may go to restaurants on the weekend and enjoy a fancy meal, but we also enjoy a traditional lerotse and braai meal served by bo mmaseapei”. A regular at Edlas and Jarateng said “when I go to Joburg, I like to visit the shisanyamas in the townships, in Soweto and I love the vibe. So I am really glad we are also getting that here as well. The city life can be overwhelming sometimes, so it is always nice to just go have some braai, pap and a cold beer while watching a football game with the guys and just be you!”

There are no braai masters at these spots, but actual coal, smoke and flames, which ironically is what attracts the customers and gives high end restaurants a run for their money. Other offerings include pork, boerewors, dumplings, chakalaka, salsa and spinach to accompany the mountain heap of protein. Whether you are a CEO, a celebrity or a student, these eateries do not grade you on who you are in the outside world, but rather offer authenticity at the heart of the city.