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David Jun 21, 2004 04:35 PM

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. jillyju Sep 27, 2013 11:32 AM

    I am frankly a little obsessed with Falafel Etc. in Fremont. See my post here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8570...

    1. mamachef Nov 11, 2010 01:25 PM

      Holy Land if you want to eat in, Oasis deli on Telegraph if you want to take home.

      2 Replies
      1. re: mamachef
        escargot3 Nov 11, 2010 05:26 PM

        Holy Land falafel with their very authentic and amazingly flavored "zhug" hot sauce, is fabulous. But I especially love their salad combo plate,

        1. re: escargot3
          Robert Lauriston Nov 11, 2010 06:54 PM

          The salad combo is my favorite dish there. If I'm really hungry, I have them add a few falafels to the plate.

          Holy Land Restaurant
          2965 College Ave, Berkeley, CA 94705

      2. p
        p0ck3taces Nov 8, 2010 05:45 PM

        Sunrise Deli is my favorite falafel restaurant in San Francisco. They have a basic youtube video, check it out here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FX33Uk...

        3 Replies
        1. re: p0ck3taces
          Robert Lauriston Nov 8, 2010 06:07 PM

          There's a branch in Berkeley, too. Is the Sunrise Deli in downtown SF connected?

          Sunrise Deli
          2456 Bancroft Way, Berkeley, CA 94704

          Sunrise Deli & Cafe
          2115 Irving St, San Francisco, CA 94122

          1. re: Robert Lauriston
            hill food Nov 8, 2010 10:31 PM

            the year+ I lived in the Sunset on 19th and Kirkham (a million years ago) the Shawarma or Falafel from Sunrise was a long day default meal.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston
              wolfe Nov 11, 2010 10:31 AM

              Yes, there are 3 Sunrise branches. Not only did I like the falafel at the Berkeley branch, although skip the avocado, I was impressed with the parsleyness of the tabouli.

          2. Lori SF Feb 22, 2007 09:09 AM

            Might be worth checking out-

            1 Reply
            1. re: Lori SF
              Robert Lauriston Feb 22, 2007 09:11 AM

              There was a positive review of Old Jerusalem's falafels two weeks ago:


            2. Lori SF Feb 21, 2007 08:39 AM

              Taboun is very good and it's walking distance from my house. I know the owner and know he uses the freshest ingredients.
              201 Parnassus Ave

              I like Holy Land as well

              1. s
                Sherman Chan Aug 9, 2004 04:41 PM

                Sunrise Deli in the sunset is my personal favorite. They're pretty popular in the area for falafels, so they move a lot. I always see them fry up like 200 or so at a time.

                2115 Irving St. San Francisco, CA 94122. 415-664-8210

                1. m
                  Melanie Wong Jun 27, 2004 11:09 PM

                  The owner of Small World deli in downtown Napa is from Haifa and makes an excellent falafel, fried to order, with beautifully fresh garnishes and sauces.

                  Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                  1. s
                    Sharon S. Jun 23, 2004 10:59 AM

                    Gyro King – 25 Grove St. (between Larkin & Hyde)across from the library.

                    14 Replies
                    1. re: Sharon S.
                      Robert Lauriston Feb 21, 2007 07:44 AM

                      Gyro King is reportedly now Sahara. Same or similar menu.

                      1. re: Sharon S.
                        ChowHoundGal Feb 26, 2007 01:26 PM

                        I prefer Gyro King (still using that name) to Truly Med and the others in the area I've tried, and it's right on the MUNI line.

                        1. re: ChowHoundGal
                          Robert Lauriston Feb 26, 2007 01:28 PM

                          Have you been there since they changed to Sahara? Or are you saying that they're still called Gyro King?

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston
                            ChowHoundGal Feb 26, 2007 03:18 PM

                            They're still called Gyro King. 25 Grove St.; 415.621-8313

                            1. re: ChowHoundGal
                              hill food Nov 8, 2010 10:33 PM

                              I'm surprised they haven't been sued, wasn't that place in Lower Pac Heights off Divisadero forced to change their name by the Burger King lawyers?

                              1. re: hill food
                                Civil Bear Nov 9, 2010 11:32 AM

                                I doubt it. After all there is still the Shanghai Dumpling King and my favorite the Pho King.

                                Shanghai Dumpling King
                                3319 Balboa St, San Francisco, CA 94121

                                Pho King
                                638 International Blvd, Oakland, CA 94606

                                1. re: Civil Bear
                                  ...tm... Nov 10, 2010 11:45 PM

                                  Odd, you'd think BK would want the publicity that came from associating themselves with something as awesome as Pho King.
                                  Also, to be slightly useful to the OP, but Berkeley-centric I used to think Sunrise Delil had the best falafel in Berkeley, but Chick-o-Pea has recently taken the crown. Also, I was reminded on my way into work today that there is nothing wrong with Oasis Grill's falafel. And to reiterate what some people have said here I have not found a great pita in the Bay Area yet. Most falafel joints seem to prefer lavash, but I don't mind at all.

                                  Pho King
                                  638 International Blvd, Oakland, CA 94606

                                  Oasis Grill
                                  2114 Center St, Berkeley, CA 94704

                                  1. re: ...tm...
                                    Civil Bear Nov 11, 2010 09:32 AM

                                    Oh man, I was walking past Oasis Grill a couple of weeks ago and they were passing out fresh hot samples. Easily the best falafel I have ever had! I wasn't sure if it was just because I was so hungry, but I'll be back to try them again.

                                    1. re: Civil Bear
                                      Jeff Nov 12, 2010 11:52 AM

                                      I walked past there at 12:30 today and was shocked by how long the line was. Must have been 30-40 people. Are they handing out Benjamins with their food, or is it really that good?

                                      1. re: Jeff
                                        Civil Bear Nov 14, 2010 10:00 PM

                                        Finally got to try Oasis Grill yesterday. The falafels were as good as I remembered. The Kefka Shawarma was tasty too, but quite a but smaller than those at Simply Med and Sunrise Deli.

                                        Oasis Grill
                                        2114 Center St, Berkeley, CA 94704

                                        1. re: Jeff
                                          wolfe Nov 15, 2010 11:02 AM

                                          It is possible that the Mosque behind the store just finished services.

                                      2. re: ...tm...
                                        hill food Nov 11, 2010 05:14 PM

                                        I prefer the lavosh. less wrap, more filling ratio.

                                        1. re: ...tm...
                                          misterb Nov 11, 2010 09:29 PM

                                          long-time devotee of Falafel Drive-In, just tried Sunrise Deli (in the Sunset) for the first time. I agree about the pita - some of the Greek places in the South Bay have what I would like for pita. As far as the falafel balls themselves - I still put FDI #1, the hot sauce just takes it over the top. I enjoyed the pickled turnip and the seasoning at Sunrise, coming in 2d to FDI is no disgrace.

                                          Falafel Drive-in
                                          2301 Stevens Creek Blvd, San Jose, CA 95128

                                          Sunrise Deli & Cafe
                                          2115 Irving St, San Francisco, CA 94122

                                          1. re: misterb
                                            bbulkow Nov 11, 2010 10:16 PM

                                            Come up to Med Wraps on California Street in PA. Superior to FDI in my opinion. Snappier crust, deeper taste, fresher veg, hotter hot sauce.

                            2. h
                              Hong Cho Jun 22, 2004 02:31 PM

                              We sometimes get our Friday lunch at work from this place, Athena Grill in Santa Clara.

                              Their food is fresher and less greasy than other place I've been to (including Falafel Drive-In, not "Inn" :p).

                              Their menu is online at the link below.


                              Link: http://www.athenagrill.com/

                              1. k
                                kevin Jun 22, 2004 05:06 AM

                                In SF (in order of preference):

                                1. Drumm Liquor near Drumm and Market.

                                2. Baladie on Kearny near Bush.

                                3. There's a Sephardic place a couple of doors down from Davids Deli on Geary that is good and cheap.

                                1. w
                                  Windy Jun 21, 2004 08:03 PM

                                  A Lebanese friend recommended Falafel Drive Inn (in Santa Clara?) highly, but I've never been. Any reports?

                                  7 Replies
                                  1. re: Windy
                                    Caitlin McGrath Jun 21, 2004 11:18 PM

                                    I haven't been there since I was a kid (it's been around a looong time), but here's an old report from Gordon Wing.

                                    Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                                    1. re: Windy
                                      yimster Jun 22, 2004 11:38 AM

                                      I use to go there for lunch at least couple times a month. The falafel were really well done and the pita bread sandwiches were great. Never had the milk shakes or drinks (coffee and tea myself).

                                      We use to buy a dozen or so of the falafels to munch on the way back to the office. If I remmeber correctly they were four for a quarter. That is why we had not problem getting someone to go.

                                      Will have to take a drive down soon.

                                      1. re: Windy
                                        Judith Hurley Jun 22, 2004 11:44 AM

                                        We haven't been lately, but I think it lives up to its reputation as the best falafel on this continent, and I'm willing to include New York in that declaration (which is huge for me : - )

                                        1. re: Judith Hurley
                                          Windy Jun 22, 2004 08:24 PM

                                          That's good enough for me.

                                          1. re: Judith Hurley
                                            Eric Jun 23, 2004 12:48 AM

                                            Just an addendum: I moved from the South Bay to San Francisco 9 years ago and was introduced to FDI about a year before I moved up. I've spent years holding FDI as my paragon of falafel. Even though I like Truly Mediterranean and their lavash-style falafel, I've had a ritual where I travel to FDI about once a month to get my fix.

                                            Three weeks ago I went to NYC for the first time and a friend turned me on to Chickpea around 8th/Broadway at St. Mark's Place. Amazing pita falafel which unfortunately doesn't have the hot sauce from FDI that I love, but they make their pita's from scratch! Warm, soft, and tasty. Their falafel sandwiches are smaller than FDI's, but they also cheaper. One sandwich and their fresh lemonade on a 90deg day in the middle of the afternoon is one of the best pick-me-ups I've had.

                                            1. re: Eric
                                              yse Feb 20, 2007 10:23 PM

                                              I'm a NYC transplant and I have to say, I have not yet found a falafel here that I truly enjoy. I've been to Holy Land, but like all the others, the falafel is just not the same as say Chickpea (...mm... how I miss it so...). I have come to believe that the real culprit is the pita. Whats the deal with all the ridiculously thin pita around here?

                                          2. re: Windy
                                            sirkfg Jun 23, 2004 02:08 PM

                                            I went to Santa Clara way back when and this place is the best i've been to in the US.

                                            Awesome gyros, fantastic falafels!!!!

                                            Falafel Drive
                                            2301 Stevens Creek Blvd., SJ

                                          3. l
                                            Luke HJ Jun 21, 2004 07:51 PM

                                            Anyone tried the Falafel King in LA? near UCLA area? I was there sometime ago and really liked their deep fried potato pieces which were sliced very thinly and battered and deep fried.

                                            Was wondering if anyone know of a place which makes the same kind of potatoes in the bay area, preferrably San Francisco.


                                            1. w
                                              wlw18 Jun 21, 2004 07:02 PM

                                              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
                                                Lee Jun 21, 2004 07:19 PM

                                                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
                                                  mdg Nov 8, 2010 10:24 PM

                                                  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
                                                  Robert Lauriston Sep 26, 2013 04:05 PM

                                                  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
                                                    Glencora Sep 26, 2013 06:12 PM

                                                    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
                                                      Robert Lauriston Sep 26, 2013 06:15 PM

                                                      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
                                                        bbulkow Sep 27, 2013 09:31 AM

                                                        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
                                                        mdg Sep 26, 2013 07:37 PM

                                                        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
                                                          kclb Sep 26, 2013 08:35 PM

                                                          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
                                                            512window Sep 27, 2013 11:21 AM

                                                            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.

                                                    2. n
                                                      nja Jun 21, 2004 05:16 PM

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

                                                      1. r
                                                        Ruth Lafler Jun 21, 2004 05:02 PM

                                                        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. r
                                                          Robert Lauriston Jun 21, 2004 04:44 PM

                                                          Just Like Home at 1924 Irving near 20th Av.

                                                          Truly Mediterranean at 3109 16th St. near Valencia.

                                                          6 Replies
                                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                            Dennis S Jun 21, 2004 05:42 PM

                                                            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 Jun 21, 2004 05:50 PM

                                                              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
                                                                Robert Lauriston Feb 21, 2007 07:43 AM

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

                                                              2. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                Poot Jun 23, 2004 05:31 PM

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

                                                                1. re: Poot
                                                                  Robert Lauriston Jun 23, 2004 05:51 PM

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

                                                                2. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                  jen maiser Jun 23, 2004 07:57 PM

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

                                                                  Sunrise Deli & Cafe
                                                                  2115 Irving St
                                                                  San Francisco

                                                                  Link: http://www.google.com/local?hl=en&...

                                                                3. o
                                                                  oakland veggie girl Jun 21, 2004 04:40 PM

                                                                  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
                                                                    Alexandra Jun 21, 2004 05:19 PM

                                                                    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 Jun 21, 2004 05:24 PM

                                                                      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 Jun 21, 2004 05:59 PM

                                                                        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
                                                                          Lisa C Jun 21, 2004 08:34 PM

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

                                                                        2. re: Alexandra
                                                                          Windy Jun 21, 2004 05:49 PM

                                                                          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
                                                                            bunnysitter Feb 25, 2007 08:43 AM

                                                                            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
                                                                              Robert Lauriston Feb 25, 2007 08:48 AM

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

                                                                              1. re: bunnysitter
                                                                                Glencora Feb 25, 2007 11:23 AM

                                                                                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
                                                                                  rworange Feb 25, 2007 10:33 PM

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

                                                                                2. re: bunnysitter
                                                                                  rworange Feb 25, 2007 10:48 PM


                                                                                  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
                                                                                lintygmom Feb 25, 2007 05:52 PM

                                                                                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.

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