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Ibby's Falafel Freehold

  • seal Jun 1, 2008 08:54 AM
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Cliff notes - Go soon and go often as we desperately need some good non italian, chinese, or mexican places in Freehold.

OK, call me crazy, but I just had to try them out so just before 11 am I found myself near the corner of Main and South St in Freehold getting takeout. Much like the owner's uncle's place in the east village, Mahmoun's, this is not a huge, sit-down kinda place, but they do have room for perhaps 20 or so patron's to eat in this bright, clean and new-looking place.

I ordered one falafel and one chicken shawarma sandwich, both with everything. As they made them we talked and I found out that they make all their pastries on premises so I had to try a Kanafe and a Namoura (I'll get the Baklava next time). I also found out that they are delivering locally and since I only live a few miles from town I am in luck.

On to the food. Both sandwiches rated a very good on the seal sandwich scale with plentiful, fresh lettuce, tomato and onion rounding out excellent falafel balls and tasty chicken. Also, the white sauce was authentic and good too. My minor quibbles were that they did not yet have any pickles (I am told that pickled radishes are coming) and that the hot sauce was the generic Frank's red variety, not that day-glow orange middle eastern variety found in the east village. I am kinda full, so I just tried one bite of each of the pastries, but that was enough to tell me I am in for a treat.

I am looking forward to trying more of them menu, especially the lamb shawarma, shish kabab, baba ghanoush, and the fatoush(lebanese salad). In fact, I think a sandwich with fatoush and either the falafel or the shawarma would be just about perfect especially when those pickles are ready...

Ibby's Falafel
4 West Main St.
Freehold, NJ
732.409.1234

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  1. Crazy? Not in the least seal! You are the best pal we Hounds can have because you are always at the ready to check out new possibilities for us. Sometimes you end up taking one for the team but, in so many instances, you have an experience that is worthy of a very positive review. Happily, this is one of the latter.

    We've never been to either of the two Mamoun's, in NYC. Yes, I know. That's a shock! But since you have, and you think Ibby's rates so well in comparison, that's good enough for me. I hope to get to Ibby's in the not-too-distant future.

    Btw, I presume the "white sauce" you referred to is tahini?

    5 Replies
    1. re: RGR

      RGR - yes, the white sauce is tahini. And I will surely be having some delivered this week ;o)

      1. re: seal

        Sounds to me like you are connected to Ibby's!!!

        1. re: skipper

          Lol - I read those posts this morning.

          But I have to take some of the blame, since when I was talking with the owner I told him about chowhound, but did not tell him the rules here on the boards. I'll have to make sure I do when I see him again.

          Back to food - I had them deliver some shawarma last night and the lamb was really good. As a fat guy ;o) the only issue I have is with the portion size. I would have liked more meat on my platter. When I get even a sandwich at Chickpea in the city it is literally bursting with meat. But it is still nice to have a good choice in Freehold.

      2. re: RGR

        I have been to Mamoun's in the Manhattan over 30 times, and the one in New Haven. I have 2 Mamoun's t-shirts. I went to a falafel place in Paris because Lenny Kravitz said in an interview it was the best in the world. Point is, I love falafel and shwarma. Nothing compares to Mamoun's, which is the Peter Luger of falafel. That said, I had Ibby's last night and I totally loved it. The falafel with hummus sandwich compared well to Mamoun's (although you need to add your own hot sauce), and the lamb shwarma platter as fantastic.

        1. re: CSmooth

          Mamoun's also used to be in Middletown,Ct. Broke my heart when they closed. Still have the t-shirt. I'm picking my Wesleyan-Mamoun's- Loving son at Newark airport on Sun. We'll have to visit. Thanks.

      3. On seal's endorsement, I stopped by earlier this week for some takeout ... an Ibby's meat platter with lamb shawarma and a chicken kabob platter, and a couple of desserts (baklava and another but the name escpaes me). The owner couldn't have been any friendlier. The lamb shawarma was very tasty but could have used a bit more meat. The rest of the platter included falafel (good, but were barely warm by the time I ate them at home), humus (good, but I'm particularly deferential to the garlic humus sold at the Wegmans olive bar), and baba ghanoush (also good). The humus and baba ghanoush portions were huge and I was not able to finish it all. The pita bread which had been warmed and wrapped did not travel well and were hard by the time we ate them. I had only a bite of the chicken kabob which was served over rice ... it was moist and tasty. The platters were around $11 each and, in my opinion, were a good value for the quality and amount of food. The desserts were both solid. I think I would have enjoyed the food even more if I had eaten it at one of the few available tables (its a very small place). Its nice to have Ibby's as a new local dining option.

        1. I live on the Shore and work in Jersey City. I go to Ibby's in Jersey City for lunch quite often. It's a beloved landmark there. When I drove through Freehold yesterday and saw the "Ibby's Falafel" sign, I had to stop and take a picture. My first thought was to show the JC Ibby's guys so they can sue the pants out of these people. I went inside to get to the bottom of these shenanigans. To my delight, I saw many of the same faces I saw in JC Ibby's during the work week. Turns out that most of that family live in Freehold, and they finally decided to open an Ibby's locally.

          We ordered dinner, and not surprising, it was the same delicious falafel and hummus that made the JC location such a popular place. As a bonus, the menu has a few more options than the Jersey City location, and the inside is much bigger!

          2 Replies
          1. re: Shu the Moody

            If the inside of the Freehold Ibby's is "much bigger" than the Jersey City location, then the JC restaurant must be in a closet.

            1. re: jsfein

              It is a closet. You can barely walk up to place your order. By my guess, Ibby's Freehold has about a 150% larger dining area than JC.

          2. My family and I just ate there on Friday and it was the best falafel we have had in the area. We live near Red Bank, and have seriously missed good falafel since moving from NY. I would recommend eating there without hesitation.

            I had the falafel with hummus. It was all freshly prepared and had nice garlic overtones. My daughters had a chicken shwarma, which was also nicely spiced with a hint of cinnamon.

            I will be there anytime I am in Freehold again. I just wish they had opened in Red Bank. Zaitooni is good, but not nearly as good as Ibbys. And Ibbys' was much more reasonably priced. I believe my falafel was $4.50.

            2 Replies
            1. re: manfredtex

              just had the combo sandwich w/ chicken for lunch. delicious. also tried the spinach pie. hadn't had that before and it was a little tart/bitter for me. Maybe it's the style, not sure. It was good but I can skip it in the future.
              I can walk to this place so it's a good, reasonable option for lunch!

              1. re: manfredtex

                What about the place in Red Bank on a side street? I've only have a sandwich there but thought it OK.

              2. I ate at Ibby's this past SUnday when I was visiting family in Freehold. The food was INCREDIBLE!!!! We had gone out for "fine dining" the previous night and it wasn't close to being as tasty and delicious as Ibby's. My mom and I both had the combo sandwich with falafel, hummus, baba, and lamb. We thought the portion size of the sandwich was just right for us. I will try to eat at Ibby's whenever I visit Freehold. I am jealous-I live outside of Boston and I WISH we had a restaurant that was this tasty. Good luck to the owners in this location!

                3 Replies
                1. re: heathermil

                  I finally got around to trying Ibby's for lunch today. As Seal correctly noted, this place is the real deal. I ordered the Falafel/Hummus combination platter which consisted of a small plate of hummus topped with tomatoes, some pickled vegetables, a drizzle of olive oil and four perfectly fried falafel balls (the portion size was a little on the small side for the price charged). The falafel was some of the best I've ever tasted while the hummus was fresh creamy and had just the right tangy/garlic flavor. I finished the meal with an excellent cup of cardamom tea along with a few spoonfuls of the "famous" rice pudding. The dessert disappointed slightly as seemed to lack any flavor save for what I thought was rose water. Otherwise evertyhing including the friendly service was fabulous and I intend to return to try out more of their extensive menu including the shwarma and a kibbeh special I noted on the front door. Thanks to my good friend Seal for posting about this treasure.

                  1. re: bgut1

                    Glad to hear you got to Ibby's. I've been going every couple of weeks now since they opened and have tried most of the menu. Most everything is good to very good, but I'm not a big fan of the desserts (but I attribute that more to my taste than the quality of the product).

                    1. re: jsfein

                      Just had jury duty in Freehold, and ate at Ibby's everyday. I really think the food is overall great. I enjoyed all of the desserts; especially the Baklava and Kanafe.

                2. Stopped at Ibby's today after grocery shopping and treated myself to a chicken shawarma to go, which was excellent. Enjoyed it very much. Service was prompt & courteous --- and I thought the portion size was fair value for the price.

                  Desserts in case on counter looked delicious.....maybe next time but I tried to be nutritionally well behaved on this initial visit :-)

                  Also I plan to try the lamb soon .....

                  1. This is music to my ears.I'd whined elsewhere about not finding a decent shawarma in Monmouthth Co.My place of choice has always been Hudson Falafel in the West Village (Manhattan.) Funnily enough I have just trimmed a leg of lamb that I'm using for some curry base and made some sausage with the bulk of the trimmings.It's put me in a Mediteranean frame of mind!Thanks for the tip.I'll make a trip this week.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: xny556cip

                      I just tried this place and unfortunately I'm sorry to say it did not quite meet my expectations,and it's really not thier fault.This place sit's in a prime position,smack bang in the middle of town at a major intersection.IMO for this type of operation to be great,they need quality food and a quick and constant turnover.Now i've driven through Freehold on diferent times and all I could sumise is that the footfall is sporadic.The place is clean .inviting and seemingly run by very ,very nice people with a varied ample menu.My problem is that the lamb in my shawarma was pretty much dried out and hence tasteless.It looked good,with crisp frech salad and moist pitta,but the meat had just done one too many pirouettes on the vertical spit and was tired.If you've been to any shawarma stands that are busy i'm sure you'll understand.These places NEED turnover.The meat needs to be just cooked ,tender,succulent and moist from its marinade and fats.That the only thing where this place fell down,but unfortunately it's crucial to a great shawarma.If this place was in my town I would give it another try (at peak hours),but I doubt I would make a trek again otherwise.If you are a local them I'm left only to amplify the good words of Seal "Go soon and go often" and help this much needed place survive and become great.The owners deserve it.BTW as a side note ,if you are ever in the U.K. I highly reccomend "The Kebab Kid" on the Fulham Road in London as for one of the finest shawarmas you'll ever eat.(In NYC see my previous post)

                      1. re: xny556cip

                        I agree and understand what you are saying but it is hard to expect a shop in Freehold to have similar traffic as a place in Manhattan or London. For me, I am just glad there is a place that serves decent "street food" that is somewhat near my home.
                        Speaking of London/England, I wish someone open up some sort of Britsih style fish and chip shop in Freehold, that would make my day.

                        1. re: yCf

                          Believe me when I tell you that i've been in many towns the size of Freehold and smaller in Germany,Holland,U.K etc.that have thriving shawarma businesses.The problem here is that they face a certain amount of resistence (much like Indian food) in the suburbs of middle class America,who are sceptical IMO to be adventurous in exploring the unknown.A shawarma is the perfect street food for starved students,that's partly why they are so wildly popular in Europe.

                          1. re: yCf

                            Interesting related reading :

                            http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddri...

                      2. Thanks for the find Seal. Finally got myself to Ibbys and promptly kicked myself in the nuts for waiting so long. This place is the real deal.

                        1. I have been to Ibby's countless times since it first opened and have enjoyed the food, each time. Usually, I get the basic falafel, which is about $3. It's fresh and far from skimpy. The Tahini sauce is great! Where can you get filled up with something that good for such a reasonable price?

                          Recently, Ibby's got a little competition from Oasis, another middle eastern restaurant only 3/4 of a mile away on 537 in Freehold Township. If you really want to appreciate Ibby's, try that one. The food is not nearly as good and the owner, who came out to say hello, smelled like he went in his pants. This immediately turned me off. His prices are also more expensive. He is an American guy from Keyport, who probably never set foot in the Middle East. At Ibby's, the staff is as authentic as the food. They know how to make the real stuff!

                          By the way, some of you mentioned Mamoun's. I wonder if there is any connection with the Mamoun's that used to be on Par Avennue in Freehold back in the 1980's. That one was in the building currently occupied by "Colors to Go" paints. They had awesome middle eastern food and probably closed because they were ahead of their time in the area.

                          1. First of all, you are all crazy. I don't know how Ibbys does it down in Freehold, but Ibbys JC is the best. All this Mamouns talk is cheap. Yes the family is related. Huge BUT, however. Ibbys JC is perrenially ranked #1 in NYC and its in Jersey City. Mamouns is a landmark the just like Gray's Papaya, John's and Rays. The Village Voice, the true periodical for the people always rates Ibbys as the best. And it is. The shawarma is unreal. And for previous poster, no one rated shawarma on a chicken basis. They barely exist in Syria, which I;m sure none of you know is the homeland of true lammy sammy. Maybe the Freehold spot has some catching up to do, but it is known in the NY metro that IBBYS JC is second to none. The same goes for italian. Most of the best ny eateries import their bread from Dom's or similar NJ spots. IBBYS JC even uses real lavender in their Baklava.

                            Peace

                            1. Wow! I wnet the other night, and I could kick myself for not going sooner. My husband and I had the platters of shwarma and kofte. We shared them and it was so super tasty and delish!!

                              I have been telling everyone about this place. All the ingrediants were just so fresh. Loved the beets in the salad, too.

                              If you have not been, I definately suggest going. SOOO Good!

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Angelina

                                So I tried Ibby's yesterday and I believe that it's just not for me. The reason why I am still posting a review though is because the place was clean, the staff were very friendly and other customers seemed delighted with all of their choices.

                                I would like to reiterate that, honestly, Ibby's could be the best of it's kind...I just wouldn't know.

                                I would suggest ,based off my experience though, that you do try it out. Everyone I saw was pleased and I really like to support local places.

                                1. re: stuffed_belly

                                  had a lamb shawarma last Friday.... yummmm.... $5.35 well spent.

                              2. Ibby's Freehold NJ was not easy to find.
                                Look for the Green Awning next door to Oyako Tsos Sushi and Hibatchi
                                Directly across the street from El Familiar and the Court House.
                                Parking for this restaurant is also a little but of a challenge. If you do not find street parking on Main or South, park behind Federici's and walk.

                                I have never been a fan of falafel, probably because I never ate a Ibby's!

                                Ordered a Falafel Sandwich to go. Well this was great, perfectly seasoned, no onions, great pita, fresh tomatoes and lettuce. Tahini sauce on the side.

                                The owners were really nice gentlemen.
                                They said they picked Freehold because they have been residents for 20+ years!?!

                                The best part of my take out was the Mabrouma aka Birds Nest - a baklava of sorts. thick, Soft, chewy, inside, Crunchy outside, twisted fillo dough, topped with walnuts, pistachio, almonds, and honey. Very Good!

                                Realized once I got home and read the menu, that they have spinach pie, a reason to go back!
                                Cash Only - ATM there

                                1. Ibby's combo with Falafel, Stuffed Grape Leaves, Hummus, Baba Ghanoush and Lamb Shawarma with hot pitas.

                                   
                                  10 Replies
                                  1. re: equal_Mark

                                    Looks great Mark. You got all the bases covered with that beautiful plate.

                                    1. re: bgut1

                                      You can just make out that the hummus and baba ganoush were topped with calamata olives and a little pool of olive oil...

                                      1. re: equal_Mark

                                        It is soooo good that platter!!! I love that hot sauce, too!! Upon request, but that stuff keeps my sinus' clear!

                                        1. re: Angelina

                                          They were nice enough to upgrade me to that platter for no additional charge the first time I was there. Wonderful surprise when I opened up the container. I think they saw I ordered a few different things and knew I was interested in trying as much as possible and they tried to accomodate me. I appreciated the hospitality greatly. Bunch of good guys over there. I think they're everything a local business should be and everything a chain could never be.

                                          1. re: jrd303

                                            Well said, jrd303!! I agree. Great guys and very much aiming to please!

                                          2. re: Angelina

                                            Have to agree about the hot sauce. Went for dinner and to my horror my emergency backup bottle of hot sauce I keep in my car was empty. I ordered the combo with lamb and asked for a container of their hot sauce. It is made on the premises out of mainly dried chiles. It has respectable heat and good chile flavor. So nice to taste chiles as opposed to salt and vinegar...

                                            1. re: equal_Mark

                                              Gotta respect a man who carries hot sauce with him.

                                              1. re: equal_Mark

                                                Gotta respect a man who carries hot sauce with him.

                                                1. re: joonjoon

                                                  I'm excited because my work is moving from Jersey City to Freehold. I had no idea I'd still be able to go to Ibby's! The best falafels! That was the best thing about living up north - that and inexpensive Indian food. I hope Freehold gets livelier.

                                        2. re: equal_Mark

                                          Mark's picture looked so good that I finally had to try Ibby's tonight......... I ordered the Mixed Lamb Shawarma Combo as Mark suggested and it was wonderful....so many great textures and flavors all on one plate & all delicious...WOW!!! Came with the Special House Hot Sauce that Kicks like a mule, ohhh sooo good! And the price is right ! Will be back many times for sure!!

                                        3. Enjoyed a very pleasant lunch at Ibby's today.....lamb shawarma & side order of falafel. Yummmm. Excellent !

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: bakersma

                                            I always go for the combo plate with lamb. Get the stuffed grape leaves, falafel, hummus and babaganoush with a couple pitas. Great dinner for under $15

                                          2. Had a great take-away dinner from Ibby's on Sunday night. 7:30pm Sunday, the place was empty. Ordered a Chicken Kabab plattter, lentil soup, and one each of the desserts. Chicken Kabab was good, lentil soup was delicous, but the desserts were not so good. Two different Baklava's I got were too dry and tasteless and the other thing that looks like shredded wheat was similar. All-in-all, good meal but did not rise to the level of Mamoun's, where I've gotten the same dishes many times. Hot sauce tasted exactly the same though.

                                            1. Just tried this place for the first time recently. Had the falafel, tabouli and feta pita for $5.00. What a great bargain and really delicious. I just happened to stumble upon this place as I'm not too familiar with Freehold and I'm so glad I did. Really good solid food. Can't wait to get back.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: dani0622

                                                Wife likes this type of cuisine - I don't
                                                Went to Ibby's on Saturday, we had combo platter ( with lamb )
                                                I like this cuisine now!

                                              2. I also have jury duty, and was thrilled to spot this place today on lunch break. I had the falafel and baba ganoush platter, which was really excellent, and one of the desserts (it looks like shredded wheat, with pistachios and honey-if someone knows the name please tell me) which I walked along the street with.

                                                My question: should I go back tomorrow, or is there some place in that area that I should not miss? I really do want to try some of the other items, so I'm kind of hoping that there are no other contenders.

                                                10 Replies
                                                1. re: igrove

                                                  El Meson a little further down on the corner is a great Mexican restaurant.

                                                  If you like thin crust pizza, Federici's is right on Main Street. I don't know if they do by the slice, though.

                                                  I LOVE IBBY's, too!! Sooo good!

                                                  Enjoy and have fun at Jury Duty..hee hee!!

                                                  1. re: Angelina

                                                    El Familiar is a better Mexican restaurant, or at least more authentic. They are also a bakery, so their desserts are great too.

                                                    1. re: Angelina

                                                      Thanks for the replies. I stuck with Ibby's, because there was so much I wanted to try, and I don't often get a chance to have this kind of food. So, the other day I ordered the sampler, which was way too much food for me, but I figured I wouldn't soon be back. Turns out, I've been assigned to a case which may run for a few weeks, so I shouldn't have worried! So, I'll definitely explore your suggestions. OK, Angelina, go ahead and laugh (: !

                                                      1. re: igrove

                                                        Now you've done it. I've got lamb schwarma on my mind...

                                                        1. re: igrove

                                                          Hi Igirive!! I won't laugh! I had jury duty there last summer, but thank God I was not picked!! (Sorry..)

                                                          Anway, Ibby's has always been consistant with their food, so you definately made the right choice. I think you have to ask for it, but they have a hot sauce they make that will really put you on fire! You only need a SMALL amount, but I love anything hot and spicy!!

                                                          Good luck on the case!

                                                          1. re: Angelina

                                                            Just to "bump" this thread since it looks like it's been awhile since the last post.

                                                            Went to Ibby's as a 'treat' after the first bike ride of the year, and I'm currently enjoying a superb lamb shwarma with hot sauce along with a side of falafel....all 'to go'.

                                                            The food is great, as always ! Good portion sizes; nice clean bright establishment; personable guys who take your order & prepare it, etc., etc. And I lucked into a nice wide parking space right across the street :-) :-)

                                                            1. re: bakersma

                                                              Thanks for the "bump." It reminded me that we haven't been in a while and resulted in us stopping in for a tasty lunch.

                                                              We didn't bring beer today (for the first time) and had their iced tea instead. Wonderful stuff! Perfectly spiced to match the food.

                                                              1. re: MGZ

                                                                never tried their drinks.. will certainly do that next time.

                                                              2. re: bakersma

                                                                Some of the best "house made" hot sauces in the area...

                                                        2. re: igrove

                                                          Been a while since this was posted, but I believe that dessert is called kataifi.

                                                        3. Finally made it here and thoroughly enjoyed everything. The lamb combo plate was a nice variety of well seasoned food. Especially liked the stuffed grape leaves which are not usually a favorite and the falafel.
                                                          Chicken kabob platter full of tender chicken along with yummy rice.
                                                          Tasty food and very good value, whats not to like. Will certainly be back.
                                                          Not much seating inside but with the nice weather coming, there are a few extra tables for two outside on the sidewalk.
                                                          http://www.ibbysfreehold.com/

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: tom246

                                                            We went last night, and I thought it was pretty good. I had the lamb shish kabab. The guy at the counter was nice enough to give me both the tahnini and tazekee to try because I didn't know which one I would like.

                                                            It's a great change from the normal stuff.

                                                          2. Stopped by Ibby's in downtown Freehold earlier this afternoon, only to find it locked and a sign on the door that there had been an electrical fire in the building ---- closed until further notice.

                                                            Small article in Asbury Park Press:

                                                            http://www.app.com/article/20100716/N...

                                                            Evidentally it happened yesterday (Friday 7/16) around 1:45 PM. You could faintly still smell the smoke odor out on the sidewalk.

                                                            Anyone know more ? Sure hope they're open again soon ! Had a real taste for a lamb shwarma with hot sauce and some falafel but I guess I'm out of luck for a while :-( :-(

                                                            3 Replies
                                                            1. re: bakersma

                                                              Oh no! Was going there this Friday!

                                                              1. re: tuxedo

                                                                Just called and they be open for business...

                                                                1. re: equal_Mark

                                                                  woohoo! thanks equal_mark!

                                                            2. I ate at Ibby's Sunday for the first time. Their taboulleh and hummus was ok, nothing special, I make better. The baba ganoush was bitter. Their falafel was good but nothing special, they need to improve their sauce, cut back on the lettuce in their sandwich. Their nomura, (galaktoboureko) was excellent. All their desserts are made on premise. Though I didn't think the food was outstanding, it was all fresh and the owners were friendly. I'm looking for food to pop in my mouth and for me to say wow, this is good. I didn't get that when I ate there. I would not recommend Ibby's for the taste of their food, only for the healthiness of their food.

                                                              1. Stopped by for a meal and took a pic of the (tiny) interior...

                                                                 
                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: equal_Mark

                                                                  Small space,...BIG FLAVORS !! .....very enjoyable dinner yesterday at Ibby's Mark...
                                                                  love the Lamb Shawarma & Baba Ghanoush.....Yum.

                                                                  1. re: Tapas52

                                                                    Like Ibby's, thought El Sham was much better but it is no more. Such is the NJ restaurant scene :(

                                                                2. I was quite surprised to visit Ibby's today to find that the name has changed to Main Street Falafel. I tried to elicit info from the guy behind the counter (he's been working there for some time) as to whether the family behind Ibby's is still running the show, but he was not forthcoming with info. The food was as good as usual and other than the name change I could not discern any differences (other than the addition of a slice of dill pickle to our side of hummus). Fingers crossed that things stay as good as they've been.