The Best Falafel in London
It’s an argument that’s as hotly contested as the results of the Pop Idol final were in 2002: “who makes the best falafel in London?” Ask anyone in the nation's capital that question and they'll likely have an answer which they'll believe in with a passion as strong and unwavering as Gareth Gate's gelled hair. That falafel fandom is obviously nothing new and people have been arguing over who makes the best falafel (and which nation invented the dish) since ancient times. Israel proudly claims falafel to be one of its national dishes despite ardent disputes from the likes of Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt. The food writer Claudia Roden cites that taameya (Egypt's fava bean-based version of falafel) was once enjoyed as the "food of the pharaohs" but, when it boils down to it, no-one's really sure who made falafel first.
Like the moment you start wanging on about whether Will Young's cover of 'Light My Fire' was actually all that on a Hinge date, getting into the argument over who invented the falafel is messy, emotional, and won’t get you anywhere. All I know is that – regardless of who first had the bright idea to deep-fry some pulses and drape them through a well of a hummus – falafel is utterly, utterly delicious and one of my favourite foods of all-time. Crisp and craggy on the outside and soft and steaming on the inside, a falafel when it's made well can be hard to beat.
Having been born and raised in the United Arab Emirates, I developed an affinity for the food that's stuck with me to this day. I like to think that's made me more capable than most of judging a great falafel from a subpar falafel. Then again, I'm also saying that as a very, very white man. Nevertheless, a good falafel wrap is something that always reminds me of home and I've made it my mission to try and find the very best falafel in London throughout my years of living in the city. I've searched high and low and I like to think that I've been able to get an accurate gauge of where to find the best falafel in London.
Whether you prefer a falafel made from ground chickpeas or one that incorporates fava beans into its mix, you're guaranteed to find at least one falafel shop on this list that satisfies your craving for a bronzed pulse patty that hums with flavour. From Netil Market newcomers like pockets to the Golders Green legends at Balady, these are the spots where you can find the best falafel in London, MOB.
Having operated in the Shepherd’s Bush area since 1999, Mr. Falafel owner Ahmad Yassine was one of the city's original innovators of the falafel wrap and his petite Palestinian joint is still responsible for serving some of the best falafel in London today. Wraps range from “budget-size” to “king-size” with the option to add everything from makdous, avocado slices, and crunchy fried potatoes cubes to ful medames and halloumi meaning that you’re going to need to keep coming back to find out what your favourite combination is. The falafel themselves are rotund, crunchy, and as enticing as the green light at the end of Daisy Buchanan’s dock. You won’t find a much better falafel in London, MOB.
Units T4-T5, New Shepherd's Bush Market, 15 Uxbridge Road, W12 8LH
There are six Pilpel outlets in London which means you’ve got six spots where you can pick up some absolutely banging falafel for when that deep-fried chickpea craving hits. The falafels from Pilpel resemble golf balls that have acquired a deep, bronze tan and come rammed into a soft pitta or container alongside silky houmous and your choice of salady bits and sauces. Pilpel’s falafel recipe, which was originated by owner Uri Dinay’s grandfather Zion, is a closely guarded secret. All I can tell you for sure is that it’s completely and utterly delicious.
Pockets, or the falafel artists formerly known as PittaFace, can be found serving pillowy pittas at Netil Markets on Saturdays and Sundays. The vegan-friendly falafel joint has already made a name for itself thanks to the sheer heft (and quality) of the pittas they’ve been stuffing and slinging to Hackney residents. The craggy, freshly-fried falafels are the obvious stars of the sandwich but it’s the accoutrements that come with those falafs which makes a visit to pockets so memorable. From the liberal dash of tahini and sweet mango sauce to the battered potato chip that’s thrown in for good measure, pockets know how to create a falafel pitta that zings with the requisite measures of salt, fat, acid, and heat.
13, 23 Westgate Street, Netil Market, Hackney, E8 3RL
Falafel & Shawarma
Falafel & Shawarma, as you’d expect from a restaurant with a name that also doubles as its menu, does not fuck about. Falafel wraps at this Camberwell icon will only set you back £3.50 but don’t let that fool you into thinking the quality is anything but supreme. Owner Mahmoud Alkhatib opened up F&S in 2007 with the intent of providing customers with immense value for money. The Syrian-style falafels hum with spices and rarely disappoint. Back in pre-COVID times, the move to make was ordering a few wraps and eating them at Storm Bird next door. Hopefully one day that’ll be back on the cards.
27 Camberwell Church Street, Camberwell, SE5 8TR
The boys at Balady know a thing or two about falafel. In fact, I’d say they know about a hundred or so different things about falafel with one of those “things” being the innate understanding of how to make a falafel that’s crisp on the outside and softly steaming with fragrant herbs and spices on the inside. This kosher falafel bar has earned a reputation for its fat, amba-drenched pittas and it’s worth the journey to Finchley Road no matter which part of London you call home. If you want to taste the urtext of a falafel – the brown and emerald blueprint to which all anaemic and soggy pretenders should attempt to follow – then you need to get to Balady. Stat.
750 Finchley Road, NW11 7TH
Green Lanes might be famed for its excellent meaty kebabs and Turkish ocakbasi restaurants but that doesn’t mean there isn’t still some really great falafel to be found there, too. There’s heaps of decent options in the area but Devran Kitchen is probably your best shout for vegetarian eating – specifically if you’re after their crackly, sausage-shaped falafels which come served on a bed of gossamer hummus. The falafels at Devran Kitchen are made with a combination of fava beans and chickpeas for a proper legume-y grunt of flavour.
485, 487 Green Lanes, Harringay, N4 1AJ
Chef Pary Baban is the woman you’ve got to thank for Nandine and, consequently, the woman you’ve got to thank for some of the best falafel in London. Unlike their more common chickpea brethren, the falafel at Nandine are lentil-based and are all the more special for it. Break through the dark, almost brittle outer layer and you’ll be greeted with a bright and piping hot medley of soft lentils that have been amply zhuzhed up with baharat spices. The vegetable mezze platter is a nice way to experience Baban’s dexterity in the kitchen but if it’s an unadulterated falafel assault that you’re after then the falafel burger or falafel wrap is the way to go. The former comes piled with smashed avocado, rocket, and mozzarella cheese. And, yes, it’s just as delicious as that sounds.
45 Camberwell Church Street, Camberwell, SE5 8TR
It’s amazing what you can do with some grounded chickpeas and a handful of herbs and spices, isn’t it? OK, maybe the bone-dry pulse patties you’ve made in your own kitchen aren’t exactly what you’d call “amazing,” but I guess that just makes it all the more amazing what restaurants like Bubala can do with some grounded chickpeas and a handful of herbs and spices, right? Bubala’s head chef Helen Graham grew up eating falafel in Golders Green and that inspiration shines through in the bijou balls of falafel served at Bubala in Spitalfields. Cumin, coriander, parsley, garlic and cardamom all make themselves accounted for in the aromatic mix with a subtle note of cinnamon adding a sweetness that rounds out the falafel's flavour profile. Enjoy with a soft and pliable handkerchief of laffa flatbread for one of the best falafel-eating experiences in the city.
65 Commercial Street, Spitalfields, E1 6BD
Imad's Syrian Kitchen
Imad Alarnab first made a name for himself in the London food scene through a series of pop-ups and supper clubs. Today, you can find Imad at Imad's Syrian Kitchen in Kingly Court divvying out squat balls of fragrant falafel. The falafel is a deceptively complicated item of food: a mishmash of pulses and spices that can completely fall apart if you overdo or underdo just a single element. Thankfully, Imad's Syrian-style falafels are perfect. Made from a mix of chickpeas and a treasure trove of spices (including a lovely almost-acid lift from sumac), these falafels are covered in a scattering of sesame seeds and arrive steaming hot on the inside. Order them as part of a hefty mezze and you'll be transported to a Palmyra of pleasure.
Top Floor, Kingly Court, Carnaby Street, W1B 5PW
Delis don’t get much better stocked (or much fancier) than Green Valley. As well as being packed with quality Arabic produce, freshly roasted nuts, and an arsenal of akawi cheese, Green Valley also has a hot food counter and bakery where you can get your fill of shawarma and manakish. Along with that tantalising selection of baked goods, you can also find some of the best falafel in London – large, rotund balls of blitzed chickpeas made all the more enticing by the blatant presence of coriander, onion, garlic, and spices. They’re not cheap but they are fantastically filling and destined to steal the show at your next makeshift mezze night.
348-354 Kensington High Street, Kensington, W14 8NS
Maoz is a no-frills open kitchen restaurant that’s been divvying out falafel for over 20 years. An antidote to the tourist traps that plague Soho, Maoz focusses on getting you in, out, and fed with as much efficiency as possible. Though that’s not to say you won’t be fed well when you do hit them up. Maoz’s eponymous falafel are consistently hot and flavourful and a reminder that if you toss ground chickpeas in enough spices and deep-fry them in vegetable oil they're capable of becoming one of the tastiest foods on the planet. The falafel plate, which comes with hummus and fresh mixed salad, is your best means of tasting Maoz’s falafel in its purest form but the option to have those balls coddled in a soft, pocket pitta and slathered in tahini and garlic sauce is often too hard to pass up.
43 Old Compton Street, Soho, W1D 6HG
With its multiple outlets spread across London, Hoxton Beach is probably the closest thing the capital has to a quality Shake Shack-esque falafel chain. Each stall is just as good as the next with the Hoxton Beach sign being synonymous with some of the best falafel in the city – a Bat signal for addictively crunchy chickpeas. Available in either a box or a wrap for around £5 depending on the size you want, the falafels at Hoxton Beach are taken to the next level by the liberal addition of their very own homemade hot sauce and pickles. Get yours with halloumi (because everything is better with halloumi) and watch out for when Hoxton Beach sells the falafels on their lonesome. 50p for a loose falafel is an absolute steal.
Honey & Smoke
When it comes to sit-down falafel spots where you can enjoy some deep-fried pulses with your closest friends, it’s hard to beat a big, buzzy grill house like Honey & Smoke. While that might not be an option just yet, you can still pick up Honey and Smoke’s brilliant falafel from the accompanying Honey & Spice deli or get them delivered to your door. What makes these falafels unique is that they’re made with butternut squash, cinnamon, and cumin. Served with delicious tahini for dipping, they’re a symphony of flavour and a great reminder that the ancient adage of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” isn’t always right and that culinary experimentation can result in some wonderful creations. Wonderful creations like the best falafel in London.
216 Great Portland Street, Fitzrovia, W1W 5QW
Golders Green Road isn’t exactly wanting for a good falafel but the folks at PITA have got a strong claim to doing the best in the vicinity. The filling-to-bread ratio here is always on point as each falafel comes coated in a handsome amount of sauce and buoyed by healthy portion of fresh salad. That balance of the elements brings out the best of the falafel without overpowering its subtle spicing. The pitta pocket at PITA is the purist’s choice and will (hopefully) ensure you don’t end up spilling tahini all over your trousers. As for me? You know I’m always up for a laffa.
102 Golders Green Road, NW11 8HB
This small market food stand in Berwick Street Market is home to arguably the best falafel in London. The falafel recipe at Jerusalem Falafel consists of more than 20 kinds of vegetables, herbs, and spices – a mixture that’s as green and comforting as the iconic awning above the stall itself. The combination of that bright falafel with silky hummus and ever-so-slightly spongy aubergine is a winner, MOB. Trust me.
2 Berwick Street, Soho, W1F 0QP
Hummus Bar was established in 2016 and it’s already established itself as a big-time player in the London falafel scene. And I’m saying that as an ardent and obsessive follower of said scene. The hummus might be the central attraction at this spot but there’s nothing better to dash through that unctuous chickpea spread than six hot, fresh and homemade balls made of – you guessed it – even more chickpeas. If you’ve got a hunger for something slightly more substantial, the falafel burger – composed of one big falafel patty alongside tahini, chilli sauce, pickled cabbage, pickles, red onions, lettuce, and tomatoes – would be a wise choice.
82 Golders Green Road, Golders Green, NW11 8LN
Falafel Zaki Zaki
You can find this Palestinian-run falafel stall setting up shop on Portobello Road in Notting Hill and Strutton Ground in Westminster. If you work or live anywhere near either of those locations then I am very, very jealous of you. The 'Whole Shebang' wrap from Falafel Zaki Zaki is just £6.50 and is one the heftiest, tastiest falafel wraps in the whole of London. Six of FZZ’s fiercely good falafels are slathered in hummus and rolled into a soft khobez flatbread with aubergine, fresh salad, and pickles. It’s a genuine textural masterclass; the crunchy falafels and pert pickles bouncing off the silkiness of the hummus in every bite. Is Falafel Zaki Zaki one of the best places to get falafel in London? Yep. Next question?
Stall 69, Portobello Road, W11 2EB
Having lamb kofta in your falafel probably sounds like the kind of mad thing you’d conjure up after a night out on the lash. However, having tried one of those for myself from Camden’s Round Falafel, I can confidently say that it is exactly the kind of mad thing you’d create after a night out on the lash. I’d give the meaty options a skip and stick to the tried and tested vegetarian falafel wraps with aubergine or cauliflower – they’re what Round Falafel does best and are the reason there’s pretty much always a queue at this Parkway staple.
Parkway, Camden Town, NW1 7PP
Located at the bottom of Leather Lane, Dukan 41 is an unassuming spot to grab some of the best falafel in London. The price of the wraps and bowls here are affordable and the portion sizes large. Although the wraps are, by just about every metric, a steal, it’s the falafel and fattoush salad that gets my vote as the essential order at Dukan 41. Order one of those for a reminder that a salad doesn’t always have to be limp and disappointing.
1 Greville Street, Holborn, EC1N 8PJ
Open from 11am-7pm every day, the Falafel King is a royally good vegan restaurant and takeaway where you’re guaranteed to leave satisfied with a handful of warm falafel sitting in your stomach. Having moved from Portobello Road to their new premises in Golborne Road, Falafel King have maintained their quality while only slightly increasing their prices. That being said, I’d still consider £7.50 for a falafel pitta to be a reasonable deal.
95 Golborne Road, W10 5NL
Abu Zaad’s ambrosial falafel are made from a mixture of the finest chickpeas and high-quality fava beans. Blended with fresh onions and coriander, that bean-y mash is then infused with chilli peppers, spices, and garlic before being fried in a fresh batch of oil and plonked down in front of you. I’m telling you all that because the one question you’ll be asking yourself after biting into one of Abu Zaad’s falafel, and after you’ve exhaled hot steam from your mouth like a dragon in a children’s book, is: “how on Earth are these so delicious?” And, well… that’s how!
29 Uxbridge Road, Shepherd's Bush, W12 8LH
What’s the secret ingredient to Magic Falafel’s dinky little fritters? 100% ground chickpeas and a whole lotta love. The emerald falafel at this Camden Market hotspot are completely vegan (hence the crowd of the tattooed and pierced you’ll find amassing outside of the joint) and always fried fresh-to-order. Make sure to order the pitta. Fresh veggies, crispy falafel, homemade hummus and tahini are paired with pickled veggies, topped with a variety of sauces, and served in a fluffy pocket of bread. It’s nigh-on unbeatable.
Unit 312-313, Camden Lock Market, NW1 8AH
Meza is a Tooting favourite where you can get your chops around amazing mezze and sample some of the best falafel in south-west London. The falafel are made from a mixture of fava beans and chickpeas and an assortment of fine herbs and spices; Meza even does a beetroot-spiked version if you prefer the insides of your falafel to resemble Barney rather than Baby Bop. Get them bundled in a wrap for a filling lunch or pair them with tahini sauce and pickles to construct the ultimate bite for yourself. You can't go wrong, really.
70 Mitcham Road, Tooting Broadway, SW17 9NA