Located on the beautiful grounds of St. Stithians College, the Higher Ground Restaurant has the best…
If you’re a Gen X born and bred in Joburg, you’ve heard of Ba-Pita, the Middle Eastern takeaway joint that used to exist on Rockey Street in Yeoville. If you worked as a journalist, artist or musician in the late 80s or early 90s, you probably even ate there. Twenty years after shutting their doors when the area fell into disrepair, Ba-Pita has made a comeback at the top of Melville’s 7th Avenue. I was recently craving falafel, couscous and kebabs, so decided to check them out.
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A friend and I arrived at the bright and breezy new Ba-Pita for an early Saturday lunch and opted to sit in the courtyard at the back of the restaurant as opposed to inside, from where you can look out onto the busy street. The space was bigger than we expected with lots of seating, wooden furniture and vaulted ceilings. The décor is fresh and funky – think mosaic tiles, hanging plants and Moroccan lanterns.
We kicked off our meal by both ordering a Buchu Gin & Tonic, which is available on tap along with Darling Slow Lager and Gypsy Mask. It was a tough call between a G&T or sangria, which is served by the jug. While this isn’t the type of place I’d order a glass of wine, it’s worth mentioning that the wine list is hand picked and the mark-ups aren’t too unreasonable. I liked that all options are available by the glass.
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We then ordered up a couple of small plates – grilled halloumi with muhammara dip, falafel balls on hummus, and cumin- and coriander-infused chicken kebabs – as well as a falafel laffa (a flatbread rolled and stuffed with falafel, fresh cucumber, tomato, grilled aubergine and tahini). The presentation of the food was nothing special, but the bright blue and orange plates that it came on made each dish Instagram-worthy in its own way. More importantly, the flavours were all on point – I would’ve liked the dishes to be a little more fragrant, but we could taste that everything was made in-house with love and that kinda made up for it.
My favourite dishes were the wholesome falafel balls (smear them thickly with hummus for extra indulgence) and the unapologetically sticky chicken kebabs that were done in a lightly spiced satay sauce. We barely had space for dessert, but decided to end the meal with one of the oldest sweet dishes in the world, a small bowl hand-crafted Turkish delight, which was deliciously chewy with an exotic rose flavour.
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The small plates paired with a quirky setting, super-laidback vibe and swish service make Ba-Pita a place that ticks all the boxes for a casual meal with mates, a cool first date or even a family outing. If it were slightly more affordable, I’d probably be a regular at lunchtime (so it’s probably a good thing that it’s not!). Then again, the new Ba-Pita is by no means the tiny takeout spot it once was – today, it’s more like a Middle Eastern gem!
Shop 2, 1 7th Street, Melville
010 020 8363
Hello Joburg was first published in April 1980 as a monthly restaurant and entertainment magazine. Over the years we have developed a network of patriotic Joburgers that love nothing more than sharing their experiences in this beautiful city!