Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Pennsylvania >
Jun 2, 2005 01:35 AM

Felafel in Philly

  • f

Years ago there used to be a middle eastern restaurant on the corner of 13th and Pine in Center City, Philadelphia. Its name was something like Sabina's. This place served felafel and hummous sandwiches with the freshest sprouts and salad items. Unlike some other middle eastern restaurants, the felafel balls were not oily and the sandwich was not drenched in sauce.

I recently discovered that the restaurant no longer exists. Any suggestions for a good replacement either in center city (The Magic Carpet street vendor no longer is available by Rittenhouse Square), olde city, south street area, west philly or the western suburbs?

As a board item, how does one search for text without having to scroll down a running list of countless items, as they appear on this message board? For example, if you wanted to go to posts about Mexican food, it would be helpful for there to be a search field which would then list the various posts and their threads. I was able to locate some posts only be searching for them on google.

This board should require registration so that a poster can be the only one to post under their name and be able to edit previous posts.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. n

    It was called Sabra.
    As for the tech stuff, you might want to post on the site talk board so the moderators can see it.
    there is an authentic falafel place around 5th and south, was written up a few months ago. Search on

    2 Replies
    1. re: Newgirlintown

      Newgirlintown - I searched and it looks like the restaurant you referred to near 5th and south could be Marrakesh on S. Leithgow St near 5th and south. The 3 other Middle Eastern restaurants are on 4th and two are on 2nd near South St.

      Regarding doing the search for text, I discovered how to do so - I now see that it is on the main home page of chowhound, so my search for Indian food+philly brought me to the posts and information I was looking for. Otherwise, it takes much searching to scroll down thousands of posts that are not categorzied by food type, rather by subject threads as they occur. With so many posts coming in, I wonder if there is some other way of organizing this board so that one could locate one's area of interest more efficiently. As it stands now, I would use google with advanced search terms, such as "Indian food+philly" to locate appropriate posts.

      1. re: FelafelBoy

        instead of "indian food+philly" you might have better luck with "indian food+pennsylvania" since the word Pennsylvania is on every post on this board, and may people don't use "philly" in their posts.

    2. If you hit Ctrl+F, you can enter a search for items on this page.

      1. I recommend checking out Maoz - on South and 3rd. It's a Dutch chain, but it's actually pretty good! Warning: it's a hole in the wall and it's can be a mob scene on the weekends as people need access to the one counter to order, receive the falafel and put the condiments on it. The condiments are great - not only sauces but veggies too.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Mariarosa

          I'm not a fan of Maoz any more. I used to eat there pretty regularly: it's chaotic, and inconsistent, but at least cheap.

          What turned me off is that while their food is fine, their hygiene is really lacking. In particular, they allow multiple trips back to the condiment bar, which means you get people spreading the sauce spoon all over their half-eaten falafel. That's just gross.

          1. re: Corydon

            Yeah, I know what you mean. I used to eat there all the time when they first opened, but I have eaten there only once in the last 6 months. They rarely have any orange or carrot juice, their juice glasses have shrunk, they don't have the little cups anymore to put your condiments in (and add to your falafel as you eat, therefore causing the multiple trips tothe bar that you describe), and the lines are long. A victim of its own success, which is too bad beacause their falafel *is* yummy.

            1. re: Mariarosa

              Not having come into Center City/South Street for many months, my recent visit led me to Maoz due to felafel recommendations on this thread for that restaurant.

              Now I know what the posts refer to regarding this place.
              First the pros on this place - decent felafel and a choice of whole wheat pita as an alternative to white pita. What really makes this place special are the condiments that are numerous and rather unusual for felafel sandwiches - cauliflower, two different kinds of cabbage, including one with fennel. What I added to my sandwhich was the mango sauce, the hot pepper sauce (which tasted sweeter and more minty than the hot sauce I have had at Alyan's which didn't agree with my taste buds), the cole slaw, and some tomatoes. Due to the size of the sandwich (I had the smaller size with a small spread of hummous), I had to return three times to the fixins' bar to add some toppings to the felafel filling that was dry without it. I see no problem with "double dipping" as long as one makes sure he drizzles the toppings back into his sandwich without making contact with the surface of the serving spoon with one's sandwich. It really is necessary to keep on going back to the bar due to the way their sandwich is put together. The sauce just doesn't drizzle throughout the sandwich like what you'd get at Alyan's, which is the other extreme, that is wet ones.
              I passed on having eggplant slices added to the sandwich.

              Now the cons - the position of the fixins' bar is fine if there are two people in the whole place. But that same space is used by people ordering and there just ain't enough space to eat and serve oneself without feeling hassled or that you're getting in someone's way. I was there on a Thursday at 3pm, a time you'd think wouldn't present a crowding problem, yet there was one.

              I guess the cabbage thing is an Israeli touch. I'm used to the drier salad greens, cucumber, etc. that I used to get at Alyan's and Sabras.

              All in all, an interesting experience, and that mango topping was very delicious and blended well with the felafel, as did the green hot pepper sauce. But I'd only eat there again during very slow times.

              Some day I'll have to try King of Felafels at 16th and JFK and Mama's. I think there used to be a Felafel place on Sansom by Minar Palace, but with the construction having taken place, it may have moved somewhere else. I think Minar Palace moved.

              And last, some of the posts on this thread refer to a "search" that referred to the older Chowhound board before its software changed. Now there is little problem doing searches. That's how I found out easily about these felafel places one year after the initial thread was started.

              1. re: FelafelBoy

                Jim Leff said the felafel at Maccabeam Restaurant was really good, at 128 South 12th.

                Here's the link to his account:


        2. b
          Bride of the Juggler

          The other Magic Carpet truck is still at 34th and Walnut.

          There is a great new Isreali falafel place called Mama's Vegetarian at 20th and Market.

          Bitar's pita around 10th and Christian makes a great grilled falafel (not fried.)

          Thank you.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Bride of the Juggler

            Bitar's is on 10th and Federal.

          2. Alyan on 4th & South (on 4th next to Copabanana) does a pretty good falafel and has a nice greenhouse room in the back.

            1 Reply
            1. re: pilotswife

              Yes, Alyan's I am aware of. I did find Sabra's felafel and hummous sandwhiches better because of the freshness of their ingredients (sprouts and veggies), dryer (as in less oily) felafel balls, and lesser amount of sauce.

              At Alyan's, there is a reason why the sandwiches are wrapped as they are - the amount of sauce at times makes it a mess to eat. (Sabra's knew how to put together a masterfully crafted sandwich.) The felafel balls at Alyan's are of decent taste and the backroom is interesting to sit in.