Ibby’s Falafel has been dishing out fresh Middle Eastern platters, sandwiches and salads for 16 years in downtown Jersey City and for four years in Freehold. Now they’ve opened a third location in the heart of Hoboken’s Washington Street.
“We were the first in Hudson County to bring this kind of essence and flavor,” said owner Adnan Kwara shortly after they opened last month. “We’ve built such a great clientele. We had so many followers who wanted us to be in Hoboken.”
The right location opened up, and so did the store – but unfortunately, they will now have to compete with a rash of other falafel restaurants that recently opened on Washington Street.
Lunches cost as little as $3.
He said his product can outshine the others, including his mother’s recipe for falafel, which he’s been perfecting for 16 years.
Falafel is a fried chick pea product. “It’s the root of the chick pea,” Kwara explained. “You soak it in water overnight, until it’s soft. You grind it, mix it with ingredients, parsely, onions. We add a recipe to bring out its natural flavors.”
Kwara’s menu includes chicken, lamb, and the usual Middle Eastern staples and dressings such as hummus (blended chick peas), baba ghanoush (a spread made from eggplant) and much more.
But who is Ibby? Ibby is short for Abraham, Kwara’s son.
We recently stopped in to try the eatery’s lunches and desserts.
Amazing prices for veggies
Ibby’s menu has very reasonable prices. On a recent Wednesday, a special listed on a sign outdoors – two falafel sandwiches for $5 – brought in many customers. They were served what looked like a very satisfying plate. Falafel, fresh vegetables, and spices decorated the inside of a folded slice of pita bread.
The restaurant serves vegetarian sandwiches starting at $3 each. Depending on the ingredients (which can include combinations of falafel, vegetables, feta cheese, grape leaves, baba ghanoush, tomatoes, and sauces), the sandwiches can climb to $3.50, $4, or $5.75.
A vegetarian platter served with salad and hot pita bread runs from $7 to $8.75.
Salads, which can include fresh veggies, olives, feta cheese, and grape leaves, run from $7 to $8.
The restaurant also offers a list of side dishes. Try homemade spinach pie ($3.50), rice ($3.50), lentil soup ($3.50), olives, pickled turnips (homemade!) and pita chips.
Cuts of meat
Of course, the restaurant also serves sandwiches with chicken and lamb, meat platters, and the traditional kebabs.
This reporter tried shavings of chicken and lamb in a platter, and loved it. The chicken wasn’t dull slices like in a deli, but fresh baked pieces like what you’d have for holiday dinner at home.
The meat platters run from $10.50 to $12.95 and can include chicken, rice, lamb, salad, and spreads.
Meat sandwiches are less expensive, running from $5.75 to $5.95. The kebabs (skewers with chunks of meat, vegetables, and falafel) are the same price.
The restaurant bakes its traditional Middle Eastern desserts on the premises. They run from a mere $2 to $3.
Baklava – thin layers of phyllo dough, walnuts, pistachios, and honey – runs $2. They offer similar pastries with nuts and honey, and their “famous” rice pudding for $3.
Ibby’s is open seven days per week, with long hours – 10 a.m. until 4 a.m. Thursday through Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday through Wednesday. They also deliver and do catering.
Ibby’s in Hoboken is located at 614 Washington St. Call (201) 610-1300 for more information. For the Jersey City location at 303 Grove St., call (201) 432-2400.
Caren Matzner can be reached a firstname.lastname@example.org.