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Jimmy's Falafel

  • Restaurants
  • Sydney
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
  1. Jimmy's Falafel  (Photograph: Supplied)
    Photograph: Supplied
  2. Jimmy’s falafel food overview (Photograph: Nikki To)
    Photograph: Nikki To
  3. Jimmy’s falafel baklava (Photograph: Nikki To)
    Photograph: Nikki To
  4. Jimmy’s falafel chip pita (Photograph: Nikki To)
    Photograph: Nikki To
  5. Jimmy's Falafel falafel plate (Photograph: Nikki To)
    Photograph: Nikki To
  6. Jimmy’s falafel wrap (Photograph: Nikki To)
    Photograph: Nikki To
  7. Jimmy’s falafel kitchen (Photograph: Nikki To)
    Photograph: Nikki To
  8. Jimmy’s falafel interior (Photograph: Nikki To)
    Photograph: Nikki To

Time Out says

5 out of 5 stars

The CBD’s favourite falafel house has moved down the street, but the all-hours mezze mecca has lost none of its old-school charm

When a restaurant in Sydney stays open until 2am, it feels a little shameful to head over for a 6pm reservation. But honestly it doesn’t really matter when you go to Jimmy’s Falafel – you’ll most likely lose track of the time anyway. Not to mention which country you’re in and what decade it is.

The first thing you’ll notice when you enter is the décor: the giant dining room is a ’70s throwback, complete with a glimmering disco ball, coppertone fittings, and walls plastered with vintage posters from old Middle Eastern movies, concerts and tourist boards. It’s loud and chaotic. Hurried waitstaff navigate tight alleys between tables, excited diners shout over mezze-packed platters, and the playlist blasts out old-school beats.

But amid the disorder there runs a tight ship. A dozen or so blue-capped chefs whizz round the small square kitchen and toss ingredients over open flames and under boiling oil. The food is out fast – 130 customers are attentively served with thoughtful recommendations and ready-to-go veggie variations on meaty menu items.

Jimmy – whose face adorns the walls, menu, coasters and staff tees (captioned “Jimmy For President”) – isn’t the owner or someone who works here. He’s a friend of Merivale CEO Justin Hemmes. The restaurant is steered instead by head chef Simon Zalloua and Alex Verhovtsev, whose visits to Lebanon, Jordan and the UAE helped inspire the Middle Eastern menu.

In March, Jimmy’s Falafel moved 18 doors down George Street from its OG three-year-old shop, into Merivale’s now-sprawling ‘Ivy Precinct’. The upgrade means everything is a bit bigger than before: specifically, more wines, more cocktails and 50 more customers at a time.

Now to the star of the show – the falafel. An order comes as a pile of seven, heaped onto an oval metal plate with a pot of tahini and parsley. To say these are the best falafel in Sydney would be to overlook the city’s vast scores of Middle Eastern eateries that’d take a lifetime to taste-test. But they’re bloody good. Zalloua said it took him three months and 50 kilos of ingredients to perfect the recipe. The shell is dark and crisp, speckled with sesames; the inside fluffy, moist and spilling steam. Equally exquisite solo, wrapped in pita, or doused with oil-streaked tahini, this is the only plausible way to start your meal.

The 14-item mezze list is a mix of the familiar and unknown, most of which arrive in a shallow pool of olive oil. Dishes like the labne, baba ganoush and hummus (which comes topped with a cluster of whole chickpeas and a twist of sweet pickle relish) are safe bets. Less familiar is the Village Cheese, a plate of Middle Eastern variants on feta and halloumi, with subtle, salty flavours and a healthy scattering of peppery nigella seeds. Also worth a try is ‘Mum’s Zucchini Salad’, a fresh, juicy medley that combines soft chunks of sweet tomato and zucchini with Lebanese seven spice, as a nod to Zalloua’s mother’s homestyle cooking.

It's Zalloua’s father, though, whose whole homemade spit-roasted lamb inspired the new signature main. Jimmy’s Famous Lamb is designed to be shared between three or more guests, with grilled lamb shoulder and belly served with vermicelli-bulgur pilaf and cucumber yoghurt. Elsewhere on the ‘Lebachi Grill’ are chicken and lamb kafta shish, calamari and lamb merguez skewer (a row of salty, spicey sausages over smashed potatoes), while you can pay a few dollars more for whole snapper, whole chicken, or Wagyu kusbasi steak.

With bellies stuffed with mounds of mezze and skewer-loads of meats, don’t make the mistake of passing on dessert.

The baklava is served with a hefty steak knife, and spills stretchy Middle Eastern ice cream upon cutting. Fragrant, with generous scatterings of pistachio and walnut, it’s a firm, dry pastry, with ice cream inventively built into the filo layers to moisten and sweeten each mouthful. It’s one-upped only by the coffee-soaked dates, which, barely visible bobbing in a pool of bitter coffee sauce and smooth coconut sorbet, gently disintegrate inside a bite, and leave you with the perfect final flavour.

Jimmy’s Falafel also has a separate takeaway menu, an even smaller late-night menu (from 11pm), and a yet smaller late-night takeaway menu. So, whether you’re eating out, ordering in, or dining kerbside, Jimmy’s new joint has picked up where it left off, offering authentic Middle Eastern dishes, very reasonable prices, and – OK, let’s just say it – the best falafel in town.


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Written by
Hugo Mathers


330D George St
Opening hours:
Mon-Wed 11.30am-midnight; Thu-Fri 11.30am-2am; Sat noon-2am; Sun noon-10pm
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