On the western edge of Fordsburg, Mayfair is an old working-class suburb that is defined by its myriad immigrant communities. In the early 20th Century it was Eastern European Jews who settled here and in the 21st Century Somalians, Syrians, Turks and Palestinians have now made Mayfair home - earning the area the nickname 'Little Somalia'. Whilst its facade is rough and ready, a trip to Mayfair is a culinary odyssey not to be missed. Here is our pick of the best places to eat.
IndianBAPS SHAYONAS A pure Sattvic (yoga) vegetarian restaurant, deli and spice shop. Shayona’s is the catering arm of the Swaminarayan Temple in Mayfair and supports the Swaminarayan Hindu charities that focus on disadvantaged communities. All products are manufactured by a group of dedicated volunteers.The restaurant is abuzz with Indians and locals enjoying delicious thalis, Indian street food (chaat), sweetmeats and people stocking up on spices and frozen food imports from India. The marsala dosa is the best in town. Weekends are very busy but still the best time to go.
Palestinian KING ARABIC SANDWICH Started by Palestinian refugees Hanan Ahmed and her husband, Mohammad Sultan, this humble bakery and cafe, with its exceptionally friendly Middle Eastern hospitality and accomplished traditional food, is most deserving of its regal title. Alongside delicious pies, shawarmas, stuffed pita breads (or 'Arabic sandwiches') and delicate petit fours iced with the colours of the Palestinian flag, on Fridays and Saturdays the couple also prepare traditional specialities such as maklooba and qedrah, a kind of Arabic biryani. The homemade humus and falafel are beyond compare and there is a great selection of typical Middle Eastern ingredients for sale such as preserved stuffed aubergines, za’atar flatbreads, Palestinian couscous and hibiscus juice.
SomalianKISMAYO Kismayo restaurant is inside the Amal Centre in Mayfair which is known as ‘Little Mogadishu’ because of the large number of Somali immigrants who live and work there. Coffee is indigenous to East Africa which (in combination with an Italian colonial past) probably explains why they make superb espresso at Kismayo. Coffee is paired with a cardamom-rich sponge cake that the Somalis call Doolshe – derived from the Italian word dolce.
Turkish BURHAN'S AND TURKISH KEBAB HOUSE For getting off the beaten track and eating one of the most-reasonably priced meals in town there's this Middle Eastern kebab house in Mayfair. Originally a butchery started by the burly Turkish brothers Ibrahim and Burhan Demirtas on Mayfair's busiest street, today the halaal shawarma meat and kebabs are still roasted over hot coals on the street side but there's now a canteen-style restaurant with a wide and varied menu. Choices include grilled meats, pides (specialty Turkish pies) and Turkish desserts such as Sutlach (rice pudding) and kadaifi pastries. The rotis are freshly baked and you can even watch them being made. Order a grilled platter for two with fresh salads, dips and roti and there'll be plenty left over for home time. The butchery next door has an interesting array of goods for the grill and Turkish food products.