If you’ve noticed abnormally lengthy queues winding down St. Georges Road over the last month, it’s likely that they lead to Just Falafs. Nestled inside the former home of The Singing Whale, North Fitzroy’s iconic toy store, Just Falafs brings a much needed hit of modern Israeli cuisine to the inner north. Inspired by the falafel bars of downtown New York, mother and son team Teresa and Troy Christou have set out to create something truly special, thankfully for us locals, a little closer to home. The pair always wanted to go into business together, and spent almost a year searching for the perfect spot before settling on the vacant shop as the perfect location. As Troy explains: “My grandparents ran a famous bakery just down the road on Brunswick Street, and I always knew I wanted to follow in their footsteps. I went to school just across the road, and when we found this space we knew it was for us”.
If you do arrive to find a line, take this reviewer’s advice and don’t be deterred; this is a culinary experience truly worth waiting for. By the time you reach the door, you will be struck by the restaurants concentrated, malachite green theme, its exposed white brick walls and smooth, decorticated pine tables, typically occupied with deeply satisfied customers. With shelves lined with ceramic canisters and olive oil tins decorating the perimeter, Just Falafs’ modern and yet rustic interior evokes family feasts of childhood. This homely atmosphere also extends to the restaurant’s warm and welcoming staff. As the name aptly suggests, Just Falafs is about not taking life too seriously. As Troy explains: “For us it’s simple. We’re about creating great food, for great people”.
And the food here goes beyond great. Just Falafs offers a menu that extends well beyond Melbourne’s typical falafel joints. With mains served in either Pita or Plate form, the classic is a traditional favourite, comprising four of the tastiest falafels you’re likely to have in your life, pickled cabbage, an Israeli salad with tomato and cucumber, and generous servings of hummus and tahini. Fresh, light and vegan-friendly, this dish presents falafel, as it should be. For something heartier, the haloumi plate could not come more highly recommended. Featuring the staples of the classic but swapping out the salad for cauliflower roasted to perfection and the delectably fried cheese of its namesake, the dish presents a rich and dynamic complex of flavours that deeply satisfies. With a crisp and sweetly glazed baklava that’s to die for, you’ll also want to stay for dessert. For Edinburgh Gardens regulars, Falafs also offers takeaway DIY packs for four and picnic packs for two that are sure to please.
Testament to Teresa and Troy’s vision, they have already built a devoted clientele of repeat customers, of which this reviewer is now admittedly one. Proud of what they’ve accomplished in such a short time, Teresa laughs: “We’re just so happy to see the same faces coming back day after day.” A welcome addition to the Inner North’s food scene, it’s only a matter of time before Just Falafs becomes a culinary institution.
Feature Image Credit: Facebook