Before we explore the wonderful world of laffa, pitas, and shawarmas that Ba-Pita is famous for, we have to talk about the restaurant's rich history. Founded by Gerald Elliott, Ba-Pita started in Rocky Street, Yeoville in the mid-80s. Back then, it was a completely different hangout. The neighbourhood was home to the original wave of Joburg bohemians, anti-apartheid activists, thought leaders, and cool kids... and Ba-Pita was the hangout spot for all of them.
But as time moved on and the area fell by the wayside, so did the businesses that flanked Rocky Street. Sadly, the eatery closed its doors in the mid-90s and became nothing more than a fond memory to its once youthful regulars.
In 2019, Ba-Pita returned, opening up shop at the top of Melville's 7th Street. Fast-forward to the first quarter of 2020, the restaurant had to temporarily close its doors due to South Africa going into hard lockdown. With this came the move to Grant Avenue in Norwood - Ba-Pita's new home since October 2020.
The restaurant brags with a beautiful deli section, that offers freshly baked bread, pastries, pickles, and other goods.
The food is straight forward indulgent Middle Eastern and Mediterranean from start to finish. At first, words like muhammara, sabich, and muhallebi seem quite intimidating, but fortunately for us, Ba-Pita is the kind of restaurant where coming back for seconds is set in stone. The drinks menu boasts the usual suspects: local craft beers, cocktails, and milkshakes – nothing out of the ordinary. However, we do recommend that you order a jug of fresh mint, cucumber, and lime – a homemade infusion of the above-mentioned ingredients served on crushed ice. This has become our staple summer drink for sure.
But before we overwhelm you, let's take a look at the three pillars that put Ba-Pita on the map to begin with:
Ba-Pita's Rockey Street Shawarmas are legendary, and the garlic sauce is still made using their 30-year-old recipe. The most impressive thing about Ba-Pita is the fact that everything is made from scratch, including the pita bread! When it comes to the shawarma section of the menu, we highly recommend that you dig into the chicken liver offering. It consists of lightly spiced chicken livers complemented with fresh tomato, lettuce, hummus, and tahini. Not a fan of chicken livers? No worries! Give the pitriot a go: crumbed mushrooms, tahini, garlic sauce, and hummus – fit for the fussiest of vegans, too! To top it all off, all shawarmas are made in a wood-fire oven and served with a delicious tomato and chili dip.
The Middle-Eastern flatbreads are made fresh to order. Filling choices are falafel or top-quality meats and come with homemade pickles, hummus, tahini, and a dipping sauce that complements each dish. Similar to the fillings of the shawarmas, Ba-Pita's laffa offering boasts with not a single wrong choice – and we've had them all! The first choice would be the short rib, consisting of slow-roasted beef, pickled red cabbage, pickled cucumber, hummus, tomato, garlic sauce, and tahini. It's worth mentioning that all the pickled veg served on the menu are made in-house.
Platters are a great way to enjoy the authentic Ba-Pita experience, one mouthful at a time. The platter options include vegetarian and meat dishes accompanied by a wide range of delectable dips and sauces. Depending on the option, these platters can feed two to four people. The veggie platter – packed with roasted cauliflower, butternut, roasted broccoli, falafel balls, and pita bread – is a healthy, hearty winner for sure. Another great choice would be the laffa platter, which offers patrons a choice of four different types laffa bread and is served with a Jerusalem salad and dipping sauces.
For those with a sweet tooth, you're in for a treat! The dessert menu is short and decadent with only four entries: freshly made baklava; rich chocolate brownies; seasonal berry cheesecakes; and – wait for it – homemade Turkish Delights! Do not pass on an order of the Turkish Delights and baklava - you will not be sorry.
Address: Factory on Grant, 70 Grant Avenue, Norwood, Johannesburg.
Phone: 010 020 8363
Tuesday to Sunday: 08:00 until 20:00.
Closed on Mondays
*Please note that the restaurant's trading hours are subject to change, depending on the national lockdown level.
Melville is the place to be where delicious food is concerned. If you're a foodie of any description, the restaurants in Melville will be your idea of heaven! You can sample a variety of delicious foods from so many different cuisines, pretty much all on one street! Let's get ready to tuck into some divine treats as we take you on a journey down Melville's culinary streets and avenues.
The Lucky Bean Restaurant in Melville serves a delicious fusion menu of African-inspired food, as well as some of Johannesburg's best vegan and vegetarian cuisine. Known for its relaxed, laid-back atmosphere, Lucky Bean is a local favourite. Also a bar and lounge, The Lucky Bean Restaurant is a perfect spot to stop by for a drink and a tasty meal after a long day.
A unique restaurant experience to be sure, this trendy little restaurant chain started in Melville and has expanded across South Africa from there! They specialise in chicken wings, and offer five mouthwatering flavour options: Hot & Smokey, Extra Hot & Smokey, Sweet & Sticky, Oriental and Lemon & Coriander. All wings come with freshly-prepared, delicious dips, also available in a variety of flavours, as well as fresh, tasty side dishes.
Hell's Kitchen is an American-style, rock-themed bar and restaurant in Melville. Known for its iconic "Be Naked When I Get Home" neon sign, 1920s New York speakeasy glamour, and secret poker room hidden away behind the bookcase, Hell's Kitchen is an iconic and fun restaurant for a night out. Enjoy a burger, pizza, steak or chicken wings while savouring some Jameson's whiskey. Bliss!
A real Melville institution, Ratz Bar + Diner has been in operation for over 24 years! Ratz has earned a reputation as Melville's premier LGBTQI+ friendly restaurant and cocktail bar. Ratz is known for delicious food, tasty cocktails, and hits from the 70s til the present day to dance the night away to. If you're in the mood for dinner, drinks, and dancing, Ratz Bar + Diner is definitely the place for you!
The Anti-Social Social Club is a modern, Asian-inspired bar and restaurant in Melville. The menu at the Anti Social Social Club is light and pairs perfectly with their equally-delicious cocktail menu. If you’re in the mood to socialise with friends and enjoy good company, food and drinks in an unusual setting, this little bar and restaurant is perfect for you.
Bambanani is all about family and food. Located in Melville, Bambanani serves up a fresh and delicious Asian-inspired menu, combining a boutique restaurant experience with a kid's play area. Bambanani provides full-time child minders and a safe environment, allowing parents to relax and enjoy their meals.
Ramen! Who doesn't get excited about it? While Love Me So in Melville have made a name for themselves serving heavenly Asian fusion cuisine, they are best known for their ramen. Also definitely worth sampling is their sticky, crispy Korean BBQ, and Japanese Izakaya (shared plates). If you feel like something a bit lighter, a poke bowl could be just what you need. Make sure to try a cocktail while you're there!
Ba-Pita brings the taste of the Mediterranean to the heart of Melville. This petite restaurant located in 7th Street specialises in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean foods. So, it doesn't matter if you're craving shawarma, falafel, or kebab, Ba-Pita packs a punch where flavours are concerned. Close your eyes and you'd be forgiven for forgetting where you are!
Often described as one of Johannesburg's hidden gems, La Petite Maison is a restaurant you truly need to experience to understand. Located at the top of Melville's 7th Street, La Petite Maison is an intimate space, and seats only 20 people. The menu is limited, and dishes are accompanied by a fine selection of boutique wines.
Piza Ē Vino is a firm South African favourite. At Piza Ē Vino, they prepare every dish using basic, yet flavourful ingredients. Because of this, every dish is bursting with Italian flavour and deliciousness! Their wide menu features antipasto, pizza, pasta and desserts.
A real Melville favourite, Cafe De La Creme patisserie has been baking up a storm in Melville for many years. No visit to Melville would be complete without stopping at Cafe De La Creme for a sweet treat or a wholesome meal. If your sweet tooth has been tickling you, this is definitely the place to be!
IT Corner Cafe is a fantastic, unique little cafe located in the heart of 7th Street, Melville. Offering an unusual, yet effective combination of tech support and breakfast delights, IT Corner Cafe is the place to go if your laptop, computer, phone or tablet is acting up. Bonus points for their fantastic cappuccinos and light, hearty menu items!
Service Station Café Melville is another classic Melville cafe. Located in the Bamboo Centre, Service Station is both a restaurant and a food store. Head to Service Station for a sit-down meal, freshly made treats, all based on local fresh produce. Service Station also stocks a selection of local and international products.