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Alto234: sunsets, champagne and unparalleled views

Spending the evening at the top of a bar overlooking the skyline of Africa’s richest mile is never just a moment and Sandton’s Alto234 offers this daily.

While this point is debatable, the hotel is considered the tallest in Africa and since opening in September 2021 at The Leonardo in Sandton, Alto234 is where luxury and an urban bar meet.

We recently returned to the location since our last visit during the bar launch on the 57th floor. You can hardly get used to the soaring height you feel once you step into the elevator. Despite the uncertain weather and unpredictable thunderstorms in Johannesburg’s summer season, Alto234 views were still impressive on our visit, providing uninterrupted views of the Sandton countryside and evening sky.

‘Alto’ is derived from the Latin word for height, and 234 is how high it is in meters.

The urban bar is a great way to recover from a hectic day at the office or to enjoy a fun night out. The drinks menu at Alto234 is extensive, so it’s hard to say you didn’t find what you were looking for.

For the high rollers, there is a variety of bubbles ranging from Moët & Chandon and Dom Perignon to Veuve Clicquot Rich, with prices between R1500 and R9000.

We were welcomed with a glass of Moët & Chandon and then shown effortlessly to our table overlooking Sandton.

For non-champagne drinkers, the white, red, and various blend-style wines, cocktails, whiskey and brandy, and non-alcoholic options are included to quench your thirst.

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The main concern in this type of setting or establishment is that the environment and the experience are paramount and the food is left on the back burner.

Alto 234 bar food menu tapas. Photo: Sandisiwe Mbhele

However, we are pleased to report that Alto234 is not one of those locations. The food menu is designed like bar tapas and sharing, don’t expect main courses and grills. Portions are much smaller and the thinking behind this is that Alto is the place to be after dinner for those looking to continue their evening or for a sunset escapade.

The tapas we tried were absolutely divine, and that goes for everything from the melt-in-the-mouth pulled pork taco with tuna ceviche to the bao bun with chorizo, pickles, and saffron aioli.

Then we tasted the Wagyu beef slider which was so tender and juicy, the patty was dripping from the meat, salivating. The slider was topped off with Asian slaw, cucumber pickle, and potato chips, getting high marks all over for being in a state of food euphoria.

On the seafood side, the mini poke bowl, filled with smoked salmon, avocado, pickled ginger, nori (seaweed), and siracha was fresh and filling. You could easily eat a full serving of these and the oysters on the west coast as we ordered a few as we gobbled them up – they were that good.

The tapas were surprisingly well priced considering the location, including the fact that Alto234 comes with an entrance fee of R300. The price of the bar and tapas menu varies between R35 and R80 if you are looking for light snacks such as cashew nuts, wagyu biltong and olives.

The big question on the mind of many people is: how much am I going to spend on Alto234? For a group, keep in mind the entrance fee and orders outside champagne and the like, you can save costs especially if you split the bill by ordering bottles instead of glasses.

Considered a budget breaker, Alto234 is still highly recommended even on a tight budget, people should be working around R1,000.

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