Home Food + Drink Ibby’s Falafel: Serving Jersey City Authentic Middle-Eastern Food Since 1996

Ibby’s Falafel: Serving Jersey City Authentic Middle-Eastern Food Since 1996

by Yiwei Gu
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The falafel sandwich — freshly fried chickpea patties, smoky tahini sauce, pita bread. Maybe a dollop of hummus, or a few spoonfuls of zesty feta. Simple, versatile, filling, perfect for a pandemic-torn winter night. Feeling the warmth radiating from the freshly made sandwich in their hands, few can resist the temptation to tear open the foil wrapper and devour it right on the curbside {don’t lie, we’ve all been there}. The sandwich has been the main draw of Ibby’s Falafel, since its Syrian-born owner, Adnan Kwara, first opened the eatery in Jersey City in 1996. It’s no surprise that it has become a go-to for locals. Read on to learn more about Ibby’s Falafel located at 303 Grove Street in Jersey City.

ibbys falafel jersey city

The Story

ibbys falafel jersey city

{Photo credit: @ibbys_falafel_jc}

According to local newspapers around that time, Ibby’s was then named Ibby’s Grills and Wings, and pizza and buffalo wings, both neighborhood favorites, were on its early menu. But people flocked to the small eatery mainly for its falafels. More than 20 years later, one can still see why these fried “chickpea patties” {that was how falafels were called on the menu at first} caused a stir. Eaten on their own, they are crunchy, nutty, mini-explosions of flavors. Stuffed in warm pita bread, the perfectly moist and consistent texture makes the sandwich comforting and delicious.

Read More: Pariwaar Delights: Authentic Indian Food in Jersey City

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For those serious about making good falafels, the key lies in the use of spices and herbs, often dictated by family recipes passed down and perfected through generations. Kwara had worked at his uncle’s Mamoun’s falafel shop in Greenwich Village since he was 13. Yes, THE famous Mamoun’s Falafel had since become a New York City culinary icon and a Hoboken staple. He mastered the craft of making falafels, as well as other Middle Eastern staples, and after getting married, branched out to Jersey City, where his wife grew up. 

ibbys falafel jersey city

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{Photo credit: @ibbys_falafel_jc}

Middle Eastern food was by no means a regular appearance on American eaters’ meal plans back then. In fact, Ibby’s Grills and Wings was the first restaurant in Hudson County that featured falafels on its menu. Acquired taste or not, good food spoke for itself, even before the age of Yelp and Instagram.

Eaters made the journey to this small eatery from Hoboken and North Hudson and asked for its famous falafel sandwich {The Star-Ledger called the restaurant part of a “culinary renaissance” in a 1997 article}. Kwara also revamped the menu, focusing only on simple Middle Eastern dishes.

The Menu

ibbys falafel jersey city

For enthusiasts of Middle Eastern food, the falafel’s stellar reputation may have, to some extent, obscured the merits of other items on the restaurant’s menu. The hummus at Ibby’s deserves at least the same amount of spotlight, if not more. The taste is well-rounded and smooth, never overly busy with garlic and lemon, a pitfall for many hummus recipes in North America. This, however, doesn’t mean it is bland. The subtle use of spices let the flavors of chickpeas and tahini shine out for themselves.

See More: Lil’ Dove Cafe in Jersey City: All About This Coffee Lover’s Haven

The baba ghanoush is also excellent, an exhilarating concoction of smoky eggplant, nutty tahini, and aromatic parsley. The ful medames are coarsely ground and generously flavored. The texture is to the thicker side, great for sandwiches.

ibbys falafel jersey city

{Photo credit: @ibbys_falafel_jc}

Meat lovers can also choose lamb shawarma, which is deftly spiced and slow roasted. The chicken kebabs are great too, marinated in garlic, lemon juice, and paprika and grilled to perfectly juicy and tender. 

Despite a major renovation more than 10 years ago that gave the restaurant’s interior a quaint, elegant touch, the small eatery {or call it a joint, if you wish} has maintained its intimate, no-frills vibe.

“You see guys in a little hole in the wall and they are selling thousands of falafels,” as Kwara once described “the best falafel places” in the Middle East to a local newspaper. True to its form, the restaurant has been repeatedly voted by locals as a favorite spot for casual eats and late-night snacks.

ibbys falafel jersey city

{Photo credit: @ibbys_falafel_jc}

In fact, it was when polling Jersey City Redditors about the best local baklava that Hoboken Girl learned about this small eatery. And surely, its walnut-loaded, rose-water infused layered pastry never disappoints {also, each chunk is huge!}. Pick up a few squares with your sandwiches and dips. It will sweeten up your heart in this moody cold season.

Follow Ibby’s Falafel on Instagram for food inspo and to keep up with the restaurant’s happenings.


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