Joburg's had a facelift. Not just a few boosting injections here and there, but a full-on makeover that makes everyone stop and stare in admiration. It started with Maboneng and the inner city and then gradually made it way to the previously dare-we-say-boring suburbs. Linden is one of the areas that has more spunk now than it's seen in ages. These places are worth popping into.

The Whippet

via Facebook

Good coffee draws a crowd. And The Whippet has that — plus choc nut banana French toast, bacon Benedict and steak sandwiches. Needless to say, in terms of social vibes, they have it going on. Modern greys blend with wooden school-style desks and chairs where laptops and casual work meetings represent the ever-growing trend of digital nomads. If you have a sneaky sweet tooth, the caramel popcorn cake is more than enough reason to linger for longer.
Where: 34 7th St, cnr 4th Ave, Linden
When: Mon.-Thurs., 6:30 a.m.-4 p.m.; Fri., 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat., 7 a.m.-3 p.m.
More info: +27 11 782 7310; Facebook


Skinny Cow

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You're not one for big-chain shopping. Being caught in the same jeans as Jenny or shoes as Sam is not your deal. Skinny Cow has got your back by stocking specialised and limited items. Pieces range from flowy dresses to strappy tops and sparkly sandals, all with one-of-a-kind twists or patterns designed around individuality and against mass production. It’s a small, bright store where umbrella lights illuminate jewellery corners, scarf shelves and handbag racks — intimately selected and displayed. Zero risk of walking out with the same hat as Bella.
Where: Shop 6, 65 4th Ave, Linden
When: Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat., 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
More info: +27 82 369 2422; Facebook


Rembrandt Butcher

“In the good old days,” our grandparents dramatically used to relay, “you could tell the quality of a neighbourhood by the quality of its butcher.” Modern times may have seen a refreshed affinity for greens and beans, but there’s still formidable credibility attached to a worthy piece of meat (we’re talking the T-bone kind). Rembrandt Butcher has been a cornerstone in the Linden neighbourhood and has seen the wave of children becoming adults, parents and even grandparents. It’s a place where the same faces and smiles hand out free biltong to little ones on Saturday mornings, and where they know which cut goes with your choice of beer. It’s okay for some things to stay the same.
Where: 57 4th Ave, Linden
When: Mon.-Fri., 6:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; Sat., 5:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
More info: +27 11 888 4663; Facebook


Little Leaf 

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You don’t have to be a gardener with a degree in botany to enjoy a wander around a nursery. Especially one like Little Leaf, where blankets of purple, pink, orange and green engulf and intoxicate regardless of whether you know each plant's scientific name. It’s a welcoming, serene space where buyers and browsers are equally valued and appreciated, whether they walk out with a medal-adorning collector’s cycad or a simple orchid for the kitchen table. It's the only version of outdoor window-shopping we can confidently recommend. Lawnmower price-comparing isn’t quite as much fun.
Where: 68 4th Ave, Linden
When: Daily, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
More info: +27 84 676 8027; Facebook


Choo Choo Junction

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Decorated with steam train paraphernalia and a crunchy wall-size world map, Choo Choo Junction brings rugged grunge and slow-cooked comfort food to the Linden mix. Mac 'n' cheese, pork belly and Balkan sausages are most often served as group shared meals on festively overcrowded and wobbly tables. A backdrop of downplayed casualness has clientele on a first-name basis with most of the waiters and familiar with more than just the menu. Like the absinthe-on-tap option — Linden may very well be the first with this one.
Where: 57 4th Ave, Linden
When: Tues.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Fri. & Sat., 11 a.m.-11:30 p.m.; Sun., 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
More info: +27 72 910 3000; Facebook

By Suzette Leal

Suzette only stays at home to watch Orange Is The New Black. She limits her fluid intake to water, wine and champagne and she absolutely doesn't get the selfie trend. Burma is next on her to-do list. That, and salmon fishing in Iceland.