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Dec 30, 2001 08:30 AM

The best Middle Eastern food in NY - Waterfalls Cafe on Atlantic Ave, Bklyn

  • s

We've become regulars at Waterfalls Cafe, on Atlantic Ave between Clinton and Henry Streets in Brooklyn, on the South Side of Atlantic, ever since we read about it here on Chowhound.

We can fairly certainly say the same thing about Waterfalls that we just posted about Sripraphai, the Thai restaurant in Queens, which is that we've scoured New York and every other city we visit for Middle Eastern food that comes close to the indigenous region. Waterfalls is the only one in the city that comes close. For those of you who love Sripraphai as we do - which is half the Chowhound board, it seems! - Waterfalls is the Sripraphai of Middle Eastern food in NYC.

Like Sripraphai, the decor of Waterfalls recedes into the background. Simple, white, almost decorless, but also clean. And the prices: Dirt cheap. We eat a ton and dinner for two is about $25, tops.

We keep saying that if Waterfalls would take the same food and put it a restaurant with in extremely upscale surroundings and dishes etc in Manhattan, they could increase the prices by 5x and be packed. Waterfalls has an open kitchen where you see their magic and fresh ingredients.

The salads are from heaven. Two dishes in particular we would say are the best we've had anywhere, including in the Middle East: the Fatoosh salad and the babbaganoush. The Fatoosh salad at Waterfalls may be the best salad at any restaurant in New York -- rivalled, we think, only by the Chopped Salad at the Greek restaurant Elias' Corner in Astoria, another favorite of ours and many other Chowhound posters. The babaganoush at Waterfalls tastes completely unlike any other you've ever had - a magnificent, smoky flavor. I don't eat baba anywhere else but here.

And the chicken quality - wow. Not only is it seasoned incredibly and grilled perfectly, with those georgeous charcoal lines, but each piece is of the highest quality: White meat chicken breast, which ethnic restaurants in New York can sometimes skimp on.

No we weren't paid to write this! But we do have an abiding interest. This restaurant has become rather empty, like others on Atlantic Avenue, since September 11. We're afraid that something could happen to our favorite restaurant if we don't start seeing enough other customers in there soon.

It would be heartbreaking to lose this all-time gem.

PS We've had Middle Eastern in every other restaurant on Atlantic Avenue and nearby. Not only are they not in the same league as Waterfalls, we don't even think they're good. To us, those others would also rate a distant second to several better Middle Eastern places in Manhattan - all of which still take a back seat, by far, to Waterfalls.

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  1. A bit of an indelicate question given Islamic dietary restrictions: do they have a liquor license, and if not, can you bring wine? I can't wait to check this place out.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Susan Marme

      We brought our own wine when we went a few months ago (right after 9/11).

    2. Oh, I definitely second the first opinion.

      A couple of weeks ago I went in for take-out, as usual getting tabouli salad, hummus, and stuffed grape leaves (all of which are fabulous). The woman behind the counter could've given me the grape leaves in the refridgerated display, but she asked me to wait a few minutes for the fresh batch. Dutifully, I waited--so very , very glad I did. It was, they were, perfection.
      The experience rivaled the morning I walked into Lassen & Hennigs and wrapped my hands around a blueberry muffin still hot from the oven.

      I live for those little moments of food perfection.

      1. Went on Sunday, immediately after reading your post.
        We had the combo appetizer plate for 2 $10.00 (totally divine, eggplant w/tomato - warm - and separately pickled in strips - cold - and as baba ganoush - which I usually don't like but this was too good, tabbouleh made w/ flatleafed parsley, blackeyed peas, potatoes in a spicy tomato sauce, squash salad, hummus, red peppers pureed w/walnuts, grape leaf, wonderful felafel, lentils...there may have been other items, all were the best), the kibbe labniya (square of baked kibbe -lamb and bulgur - accompanied by a bowl of kibbe dumplings in a warm yogurt/garlic/mint sauce, a fantastic combo of flavor and texture contrast), and the shish taouk - chicken kebab - with excellent homemade french fries and salad. Both main courses were $7.50 each.
        The hostess was totally charming and funny as well.
        We did bring wine, no problem there.
        We were given a portion of delicious baklava as dessert.
        The restaurant was more or less deserted (a total of 4 parties during the 90 mins we were there on Sunday afternoon), so please fellow hounds get out and support this joint!
        The food is to middle eastern eats not only as Sripraphai is to Thai, but as Poo Thai was to Thai back in the good old days.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Susan Marme

          It's so gratifying to post something here, then have someone then go and find the food equally fabulous. For the life of me, I can't understand why this place has so few customers - even before September 11th it was never crowded.

          The food is mind-boggling. The prices are jaw-droppingly low.

          So yes, please, please, please spread the word.

          1. re: Steven

            Yes, yes, yes!!! I'm going (w/husband) this weekend! Can't wait!

            1. re: Katerina

              Apologies--am kicking myself for not grabbing a takeout menu so we could remember the names of everything we tried (everything started with an "m" so got confused!). We bypassed their "vegetarian platter for two" in favor of some of their other items--delicate squash, walnut-pepper spread, lentils and wheat with fried onions. (In hindsight, wish we had room for the yogurt salad and had asked for lemon to squirt on the lentils.) Our kid's chicken sandwich was delicious. Spinach pie was fresh. Rice pudding was heavily scented with rose water and covered with ground pistachios--not to our son's taste but we parents loved it.

              Service couldn't have been more pleasant. To the Chowhound who brought the owners a printout of Chowhound feedback--you made their year!

              They recommend their grape leaves, stuffed eggplant, and shish-kebab. So we'll be back. Thank you Chowhounds for the recommendation--can't believe in all these years we never tried the place.

              BTW, the Turkish Delight pistachio candy next door at the Oriental market is around $10 a lb (they make it there) and is incredibly sweet and good.

        2. I was glad to return to Chowhound after a couple of weeks down south and find this thread praising Waterfalls, which I love. As an avid home cook, I enjoy experimenting with different ethnic dishes in my own kitchen. That I don't "play" more with Middle Eastern food I attribute to the proximity of Waterfalls. Not only is the food delicious and inexpensive, the service is as caring as a diner could want. I'll add one more dish to the list of worthy recommendations. The Lamb Spinach (or Spinach Lamb?). It's a very simple combo, mostly bright green spinach when I've had it, in a lightly seasoned lamb broth and lovely rice. It's come to epitomize comfort food for me. Just what I want when I'm bone tired, or on a cold day when I just can't get warm.