Nestled in the foothills of Northcliff Hill, Linden is one of the prettiest and oldest suburbs of Johannesburg, lying to the North-West of the city centre between Emmarentia and Darrenwood. The leafy suburb lies predominantly on a slope, its pretty houses, many of which have been recently restored, positioned on a grid of numbered avenues and streets.
Linden is named after the Linden farm, which stood in this part of Johannesburg over a hundred years ago. The original farmhouse still exists somewhere in the heart of the suburb, restored to its former glory, the typical old-fashioned verandah, echoed in a number of homes in Linden, one of its major features.
Partway down the slope of Linden, heading off towards Emmarentia, is Linden’s heated swimming pool, and the Emmarentia dam and Botanical gardens are well worth a visit at any time of the year, the grounds a wonderful green space to escape city pressures. In fact, Linden lies almost encircled by green parkland of some description - most of them bird sanctuaries and parklands - that makes staying here such a peaceful experience.
Trendy Greenside is just around the corner from Linden, and Greenway and Gleneagles Road, the hip suburb’s high streets, are lined with restaurants, antique and art décor shops that have transformed this part of Johannesburg into one of the best kept secrets in the city.
It is estimated that by 1934 around 350 families lived in Linden, and many owned small fruit farms that benefited from the area’s particularly fertile soils. In the 1950s the area became a popular suburb with affluent Afrikaans families, and soon earned the nickname "Boere Houghton". While most of the fruit farms had by then already disappeared, the suburb of Linden is still remarkable today for its numerous peach trees.
In recent years Linden’s wide, tree-lined streets have become popular with young professionals who are attracted by the area’s friendly small-town feel and many trendy, independent cafes and restaurants. Linden’s distinctive main street, 4th Avenue, is a mix of old and new independent stores and cafés. Some of the oldest stores include the Arthur Bales haberdashery, which first opened in the 1960s and still does a roaring trade today in fabrics, wools and sewing equipment. Other must-visit local businesses include, Rembrandt’s Butchery, which is a great place to buy meat for the braai, and the Cheese Cafe, a delicatessen with an enticing selection of South African farmhouse cheeses.
For cafe culture there is plenty of choice. For breakfast try one of the trendy coffee shops such as The Whippet or The Fat Zebra, both known for their large breakfast selection made with locally sourced ingredients; or for something more traditional there’s the charming old-fashioned corner cafe, The Argentinian, which proudly boasts the "best croissants in Africa".
For lunch or dinner take your pick from French, Indian, Mexican, sushi or Chinese food. Favourites include Emma Chen’s colourful and casual noodle restaurant PRON (People’s Republic of Noodles), known for its flavoursome, authentic northern Chinese cuisine; and for rustic French fare there’s Romuald Denesle’s laid-back bistro, A La Bouffe.