Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
Jun 21, 2004 04:35 PM


  • d

I was in Israel last month, and I'm craving the falafel I had there. We just moved to San Francisco... any suggestions for falafel stands?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. o
    oakland veggie girl

    There is a very good falafel in Berkley, on Solano. Maybe someone else knows the name, but it is on the corner, in the back of a small shop selling Middle Eastern / Indian groceries with a few tables. Coming from The Alameda, you'd go down Solano, maybe about eight blocks or so and it would be on your near corner (if you look on every corner, you definitely can't miss it).

    If you want to stay closer to home, there's not too bad falafel on 24th, between Valencia and Bartlett (on the Cafe Boheme side), and they also have excellent, if slightly expensive, Turkish coffee there too.

    11 Replies
    1. re: oakland veggie girl

      The one on Solano (in Albany, not Berkeley) is called Sophia Cafe, and it is good. It's run by Israelis (closed on Saturdays).

      Also, for other East Bay falafels, Holy Land on College at Ashby in Elmwood (and a branch near Grand Lake in Oakland) is really good. Also closed Saturdays. Besides the delicious falafel sandwich, which is served in pita with abundant tahini and cabbage and onions (or you can get a falafel plate with a couple of salads), the Yemenite Malawah is to die for. It's like a cross between a pancake and a croissant, but the subtle sweetness of the dough is offset by the tomato-garlic "salsa" and the green chimichurri-like homemade hot sauce it's served with. Yum!

      Good luck...

      1. re: Alexandra
        Robert Lauriston

        I think oakland veggie girl's talking about Zand's, also on a corner, also makes very good falafels.

        I wasn't wild about the food at Sophia. Holy Land's still my favorite.

        1. re: Robert Lauriston
          oakland veggie girl

          zand's is the place i was referring to; thank you robert. very good. but oy, how could i forget about holy land. glad someone's on the ball!

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            I also love Holy Land. I was heartbroken when my daughter graduated from preschool and took me out of that neighborhood.

          2. re: Alexandra

            I thnk Holy Land is better (and much fresher) than any falafel I've had in San Francisco. The mint lemonade alone is worth the drive over the bridge, and the pickled veggies are so good.

            Truly Med's schwarma's better than their falafel.

            1. re: Alexandra

              I second Sophia Cafe. I live in the neighborhood and have found the staff friendly and the atmosphere inviting. In too many instances the Zand owner's businesslike manner comes across as cold and her employees seem melancholy.

              1. re: bunnysitter

                The people at Zand are always friendly to us and I much prefer their falafels to Sophia Cafe's.

                1. re: bunnysitter

                  I went into Zand to buy some (very good) yogurt and the employee did indeed seem melancholy.

                  I've noticed that the cafe next to Cafe Raj lower down on Solano sells sandwiches, including falafel, has anyone tried it?

                  1. re: Glencora

                    Eunice Gourmet? If that's it the only thing I get there is the Latest Scoop gelato.

                  2. re: bunnysitter


                    The site has an old Oakland Tribune review that tells the story of owner Moniar Attar (her married name was Zand). After running a pastry shop in Iran for over a decade, in 1979 the government demanded all woman in the shop to veil themselves. Attar refused and the shop was closed by the officials. She decided to move her family to the United States where she opened Zand in 1988.

                    Anyway, I've always found them helpful if not chatty.

                    I wonder if the new place on Solano, Saffron gourmet will sell falafel.

                2. re: oakland veggie girl

                  Are you thinking of Zand's? Mrs. Zand is Persian but has lots of Israeli canned goods and quite tasty Persian food. Plus falafel. On the other hand, the Jerusalem Organic at Solano and the Alameda is run by an very sweet Arab guy from Jerusalem. I'm not one of the falafel cognosenti, but most of his food is very good. And then there is the Sophia Cafe, run by Israelis, kosher as far as I can tell.

                3. r
                  Robert Lauriston

                  Just Like Home at 1924 Irving near 20th Av.

                  Truly Mediterranean at 3109 16th St. near Valencia.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    I second Truly Med. On Tuesday's and Fridays they do Schwermas as well - MMMMM!

                    There is another one located in North Beach, though I've only heard it falls a tad short of the Mission location.

                    1. re: Dennis S
                      Robert Lauriston

                      Truly Mediterranean has schawerma every day. At the 16th St. branch, on Tuesdays and Fridays it's chicken with yogurt sauce, other days it's a mix of lamb and beef with tahini sauce. At the other branches, both are available every day.

                      1. re: Dennis S

                        In the two and a half years this topic was dormant, the North Beach and Berkeley branches closed.

                      2. re: Robert Lauriston

                        Just Like Home is the vilest Middle Eastern food I've ever encountered.

                        1. re: Poot
                          Robert Lauriston

                          I've never had anything there but plain falafels, which were great.

                        2. re: Robert Lauriston

                          What about Sunrise Deli out near Just Like Home? I really like their falafels.

                          Sunrise Deli & Cafe
                          2115 Irving St
                          San Francisco


                        3. I just finished off a falafel from Oasis Grill in the financial district (Sacramento and Drumm). Their is done in the lavash-wrap style: well-spiced falafel with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber relish, tahini and hummus (and harissa if you specify "spicy"), wrapped in lavash and warmed on the grill for a minute.

                          1. Sabra Grill's is outstanding. Very fresh and flavorful. On Grant near Bush.

                            1. My very favorite is in Palo Alto, on California. Mediterranean Wraps. The falafel is excellent, as is the schwarma and anything else you could want. And the wrap with falafel is HUGE! Get it w/ roasted eggplant. Yum...I miss working in PA because I never go there anymore, but it's definitely worth a visit if you're at all nearby.

                              9 Replies
                              1. re: wlw18

                                I agree! Mediterranean Wraps has the best falafel I’ve tried in the Bay Area. It’s moist and perfectly spiced. Plus the owners are super friendly. Definitely worth a trip!

                                1. re: Lee

                                  Mediterranean Wraps has a good falafel indeed, but it's not what I think of as Israeli style - all chick pea, not fava, and cumin-y seasoning. At least this is the style that places that self-identify as Israeli (e.g. Cafe Jaffa in Boston) serve.

                                  For that style, the best I've found in the Silicon Valley area is Cafe 220. I'd love to know of more choices for that specific style either in Silicon Valley or San Francisco, since a lot of falafel here tends toward the fava side of the spectrum.


                                  Cafe 220
                                  220 University Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301

                                  Mediterranean Wraps
                                  433 N California Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301

                                2. re: wlw18

                                  I got a lamb shawerma and eggplant wrap at Mediterranean Wraps yesterday. It was good (my favorite is still Truly Med. in SF) but the sample falafel they gave me was so good I went back today to get more. Best I've had. Better than Sunrise Deli's.

                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                    This was on University? I was at the California Ave. location last week and got a lamb shawerma wrap -- didn't see eggplant offered. Their babaganoush is great, though, a slight chunky version. And I agree, their falafel is the best. Why is the pita so bad, I wonder? It was whole wheat and quite dry. (And free, like the falafel and the hot sauce.)

                                    1. re: Glencora

                                      California. The lamb and eggplant wrap was on the specials board.

                                      The pita I had were fine. Looked like white, didn't think to order whole wheat (which I prefer).

                                      1. re: Glencora

                                        Agree about the falafel. The owner/manager guy does himself a great service giving out the free balls every once in a while. I'm now addicted to the falafel, and usually I'm a schwarma guy. 50/50 for me now what I'll order.

                                        One day he also gave me free tea - I love the strong sweet tea they serve there. I had a business meeting recently where I recommended it and we sat out in the back with teas and treats.

                                        ( California ave --- there isn't one on university, last time I checked. The spot that was Andale for so long turned into Med Wraps for a while and is now Steam. )

                                      2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                        Since my last post in this thread from three years ago, we now have fantastic Israeli-style falafel at Falafel Stop in Sunnyvale (on Sunnyvale-Saratoga just south of Fremont). The sandwich features their golden all-chickpea falafel, a great mix of vegetables, tahini, and a little red and green hot sauce, all served in fresh homemade pita. Just wonderfully delicious, and such a remarkable change from the recent past!


                                        1. re: mdg

                                          I love the pickles and the red/green sauce at Falafel Stop! I also like that I can pretty much eat it with my hands without it falling apart on me.

                                          1. re: kclb

                                            I love their pita bread. Plus they give a free falafel ball to everyone in line! Take that Mediterranean Wraps!

                                            Takes at least one time to figure out the ordering inside though.