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Ba-Pita is back: Melville’s Middle Eastern gem, reviewed

Ba-Pita was established in 1986 on Rockey Street in Yeoville, Joburg. What began as a tiny takeaway joint expanded into a sprawling 120-seater restaurant and bar frequented by poets, journalists, activists, artists and musicians. But the urban decay of the 1990s saw the once-thriving area fall into disrepair and by the close of the decade they’d shut up shop. Flash forward 20 years and they’ve reignited the Ba-Pita flame with a funky, fresh take on the Mediterranean institution at the top of Melville’s 7th Avenue.

Ba-Pita

The fresh interior at the new Ba-Pita in Melville. Photo by Kate Liquorish

Fast facts

Food type: Middle Eastern, Mediterranean
Parking: On the street
Cost: R90 average main meal
Star ratings: Food: 4; Service: 4; Ambience: 4

​Food

Ba-Pita specialises in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean street food: kebabs, shwarmas, laffas (stuffed and rolled flatbreads) with all the trimmings, hummus, tzatziki, falafel and an array of grain- and legume-based salads packed with sumac, nuts and herbs – it’s casual food served on pretty plates in a quirky setting (a trend that’s big across Joburg).

Ba-Pita

Falafels and hummus at Ba-Pita. Photo by Kate Liquorish.

They make everything in-house and you can taste the difference. Flavours are subtle and fragrant with touches of cumin, z’atar and sumac throughout. Highlights include moreish falafel served in bowls thickly smeared with hummus; their unapologetically garlicky baba ganoush, lamb and mince koftas with tzatziki; and any one of their famed laffas served alongside one of their simple but herbaceous salads. It’s tasty, wholesome food (save for the tzatziki, which tastes a bit watered down) and servings are fair, but not generous. It’s a casual lunch and dinner spot that will draw in the crowds for afternoons of sharing plates and good times.

Ba-Pita

The laffa at Ba-Pita. Photo by Kate Liquorish.

Drinks

They’ve gone craft with their beer on tap, Darling Slow Lager and Gypsy Mask to be precise, with only Corona on offer by the bottle. Hipsters will be pleased to find buchu gin and tonic also on tap and sangria by the jug. The wine list is short, straightforward and fairly priced – all options are available by the glass.

Service

Despite Ba-Pita only being open for a few weeks, service is swish and seamless – the waiters are well-versed on the menu and an absolute pleasure.

The breezy outdoor area at Ba-Pita. Photo by Kate Liquorish.

Ambience

It’s a big space with ample indoor and outdoor seating; the outdoor seating is in an adjoining courtyard at the back of the restaurant rather than on the street. Vaulted ceilings are ornamented with hanging plants and Moroccan lanterns, and walls are embellished with mosaic and bright tiles. Chairs are comfy, tables are sturdy and the vibe is bright and breezy.

Best for…

Casual lunches and dinners with friends, first dates and family outings.

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