Falafel of Scotts Valley report
Last Friday for lunch I tried this new place in the same row as Auntie Mame’s. I didn’t have high expectations since Scotts Valley isn’t where you expect to find real mid-eastern food, so I was pretty blown away by how good it was. I orderd the combo plate for $8.50, described as "falafel, hummus, babaganouj and tabule salad, served with fresh pita bread". I added gyros for an extra $1.
Photo of my combo plate with gyros:
At first I thought they forgot to give me babaganouj but when I ate the hummus-looking thing in the 2-o’clock position on my plate (under the cucumber), it hit me and I thought WOW this is the best eggplant-containing thing I have ever eaten! Ok I simmered down after that initial moment but it really is amazing – heavenly smoky, creamy, with very balanced flavors and no raw garlic harshness. And no seeds. I could have scarfed it down in seconds but I couldn’t ignore the other deliciousness on my the plate.
The falafels were crunchy hot and moist inside, with a slight green tinge of favas in the almost loosely-grained mix. It was fried to order. I was sad there were only 3 balls. The tahini sauce was more yogurty than tahiny, which I liked.
The gyros here is a mix of ground lamb and beef, with just a hint of lamby taste and a soft but meaty texture. It was pre-sliced (or rather "chipped" rather than sliced), and they reheat/brown it on the flat grill when you order it. The gyro loaf is made from scratch in house, as was the babaganouj.
The ‘tabule’ is much more parsley than bulgur, but that’s how I like it. It was nicely lemony but could use a bit more salt.
The chopped romaine was very fresh and crisp, even under the hot falafels & gyros.
Oh the hot sauce! This is the weirdest thing; it reminds me of Falafel Drive-In in concept (not in taste). It has the texture of marinara, and the taste of it, but with a fiery chile burn. They give you the whole squeeze bottle when you pick up your order and I can see why, this stuff is addicting! The food didn’t need it but you can’t help but add the sauce to everything (ok well not everything).
If I had to fault something, they didn’t heat the pita on the flat grill so it was cool (and standard thin pita). Also they didn’t seem that interested in talking about food. I learned one of the owners is from Syria, the other from Jordan. They have a pretty wide menu, including:
Burgers, grilled over open flame
Gyros sandwich, Pepper steak sandwich
Lamb kebab, chicken kebab, kefta kebab
Chicken fajita (!?), in a pita or as a plate
Syrian burrito (!?) described as steamed lentils and crushed wheat, sauteed onions, tomatoes, pickles, lettuce, tahini and hot sauce, wrapped in a grilled tortilla
Falafel sandwich, eggplant sandwich
Babaganouj Dip (pricey at $5.75 just for some dip but so worth it
)Hummus Plate, Combination Plate, Dolma Plate
Tabbuli salad, Greek Salad, Fava Bean Salad
Prices are $5 to $8.50 for most items; $10.25 - $12.75 for the kebab plates. I can’t wait to return for a full order of that babaganouj and to try their other items.
Got take-out this evening. Great! We used to go to their place on 41st in Capitola (no longer there). I feel good about supporting a small, family-run business, but no sacrifice on my part. Their food is consistently good and fresh. Also nice when the owner recognizes you, asks about the kids and throws in a couple of baklava. Go there, you won't be sorry.
Thanks for such a great review. It was very inspiring...esp. the photo! I got the combo. plate and loved it as well....the Babaganouj dip was incredible and it was worth a trip alone for that, & the tabouli was fantastic. One of the owners was there and was very friendly, and he gave me a free baklava when it came up that I was pregnant. I will definitely go back to the place.
re: Carb Lover
I don't know about the Santa Cruz one, but I do know they also own Falafel of Capitola on 41st Ave. Back in the late 90s I had an office in the same building and used to eat lunch there once or twice a week. Good food and nice people. I've been to the new Scotts Valley place once so far, and if anything, it seems to be a solid step above what I remember of the 41st location. (I believe they also own the Scotts Valley Grill House.)