Mystery Diner: Safta’s Restaurant: food, fun, friends

Safta means “grandmother” in Hebrew and some of the recipes have been handed down from the owner’s safta.

Safta’s Middle Eastern Restaurant started out as a falafel cart at the farmers’ markets and at the main intersection in Invermere, followed by a summer-only venue in Radium Hot Springs. Safta’s latest venue, a restaurant in Invermere, is located in a lovely 1920s heritage home. The people running it are warm and inviting… we were greeted like regulars upon arrival and the service was excellent.

It was packed on a Thursday evening, full of young families, senior couples and everything in between. It was noisy, but in a good, cheerful way.

Safta means “grandmother” in Hebrew and some of the recipes have been handed down from the owner’s safta. The menu offers both Middle Eastern and Western classics.

Of course, for many, their falafel is an all-time favourite ordered on many occasions. However, on this fine evening, it was going to be the chicken shawarma plate. The chicken goes perfectly with just about the best hummus ever and a really nice tahini sauce. It includes pita bread, pickles (the magenta bits are pickled turnip direct from Israel!) and several sides to choose from. Feeling virtuous, I chose a double helping of the fresh, light salad. There was a lot of food! A very generous plate is an understatement. Orders delivered to surrounding tables looked to be very generous too. The one thing that could be improved is the limited selection of wine by the glass (there was only one red and one white available) — and if only the pita bread was more like my own grandmother used to make. Overall, though, it was delicious, fresh and nutritious.

When people think of Middle Eastern food, they rarely think burgers, but ground lamb has always been a favoured meat in the Middle East. Beef burgers are great but, every once in a while, you might want something different. Try their lamb burger — it was meaty and juicy, with aromatic spices. It’s a full meal on a plate served with a choice of side. The salad was selected and, again, it was great.

Sunday is Jam Night featuring live music and great deals on beer and wings. Friday nights often feature live music too.

It’s hard to believe there’s good Middle Eastern food in a small town like Invermere. Safta’s is a nice, casual place with tasty choices and good value in a friendly atmosphere. The patio in front of the restaurant should be a wonderful spot to experience a bit more of the menu this summer.

Safta’s is located at 1321 on 7th Avenue in downtown Invermere.