Pretoria is sometimes just too straight-laced. As the administrative capital with its broad avenues and amateur school choirs, the most daring thing you would sometimes see is a prim Jacaranda shaking its hips after dark. Drinking in this town is often hustled into an overcharged, fashioned-up corner. It is in response to this sanitised setting of booze that Perdeby went in search of alehouses that still have peanuts as cuisine and Zim Dollars pasted on the bar as décor. And if not that – then at least a genuine hangout.
Schiva’s Rock (corner of Hillside and Rodericks Street, Lynnwood)
This is a day-time drinker’s sanctuary. Appropriately situated around the corner from the Lynnwood Dutch Reformed Church, Schivas opens its doors at 10:00 for “Hooked Daytime Specials”. These include local beer selling at R6 until 18:00. Seriously. For this low price, you can enjoy your Castle among such tasteful surroundings as fake rock walls and bathrooms that indicate gender with: Guys (“Dicks”) and Girls (“Bitches”). If you don’t mind acting agony aunt to a choir of divorcees with sacks of complaints, this is truly a fine establishment.
Cool Runnings (Burnett Street, Hatfield)
Runnings is a reggae chill-chamber. Featuring dark, fragrant corners, amateur psychedelic murals, tropical palm trees and a seasoned foosball table, this is a true escape. Graze on the cheap, hearty portions of munchies, have a few Black Labels and absorb the lethargy. Soon you’ll forget you’re in Hatfield. Intrusive thoughts will start haunting you. Thoughts like kicking that degree, growing a beard and calling yourself Bob. This is the kind of place where if you stumble in on a Sunday afternoon, you are most likely to meet a chick at the bar with a Python named Mr Whiskers coiled around her neck.
Tings & Times (Arcadia Street, Hatfield)
Tings is like Runnings’ older brother that remembers his wild days well but finally went for that haircut. There is still a decent bar with chatty barmen and the essential Bob Marley memorabilia. The only real difference is that, with its large veranda and colourful tables, it actually starts to feel like a real restaurant and not just a hangout. This is certainly not a bad thing. Tings serves legendary pitas and is the place to go for the best gigs, which are usually on Thursdays and over weekends. It is attitude-free and a sure place to befriend some local creatives, who you can also identify when driving around town by means of the sprawling Tings & Times bumper sticker.
Steak & Ale (Botha Avenue, Lyttelton)
The first thing that drew me to this tough tavern, situated on a strip of motor-repair workshops, was an orange light-box that said in bold black letters “KROEG” on the one side and “BAR” on the other. I figured that a place in such dire need of bilingualism was a sure bet. I wasn’t disappointed. Steak & Ale is moody and musty with, as the sign promises, a real kroeg for a bar. Brandy and Coke is the drink and if you’re there on a Friday night you can find anyone from your third grade Life Orientation teacher to that guy who always wears sunglasses in class. More and more exciting gigs are played at this affordable pub, making the drive to Centurion worth your while.
Players (Lynnwood Road, Hatfield)
Players is a pool lounge situated at the greasy fingertips of that other legendary landmark, Varsity Bakery. The slow flickering of the white neon light-box will lure you into this dwelling of pool, hair gel and cheap drinks. Did you know that a pool stick is called a cue? If not, you can quench your thirst for such and other trivia with, amongst others, a R12 Johnny Walker Red.