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Where to Find the best Falafel in NY?

mnwinship Apr 5, 2007 08:23 AM

Hi Everyone,
I just came back from Paris, and had the best falafel of my life at L'As a Fallafel. Where can I find something like this in NYC? It had fresh fallafel, crunchy on the outside, tender on the inside, great tahini sauce, fresh pitas, grilled eggplant, and cabbage salad. I'm located in Midtown, anything good close to here?? Thanks so much!

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  1. twiggles RE: mnwinship Apr 5, 2007 08:54 AM

    my favorite place is Azuri cafe. everything is fresh, authentic, and really tasty. you just have to get past the owner's grumpy attitude (which you could say adds to the experience). it's on 51st between 9th and 10th (closer to 10th).

    6 Replies
    1. re: twiggles
      a_and_w RE: twiggles Apr 5, 2007 10:01 AM

      Azuri is indeed the place to go. One of the few in America that's compared with the Paris place you mention. IMO, Ezra's bad attitude emphatically does not contribute to the experience, but the food is so good you just can't resist. Two other places that are a step below but in the area are Olympic Pita on 39th btw 5th and B'way (try the falafel on lavash) and Pick-A-Pita on 38th btw 6th and 7th (yummy shawafel that's better than Chickpea, imo). Finally, you might also want to try Taim on Waverly (great falafel and sabich). It's out of the area but the only other place that approaches Azuri's quality with a much nicer owner.

      1. re: a_and_w
        littlebites RE: a_and_w Apr 5, 2007 10:05 AM

        Azuri is definitely the best falafel you can get in New York. Ezra is a crouch, but if he tends to be nicer if you kind of suck up to him and tell him how wonderful his food is, how it's the best in New York, etc. The chicken shish plate is AMAZING, its the most flavorful, tender chicken you can imagine.

        1. re: littlebites
          a_and_w RE: littlebites Apr 5, 2007 10:15 AM

          I'm sorry, but I was a regular at Azuri for many years and had a chance to observe Ezra on numerous occasions. He is more than a grouch when he gets going. His volatility is frightening and offensive -- there's just no other way to put it. More than once, I vowed never to return after observing some foul-mouthed tantrum at customers or staff. Unfortunately, his falafel and shawarma are like crack...

          I wish I could find the link to Jim's own take on Ezra's temper. I used to scoff at it until I witnessed the bad behavior myself. Most likely you'll be fine but people need to be prepared for the possibility they will meet Bad Ezra...

          PS: Try the hummus by itself. Used to buy it by the pint and eat it with a spoon...

          1. re: a_and_w
            twiggles RE: a_and_w Apr 5, 2007 10:20 AM

            wow, that's good to know. i'm not a regular there, but have been going occasionally for the past couple of years. the falafel platter is just so good, it makes me take the walk over there. i have never witnessed anything but 'grumpiness' but it definitely wouldn't surprise me. I'll need to be more prepared in the future...

            1. re: a_and_w
              ow77 RE: a_and_w Apr 7, 2007 04:31 PM

              Here's a link to your own post quoting Jim's post...

          2. re: a_and_w
            Lau RE: a_and_w Apr 8, 2007 08:58 AM

            what are the cross streets of Taim? (waverly and ?)

        2. thievery RE: mnwinship Apr 5, 2007 10:19 AM

          I'm a fan of Taim in the W. Village. Not the same style as L'As in Paris (so Lenny Kravitz won't be putting his pic on the wall anytime soon)... less stuffed, but simple fresh made falafel great fluffy pita a few basic ingredients, and a spicy mint sauce to accent the tahini flavor. And no grumpy owner.

          The european chain Maoz just opened in union square. It's chain food, so not gonna rank at the top -- but if you like a lot of different ingredients and flavors in your falafel... their fixings bar gives you 10 or so additional options.

          4 Replies
          1. re: thievery
            mnwinship RE: thievery Apr 5, 2007 10:25 AM

            Wow, everyone thanks for the responses! Can't wait to get out and try...

            1. re: thievery
              jsgjewels RE: thievery Apr 5, 2007 10:32 AM

              Second Taim. Plus you get a choice of whole wheat pita which though not authentic, i think is great. And a great area to sit outside with your falafel on a nice day.

              1. re: jsgjewels
                piccola RE: jsgjewels Apr 5, 2007 06:37 PM

                Taim for sure. Esp. the little green ones.

              2. re: thievery
                lucyjeong RE: thievery Apr 22, 2007 07:51 PM

                I just went to Taim on Friday night. The place is charming albeit tiny. Ppl were nice and friendly. The falafel's themselves were not that great though. They weren't crispy at all and was lacking a lot of flavor. I had gotten the Harissa one and was expecting more spunk. The pita bread is definitely the best I've ever had. So light and fluffy! We also had the fries with the saffron aioli sauce - the sauce is great but again - the fries were soggy. Wonder if they were having a bad fry day or something. also had the ginger mint tea which was amazing! I would try it again to see if it was just an off day because the ingredients did seem and taste fresh despite the lack of crispiness.

              3. d
                davisready RE: mnwinship Apr 5, 2007 10:30 AM

                Perhaps a little out of the way, my fave is Murray's falafel on 1st btw 15th & 16th. They have freshest/tastiest pitas and falafel I've ever had. They have this super tasty house-made green hot sauce which I definitley recommend. Although it didn't come with grilled eggplant, I'm sure they will put in in if you ask.

                1 Reply
                1. re: davisready
                  Pan RE: davisready Apr 6, 2007 01:35 AM

                  I went once, a little over a year ago, and was underwhelmed. As I remember, it was overly dry and didn't taste of much spice. Some people said I should give them another chance, but I haven't felt the urge so far.

                  I haven't been to Azuri in several years but thought his felafel was delicious. I haven't been to Taim yet. I thought the felafel at Hoomoos Asli was great - very tasty, with plenty of spice, and cooked just to my taste. I never loved the felafel at Chickpea, used to like their turkey shawarma, but have found it increasingly tasteless and was also greatly annoyed that they got rid of my favorite side for filling - the spicy mixed-vegetable pickles (cauliflower, etc.). I now consider the cheaper Mamoun's acceptable for some late-night felafel on St. Marks and don't go to Chickpea anymore.

                2. n
                  nycfoodchik RE: mnwinship Apr 5, 2007 10:36 AM

                  Ali Baba on Amsterdam btw 84 & 85 is amazing! The guy there is kinda scary- so don't ask too many questions...and it's tiny so not much room to sit if it's crowded, but so worth it...great shwarma too!
                  ChickPea is also good (mutliple locations- I like the one on 14th st & 3rd ave)....

                  1. lilnugget RE: mnwinship Apr 5, 2007 03:20 PM

                    I used to love Mamouns in the village, and Cinderella in the east village.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: lilnugget
                      jsmitty RE: lilnugget Apr 5, 2007 05:22 PM

                      mamouns falafel and a coke. one of my favorite meals..

                    2. g
                      Gabbeh RE: mnwinship Apr 5, 2007 05:58 PM

                      The NY Times had a receipe for Falafel on Wednesday. Tried it tonight. Soaked the beans overnight, drained them at 6:30 PM and by 7:15 had a stack of fabulous falafel. Not Azuri--but my husband, who is an Azuri addict--felt they came close.

                      1. jinet12 RE: mnwinship Apr 5, 2007 06:43 PM

                        Mamouns! The best!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: jinet12
                          marlie202 RE: jinet12 Apr 6, 2007 11:21 AM

                          Mamoun's on St. Marks Place-always freshly madeleast expensive and the people are nice

                        2. t
                          trueqwest RE: mnwinship Apr 5, 2007 11:43 PM

                          I know it isn't midtown but I also sing the praises of Mamouns. Shwarma, Baklava, falafel and everything else, I have never had a bad time ordering from either the village or east village locations. Some have told me it's arabic fast food, but it's sooooo good, especially after 2AM (open 'til 4).

                          Besides, it's only a A, C, E, train away from midtown :-)

                          1. w
                            whiner RE: mnwinship Apr 6, 2007 02:52 AM

                            I used to spend a lot of time around NYU at night and Mamouns was my go-to late night eatery. I can't say I've tried any of the other suggestions listed, but Mamouns gets my vote for the best falafel I've ever had, so...

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: whiner
                              rifbat RE: whiner Apr 6, 2007 04:24 AM

                              Azuri's food is fantastic. Ezra himself is a lovely person who is understandably distressed by being characterized by Zagat and by the urban mythologists as being some kind of ogre. Go, enjoy the fantastic food, check the attitude at the door, and you will have a great time.

                              1. re: rifbat
                                a_and_w RE: rifbat Apr 6, 2007 09:54 AM

                                It's no myth. I've seen him throw tantrums -- including cursing customers and staff and slamming furniture and plates -- just because it was hot and crowded in his restaurant. On that point, I think he might be more relaxed if he moved to a place with even a little more space.

                                1. re: a_and_w
                                  hungry329 RE: a_and_w Apr 6, 2007 10:44 AM

                                  There is this great little place in the diamond district in the alley between 5th and 6th and it's kind of btwn. 48th and 49th. It's in a little arcade. It's a booth so you can't sit but it's seriously GREAT!

                            2. Cheese Boy RE: mnwinship Apr 6, 2007 01:12 PM

                              I've been a loyal customer of Mamoun's for years. I recently decided to try Yatagan Kabab House on Macdougal just to satisfy my curiosity, and I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. The falafel I received was very fresh, as were all the accompaniments. I think it's worth a try if you're in the area and you don't want to deal with the line at Mamoun's.

                              Kinda neat ---> http://home.nyc.rr.com/jkn/nysongline...

                              1. a_and_w RE: mnwinship Apr 6, 2007 01:24 PM

                                Just to clarify, L'As a Fallafel is an Israeli-style falafel joint. Places like Mamoun's, whatever their merits (and to be honest, I'm not such a fan) probably aren't quite what the OP is looking for. All of the places I mentioned previously are Israeli-style. For other types of falafel, I like Rainbow (17th btw 5th and 6th -- make sure you get the hot sauce) and Alfanoose (somewhere in the Financial District -- I can never remember the new location).

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: a_and_w
                                  mlt9 RE: a_and_w Apr 7, 2007 04:13 PM

                                  i love mamouns, but Hoomoos Asli (Kenmare & Lafayette) is more traditional israeli and delicious! can't think of any in midtown...

                                  1. re: mlt9
                                    a_and_w RE: mlt9 Apr 25, 2007 11:38 AM

                                    If you like Hoommoos Asli, give Azuri a try. Similar style of falafel and pita but even better, imo, with a wider variety of salads and better hummus...

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