When it comes to street food, burgers, pizza and pulled pork get all the press and cult followings; but what about falafel? The debate on where it originated may carry on, but falafel has spread across the world, filling the gap for hearty, healthy, fast-food. Here are five of the best places to get your falafel fix in London.
As a child, the owner of Pilpel (which means chilli pepper) used to watch his grandfather making falafel using the family recipe, and knew that he would continue on with the tradition. The menu may be small, but the best things aren’t determined by quantity — the queues that form at lunchtime indicate just how popular it is. Choices include the classic Pilpel family recipe falafel as well as Greek falafel, Mediterranean falafel, salad boxes, and guacamole.
Nana Fanny’s Salt Beef & Falafel, London | Courtesy Falafel City
Established by the owners with the aim of bringing their Nana’s salt beef recipe to London, Nana Fanny’s is now just as well known for its falafel. They claim to be the best in the capital and many Londoners seem to agree, as they are repeatedly voted as such by various London-based websites. With both vegetarian and vegan options, their falafel is served with salted pickles, lettuce, and tomatoes and tightly wrapped in a Lebanese style flat bread with home-made chilli sauce. You can find them at various markets across the capital.
Things started for this north London falafel restaurant when the founder tried the falafel his wife made and realised she had created a really good thing. So he left his job at PricewaterhouseCoopers, got together a group of friends, and set up Falafel City. There are two sorts of falafel on the menu – classic (chickpea and fava beans), and sweet potato, which are served with sauces inspired from around the globe from soya mayonnaise, herbs and mustard seeds of Paris, to the smoked paprika, chipotle chillies, and garlic of Rio.
At a first glance, Mr Falafel may appear to be a simple, no-frills establishment with brightly coloured plastic tables. But the queue that forms outside is a testament to how good their Palestinian falafel is. It’s cheap (between £4.50 – £6.50), it’s hearty, and there is a choice of 11 wraps including the supreme plus falafel wrap consisting of avocado, halloumi, humus, olives, fried aubergine, tomatoes, mint, tahini, and pomegranate syrup.
Run by Sam and Eamon, who grew up on the streets of Jerusalem eating falafel, ChikP is a market stall that serves up fresh Middle Eastern falafel using an old family recipe. Wrapped in flat bread or simply as a salad box, the falafel comes with the option of red cabbage, gherkins, salad, and pickled turnips coloured with beetroot juice. ChikP doesn’t have a permanent location but they can be found at various markets including Shepherd’s Bush Market and St Katherine’s Dock.