Ba-Pita: A New (Old) Restaurant in Melville

by | Jun 7, 2019 | Food and Drink, Johannesburg, Melville and Surrounds | 8 comments

Ba-Pita opened at the end of last year in Melville, at the top of 7th Street where the old Golf Tea Room used to be.

Outside Ba Pita on 7th Street in Melville

A few weeks after it opened, a great article on Ba-Pita’s interesting origin story appeared on New Frame. I shared the article on my Facebook page and it got so much traffic that it somehow felt redundant to write a post of my own.

Now that a few months have passed, I can’t let another day go by before getting Ba-Pita onto my blog. I went there for lunch again today — the food tastes so damn good and the vibe of the restaurant is so damn nice. So here’s an abridged version. (Read the New Frame article above for more detail.)

To cut a 30-year-long story short: Ba-Pita opened in 1986 in Yeoville, which — as I’ve been told — had a similar kind of hippy-ish/hipster-ish vibe to what Melville has today. The Middle-Eastern-style restaurant became a legendary eating and drinking hangout for Yeoville’s bohemians.

Photo of the Yeoville Ba-Pita hanging on the wall of the Melville Ba-Pita.
This photo, shot by my friend Oscar Gutierrez, was taken outside the old Ba-Pita in the 1990s.

Times changed, the city changed, and Ba-Pita closed its Yeoville doors in the late 1990s. In 2018, the eatery re-opened in Melville under the same ownership.

Lunch at Ba-Pita

I don’t know what the old Ba-Pita looked like. But the new one is charming and colorful, with pretty glass lamps hanging from the ceiling and a mosaic clay oven in the corner.

Inside Ba-Pita
I love that blue wall.
Look at that beautiful oven.
And the lamps.

There’s also a really lovely outdoor courtyard — shared with the neighboring restaurant, Spilt Milk — that is oddly impossible to photograph.

Ba-Pita’s menu includes simple Middle Eastern fare — shawarmas, laffas, falafel, hummus, etc. — cooked really well with quality ingredients and sauces. The pita bread is particularly fluffy and delicious.

Chicken shawarma in pita from Ba-Pita
My first Ba-Pita lunch: Chicken shawarma with hummus and garlic sauce.
Lunch at Ba-Pita
Lunch today: Oven-roasted tomato soup, baba ganoush, laffa wrap, potato fries.

I understand Ba-Pita has a decent drinks menu with craft beer, sangria, and several wines by the glass. But so far I’ve only gone for lunch and had water and Coke. I imagine the evening vibe is great though.

In conclusion, Ba-Pita has everything I want in a restaurant: Tasty and unpretentious food, fun atmosphere, great location, interesting story. I plan to eat there a lot.

Ba-Pita is at 1 Seventh Street, Shop 2, in Melville.


  1. dizzylexa

    I’m an old Ba-Pita fan and really do need to try the new one out. The guy in the shorts in Oscar’s photo is Mike, old friend of ours.

    • 2summers

      Oh wow, that’s incredible! Let’s meet there.

  2. Peter

    Yo Yo Yo – those were the days, stumbling into Ba – Pita for a munchie after a big night out in Rocky Street

    • 2summers

      I miss those days and I wasn’t even here.

  3. Sharon

    I worked there for 3 ½ years. I left when the new owner Gerald bought it as he didn’t want temporary night staff. Originally it was owned by Roy. That’s when it really cooked. That’s when it really had atmosphere. That’s when it was a legend. Gerald bought a good name

    • 2summers

      Thanks for sharing your memories!

  4. Momo Street

    I used to spend my evenings and weekends in Yeoville in the 90s and Ba Pita was a favourite place to get a late night snack, especially after hanging out in joints like Times Square and the roof bar at House of Tandoor where you could get drinks, pizza and lots of green stuff. There was an amazing vibe on Rocky Street and the surrounding area.

    • 2summers

      Sounds like good times.


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