Bala Baya

Middle Eastern·
Bronze Award

SquareMeal Review of Bala Baya

Bronze Award

A high-energy tribute to Tel Aviv, Bala Baya combines a party soundtrack with a tempting menu of Middle Eastern sharing plates, beneath a rumbling railway arch.

The menu features a variety of crowd-pleasing, ingredient-forward plates and includes a tasting menu, which is a great way to sample a bit of everything. Israeli chef Eran Tibi created a buzz with Zest (his pop-up collab with Berber & Q’s Josh Katz) and Bala Baya is his first solo project, which is impressive considering how beautiful both the restaurant and menu are.

Each dish pays homage to Tibi's roots, taking inspiration from the traditional dishes of his home country, resulting in a refreshingly authentic experience that still feels modern. The food is served family-style, which plays well with Middle Eastern cooking, and makes the whole experience homely and comforting.

Not everything we tried worked well on our visit. We enjoyed a compelling combo of crispy fried chicken, bitter orange and the puckery tang of kimchi, yet timid hummus and a stodgy pairing of lamb neck with dumplings fell flat. Nevertheless, a sumptuous dessert of chocolate-and-hazelnut babka cake with stewed plums produced a show-stealing finale.

There’s no faulting the surroundings though. The all-white ground floor features an open kitchen overlooked by a curvaceous dining counter, while the mezzanine is ideal for groups and longer visits. The buzzing atmosphere of the restaurant has been brought to life by award-winning interior designer, Afroditi Krassa. The space feels both chic and charming, with vibrant pops of colour complemented by a minimalist approach to decor which underlines Bala Baya’s cool take on contemporary dining.

The location is great, too, within Southwark’s foodie hub of the Union Street railway arches, with easy access to Southwark and London Bridge tubes and Borough Market and the Menier Chocolate Factory nearby. With its abundant energy and on-trend details, Bala Baya bubbles with potential.

Good to know

Spend SquareMeal Smart Vouchers
Average Price
££££ - £30 - £49
Middle Eastern
Food Occasions
Brunch, Dinner, Lunch
Special Features
Counter dining, Vegetarian options
Perfect for
Child friendly, Dates

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Do they take walk-ins?

Of course, you can stumble in whenever you want and they'll do our best to accommodate you, but they advise booking ahead to make sure you don’t miss out.

Helpful? 0


Arch 25, 229 Union Street, Southwark, London, SE1 OLR

020 8001 7015 020 8001 7015


Opening Times

Mon 12:00-15:00
Tue 12:00-15:00
Wed 12:00-15:00
Thu 12:00-15:00
Fri 12:00-15:00
Sat 10:30-15:30
Sun 10:30-15:30
Mon 17:00-22:00
Tue 17:00-22:00
Wed 17:00-22:00
Thu 17:00-22:30
Fri 17:00-22:30
Sat 18:00-22:30
Sun Closed


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8 Reviews 

Iggy R

28 December 2022  
Food & Drink 5
Service 5
Atmosphere 5
Value 5

For a special event, this place is perfect. Food is superb, little dishes from Israeli influence with cocktails and a decent wine menu.


23 November 2022  
Food & Drink 4.5
Service 4.5
Atmosphere 4.5
Value 4.5

Amazing food, atmosphere and staff. Can't wait to return! 

Vince L

31 October 2022  
Food & Drink 5
Service 5
Atmosphere 5
Value 3.5


16 May 2021  
Food & Drink 5
Service 5
Atmosphere 5
Value 4
Exceptional food and team

Incredible food, I think I've tried the menu 4 times over, but the aubergine, baklava prawns and sticky chicken are the best. Great atmosphere and friendly staff... don't skip the desserts and cocktails! Keep up the great work team, looking forward to you opening up again soon.

Gabriella T

10 July 2018  
Love the venue in the arches with the open mezzanine and beautiful decor found at Bala Baya. The background music of soft house/dance was a really welcome sound and lifted the restaurant into something really fun and welcoming without detracting from the fact they take their food seriously. I went there with 4 others and we feasted until we were full, then feasted some more! The food was exceptional value for money (we had to check the bill twice to make sure they hadnt undercharged us) and the wine was reasonably priced for a restaurant. The waitress we had was a lot of fun and gave some some excellent recommendations, including the wine which was a very good choice based on the dishes we were having. Overall an exceptionally well priced and delicious find under the arches.

Emma O

03 April 2018  
Food & Drink 4
Service 5
Atmosphere 5
Value 3.5
Great night out at our new local
It is just round the corner from me and I have been walking past all the time desperate to go. Finally we did - and we had a great Saturday date night - and will most definitely be going back. We had the best seat in the house - the counter - and watched the chefs to effortlessly prepare an excellent and exciting array of dishes. My personal favourite was the pitta, the chicken dish and the trout. We got served by the most lovely guy, who made us feel right at home. We were stunned when he told us he had only been there for a week! We chatted back and forth with him, the owner and one of the chefs, which only heightened the dining experience. It is not the cheapest of places, especially if you are drinking. But it is great and casual and well worth a visit.

Eran T

05 May 2017  

Vi Vian

29 January 2017  
Food & Drink 3
Service 4
Atmosphere 3
Value 3
Bala Baya adding a touch of difference to Southwark neighbourhood
Bala Baya, Southwark – The Southwark neighbourhood, though close to myself, isn’t really somewhere that I intuitively go for when I want to dine out. When night falls, the area is quiet and exudes an urban feel of being in between an office and residential area. However, off the main road a handful of restaurants found under the railway arches change that street into an oasis of foodie utopia. The dining upstairs was very dim and on this occasion worked at their disadvantage because the colours of the dishes and those microscopic salad garnishes did not stand out. Although that was alright, trying to read the menu proved to be a challenge. Bala Baya’s concept is based on a sharing menu, with small and large plates, food comes out as and when it is ready and in no particular order. Their custom made pitta bread served as soon as our drinks arrived was delicious – warm, soft and fluffy. A very good complimentary dish. Bala Baya is new, the workers were enthusiastic, the place was sparkling clean but the food was still a little lacking in the Middle Eastern flavours that I was expecting. The basis and concept of the food is still Middle Eastern but with a touch of other ingredients that makes certain dishes perceived as modern and young. There isn’t of course anything wrong with it, just appeals to certain crowd. I enjoyed it as a night out where food is not the main importance but the atmosphere, convenient for us to get to, decent drinks and service were good enough that we concluded that it was a good night out, but whether we will return, it’s hard to say.
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020 8001 7015 020 8001 7015

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