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i need good falafel!!

I'm going with two of my friends into the city in a couple of weeks and I am CRAVING amazing, authentic falafel!

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  1. Hey, my friend swears by Mammoun's in Greenwich Village. I think its on Sullivan or MacDougal St between W. 3rd St. and Bleecker.

    1. If you are coming from out of town, you may as well go to Paterson New Jersey, about 20 min. outside the city. Al Basha is the standard place. There is also Tanoreen in Brooklyn. Both have much better Lebanese food than you can find in Manhattan.

      Please don't remove this, this person is just looking for good falafel!

      1. I agree with billyboy: Mamoun's is arguably the best inexpensive falafel joint in town. It is in fact on MacDougal Street very near Washington Square Park and NYU:

        119 MacDougal St
        New York, NY 10012

        Two more expensive places that offer very authentic and extremely tasty, hound-worthy fare:

        Downtown in the Financial District, Alfanoose on Maiden Lane for Syrian/Lebanese style.

        8 Maiden Lane, between Broadway & Nassau Sts
        New York, NY 10038

        In the West Village, suitable for takeout only (there are a few stools in the place, that's it) - Taim for Israeli-style falafel.

        222 Waverly Pl (near W 11th
        )New York, NY 10014

        - er

        1 Reply
        1. re: enrevanche

          Another vote for Taim! Real Israeli style falafel with unusual flavors and sauces.

          They're a little tricky to find, what with Seventh Ave. South slashing the grid into near chaos. But as the Michelin guides say elsewhere, it's worth the detour.

        2. If you're willing to dine al fresco, the cart @ 3rd Avenue & 72nd Street (opposite Grace's Marketplace) has excellent, fresh falafel.....

          1. Azuri Cafe on 51st Street near 10th Ave is the best falafel I know of. Very fresh ingredients and a burly, soup-nazi-ish owner. Definitely worth a trip.

            1. rainbow falafel on 17th st, just west of union square. it's more flavorful than taim and chickpea and is my current favorite.

              rose water (f/k/a freddie)

              1. I love the falafel at Chickpea on Third Avenue between St. Mark's Place and East 9th Street. For one thing, they bake their own pita bread, so it's usually unutterably soft. And they overstuff the pita with more falafel balls than usual. And they have *killer* hot sauce on their sleek tables and counters.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Tom Steele

                  We had a miserable experience at chickpea, not with the felafel, with the schwarma (just a smidgen of meat with salad, no other fixings offered) and totally indifferent service. Would not recommend it.

                  Rainbow is very good, if you can ignore their rather dry pita - their peppery hot sauce is great - as is Alfanoose. Its been a few years since Ive been to Mamoun's but I prefer both of the above to it.

                2. I used to go to Mamoun's, religiously even. It was nearby, very cheap, and I was broke (and I can eat falafel every day). I also had some at the other places on McDougal, just for variation. Then I started going to Chickpea, mostly b.c. I found myself nearby. It's pretty great: fresh baked pita, good salads to put in the sandwich, and great sauces to slather on. Not to mention, it's a much heftier sandwich than the one at Mamoun's. They put some hummus on the bread, throw in some falafel, smash it down, put pickled veggies and a variety of things inside, then put some more falafel on top and cram it all in. I decided to go back to Mamoun's b.c. it was my old standard, and it really doesn't compare. I don't know the other places mentioned, but if it's a choice between Mamoun's and Chickpea, I'd head to Chickpea first. Of course..... just try all the places, I'm sure you'll be happy.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: el taco

                    Mamoun's- can't understand why this place continues to get mentioned as being any good. I'm sure it had some sort of heyday, but if I were left with only two words to describe their falafel now, they would be- "camal turds". If I could add another word, albeit hyphenated, it would be- "week-old"...Hard balls of greasy, grisle, with some stuff inside and hardly anything else in the pita to balance out the two crunchy burnt balls....My sample size is 2 sandwhiches, 3 years apart. So if you like their style or you don't, at least you can call them consistent- unless I experienced an aberration on two different random days, which would be an aberration wrapped inside a coincidence.?.?.

                    1. re: Silverjay

                      I agree, Mamoun's seems to be running on tradition or something, b/c the falafel is not terribly good. The few times I was there the falafel was bitter and the pita fell apart.

                      I would stick to Chickpea, if in that general area, and also agree w/Rainbow and Azuri.

                      1. re: Silverjay

                        Mamoun's is really about the lamb shawarma. I stopped getting the falafels about a decade ago. I'm solidly in the Azuri camp for best falafel. Ezra (I think his is his name) is a grumpy eccentric, but seems to take a real artisan approach to falafel making, but he gets pissed off easily. So beware. His are Israeli style, as is Chickpea, which I find alright, and while they're not freshly fried, the ones from House of Pita are the best of the Israeli style in Midtown, especially since Miriam's is MIA. Rainbow's are good, but I tire of it with that overload of coriander seeds in the mix, and it's a messy affair since the pita disintegrates by the second bite. I prefer to get a fried cauliflower sandwich at Rainbow. And for the best of the unorthodox falafels, I like the Bangladeshi style of Kwik Meal (45th/6th Ave, 45/5th Ave, 46th/Madison).

                    2. Taim is excellent in the W. Village. Always freshly made for you with great pita, various options on the falafel balls, and a critical addition of a spice mint sauce.

                      Azuri Cafe in hells kitchen gets frequently rated as the best in town, though it's a dive with frequently rude service.

                      1. i agree with rainbow falafel. it's great! and oddly, i found the falafel at the tiny space called pita pocket on 12th st near university quite good! it was nice and crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. they also have freshly made pita.

                        1. RAINBOW in union square is reliable and i like CHICKPEA in the ev too. also, PITA GRILL chain makes a nice healthier baked version.

                          if yr in the wv/chelsea/meatpacking nexus ISTANBUL GRILL on 8th ave & 14th st makes ok falafel, nothing spectacular.

                          1. mamounts is crap.

                            if your in that area, we found a great falafal place on lafayette/kenmare called "hoomoos"...but i guess it depends on what you like. i prefer a non greasy, lots of finely chopped tomoatoes, lettuce and cucumber with a drizzle of tahini and a schmear of hummus. we order from them at least once a week, and they are always onpoint.

                            1. As you can see, lots of different opinions on falafel.

                              A comment for the OP - Rainbow is a carry-out only setup. May not be a good choice for you if you are wandering around the city on a hot day.

                              And for those touting Rainbow - Have you been there recently? They've started a practice of cooking large amounts to falafel before lunch and serving sandwiches with pre-cooked and cold falafels. Still has good flavor, but the past 3 times I've visited (over a 2 month span) I've been disappointed with a cold sandwich when I get back to my office. A big part of the experience is how the hot falafel balls heat up the rest of the sandwich ingredients and create a steaming pocket.

                              Chickpea doesn't have as good of a falafel, but the overall experience with the hot fresh pita and a freshly made sandwich trumps Rainbow's cold falafel. The hot sauce on the counter at Chickpea is key.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Scott V

                                hmm...my rainbow opinion is based on a recent visit. hot falafel and great flavor. but i agree that cold and premade would be much less appealing.

                                the major deterrent to chickpea is the staff. i stopped going because i just couldn't deal with the attitude anymore. the great bread and hot sauce plus so so falafel or downright boring skimpy schawarma just weren't worth it.

                                someone reported a few months ago that habib is back in the east village. anyone have a recent report? (i always preferred their great spicy merguez over the falafel)

                                rose water (f/k/a freddie)

                              2. Go to Azuri Cafe in Hells Kitchen. It's the best I've had. It's incredible, fresh, and authentic. It's a little out of the way and closed on Saturdays, but well worth it.

                                Hummus Place in the East Village is favorite of my Arab friends. Hoomoos Asli in Nolita is also very good.

                                Mamoun's is mediocre. It's a NY institution, but one best enjoyed at 3am when you're feeling less picky. Chickpea is also mediocre, but reliable.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: mana

                                  Humus place does not serve falafel.

                                  My ranking:

                                  Miriam's - this is a cart in midtown
                                  Humus Asli

                                  1. re: gutsofsteel

                                    Actually - while it's not on the menu, Hummus Place does have falafel (though I believe you put it together into a sandwhich on your own) ... I saw somebody eating something that resembled falafel while there over the weekend & asked the waitress & she confirmed falafel & not on the menu - for what it's worth.

                                2. i used to go to mamoun's all the time in college - that was, what, 6 years ago? wow. anyway, the quality of the falafel has really fallen off over the years, as other posters have mentioned. i think taim is excellent - the ingredients are so fresh. the first time i had it was after going to the gym, and you know how you usually want something that feels sort of healthy after the gym. falafel is usually not what i think of, but i passed by and was tempted by the interesting menu (and the cheapness.) the falafel was nice and light and crispy, with crispy salad and a nice soft pita. ask for a side of jalapeno hot sauce - it's really tasty. i was full and didn't feel greased up on the insides either. yummm.

                                  1. I feel pretty strongly that the best is actually at Murray's Falafel on the corner on 1st ave and 15th st. Often frequented by orthodox jews (it's closed from Friday sundown to Sunday morning), it serves really authentic Israeli-style Falafel. He even has Amba on hand, the condiment/sauce made out of green mango that is often put on a falafel sandwich. His shwarma is quite good as well. I like it much more than Mamouns and Chickpea (who's falafel is far too green), and also more than Rainbow.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: keith

                                      Is Murray's open on Saturday??

                                      green felafel can either signal the use of favas rather than chickpeas or lots of chopped parsley. Like both.

                                    2. I've been to Chickpea a lot of times. I like their shawarma (I always order chicken shawarma, which does have some lamb in it as well). You have to tell the servers what you want, or else they'll just give you hummus and salad. I find their felafel way too dry and don't order it.

                                      On the other hand, the one time I went to Humoos Asli, their shawarma was dry and overcooked, but their felafel was fabulous: Extremely flavorful (full of coriander seeds among other things), moist, and in large balls.

                                      Now, granted that I've spent only a grand total of a week in the Middle East, and was in no position to have much Arab food during that week (when I was in Israel; I won't go into the circumstances further because they're off-topic). Granted, also, that I have yet to visit the place in Astoria that I hear is popular with Israelis, Palestinians, Jordanians, etc. and considered the real stuff by an Arab friend of mine. I imagine it's better than all the places we're discussing. But take my appraisals for what they're worth.

                                      1. Hmmm.... well, I like Chickpea a lot. Don't mind that it's green. I always order it with the spicy cauliflower salad instead of lettuce/tomato and it is much better that way. you also have to eat it with a lot of their hot sauce, which is delicious!

                                        Hoomoos asli has good homemade pita, but the falafel is undersalted. I like the health sandwich there better than the falafel (try with cabbage instead of lettuce).

                                        I like Alfanoose very much as well. Though somehow it tasted better to me in the old space. Getting onions, pickles, and hot sauce on your sandwich are key at Alfanoose. It's probably my favorite overall, though the price tag irks.

                                        Mamouns is good for $2. It's the best of the $2 falafel places. You have to lower your expectations a little to meet the price point. It's also smaller & not as filling.

                                        When I went to Miriams my falafels were soggy ... not sure if this was a onetime thing because I never went back. It is not convenient for me at all.

                                        I went to Azuri once (also not convenient) and I liked it, but not more than the downtown places so I haven't been back.

                                        Sounds like I need to try Taim and Pita Pocket

                                        Whatever you do, don't go to Sam's (on Thompson just below third). That is by far the worst falafel I've ever had.

                                        1. Are there any street-cart falafels that are reccomended. Years ago I used to get Moishe's?? somewhere around 46th and 6th. I thought it was great. Think I was able to get either a 'full' or a 'half'. Chock full of goodies. There was also a guy at 57th and broadway, NW corner who was good, but disappeared a few years ago. The cart at 168th St. and Fort Washington Ave. is pretty good albeit out of the way for most