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Shawarma & Falafel Question

Hey 'hounders,
I would like to know where is the best place for shawarma and/or falafel. I know it's a huge debate but where would I find some superb falafel or shawarma sandwiches. Thanks in advance!

Tina
http://wanderingeater.blogspot.com

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  1. The best falafel in the city can be found at Azuri Cafe on the West Side.

    The best cheap falafel can be found at Mamoun's.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Unpossible

      Second Azuri (51st off 10th Ave) which is the best falafel and shawarma I've ever had. The next tier includes Olympic Pita (38th btw 5th and 6th) and Pick-a-Pita (38th btw 7th and 8th). For falafel only, I also love Rainbow (17th btw 5th and B'Way) and Taim (Waverly and Perry).

    2. Taim on Waverly has good falafel. Oh, and if you want the shwarma and falafel both in one pita, try the Shawafel at Chickpea (3rd near St. Marks).

      --Sarah
      http://www.avenuefood.com

      3 Replies
      1. re: slynnkiino

        Pick-a-Pita does a mean shawafel, too. Does Chickpea still pre-mix their cucumber salad with the lettuce?

        1. re: a_and_w

          I think so--though I haven't been in a couple of months since my office moved.

          1. re: slynnkiino

            Feh! I hate cucumbers and just can't forgive them for such laziness...

      2. I love Chickpea...Murray's Falafel and Grill is pretty damn good as well

        1. Part of the debate is based on style. Different countries have different recipies with subtle nuances. Sorta like pizza - it ain't the same all over the boot.
          My two favorites are probably Chickpea (Israeli style - my israeli ex was very impressed) and Alfanoose (Lebanese - Maiden Lane, near WTC site). If you get the shawarma at Chipea, be sure to hit it with a good shot of "amba", the yellow mango-chutney sauce, sitting on the counters. Its an israeli thing, and goes perfect with the shawarma meat.

          2 Replies
          1. re: hreisig

            I know Chickpea has multiple locations, is there a specific branch/location that you prefer? Or is it the same for all?

            1. re: hreisig

              If you like Israeli-style, check out all of the places I listed, except Rainbow.

            2. I like Yummy Shawarmy's chicken shawarma a lot. Very very tasty. I bring my own BBC sauce from Ranch One for it!

              Yummy Shawarmy is on 7th Ave. South near Bleecker-next to that great pizza place I can't remember the name of.

              1 Reply
              1. re: TMW

                It's next to Bleeker Street Pizza (a slice place) and John's Pizzeria, a famous pie place.

              2. I third Azuri. By far the best Shawarma.

                1. The falafel from Nargila Grill on the UES is the best we've found in the area and I believe that my husband once had the shawarma and enjoyed it.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: akk

                    I think the falafel at Nargila Grill is mediocre at best. And the service there stinks.

                    -----
                    Nargila Grill
                    247 W 72nd St, New York, NY 10023

                  2. I have been very pleased with the falafel from the Halal truck that parks on the east side of 6th Avenue between 24th and 25th every night.

                    1. I agree with everyone talking about Azuri and Chickpea, although my personal favorite is Moshe's Falafel. Used to be a little cart on 46th and 6th, but with construction and scaffolding there now, I'm not sure where they've relocated to.

                      1. azuri cafe and taim have by far the two best falafel sandwiches that i've had in manhattan.

                        1. MAMOUN's on MacDougal is in a class by itself. Falafel, Shawarma, Lentil Soup, Chicken Kabab - classic.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: fukhed

                            Mamoun's is my favorite falafel in the world. Can't speak for anything else they make because I only get the falafel, because it's so good.

                          2. Mamoun's is cheap and edible.

                            Taim is great. Chickpea is pretty good. Taj Malouk is a new place on E 4th st btw 1st and 2nd that gets my vote for best falafel in New York though.

                            1. Wow, I can't believe no one has mentioned Bereket yet. The 24 hour Turkish place on Houston and Orchard St. There was a similar thread here not too long ago and Bereket was one of the front runners. If you want shawarma you'll have to ask for a doner kebab, though. The falafel is fantastic as well. There's almost no where else I'd rather eat in the City. If I was told I could only have one restaurant in NYC and all the others had to go, it might take me a few minutes to decide, but I believe eventually I'd pick Bereket. If you go in grab a couple of the stuffed grape leaves to go as well, they're like no grape leaf you've ever had before.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: ballulah

                                Bereket is awesome, and it's funny you should mention the grape leaves...I don't consider myself of fan of them, but the grape leaves at Bereket are delicious

                              2. I've always liked the Olive Tree on MacDougal since their shawarma is all lamb.

                                If anyone knows of another 100% lamb shwarma, let me know, stat!!

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Josiah

                                  Bereket is all lamb, and in my opinion whoops Olive Tree's proverbial behind.

                                  1. re: ballulah

                                    Bereket's Shawerma (Gyro type) is ground Lamb/Beef mix, Olive Tree made real Lamb, leg of lamb cut into chunks and put on a skewer, slow cooked for five hours. Bereket make's falafels the best and the kefta is awesome.
                                    Berekets shawerma is so not like the Olive Tree but in gyro types they are the best,

                                    -----
                                    Bereket
                                    187 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002

                                    Olive Tree Cafe
                                    117 MacDougal St, New York, NY 10012

                                2. Which falafel is better, Azuri or Taim?

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: jsgjewels

                                    I think they're just different. The falafel at Taim is daintier, and it comes in three flavors (I like the green best). The one at Azuri is heartier, IMO.

                                    (But I have a soft spot for Taim, if only for their fab salads...)

                                  2. I'm a Mamoun's man when it comes to felafel and have been for 33 years. The hot, crunchy-exteriored, slightly smoky felafel balls straight from the fryer to your mouth can't be beat. The rest of the fixings (the salad, bread, etc.) are mediocre. Azuri has better accompaniments, but inferior (to Mamoun's) felafel. It also has a vastly inferior attitude. I've been spoken to nastily both in the restaurant and on the phone more times than I care to remember. Once I was hung up on. You can get an equally good overall felafel package from Gazala Place a little lower on ninth without any of the nastiness.

                                    -----
                                    Gazala Place
                                    709 9th Ave, New York, NY 10019

                                    Azuri Cafe
                                    465 W 51st St, New York, NY 10019

                                    25 Replies
                                    1. re: FoodDabbler

                                      Funny, it's the salad and the dressing that clinch it for me at Mamoun's. You'd think it would be easy to get that right but it's not. Crunchy cold romain with just the right type/kind of dressing.
                                      Waaah I am in SF now and I want one.

                                      1. re: FoodDabbler

                                        Gazala Place has my favorite falafel in Manhattan, but do you think the original location of Mamoun's is superior to Taim? I've really liked everything I've gotten at Taim. Another place whose falafel I find very tasty is Jerusalem Restaurant on Broadway near 104th.

                                        1. re: Pan

                                          I have to second Pan about Jerusalem Restaurant. I can never decide between the shawarma or the chicken kabab. It's hard to just walk by there without going in as it smells so good from the street.

                                          1. re: Pan

                                            I know you disagree, but I do think the felafel balls at Mamoun's the Orginal are superior to those at Taim. I had back-to-back felafel sandwiches this afternoon, the first at Taim and the second at Mamoun's. Disregarding the accompaniments (which I thought clearly superior at Taim), I thought the felafel balls themselves at Mamoun's were better: crunchier on the exterior, tastier (salted better than at Taim, among other things) and served piping hot. The Taim balls were a bit mushy and a bit overwhelmed by the rest of the sandwich. And, although the Mamoun's salad is ordinary (iceberg lettuce and icy tomato, compared to Taim's shredded cabbage, chopped cucumber, etc.) somehow the sandwich achieves a better balance of tastes. The temperature of the felafel also allows the Mamoun's sandwich to achieve a superb balance of hot and cold at the first mouthful.

                                            I realize that what I say will not win any hearts and minds. Those who prefer Taim or Azuri or Gazala can make a fair case for their preference.

                                            After this I was considering heading uptown to compare the Parker Meridien burger to Shake Shack's but for some reason was feeling a bit full. It must have been that dim sum brunch I'd had a bit earlier in the day. So I went to Grom instead for a light two scoops of gelati: one chestnut and one caramel.

                                            1. re: FoodDabbler

                                              I consider falafel sandwiches as a whole. That said, I'll try to remember to do the comparison you've done at some point in the future. I don't think I can eat two falafel sandwiches in a row, though.

                                              1. re: FoodDabbler

                                                I am beyond mystified that anybody could find the falafel at Mamoun's to be anything other than totally bland and cardboard-esque. Or that anybody would prefer it to Taim. Mamoun's is for people who don't like real falafel. Or for people who don't like flavor. (JUST IMHO! No offense. I've read too much Pauline Kael, so I criticize harshly.) Maybe you grew up on it, or it takes you back to nights of drunken revels at 3 a.m.? It's a nostalgia thing? To me, it's like greasy Americanized Chinese food vs. REAL Chinese food.

                                                I'm a real cheapskate, but Taim is definitely worth the much higher price. It would be worth twenty times the price.

                                                ODE TO MAMOUN'S

                                                Mamoun's, Mamoun's
                                                lousier than fried baboons
                                                I'd rather eat harpoons
                                                than go to Mamoun's

                                                like warm cardboard
                                                but, if it's all you can afford*
                                                then enjoy
                                                but me, I'm like, "OY!"

                                                this really sucks
                                                even for three bucks
                                                it's totally bland
                                                I'd rather eat my hand

                                                (*A low blow, I know -- I'm a cheapskate too, but Mamoun's? Ewwwww.)

                                                -----
                                                Taim
                                                222 Waverly Place, New York, NY 10014

                                                Mamoun's Falafel
                                                119 MacDougal St, New York, NY 10012

                                                1. re: Ike

                                                  Taim isn't exactly real falafel though, and it's one of the least authentic things they make.

                                                  -----
                                                  Taim
                                                  222 Waverly Place, New York, NY 10014

                                                    1. re: jaba

                                                      As in, it's some modernized, healthy, alternative interpretation that comes in flavors, none of which reflect on traditional real authentic falafel. Most of the characteristics which make falafel a falafel are wrong here.

                                                      1. re: sugartoof

                                                        I agree. I don't dislike Taim - it's good for what it is, which is a somewhat austere and virtuous and upscale take on what (in my opinion) ought to be a defiantly proletarian food. And it's certainly better than the godawful stuff that passes for falafel at most street carts (I'm looking at you, Kwik Meal, Vendy be damned). Put me in the Mamoun camp, at least until something better comes along.

                                                        1. re: sugartoof

                                                          sorry, but I have to disagree with you sugartoof. Many places in Israel do multi-flavored varieties of falafel. There isn't a single "traditional" falafel. Every place has their own take, with spice/herb variation. It's like saying there is only one "real" pizza!

                                                          1. re: Science Chick

                                                            "Many places in Israel do multi-flavored varieties of falafel. "

                                                            That's only a recent phenomenon.

                                                            Falafel is a traditional food, and there are traditional characteristics. There is nothing traditional about a harissa flavor falafel on whole wheat pita, so it goes beyond spice/herb variations. What Taim serves doesn't taste like fafafel to me.

                                                            1. re: sugartoof

                                                              My husband is Israeli and he loves their original (non-harissa) falafel...thinks it's the best in the U.S! You don't have to get the spiced ones, nor do you have to get whole wheat pita! ;)

                                                              1. re: Science Chick

                                                                I don't doubt there are Israelis who like it, or that there are similar places in Israel... it's still a modernized approach, and we're still talking about people who prefer that to the traditional. Israelis do a lot of things with food they would have avoided only 20 years ago.

                                                                1. re: sugartoof

                                                                  My point is that variation from "authenticity" is no reason alone to pan a place. Good is good, IMHO....

                                                                  1. re: Science Chick

                                                                    Sure it is, authenticity/tradition is everything when talking about replicating regional cuisine. New traditions are also a great thing, so if you like it, great, but in my estimation Taim is overrated.

                                                                    1. re: sugartoof

                                                                      this is a double conflation. whether taim is overrated has nothing to do with its authenticity or traditional-ness. its your opinion, and a perfectly valid one (if not one i share).

                                                                      secondly, authenticity and tradtion are not the same. if actual real israelis, in israel, are flavoring their modern takes on falafel, having flavored falafel does not, in any way, indict taim as inauthentic.

                                                                      the role of tradition is up for debate - its intrinsic value is nothing. if you like a tradition, keep it, if its not your favorite, innovate.

                                                                      "tradition is everything when talking about replicating regional cuisine" is only true for regional cuisines that are either extinct or have never changed.

                                                                      1. re: tex.s.toast

                                                                        "if actual real israelis, in israel, are flavoring their modern takes on falafel, having flavored falafel does not, in any way, indict taim as inauthentic."

                                                                        That's absolutely absurd. There are Americans using Krispy Kremes as buns on their burgers, does it make it an authentic version of a classic American burger because American's will eat it in America?

                                                                        Anyone arguing that tradition has no intrinsic value on a food forum is missing the point....to put it mildly. And apparently you're not aware that the authentic falafel hasn't changed since the days of the Pharoahs.

                                                                        1. re: sugartoof

                                                                          "hasn't changed since the days of the Pharoahs". Where does that come from? Many believe that Copts (christian Egyptians in the 4-6th Century A.D.) first made falafel to eat during lent. There are theories that falafel may have been made as early as Ancient Egypt, but I would love to see your data that says it hasn't changed since that time. Unless, of course, current days falafel stands use the same fryolators as the ancient Egyptians... ;)

                                                                          1. re: Science Chick

                                                                            Are you willfully missing my point? I guess it shouldn't shock me that fans of Taim are now denying the existence of an authentic Falafel with variations, but still distinct characteristics (not the modernized Tam style) and worse, the dish has no valid or traceable tradition because of some ideological beliefs about the intrinsic value of tradition itself. Seriously?
                                                                            Taim is beyond, beyond overhyped, and you've provided the data.

                                                                            1. re: sugartoof

                                                                              I'm sorry, but the more I've thought about this the more I am confused by your points. What is your definition of the "traditional falafel"? I've had falafel at over 20 different places in Israel over the years, and I can honestly say that not one was identical to the other. What is the "traditional" recipe? How do you know? Also, I am genuinely amused by those that think that serving it on whole wheat pita is a "modern" twist. Before the late 1870s, there was no such thing as white flour, so it would stand to reason that falafels were originally eaten on, or with, whole grain breads of some sort.

                                                                              1. re: Science Chick

                                                                                White bread is typically made from Wheat flour that's been milled, yet you wouldn't still call it Wheat Bread. Wheat grain, rye grain, barley, etc. made into a rustic bread, unleavened or otherwise, is not the same as replicating a Whole Wheat brown bread. You didn't need clarification as to what I meant by "Wheat Bread" did you? You should know we are talking Wheat Bread of the modern world, not rustic breads or full grain, or unleavened breads.

                                                                                Likewise, traditional doesn't mean cookie cutter/identical. Amongst a world of varying characteristics that make a falafel a falafel and not a kibbeh, or kubbah, or the like, there are defining constraints. The variations you're eating in 2013 might be confusing you, but in 1967, there weren't many differences, and what differences there were, existed even within the same demographic or region as personal style, by the maker.

                                                                                So to answer your question, Whole Wheat pita as we know it today, didn't originate in the Middle East, and didn't get introduced until the mid to late 80's, at earliest.

                                                                                1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                  First, all bread made from wheat is "Wheat bread"...within that category there are white and whole wheat subtypes. You specifically stated that falafel in *whole wheat* pita bread is a new thing. That is what I am disagreeing with, because *all* pita made from wheat was *whole wheat* until after the late 1870s. There was no such thing as *white wheat* flour anywhere until after that point, when milling/refining techniques were developed to separate the ground wheat flour. My concern is that you are making this big deal about traditions and history of the foods, but your statements don't agree with the history of the food products at all.

                                                                                  1. re: Science Chick

                                                                                    while it is true that most breads were from whole grains historically, once "fine" white flower was available most users started using it in preference, with the whole grain breads being the exception. i have to believe this was true in the mideast as in US, Italy, France etc.

                                                                                    with respect to felafel in NYC my earliest memories go back to around 1970. the pita I remember from the earliest felafel places (as well as greek places which also served pita) was generally white. The trend to offering whole wheat pita, developed over time, just like the offer of brown rice in chinese restaurants has been a fairly recent trend. As far as felafel goes, the most significant trend in bread is not whole wheat (meh) but the availability of felafel at some places on the fresh baked bread. The felafel itself is not necessarily superior at these places but the bread is a pleasure.

                                                                                    1. re: Science Chick

                                                                                      Science Chick, The Romans made a White Bread, using a water mill, and linen to process, (to name just one process), long before 1870.

                                                                                      Again, many grains existed, and the very first unleavened breads in Egypt were likely a mixture.The claim that all bread pre-1870 was Wheat Bread is incorrect, even semantically. There's a reason Graham Flour was considered innovative with Sylvester Graham's unrefined flour, nearly 40 years before the industrial age.

                                                                                      It's a dubious argument anyway, because you're simply trying to validate your personal taste (which you're entitled to, just not with a falsified history lesson) for a post-1870 Wheat Bread Pita product, made using modern technology and not a mortar and pestle.

                                              2. It's Azuri for me too.

                                                -----
                                                Azuri Cafe
                                                465 W 51st St, New York, NY 10019

                                                1. Okay I just did due diligence and tried Taim. Put it this way. I was tempted to throw out half and go to Mamoun's and get a good falafel to replace it. But that would have been a waste of food.

                                                  To be fair, I could see how you'd like it. The ingredients were of high quality. But it was just all wrong. For me there was just no comparison.

                                                  17 Replies
                                                  1. re: pauliface

                                                    Fair enough. Next time, try their sabich and see what you think of it.

                                                    1. re: Pan

                                                      Sabich is the eggplant dish? I'm not a fan of eggplant, but a lover of falafel. There were two women next to me eating the sabich, and they were in heaven.

                                                      I would venture to guess that if this was your dish, Taim would be better than mamoun's. Mamoun's is very quick. The Taim folks seem to put more time and effort, it's just that for the falafel it was wasted on me. The pickled cabbage (in the falafel) takes more time, I'm sure than the lettuce/tomato/cucumber at Mamoun's. And the hummus at Taim is probably great, I just would rather have the creamy tahini that they put in Mamoun's. Also, the temperature thing is a real issue. At Mamoun's, you get the hot falafel against the cold lettuce/tomato/cuke. At Taif, the temperature is more even all the way through.

                                                      All a matter of taste, I'm sure. But I'm clearly in the Mamoun camp. Plus, Mamoun's is $2.50 and Taif's is over $5....

                                                      1. re: pauliface

                                                        Yes, it's the fried eggplant sandwich.

                                                        I respect your taste and the effort you put into the comparison. You are providing specifics that can really help people choose which one sounds more appealing to them. (Yes, Taim's hummus is delicious.) And I do consider the original Mamoun's good, so this is not a "Mamoun's sucks/Mamoun's rules" argument at all. Thanks for advancing the discussion; I really respect that.

                                                        1. re: pauliface

                                                          Is the meat served at Mamouns Halal?

                                                          1. re: kernel

                                                            I'm pretty sure the meat is not zabihah halal.

                                                        2. re: Pan

                                                          I literally just finished eating a falafel platter from Mamoun's and just thinking about Taim's sabich makes me hungry again -- and I'm stuffed.

                                                          The sabich is the reason to go to Taim in my opinion. It's perhaps my favorite non-meat (or fish) sandwich in the city. With lots of spicy s'rug sauce on it.

                                                          I do think Mamoun does a great falafel. The best? Hard to say. But definitely the real deal.

                                                          1. re: HankyT

                                                            I agree with you on all counts. But if you have occasion to be near 104 St. and Broadway, try a falafel sandwich or platter at Jerusalem, and see what you think of it. I think their shawarma is excellent, too.

                                                            1. re: Pan

                                                              I wanted to thank you Pan, maybe this is not the place, for your recommendation of Jerusalem. We had a terrific meal there a few weeks back - yes the table was dirty (think Di Fara's, you had to scrape it a bit) but my shawarma was one of the best things I have eaten recently, lovely shreds of lamb - they even threw in a bit of falafel - that was good too.. their hot sauce was the old fashioned kind made with chile flakes that I remember from Amys and similar places in the old days.. And the crowded mixed ambience felt right too.

                                                              Its not a place for a long leisurely meal but the food was terrific. thanks again!

                                                              1. re: jen kalb

                                                                Well, I know some CH'ers like when posters search out threads, instead of starting new ones. But I just almost replied to a 2007 post. I read all these posts, and it is interesting however, how the debate goes on. But much of it is dated as back in 2007 some places didn't exist. Anyway, One can't generalize "israeli falafel" as in israel Yemenite Jewish and falafel places owned by Arabs are the the best falafel in Israel. The israeli falafel made by Ashkinazi Jews is horrible, Just as it is in NYC. i.e. try falafel in Boro Park or Main St . That being said, as Paterson NJ has amazing falafel, and kefta and shwarma( on their Main St. mostly Syrian, Palestinian, Lebanese and Turkish)..
                                                                Nish Nush in Tribeca ( Yemenite Jewish and kosher) has great falafel and amazing hummus. Taim is very good also. Both have variety of flavors. Ba'Al ( Palestinian) on Sullivan St has excellent falafel.
                                                                Mamoun's shwarma I like, but I don't think their falafel is even close to how it was when Mamoun himself was making the falafel . Plus the pita got so small ,it's almost like falafel sliders. Bereket is Ok, I do like the grape leaves there.
                                                                I do not like anything at Chickpea.

                                                                1. re: foodwhisperer

                                                                  Yeah singling out falafel preferences based on diaspora identity politics is iffy and smacks of something else unrelated to food.

                                                                  When talking of Yemenites, you're not actually discussing the cuisine distinct of Yemenite Jews, so maybe you're missing the point that there is a wave of Israeli owned Falafel places with similar characteristics. Within that pool are good places and bad places. The Israeli style places are mostly differentiated by their bread. For whatever reason, these places are making falafel that's closer in flavor, and spirit to what you find in the Middle East, with less corners cut.

                                                                  1. re: sugartoof

                                                                    No, most people in Israel agree on which falafel taste best and it's not the bread , it's the falafel. Of course some have preference for Egyptian lava bean falafel. In Paterson the Syrian and Palestinian falafel does have amazing pita bread. The falafel are not balls but flattened balls. There are different tastes of the falafel. Also some make fresh balls, but most of the places in Queens and BoroPark make the balls in advance and they sit around,,, Yemenites happen to take pride in their falafel,, this is not a political statement,, Back in the day , the Yemenite jews were severely allergic to fava beans and had to use chick peas. I forget what they called the allergy or illness.So I stand by all my statements.. and I like Ba;Al and Nish Nush the best in Manhattan. But Paterson rules, Atlantic Ave. Bklyn has some fava bean falafel places.

                                                                      1. re: foodwhisperer

                                                                        We're not talking about the falafel criteria *in* Israel, or *in* the Mid-East, we're talking about what people are referencing here in NY when they mention an Israeli style place. Understand? It can and does include places owned by diverse Israeli backgrounds, and of those who are Jewish, both Sephardic and Ashkenazic.

                                                                        This idea that you think you know who owns what establishment and their family backgrounds is nonsense, (aside from a place like Gazala Place that wears it like a badge). It sounds as if you're lumping in the Kosher places catering to Orthodox Jews, with Israelis. Some are, some aren't. Some are Sephardic, some aren't. Stick to talking about the food.

                                                                        Likewise, you labeled Ba'al as Palestinian. Maybe they are? Who knows? Most articles label it Jordanian, with bread and spices brought in from Jordan.

                                                                        Finally, the notion that Falafel is the pride of Yemenite Jewish cooking is fiction. Some Yemenites, like virtually every other people of the middle east, have traded in Falafel, but there's nothing distinctively unique about the falafel they're serving that deserves designation. Can you name 5 Yemenite Jewish falafel places and explain how their falafel shares a style that's different from the others? Of course not. It means your preferences are not food based.

                                                                        1. re: sugartoof

                                                                          @sugartoof,

                                                                          But there is a unique history to the Yemenite falafel and how it became the preferred falafel of Israel. I don't know why you are projecting politcs into this discussion (and it is you who are doing this, not foodwhisperer).

                                                                          Here's just one example of many such discussions of falafel regionalism you could find on the web, this one from Epicurious:

                                                                          "Every Israeli has an opinion about falafel, the ultimate Israeli street food, which is most often served stuffed into pita bread. One of my favorite spots is a simple stand in the Bukharan Quarter of Jerusalem, adjacent to Mea Shearim. The neighborhood was established in 1891, when wealthy Jews from Bukharan engaged engineers and city planners to plan a quarter with straight, wide streets and lavish stone houses. After the Russian Revolution, with the passing of time and fortunes, the Bukharan Quarter lost much of its wealth, but even so the area retains a certain elegance. There, the falafel is freshly fried before your eyes and the balls are very large and light. Shlomo Zadok, the elderly falafel maker and falafel stand owner, brought the recipe with him from his native Yemen.

                                                                          Zadok explained that at the time of the establishment of the state, falafel — the name of which probably comes from the word pilpel (pepper) — was made in two ways: either as it is in Egypt today, from crushed, soaked fava beans or fava beans combined with chickpeas, spices, and bulgur; or, as Yemenite Jews and the Arabs of Jerusalem did, from chickpeas alone. But favism, an inherited enzymatic deficiency occurring among some Jews — mainly those of Kurdish and Iraqi ancestry, many of whom came to Israel during the mid 1900s — proved potentially lethal, so all falafel makers in Israel ultimately stopped using fava beans, and chickpea falafel became an Israeli dish.

                                                                          The timing was right for falafel in those early years, with immigrants pouring in. Since there was a shortage of meat, falafel made a cheap, protein-rich meal — and people liked it.

                                                                          Rachama Ihshady, daughter of the founder of another favorite Jerusalem falafel joint, Shalom's Falafel on Bezalel Street, told me that her family recipe, also of Yemenite origin, has not changed since British times....

                                                                          Read More http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                                                                          I think it is fine for Manhattanites to say that they don't care what Israelis like when it comes to falafel any more than they care what Italians like when it comes to pizza. NYC can have its own evolving regional norms. But it's not okay to try to shut down discussion of food origins, regionalism and how they might be inflecting the tastes of dishes served in NYC.

                                                                          1. re: barberinibee

                                                                            Signaling out one demographic of Israelis is NOT posting about the origins, or the regionalism and how they inflect the tastes.

                                                                            In NY there is no such thing as a Yemenite Jewish falafel beyond it being made by a shop owner who happens to be Yemenite Jewish, rather than say, a Persian Jew, or an Egyptian Jew. Period. Your cut and paste doesn't say a single unique thing about Yemenite falafel, it says they share a preference with Jerusalem Arabs. What has Foodwhisper or you said of the taste differences?

                                                                  2. re: jen kalb

                                                                    I'm glad you enjoyed it. All their sides are good, too, except for the baba ghanouj, which I remember being too burnt-tasting.

                                                            2. re: pauliface

                                                              I agree with you on Taim. The ingredients are are fresh, and should work, but somehow it falls flat for me with dull flavors. I think Taim fans end up using a lot of their signature hot sauces.

                                                              Mamoun gets certain elements right, specifically, I think the oil they use helps, but the self destructing cardboard pita keeps me away.

                                                            3. I really like the shawarma platter and falafel at the Waterfalls Cafe in Brooklyn, on Atlantic Avenue west of Clinton Street. They make sandwiches too but I haven't tried them. Several other good middle eastern restaurants and shops in that area.

                                                              http://www.menupages.com/restaurants/...

                                                                1. The real issue is the bread. Packaged pita is inferior. Fresh pita cannot be too thick, and certainly NOT undercooked either.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: NYJewboy

                                                                    Exactly.

                                                                    Though I personally would rather thickness with flavor, over the thin cardboardy stuff that breaks before it's even filled.

                                                                  2. After recommends here, I went to Jerusalem on Broadway for a Shwarma. It wan't bad at all, but it wasn't at all like what I had in mind .... in Tel Aviv, where there is a huge array of condiments etc. to put on your sandwich and you can add what you like.

                                                                    They *do* have this sort of thing at Alibaba on Amsterdam and 84th, a Yeminite run place. Still not exactly like Israel, but closer.

                                                                      1. re: jpr54_1

                                                                        Nish Nush is still very good and is still Yemenite lol. I saw I didn't respond to sugar toof previously but I will say, I know the style of the falafel because I ask the owners and workers where they are from. That's how I know Ba'Al is Palestinian for example.
                                                                        Anyway, I've been going to Baba Ganouj lately ( across street from Nish Nush) the falafel is made with a mix of fava bean and chick peas ( no flour filler) and is good. Their chicken shwarma is excellent and I like their "roll up" pita very much. better than pocket pita. I did not ask where they were from, but they do speak Arabic. In Paterson, NJ the Palestinian places use straight up chickpeas. So Im not sure of the ancestry of Baba ganouj owner/ chefs.

                                                                        1. re: foodwhisperer

                                                                          +1 on nish nush, never thought to go across the street....

                                                                        2. re: jpr54_1

                                                                          The falafel plate at Zizi Limona in Williamsburg I thought was outstanding. Chicken Shawarma over Hummus was very good as well

                                                                        3. Three yeas later and I STILL vote for Azuri Cafe

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: jnk

                                                                            Azuri is the one I frequent the most. If only the pita would have been thinner, white and bright as Ezra's smile.
                                                                            Love the Shawarma too

                                                                            Nish Nush is still my favorite tho
                                                                            Gazala's Place got the best Hummus IMO, and the falafel not too shabby.

                                                                            1. re: Ziggy41

                                                                              I waiver between gazala and nish nush as my favorite.... Kind of a "love the one you're with" situation.