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A bowl of falafel from Mr Falafel in Shepherds Bush Market.
A bowl of falafel from Mr Falafel in Shepherds Bush Market.
Mr Falafel

The Best Falafel in London

Herbaceous, freshly fried, and served alone or in fluffy pita

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A bowl of falafel from Mr Falafel in Shepherds Bush Market.
| Mr Falafel

Unlike hummus, the way in which falafel is consumed in Britain has not departed too far from the source: fried to order, and then eaten at a restaurant as part of a mezze, or wrapped in bread with tahini sauce, pickled vegetables and fresh salad, and purchased at a street stand.

It’s true that aberrations have emerged, with the rising popularity of veganism and health-conscious eating leading to baked shadows of falafel, mostly stocked in supermarket fridges. Perhaps more forgivable in sandwich form, they are pale imitations of the textural wonder that is a falafel, served hot, just bubbling in oil moments earlier. A cold croquette is unthinkable; perhaps a cold falafel should be, too.

The good news is that fried falafel is not hard to make, nor difficult to find in London. In wrap form, the bread is usually a generic khobez flatbread that does the trick well enough, holding the ingredients in place and allowing falafel’s trademark crisp/soft contrast to shine.

Most further innovations on the normative London falafel wrap begin with the choice of bread, and then abundant variations emerge in the choice of salads, pickles, and condiments on offer. When the falafel is great, though, it is probably worth just ordering a wrapless portion.

In terms of the style of the falafels themselves, a verdant herbaceous filling is usually the preferred choice for most lovers, and this Levantine version originates with the availability of fresh herbs. A spice-heavy, golden inside — ubiquitous in Yemen but also common throughout the Levant, can be an equally delicious alternative. In Egypt, meanwhile, falafel is known as tameeya, and is made with fava beans instead of chickpeas.

This diversity of style can be found across London’s falafel slingers, but the city could look outside itself for even more innovation when it comes to the filling. In Cairo, tameeya can come with a surprising chilli relish in the centre, and in Jaffa, falafel are sometimes stuffed with a mixture of slow-cooked onions, heavily spiced with sumac, that is usually found on the chicken dish msakahan. But for diners looking to explore falafel’s diverse forms, London is a undoubtedly a worthy place to begin.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Hiba Street Food

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10 Tottenham St
London W1T 4RD, UK

At central London’s only Palestinian street food destination, diners know they are about to experience good falafel when they arrive at the table with a golden hue on the sesame seeds. They have a flat and oval surface but enough soft depth in a centre slightly tinged with green flecks, whose flavour strikes a balance between spice and herb. The tahini sauce is bright and lemony, and together with the bracing hit of pickled green chilli from the accompanying kabis kar, a mouthful will pack a punch. Hiba serves its falafel either as a single dish, or in a classic khobez wrap.

2. Shatta and Toum

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103-105 New Oxford St
London WC1A 1DB, UK

The latest project from Berenjak founder Kian Samyani sees Saudi-born chef Shwan Baban design a mezze menu at JKS Restaurants’s revamp of Arcade Food Hall — with plenty of twists.  There’s a continually-basted chicken-and-lamb shawarma with an enticing saffron shine; a dramatically-presented babaganoush; punchy, garlicky hummus, and an original take on falafel. Using British-grown chickpeas and split fava beans from Hodmedods, the falafel are beautifully green and aromatic, with an abundance of coriander, mint, and parsley in the mix. They are thin and crispy, served in a bed of softening tahini sauce, and with a slice of lemon covered in a slightly smokey pul biber chilli, which merits squeezing on. Diners can also order in a wrap, but this dish is so well conceived that it is best ordered as part of a mezze. 

3. The Barbary

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16 Neal's Yard
London WC2H 9DP, UK

Some things have changed at the Barbary since it hit the peak of its powers around 2017, but the falafel have remained on the menu ever since. They are made in Levantine style with chickpeas, as well as parsley, onion, green chilli, cumin, garlic, and less-conventionally, cured lemon. They are plated on a bed of rich tahini sauce, with amba, and the Yemeni condiments of resek and zhug, whose respective red-and-green hues bely the gentle savour of the grated tomato in the resek and vibrant, herbal heat from the zhug.  

4. Falafel + oxford street

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134 Oxford St
London W1D 1LU, UK

Falafel street stands are commonplace across London. Often semi-permanent stores only open at lunch times, and the perk of this central London option is that it is open from 9am-10pm. The falafel have a good crunch and are spice-forward, with the flavors of cumin and coriander manifest. There is also a decent range of fillings on offer, including spicing it up with Le Phare du Cap Bon Harissa. One touch that proves that more thought has gone into this stand than many others is that instead of khobez, the falafel are enveloped in brown pita bread, which is kept warm and fluffy in a steamer.

5. Honey & Smoke

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216 Great Portland St
London W1W 5QW, UK

At the grill house from the Honey & Co. team, falafel changes with the seasons, with myriad styles entering and leaving the menu over a year. One such version diners can often find is the Yemeni iteration from co-founder Itamar Srulovic’s heritage. It is not made with fresh herbs, but rather with coriander, cardamom and a plentiful dose of garlic. Currently, there is a greener “springtime”  version on offer made with rocket, chilli and whole coriander seeds, served on a bed of tahini sauce with a pomegranate and tomato salad. 

6. Wowshee Egyptian Falafel Bar

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Berwick St
London W1F 8ST, UK

There aren’t many places in London to experience the Egyptian version of falafel, tameeya. Made with fava bean instead of chickpea, they have a more distinctively vegetal taste. These ones in the heart of Soho are quite flat, but have enough inside softness and outside crunch to merit an order. The flavour of broad beans is there, with an innovative touch coming from using dukkah as a coating, instead of the typical sesame seeds. Here, falafel arrive as part of a salad plate or inside a fairly soft pita, with Egyptian style grainy hummus, turnip and beetroot pickles, fried aubergine, lemon-pickled red cabbage, fresh tomato and lettuce, tahini sauce, chilli sauce, and the atypical but delicious additions of fried halloumi sticks and garlic mayo.

7. Pockets

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Netil Market, 13-23 Westgate St
London E8 3RL, UK

A visit to Pockets begins with that quintessentially British pastime of queuing. And here — unlike the falafel stands of Israel — there is order. The anticipation of those waiting is tangible, particularly as nowhere else in Netil Market has the same queue, and diners lucky enough to be in line can smell the fried falafel; watch the neat assemblage of layers; and listen to the music of Zohar Argov, just as they would in Israel’s Mizrahi markets. The pita bread is steamed to serve hot and everything is made in-house, coming together in a chorus of contrast: the textures of the pillowy bread and crunchy falafel; the flavours of the nutty tahini; sharp amba, and the fresh and herbal falafel. This is the best version of falafel-in-bread in London, and is definitely worth the queue.

8. Bubala

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65 Commercial St
London E1 6BD, UK

Bubala is a candidate for the best vegetarian restaurant in London, and amongst its more traditional Sephardic dishes, the falafel on offer matches up to the quality of the glossy labneh and silky hummus. They are herby and fragrant, served with the now classic dipping sauce combination of tahini and amba, and some piquant pickled onions for extra zing.

9. Balady

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39-41 Leather Ln
London EC1N 7UY, UK

There are plentiful falafel stands on Leather Lane, but Balady is the place to go in the area. Whilst falafel isn’t Moroccan, the Moroccan-origin Israeli Sabbo brothers behind Balady more than do it justice. Crisp on the outside, tender and aromatic inside, they can be ordered inside a fluffy pita with a range of fresh accompaniments. Moroccan-spiced tomato and carrot salads come along for the party, together with the usual hummus, tahini, chopped salad, and pickled cucumbers, and the less usual amba and harissa, if desired. The sprinkling of sumac and fresh parsley on top of the final layer of tahini that covers the surface of the sandwich adds freshness, in a small gesture that reveals the depth of care on show here.

10. Nandine (Camberwell Church Street)

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45 Camberwell Church St
London SE5 8TR, UK

Pary Baban’s vibrant, flavorsome and delicately-balanced Kurdish cuisine is a southeast London institution, a must-visit on Camberwell Church Street for its stunning kubbeh and pastries. Also at Peckham Levels, a lunchtime mezze box features a lentil falafel amidst its kaleidoscope of flavour and colour. Lentils are not usually the base of falafel but these are crunchy and delicious, and also available as the central piece in a “Kurdish burger” that comes with halloumi and a sweet chllli jam. 

11. Ahl Cairo

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13 Bell St
London NW1 5BY, UK

Another version of tameeya, here it is worth ordering in a khobez wrap, which, in addition to fresh salad and a vinegar and garlic-laced tahini sauce, comes with the surprise of marinated aubergine. The tameeya themselves are well-balanced, with plenty of spice and herb that doesn’t go too far and overwhelm the fava bean flavour. One major perk is that it is less than 100 metres from Edgware Road station and at £3.30 for a wrap, falafel wraps don’t come cheaper.

12. Noon Cafe

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Stall S45 New Market, Uxbridge Rd
London W12 8LL, UK

Among the rows of fabric shops, burning incense and Ethiopian, Filipino, Algerian and Iraqi food stalls at Shepherd’s Bush Market is a Sudanese place with excellent falafel: perfectly fried with a wonderfully satisfying crunch. The recipe is simple, just chickpeas; onions; garlic; coriander seed; and fresh coriander. This gives them a hint of greenness, and intriguing slightly bitter flavour. The sauces too, are so good that it is worth ordering a portion alongside a wrap. The tahini is rich and thick, the green shatta — made with green chilli, garlic, peanut butter and lemon — fresh and tangy, and the red shatta — made with red chilli, lemon and garlic — fiery but still bright. 

13. Mr Falafel

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15 Uxbridge Rd
London W12 8LH, UK

In front of the market is Mr Falafel: a place totally devoted to the stuff. One wall is painted as the Palestinian flag, the others hung with old photos of Jerusalem, and bags of Palestinian imported sumac and za’atar from Yaffa Foods take their places next to diners. Yet the menu is notably pan-Arab, with Syrian (with fresh lemon slices), Iraqi (with amba) and Lebanese (with fresh mint leaves) falafel options offered on top of the classic Palestinian version. The owner has tried to anticipate any possible combination that may be requested, and this results in an incredible bounty of choice. Served inside a khobez, the classic falafel wrap can be ordered in budget, medium, extra-large or king size (everything else can only be ordered in the latter three sizes.) It comes with a very generous amount of tahini, pickle and salad, and the falafel is well-balanced, expertly fried with a distinct chickpea flavour still present. Add homemade green shatta for its tasty, intensely hot kick.

14. Beit el Zaytoun

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15-17 Barretts Green Rd
London NW10 7AE, UK

At Park Royal’s best Lebanese restaurant, the falafel are texturally on point. Served with pink-stained turnip and cucumber pickles, and a well-balanced tahini sauce, they are definitely worth ordering as part of a mezze.

15. Anan

Copy Link
16 Playground Gardens
London E2 7FA, UK

Anan’s eagerly awaited pop-up at Rochelle Canteen was a triumph, and a fine prelude to its upcoming restaurant. The challah bread perfectly doughy and flavorsome from the addition of wholegrain; the hummus profoundly blessed with the essence of chickpea flavour. But perhaps the star of the show was so-called “herb-powered falafel.”  Indeed, it is hard to imagine a more herbaceous falafel, and the texture too, could simply not be improved. The layered dipping sauce of tahini with amba lurking underneath was a playful touch. Keep an eye out for its next move.

1. Hiba Street Food

10 Tottenham St, London W1T 4RD, UK

At central London’s only Palestinian street food destination, diners know they are about to experience good falafel when they arrive at the table with a golden hue on the sesame seeds. They have a flat and oval surface but enough soft depth in a centre slightly tinged with green flecks, whose flavour strikes a balance between spice and herb. The tahini sauce is bright and lemony, and together with the bracing hit of pickled green chilli from the accompanying kabis kar, a mouthful will pack a punch. Hiba serves its falafel either as a single dish, or in a classic khobez wrap.

10 Tottenham St
London W1T 4RD, UK

2. Shatta and Toum

103-105 New Oxford St, London WC1A 1DB, UK

The latest project from Berenjak founder Kian Samyani sees Saudi-born chef Shwan Baban design a mezze menu at JKS Restaurants’s revamp of Arcade Food Hall — with plenty of twists.  There’s a continually-basted chicken-and-lamb shawarma with an enticing saffron shine; a dramatically-presented babaganoush; punchy, garlicky hummus, and an original take on falafel. Using British-grown chickpeas and split fava beans from Hodmedods, the falafel are beautifully green and aromatic, with an abundance of coriander, mint, and parsley in the mix. They are thin and crispy, served in a bed of softening tahini sauce, and with a slice of lemon covered in a slightly smokey pul biber chilli, which merits squeezing on. Diners can also order in a wrap, but this dish is so well conceived that it is best ordered as part of a mezze. 

103-105 New Oxford St
London WC1A 1DB, UK

3. The Barbary

16 Neal's Yard, London WC2H 9DP, UK

Some things have changed at the Barbary since it hit the peak of its powers around 2017, but the falafel have remained on the menu ever since. They are made in Levantine style with chickpeas, as well as parsley, onion, green chilli, cumin, garlic, and less-conventionally, cured lemon. They are plated on a bed of rich tahini sauce, with amba, and the Yemeni condiments of resek and zhug, whose respective red-and-green hues bely the gentle savour of the grated tomato in the resek and vibrant, herbal heat from the zhug.  

16 Neal's Yard
London WC2H 9DP, UK

4. Falafel + oxford street

134 Oxford St, London W1D 1LU, UK

Falafel street stands are commonplace across London. Often semi-permanent stores only open at lunch times, and the perk of this central London option is that it is open from 9am-10pm. The falafel have a good crunch and are spice-forward, with the flavors of cumin and coriander manifest. There is also a decent range of fillings on offer, including spicing it up with Le Phare du Cap Bon Harissa. One touch that proves that more thought has gone into this stand than many others is that instead of khobez, the falafel are enveloped in brown pita bread, which is kept warm and fluffy in a steamer.

134 Oxford St
London W1D 1LU, UK

5. Honey & Smoke

216 Great Portland St, London W1W 5QW, UK

At the grill house from the Honey & Co. team, falafel changes with the seasons, with myriad styles entering and leaving the menu over a year. One such version diners can often find is the Yemeni iteration from co-founder Itamar Srulovic’s heritage. It is not made with fresh herbs, but rather with coriander, cardamom and a plentiful dose of garlic. Currently, there is a greener “springtime”  version on offer made with rocket, chilli and whole coriander seeds, served on a bed of tahini sauce with a pomegranate and tomato salad. 

216 Great Portland St
London W1W 5QW, UK

6. Wowshee Egyptian Falafel Bar

Berwick St, London W1F 8ST, UK

There aren’t many places in London to experience the Egyptian version of falafel, tameeya. Made with fava bean instead of chickpea, they have a more distinctively vegetal taste. These ones in the heart of Soho are quite flat, but have enough inside softness and outside crunch to merit an order. The flavour of broad beans is there, with an innovative touch coming from using dukkah as a coating, instead of the typical sesame seeds. Here, falafel arrive as part of a salad plate or inside a fairly soft pita, with Egyptian style grainy hummus, turnip and beetroot pickles, fried aubergine, lemon-pickled red cabbage, fresh tomato and lettuce, tahini sauce, chilli sauce, and the atypical but delicious additions of fried halloumi sticks and garlic mayo.

Berwick St
London W1F 8ST, UK

7. Pockets

Netil Market, 13-23 Westgate St, London E8 3RL, UK

A visit to Pockets begins with that quintessentially British pastime of queuing. And here — unlike the falafel stands of Israel — there is order. The anticipation of those waiting is tangible, particularly as nowhere else in Netil Market has the same queue, and diners lucky enough to be in line can smell the fried falafel; watch the neat assemblage of layers; and listen to the music of Zohar Argov, just as they would in Israel’s Mizrahi markets. The pita bread is steamed to serve hot and everything is made in-house, coming together in a chorus of contrast: the textures of the pillowy bread and crunchy falafel; the flavours of the nutty tahini; sharp amba, and the fresh and herbal falafel. This is the best version of falafel-in-bread in London, and is definitely worth the queue.

Netil Market, 13-23 Westgate St
London E8 3RL, UK

8. Bubala

65 Commercial St, London E1 6BD, UK

Bubala is a candidate for the best vegetarian restaurant in London, and amongst its more traditional Sephardic dishes, the falafel on offer matches up to the quality of the glossy labneh and silky hummus. They are herby and fragrant, served with the now classic dipping sauce combination of tahini and amba, and some piquant pickled onions for extra zing.

65 Commercial St
London E1 6BD, UK

9. Balady

39-41 Leather Ln, London EC1N 7UY, UK

There are plentiful falafel stands on Leather Lane, but Balady is the place to go in the area. Whilst falafel isn’t Moroccan, the Moroccan-origin Israeli Sabbo brothers behind Balady more than do it justice. Crisp on the outside, tender and aromatic inside, they can be ordered inside a fluffy pita with a range of fresh accompaniments. Moroccan-spiced tomato and carrot salads come along for the party, together with the usual hummus, tahini, chopped salad, and pickled cucumbers, and the less usual amba and harissa, if desired. The sprinkling of sumac and fresh parsley on top of the final layer of tahini that covers the surface of the sandwich adds freshness, in a small gesture that reveals the depth of care on show here.

39-41 Leather Ln
London EC1N 7UY, UK

10. Nandine (Camberwell Church Street)

45 Camberwell Church St, London SE5 8TR, UK

Pary Baban’s vibrant, flavorsome and delicately-balanced Kurdish cuisine is a southeast London institution, a must-visit on Camberwell Church Street for its stunning kubbeh and pastries. Also at Peckham Levels, a lunchtime mezze box features a lentil falafel amidst its kaleidoscope of flavour and colour. Lentils are not usually the base of falafel but these are crunchy and delicious, and also available as the central piece in a “Kurdish burger” that comes with halloumi and a sweet chllli jam. 

45 Camberwell Church St
London SE5 8TR, UK

11. Ahl Cairo

13 Bell St, London NW1 5BY, UK

Another version of tameeya, here it is worth ordering in a khobez wrap, which, in addition to fresh salad and a vinegar and garlic-laced tahini sauce, comes with the surprise of marinated aubergine. The tameeya themselves are well-balanced, with plenty of spice and herb that doesn’t go too far and overwhelm the fava bean flavour. One major perk is that it is less than 100 metres from Edgware Road station and at £3.30 for a wrap, falafel wraps don’t come cheaper.

13 Bell St
London NW1 5BY, UK

12. Noon Cafe

Stall S45 New Market, Uxbridge Rd, London W12 8LL, UK

Among the rows of fabric shops, burning incense and Ethiopian, Filipino, Algerian and Iraqi food stalls at Shepherd’s Bush Market is a Sudanese place with excellent falafel: perfectly fried with a wonderfully satisfying crunch. The recipe is simple, just chickpeas; onions; garlic; coriander seed; and fresh coriander. This gives them a hint of greenness, and intriguing slightly bitter flavour. The sauces too, are so good that it is worth ordering a portion alongside a wrap. The tahini is rich and thick, the green shatta — made with green chilli, garlic, peanut butter and lemon — fresh and tangy, and the red shatta — made with red chilli, lemon and garlic — fiery but still bright. 

Stall S45 New Market, Uxbridge Rd
London W12 8LL, UK

13. Mr Falafel

15 Uxbridge Rd, London W12 8LH, UK

In front of the market is Mr Falafel: a place totally devoted to the stuff. One wall is painted as the Palestinian flag, the others hung with old photos of Jerusalem, and bags of Palestinian imported sumac and za’atar from Yaffa Foods take their places next to diners. Yet the menu is notably pan-Arab, with Syrian (with fresh lemon slices), Iraqi (with amba) and Lebanese (with fresh mint leaves) falafel options offered on top of the classic Palestinian version. The owner has tried to anticipate any possible combination that may be requested, and this results in an incredible bounty of choice. Served inside a khobez, the classic falafel wrap can be ordered in budget, medium, extra-large or king size (everything else can only be ordered in the latter three sizes.) It comes with a very generous amount of tahini, pickle and salad, and the falafel is well-balanced, expertly fried with a distinct chickpea flavour still present. Add homemade green shatta for its tasty, intensely hot kick.

15 Uxbridge Rd
London W12 8LH, UK

14. Beit el Zaytoun

15-17 Barretts Green Rd, London NW10 7AE, UK

At Park Royal’s best Lebanese restaurant, the falafel are texturally on point. Served with pink-stained turnip and cucumber pickles, and a well-balanced tahini sauce, they are definitely worth ordering as part of a mezze.

15-17 Barretts Green Rd
London NW10 7AE, UK

15. Anan

16 Playground Gardens, London E2 7FA, UK

Anan’s eagerly awaited pop-up at Rochelle Canteen was a triumph, and a fine prelude to its upcoming restaurant. The challah bread perfectly doughy and flavorsome from the addition of wholegrain; the hummus profoundly blessed with the essence of chickpea flavour. But perhaps the star of the show was so-called “herb-powered falafel.”  Indeed, it is hard to imagine a more herbaceous falafel, and the texture too, could simply not be improved. The layered dipping sauce of tahini with amba lurking underneath was a playful touch. Keep an eye out for its next move.

16 Playground Gardens
London E2 7FA, UK

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