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Israeli Falafel

Even though it's been a while, I still remember the taste of the falafels I had on the corners of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. They tasted very different than any falafel I've had here--somehow lighter, yet sharper and more flavorful. Can anyone recommend a place that makes "Israeli-style" falafels? (I've tried several kosher cafes and none of them come close.)

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  1. Azuri Cafe on 51st between 9th and 10th has incredible Israeli falafel.

    1 Reply
    1. re: binkis

      Second the rec of Azuri, which is easily my favorite falafel in manhattan. Two other excellent Israeli-style falafel places are Pick-A-Pita (38th btw 7th and 8th) and Taim (Waverly btw 11th and Perry). I'm addicted to the schawafel at the former, and the latter is almost as good as Azuri with a lot less attitude.

    2. Chickpea is Israeli (http://www.chickpearestaurant.com/ind...). I like their falafel, although I don't know if it is what you are looking for.

      1. What constitutes an Israeli falafel and how is it different from say a Lebanese falafel? I'm told that Egyptians sometimes make falafels out of fava beans as opposed to chickpeas, that's something I'd like to try.

        1. There's a long thread on the different kinds of Falafel if you search...

          But another candidate for Israeli Falafel (my personal favorite kind) is Murray's on 1st and 15th. Chowhounds never seem to mention it, but on both my visits it's been excellent, especially with the spicy green sauce.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Cackboy

            I would second Murray's. The best Falafel and Schwarma I've found to date. They also serve it (on request) with Amba, the pungent mango-based sauce served on sandwiches almost everywhere in Israel.

            1. re: keith

              Funny, I was quite underwhelmed by their shawarma when I tried it back in January or December.

              1. re: Pan

                Interesting. What was it that you weren't fond of? Granted, it's very different from an Arab Shwarma, but I think it holds up nicely against the versions you find in Israel, especially if authentically topped with some Israeli Salad, Tahini, Hot Sauce and Amba.

                1. re: keith

                  I found it somewhat dry and tasteless - underspiced, I think. It's hard to remember distinctly because I didn't find it memorable. Maybe I should give it another shot. My standby is Chickpea, because it's closest to me. I didn't like the amba there too much but add tahini and hot sauce to my chicken shawarma or Chickplant sandwich.

          2. I found that long post, most of it was unhelpful, except for the fact that it contained this link:

            1. I recently tasted the falafel at Rectangles on the upper east side, and I must say they were great...nice and spicy with parsley in the batter. Crispy too...In fact, I'm going to have to revisit soon...

              4 Replies
              1. re: Schveinhund

                rectangles is a great restaurant. the food is really really good.

                1. re: Schveinhund

                  I liked the rectangles in the east village, but never had falafel there.
                  I went to Azuri and Rainbow over the last couple of days.
                  Azuri was good can't say great, I don't care for the pita he's using; oh yeah he's still a jerk! Rainbow was good, much better than I remembered; there was a short line at lunch.
                  I've been going to Chickpea (14th street) and enjoying the Chicken Schwarma very much; don't care for the falafels though.

                  1. re: editedby

                    You prefer the pita at Rainbow to Azuri's? I strongly disagree -- the former always falls apart.

                  2. re: Schveinhund

                    i tried Rectangles in the East Village a year or two ago (is it still open) and found that while some of the items where good it compared poorly to the other eastern Mediterranean places i had eaten at. That said, my palate may be more adjusted to Lebanese and Syrian versions as that is mainly what we have in southern Louisiana. But, i think the falafel was the stand out item.

                  3. Interesting there was just an article about this in the NY Times Dining section


                    1. you could also try ali baba's has great shwarma and felafal

                      1. Thanks for all the responses. I did fo to Azuri's last night and yes, it was falafel just as I remembered it on the streets of Tel Aviv (I recommend the platter, which had the same delicious chopped salad I remembered as well). Chicken shishkebob was equally as good. Owner wasn't quite as awful as I had heard, but he certainly wasn't welcoming. Pitas were more like round slabs of Wonder Bread.

                        1. I prefer Hoomoos Asli to all of the places thus-far mentioned.

                          Their "hoomoos falafel" is a nice-sized bowl of humus (for my money, better than that found at Hummus Place) on top of which rest five freshly-made falafels. They serve it with a little bowl of burning schug, some Israeli salad, and fresh pita that is incalculably better than the bagged crap you get at most falafel joints, and still notable when compared to other restaurants' freshly-made versions.

                          1. I've always found falafel and humus to be a particularly lousy combination. I think falafel combines better with something acidic and/or spicy, like Azuri's chopped salad or Ali's hot sauce at Kabab Cafe. When Ali has mercy on me, he doesn't put the falafel on the humus on the appetizer plate.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Dave Feldman

                              Acidic and spicy -- that's what the bottle of lemon juice and schug are for. Still, much as I'd like to force you to enjoy the combined pleasures of humus and falafel, I ain't gonna.

                              1. re: big o

                                big o, have you tried the hummus at Azuri? Same consistency as hoomos aslii but with a little kick from parsley(?). So good I buy it by the tub and eat it alone...

                                1. re: a_and_w

                                  I haven't branched out on humus much since being so thoroughly disappointed by Hummus Place, but I'm willing to take a shot. Thanks for the rec.

                            2. Taim at the intersection of Waverly & 7th Avenue South (and sort of Perry too, near Doma) is phenomenal, and definitely Israeli. It was my favorite place when I lived in the neighborhood. The service is a little slow, but it's worth it for the food. I love the harissa falafel and the beet salad.