A Brief History Of Ba-Pita
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.
A Middle Eastern Escape In Norwood
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.
Legendary Specialities At Ba-Pita
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.