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Best Falafel in NYC?

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A debatable question, I'm sure- But, where are you favorite Falafel joints in NYC, five boroughs included. I've been up and down the island and through Queens trying to find the king. Kebab Cafe in Queens was stellar, as was the Falafel cart at (I'm going back a little ways here) 36th and Steinway. I practically lived off of Oasis falafel just off Bedford and Maoz, while not fantastic, has been a mainstay for a quick dinner (Viva la Saladbox! Down with that gross fried broccoli, though).

Mamoun's was a bit of a dissapointment and Hummus Place, where the focus is on Hummus and not Falafel, was only okay, a solid B+. The joint on Graham Avenue with the Rosewater-Mint Lemonade is a winner, also. There have been countless other joints here and there but now I'm looking for your suggestions.

Great Moments in Falafel history!: At the cart they pack in fries and fried eggplant, as well as smushing the balls into little patties so there's Falafel in every bite. This is a good idea. Kebab Cafe wraps theirs in a flat bread as opposed to a pita. Also a good idea.

Tell me, NYC Chow Dudes, where is the best Falafel in our fair city?

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  1. Hm... I don't love falafel, but I find Mamoun's to be a good snack and Karam has a pretty good falafel. Karam's on 86th and 4th in Bay Ridge (Beirut.) The falafels are OK, but again I'm not a falafel lover. Their shawarma however is pretty incredible. My favorite shawarma = Karam. I also like their falafels, but maybe it's just an emotional thing?

    1. Back at the post: Has anyone tried Chickpea's Baked Falafel? Their fried stuff was only so-so and I'm hesitant to drop 6 bucks on a colossal mistake.

      5 Replies
      1. re: GilloD

        They have baked falafel??? Let's hope it's good - I would love a non-fried ball of chickpea goodness.

        1. re: piccola

          I just had it today, it wasn't so bad. Had all the flavors that it had before, but now it is less greasy, but its kinda flakey. It crumbles when you cut it and its not really a ball now, its a odd shaped football link type thing. They also give you more falafel's then before.

          1. re: Huffy

            Good to know. I don't mind crumbliness or weird shape if it's in a sandwich.

          2. re: piccola

            Pump has baked Falafel. And while I wouldn't call it the best in the city, it was pretty good considering it was "health food".

            1. re: fooodie

              I actually like The Pump (what I've had, anyway), so maybe I'll dig the falafel.

        2. Azuri Cafe - 51st between 9th & 10th

          1. Completely agree with Dorian, Azuri is amazing!!!!!!!!!! Everyone I bring there is thoroughly bowled over. The guy makes good soups too, and shawarma. And the chicken livers are to die for. Waterfalls, on Atlantic Ave. is also pretty good, but Azuri is tops.

            1. Azuri is delicious. The pickled vegetables are really a great touch.

              1. We love Mamoun's

                1. Rainbow falafel on 17th btwn Broadway and 5th is great as is Tiam at 222 Waverly Pl btwn Perry & W 11th St.

                  1. Another vote for Azuri - hands down the best, though I'm more of a schwarma fan in general. Quite the unique experience as well...

                    1. azuri is very good but i prefer alfanoose on maiden lane near 1 cmp.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: wryorwhite

                        I second Alfanoose, great falafel and friendly Lebanese family runs the place. Their salads are also good, ie baba ghanoush. Bonus: they make their own pickles, not only cucumber but also turnip.

                        1. re: JulesEV

                          Are they Lebanese? I thought they were Syrian. No matter, the food is good, there is a great variety, fabulous desserts, everything made on-location, etc., etc. The family who works there is just great. Warning: Their falafels are REALLY garlicky. But the texture is magnificent. Best I have ever had.

                          1. re: foodmonk

                            Love Alfanoose...like the tabouleh, too.And the Baklava is divine.

                      2. I love Taim on Waverly near 7th Ave. Great quality, great Falafel and interesting "other" options as well. P.S. They have a curry sauce, albeit not tradition-- and not aimed at going on the falafel, that is wonderful.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: jdream

                          actually the curry sauce is Amba, a very popular sauce in Israel-
                          it's very much like an indian mango pickle puree(with tumeric) and is of Iraqi origin

                        2. The best, especially if you love Israeli-style falafel, is definitely Azuri on 51st off 10th Ave. You should also buy a pint of the hummus to take home with you -- it's absurdly delicious. There's really no place quite like Azuri anywhere else in the city, and quite possibly the United States. Competition for the next tier is closer, with Taim and Olympic going neck and neck. The food is slightly fresher at Taim, but the variety of salads and toppings (fried eggplant!) plus the laffa bread are major points in Olympic's favor. Also, Taim is only vegetarian.

                          Rainbow and Alfanoose are worth trying, too, but a notch below the others mentioned, imo. Make sure to get the hot sauce at Rainbow, and go for a combo platter at Alfanoose. I'm not a huge fan of Mamoun's, which is OK but nothing special, or Chickpea, which pre-mixes its salad.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: a_and_w

                            yet another vote for Azuri. i like the falafel platter- it comes with salads and hummus, as well as the falafel and pickled veggies. so good.

                          2. Alfanoose on Maiden Ln. Never disappoints and reasonable prices.

                            1. Nargila Grill on 84th and York is also quite good for all you UES people out there.

                              1. Zaytoon's. Smith Street in Carroll Gardens. Waterfall Cafe on Atlantic is good too.

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: spicynuts

                                  Little known Secret of the Garment Center. Pick a Pita on 38th street between 7/8. Every Israeli friend I bring there is blown away.

                                  1. re: eatnyc

                                    Love, love, love Pick-A-Pita! Their shawafel sandwich is a must try -- make sure you get fries and fried eggplant inside. I will, however, say that I prefer the salads at Azuri and Olympic.

                                    1. re: a_and_w

                                      Is there seating at Pick-A-Pita, or is it just take out? Also, is it kosher? Thanks!

                                      1. re: noya

                                        There is seating, though it's cramped, and it is most definitely kosher. It's a little hard to find (you have to go through what looks like a loading bay to find it) so keep your eyes peeled for the sign. It's in the middle of the block.

                                        1. re: a_and_w

                                          PS: Meant to say, Pick-A-Pita is on the north side of 38th, middle of the block.

                                    2. re: eatnyc

                                      Pick a Pita is the best! Their falafel is well spiced, crispy perfection.

                                      Also second Oasis in BK. They do a really delicious Shish Taouk as well.

                                  2. Azuri is for sure my #1.

                                    However, if you're on the wrong end of town, Ashkara is very good as well. It is my clear cut #2 with especially good toppings and pitas (and good fries).

                                    I like Taim, but I'm turned off by the prices.

                                    7 Replies
                                    1. re: zEli173

                                      Did Taim just raise their prices? Menupages shows only a .50 difference with Azuri, but I seem to recall Taim going up in price recently. I cut them some slack because of the location, which almost certainly costs more to rent. But it does annoy me that they don't have a better selection of salads and charge for extra salads on the sandwiches. The brilliance of Ezra's pitas is that they contain a sampling of all of the various goodies he offers. BTW, the fried cauliflower is another must at Azuri.

                                      1. re: zEli173

                                        I loooove Taim. But not the price.
                                        And though the falafel is awesome, the salads are the real standouts.

                                        1. re: piccola

                                          Does Azuri put "chips" i.e. french fries in their falafel pita like places in Israel? Because that would be fantastic... I'm planning to go there on Thursday for lunch.

                                          1. re: rmcase13

                                            No.

                                            1. re: rmcase13

                                              olympic pita puts fries in the laffa bread w/ falafel.

                                              1. re: josh L

                                                That's right re fries at Olympic though you have to specifically ask if you want them on the falafel. They seem to come automatically on the shawarma.

                                            2. re: piccola

                                              I give them points for freshness (love that carrot salad) but ding them for the poor selection (no cole slaw?!) and the fact that you pay extra for salads on your sandwich.

                                          2. I love Alfanoose. I think the falafel pieces have a nice robust flavor. Its loaded with garlic (if you like that) and incredibly tasty. Also been to Azuri and had a nice experience there as well, but for some reaon, the pockets at Alfanoose I remember more distinctly.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: RawTunaFan

                                              Indeed.

                                              Mohammed also uses a very heavy hand with the fresh herbs in the falafels themselves. Very refreshing combination -- but, as I said above, lots of garlic, so be careful!

                                            2. Does any place make their falafel from fava beans? I had it in Egypt, and it was the best! I find the chickpea falafel to be a little heavy.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: wanderjahr

                                                My personal favorite (possibly more emotional than anything) is Caffe Rakka, St Mark's Place just east of 1st Ave. I think there are favas in their felafels, though maybe not exclusively. I've always thought them Egyptian, though I later learned Syrian.
                                                Their hot sauce is the best in the city.

                                                1. re: wanderjahr

                                                  Pick-a-Pita makes their absolutely wonderful Falaful with fava beans. In fact, since I've eaten their Falaful, it's the only falaful I like!
                                                  Ruchel

                                                2. Azuri is fantastc. The food is sparkling fresh and the felafel balls are fried in fresh oil. The hummus is wonderful, as is the chicken shashlik. The tabbouleh is very refreshing with its high parsley to bulgar ratio. You can't go wrong with a big salad plate so you can try all the different preparations. If you still have room, Ezra's baklava, both the walnut and pistachio are divine

                                                  1. Moustache on E. 10th bet. 1st & A never disappoints. I've loved everything at this place with only one exception: that chicken phyllo dish. Otherwise, great & cheap Middle-Eastern fare. I think they're Israelis there.

                                                    4 Replies
                                                    1. re: pinkylechat

                                                      Owned by an Iraqi family, I think. But cool if they are employing Israelis! I like their falafel okay, but they far and away take the prize for baba ghanoush.
                                                      They also have a branch on Bedford Street in the West Village.

                                                      1. re: simkhele

                                                        My husband keeps wanting to go there b/c of the Iraqi owners - do you know if there is any Iraqi food on the menu?

                                                        1. re: MMRuth

                                                          As a side note they are also part of the slow food movement.

                                                          1. re: jdream

                                                            Always good to know - thank you. I will have to give in to my husband's request to try this place.

                                                    2. Were you guys joking about Azuri? With such glowing reviews, I stopped in there last night around 8:30. Granted, it was close to close, but the food was AWFUL. I shelled out for the large Falafel plate ($12!) and was utterly disappointed. The sides were great and there were a ton of them, but I got 3 lousy, teeny, tiny falafel balls that had the dry texture of a dog biscut and tasted like stale bread. I was completely bummed out. I have to assume that it was a freak accident, like getting knocked in the head by a meteor because everyone seems to adore the place. And no pita! 50 pounds of sides and no pita? Really? The Baklava was equally dissapointing, a big, heavy slab of soggy something. It lacked the wonderful texturality of baklava and instead ate like a fig newton soaked in honey.

                                                      My trip to Azuri was not only my second worst Falafel experience (Ugh. Every try the Whole Foods falafel? Don't. It's beyond atrocious), it was one of the worst meals I've had in months. Is it because I got there late? Got it to go?

                                                      My wife and I ended up going downtown to Istanbul Grill where the Falafel is only so-so, but it's a third of the price and not catastrophically disappointing. Guys, what happened?! I really want to give them the benefit of the doubt, but the trip was so awful I feel like I'm on Candid Camera.

                                                      14 Replies
                                                      1. re: GilloD

                                                        LOL! Yes, sounds like you got the f-you treatment for showing up at 8:30pm. Trust me, you're lucky Ezra didn't just curse at you and kick you out. He can be a mean dude, though the Latin guys are pretty nice.

                                                        If you go back, stick with the sandwiches or the SMALL combo plates, which are the best deal. And if you feel like dessert, go down the block to Ruby et Violette for some cookies.

                                                        1. re: a_and_w

                                                          Ezra greets me with a kiss on the cheek as I enter and upon departure. I am not kidding. And, I have never had a bad there :)

                                                          1. re: Ora

                                                            You are a lucky...let me guess, lady? And maybe attractive? For several years, I lived down the street and had a chance to watch Ezra up close on a weekly basis. He has a soft spot for the ladies, especially beautiful women who are Jewish. I do do not dispute that he can be a real charmer when he wants to be.

                                                            But I'm not exaggerating when I say he has a dark side and I have seen it more than once. Bad Ezra tends to come out when it's late and he wants to go home after a long day. Or when it's hot and there are too many customers crowded in his store. Plates bang, curses fly, and things get ugly.

                                                            That said, there's apparently only one other place outside of the middle east that does falafel like his, and that's L'as Du Falafel in Paris. I can't say because I've never been L'as Du, but I've never found anything remotely like Azuri anywhere else I've lived -- and I've looked.

                                                            1. re: a_and_w

                                                              I've been to L'as Du Falafel in the Murais in Paris, and the only reason why I'm here is because I'm trying to find a falafel place here at home that even comes close. If you are ever in Paris, you have to try it. I go there at least 3 times every visit. Thanks for the recc. for Azuri, I'll give it a try. Mamouns is OK, but I've always wondered if there is better.

                                                              1. re: soultasto

                                                                Check out Olympic, Pick-A-Pita, and Taim, as well for Israel-style falafel.

                                                                1. re: soultasto

                                                                  L'as Du Falafel is the gold standard for falafel in my experience, outside of Israel. I was there five years ago on the hottest day in a long, hot Paris summer. Even roasting in their little dining room, the falafel was better than anything I've eaten before or since.
                                                                  I'm going to Azuri for the first time on Thursday. Hopefully I'll get the good Ezra, not the nasty one.

                                                            2. re: a_and_w

                                                              He seemed like a nice enough guy, we made some mild chit-chat. Still, if you're going to be open until 9, be open until 9. Either tell me "Fuck you, kitchen's closed" or make some food. Don't charge me and then screw me over. I'll head back again at lunch someday, but this was really a dissapointment.

                                                              1. re: GilloD

                                                                If you do, take some hummus home with you. I'm telling you, it's unlike any other hummus I've tasted anywhere. So creamy and almost sweet but with a savory kick from something green. I used to think it was garlic or green onion, but eventually decided it was parsley of all things. Eat it by itself with a spoon or (at most) a piece of pita for the full effect. Dammit, now I'm drooling with recollection...

                                                            3. re: GilloD

                                                              wow sorry to hear about your experience. i've never had anything but fresh, delicious falafel and amazing salads with the falafel plate. i usually get the small, it is more than ample. and i've always been given more than enough pita on the side. sounds like a very off night.

                                                              1. re: twiggles

                                                                Yeah, I really have to give them the benefit of the doubt, but it wasn't just "off", you know? It was rude and expensive and unrepresentative. I'll swing by again next week when I'm off, but. Just stay away after 8, I guess!

                                                              2. re: GilloD

                                                                The sandwich is better than the platter. So, try that. But even the sandwich is not as good as the consensus on this board would suggest. I have had better falafel all over the city, and for much less.

                                                                1. re: toum

                                                                  For example...?

                                                                2. re: GilloD

                                                                  Hate to tell you, but Azuri is kind of a mediocre place. Yes, it is better than most, but it is still mediocre. The salads are at first impressive... they come off as fresh and delectable, but after a couple of trips, it wears thin. the falafel generally tastes like cardboard. I don't know where THE place is, but it's not Azuri.

                                                                  1. re: Borat

                                                                    This is just nonsense. I ate at Azuri weekly for years. The falafel does not taste like "cardboard" and the place does not "wear thin" after many visits.

                                                                3. Azuri's coasting on some decade-old rep, but they suck now. Seriously, Taim is awesome.

                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: henrysalt

                                                                    The people at Taim are nice, and the food is good, but it isn't in the same league with Azuri.

                                                                    1. re: a_and_w

                                                                      Surely you're not serious. I went to Azuri about three weeks ago, and, while their salads/sides are indeed plentiful, the food is generic at best. And expensive, too. Taim, on the other hand... the pita's freshly made (and delicious), and the falafel itself is delightful (and there are several varieties). Azuri was good six or seven years ago, I'll give you that. But seriously, you're living in the past...

                                                                      1. re: henrysalt

                                                                        I am serious, and don't call me Shirley -- LOL! Last time I was at Azuri was the end of January, just before I moved to LA, and it was as delicious as ever. In fact, when I think about it, I probably prefer Olympic to Taim, too. (Seriously, no cole slaw at an Israeli falafel joint...what's up with that?) I'll probably hit them all later this year when I'm back in New York and let you know if my opinion has changed.

                                                                        Ultimately, there's no accounting for taste, but I do find it interesting that you seem to be the only person on this thread who has price issues with Azuri relative to Taim. General consensus seems to be that Taim is too expensive.

                                                                        PS: And don't forget the hummus -- Azuri's hummus is quite unlike anything I've ever tasted.

                                                                  2. I am no falafel expert but from the different places I've been to in NYC, the falafel at Yatagan is the best one I've had to date. I am reading a lot about Azuri so I will have to try that one day (even after reading GilloD's awful experience).

                                                                    1. As far as quality with a price to match, there are three spots that I know I can count on for a delicious falafel and the accompanying sides:
                                                                      1. Moustache in east village (really fresh- was surprised!)
                                                                      2. Tuts Cafe in Brooklyn Heights (hidden BYOB with homemade pita)
                                                                      3. Waterfalls in Brooklyn Heights (combo platter for two with the fried cauliflower)

                                                                      These spots are reliable for a great meal, laid back atmosphere and the cheapest prices around.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: gabbagal

                                                                        none of these places match up the israeli falafel served at azuri or olympic pita.

                                                                      2. Saw Kebab Cafe got a nice write up in the 25 and Under section of The Times today. Good falafel, but his other food is leagues ahead.

                                                                        1. Can't believe no one has mentioned Hoomoos Asli on kenmare, great falafel and hummus (or is that hoomoos?). Their platters are excellent as well.

                                                                          Rainbow is a good choice, although the pitas are rarely warm and usually pulled straight from the bag. Still prefer it to Maoz as a non-chain

                                                                          Bereket on houston is a nice quick and dirty stop late at night

                                                                          1. By far it's Moshe's Falafel's cart in Midtown.
                                                                            Truly extraordinary, as well as the soups.

                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                            1. re: lamgelinaoly

                                                                              Where exactly in midtown?

                                                                              1. re: rmcase13

                                                                                Moshe is on the corner of 46th and 6th Avenue.
                                                                                You'll know him when you see the beards!!!

                                                                              2. re: lamgelinaoly

                                                                                Moshes Falafel's are tasteless and bad. Yuck!

                                                                              3. Pita House/Pita Hot in Astoria. Right across from the hospital. 25-15 30th Avenue, between 27th Street and Crescent.

                                                                                Falafel is almost meaty and beautifully spiced. It even tastes good cold, especially when dipped in some creamy hummus or smokey baba ghanouj.

                                                                                1. Fatoosh in Brooklyn Heights (Hicks and Atlantic) has amazing falafel. Also try their Fatoosh salad. My husband and I lived directly across the street and considered Fatoosh our kitchen.

                                                                                  1. Olympic Pita in midtown south & Sido on the UWS (79th & Amst I think)- the chicken falafel combo is amazing

                                                                                    1. Cinderella Falafel (on 2nd Ave, off of St. Marks) is great. All of their "special" sandwiches are delicious, the guys behind the counter are super-friendly, and they also have some tasty middle eastern soups. Also: finally, a middle eastern place which offers "white sauce" that is yogurt-based tzatziki, not mayonnaise!

                                                                                      1. Just had the falafel today from Ali Baba Turkish Cuisine, and it was amazing...best I've had in NYC thus far.

                                                                                        1. Moshe's Falafel, when the cart is open...
                                                                                          Yatagan when it isn't...

                                                                                          *Now I feel like a falafel*

                                                                                          -----
                                                                                          Yatagan Kebab House
                                                                                          104 MacDougal St, New York, NY 10012

                                                                                          Moshe's Falafel
                                                                                          442 W 45th St, New York, NY 10036

                                                                                          1. Interesting to hear what everyone has to say. As a long time falafel lover, though I have to chip in of course.

                                                                                            The best falafel in NYC, hands down, is Mamoun's, there is simply no arguing. The falafel itself is fresh every time because of the high traffic, the pita is just right, thin but not chewy, and not the horrible doughy 'freshly made' stuff that has become so popular lately. Most important, the tahini is as authentic as you could want and just perfect, and the hot sauce, or s'hug, is also exactly the way it should be. There is nowhere else in NYC that comes close. The only ding for Mamoun's is that they only offer a lettuce-based salad, whereas ideally one should have a cucumber/tomato salad.

                                                                                            Now, on to other venues. Bereket has a decent falafel, but the spicing is not quite right, and neither is the hot sauce. People love Rainbow's, but the spicing is even further off, to the point where it's distracting, although it is still good. Moshe's (cart at 46th and 6th ave or so) was really quite good, the balls were greasy as could be, but they were very good, but as far as I know they are closed? I try to check every few months, but I think they are gone. Miriam's used to have a cart across the street, but last time I checked they were not there either (anyone know if they still show up)? I never tried them, but they have a good reputation. I've been to Azuri cafe several times, and while I really like the place for the very genuine atmosphere, the pita bread is way way too doughy. The falafel balls are good, but the t'hina is not quite right. As for the chicken liver there, spiced too heavily. Cinderela Falafel in the east village is always pretty good. Chickpea's is absolutely terrible, it's embarrassing that it is an Israeli joint. Ta'im is quite good, but is too far from classic falafel to really count. Moustache is good, but they don't make a sandwhich that you can just order and eat... but the falafel balls there are quite good. The Hummus place, true, does not specialize in falafel (but in Hummus of course) but I like their falafels quite well (and of course the Hummus rocks!!!). Sido's is not bad if you are in the area, but not a city-wide contender. Amir's in the Columbia area was disappointing the one time I tried it. Jerusalem falafel, a number of blocks further south of Amir's, was actually better, even if the service was a bit surly. On the upper east side there is a 'new' (about a year old) joint on Lex and 70th or so, but unfortunately it was disappointing. Pyramid falafel, on the other hand, on 78th just east of 1st ave, is quite decent and probably the best in the area, although again the spicing is a bit weird.

                                                                                            Now for caveats. I have to admit I never tried Alfanoose, but I've walked by, and it struck me as more a sit-down place, unlikely to be competitive in the real falafel stand venue. Likely falls into the same category as Nargilla Grill and Rectangles, which are really sit down places, and make passable falafel 'platters', but not a really awesome falafel sandwich. I have also not tried either Olympic Pita or the Pita grill place (both on 38th, apparently). The latter sounds more promising, so I will try to check it out. In Jersey City there is a place called Ibby's I believe which is actually darn good.

                                                                                            There is also a new place next to Bereket, I forget the name, which I was excited about, but when I tried it, it was very marginal, and there is supposed to be a new place around 18th bet. 5th and 6th I think, that is a branch of an Amsterdam falafel chain which has a good reputation, but I haven't gotten there yet either. Have not tried Yummy Schwarmi either, but I passed by and it did not look promising (on the other hand, they had burekas, which was very exciting, since I have not found *anywhere* in NYC with decent burekas... anyone know a place???).

                                                                                            Ok, would love to hear rebuttals, new places to try, anything I missed, etc.

                                                                                            11 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: falafel

                                                                                              As far as Alfanoose is concerned, you should really go and try it ... It's a glorified lunch-time take-out joint ... There is no table service. You stand in line along a long row of deli cases and then order when you get to the front. They scoop and cook the falafels when you order them. There is a lot of seating, but for how insanely busy it is at lunch, there has to be. I really like it. (And I admit that it's not important to me that there be a single place that is the best of anything.)

                                                                                              1. re: falafel

                                                                                                Wow -- quite a falafel tour! Thanks for all the intel. What about Azuri Cafe and Hoomoos Asli? To be honest, I haven't had the falafel at the latter (I'm more of a schawarma person), but I've heard good things...

                                                                                                1. re: theannerska

                                                                                                  Azuri and Hoomoos Aslii are both significantly better than Mamoun's, imo. I have no idea why the latter gets so much love.

                                                                                                  1. re: a_and_w

                                                                                                    I think because it's open late and its fans are VERY loyal -- which aren't bad reasons to love a place; everyone has favorites due to just sentimental value. Similarly, I am a staunch Azuri supporter!

                                                                                                    P.S. Agree re: pita-strength. Part of what I like about well-crafted sandwiches is that you can taste so many of the delicious ingredients in every bite, yet they're not overstuffed and bursting at the seams (I like my burgers messy, but not my sandwiches).

                                                                                                    1. re: theannerska

                                                                                                      Have you tried Olympic? The falafel on laffa bread is excellent and lets you enjoy many different salads without fear of the bread breaking. Another place that doesn't get talked about much is Pick-A-Pita. The salads aren't quite as fresh or tasty,but the bread manages to be thinner without sacrificing sturdiness. They do a killer Shawafel sandwich...

                                                                                                      1. re: a_and_w

                                                                                                        Unfortunately, I haven't -- I am a person of habit and I like my Azuri -- but I've always heard great things about Olympic and Pick-A-Pita. Maybe next time... Thanks for the info!

                                                                                                2. re: falafel

                                                                                                  Mamoun's is not even close to the best in the city. Azuri, Olympic, Alfanoose, even Rainbow, imo, are all vastly superior. I also think the pita at Azuri is perfect because it doesn't fall apart like Mamoun's or Rainbow.

                                                                                                  1. re: falafel

                                                                                                    I personally prefer Israeli style falafel to Arabic so comparing Mamoun's with Azuri is not really fair. However, I don't think the falafel at Mamoun's is very good at all. They use store bought pita, iceburg lettuce, excellent tahini, I'll admit that and average, somewhat bland falafel. In comparison, everything is homeade at azuri and the falafel are light, crunchy and intensley spiced, a wonderful blast of garlic and parsley. you said the pita pita bread is way way too doughy, that's how they do it in israel.

                                                                                                    1. re: josh L

                                                                                                      What is the difference between Israeli and Arabic style? I always (naively) thought of falafel as broadly middle eastern.

                                                                                                    2. re: falafel

                                                                                                      I think you missed Bread and Olive...there is one in mid-town (45th between 5th and 6th) and one on John Street between Broadway and Nassau. Their falafel has very nice spice and they're always fresh. The hot sauce is good (but I can't speak on the tahini...I don't tend to use it.) It's a great spot and there are plenty of side salads to choose!

                                                                                                      1. re: Jill

                                                                                                        Ditto. Only been to the 45th Street location.

                                                                                                        There is a new place on Fulton and Cliff. I have not been.

                                                                                                        Hard to believe I have lived downtown for over 10 years and have still not tried Alfanoose. I must go!

                                                                                                    3. Let's see a little love for Pita City (7th @ 20/21st) people!! four bucks, can't go wrong.

                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                      1. re: holland_oats

                                                                                                        went to mamoun's last night for the first time -- 2 bucks! unbelievable. really good, we even got a table!

                                                                                                      2. Try the Israeli places on Main St. near Jewell Ave. in Queens (Flushing). Good falafel and freshest pita at Naomi's Pizza (next to the Amalya Grocery, a must for Israeli food products) and Grill Point (also good for shwarma, kebabs and such).

                                                                                                        You can buy a bag of falafel - it reheats really well when you can't get to Queens!

                                                                                                        In Manhattan, Ali Baba on Amsterdam, though most make for the shwarma in laffa.

                                                                                                        1. By far.....
                                                                                                          Pick a Pita
                                                                                                          247 W 38th St,Btwn 7th & 8th Ave

                                                                                                          1. Fresh felafel and freshly-homemede pita at the new Gazala Place, 709 9th Avenue between 49th and 50th (2 doors North of Kyotofu). The falafel sanwich is $3.50 - kinda small, but way delish. Everything's made from scratch by the very nice owner-chef, an Israeli Druse woman. And it's the only place in New York to get Osh Al-Saraia, the mind-blowingly yummy cheese pudding with rich cake.

                                                                                                            1. This is my favorite thread, what fun.
                                                                                                              I guess much of this comes down to personal taste, of course, but:
                                                                                                              With regards to the pita debate and the Israeli vs Arab falafel, I grew
                                                                                                              up in Israel, and believe me, there were no fluffy doughy pita breads around
                                                                                                              back then (admittedly it is a while ago now), so while this does appear to be
                                                                                                              the new Israeli style, it's relatively recent, and personally I don't like it, at least not
                                                                                                              for falafel. I will say that the 'Hummus Place' makes this style of pita, and for eating
                                                                                                              Hummus, I think it's great.

                                                                                                              As for the falafel balls themselves, I don't know that I've ever noticed a particular style
                                                                                                              difference between Israeli and Arab places. I guess the one thing is that many of the
                                                                                                              new Israeli places (chickpea's, taim, etc.) seem to be intent on making new falafel flavors,
                                                                                                              and lots of people seem to like this. I can't stand the stuff at Chickpea's, but the stuff at
                                                                                                              Taim is pretty good, but for me, it's the not the real deal. I guess I feel, if it ain't broke (i.e. if
                                                                                                              'normal', or if you prefer, 'plain' falafel is already the yummiest perfect food around) don't fix it!

                                                                                                              I am quite curious about the Gazala place (the Druze Isareli woman?) someone mentioned, thanks for the tip! I will have to check it out. Also definitely curious about falafel in queens, so that post is interesting. I have actually heard from Israeli friends that the best falafel in the NYC metro area is in Great Neck of all places, but they couldn't remember names/locations. Anyone care to chip in with any Great Neck falafel info???

                                                                                                              1. This certainly is an interesting thread and it will be fun comparing some of these falafel joints.
                                                                                                                Please tell me something about the bread used in these places for a falafel "sandwich". Is it usually a true pocket type bread where the thing will hold together while you eat it, or does it vary between the Israeli and various Arab style places? I don't know a lot about falafel, but many times the sandwiches I've had seem to be served in a flat bread rolled up like a cone and the whole thing starts to fall apart as you eat it. My friend tells me that when he used to eat at places around Canal Street the balls were always served in a bread with a true split pocket, but in the suburbs, LI, etc we find the bread used as I described above, probably in Turkish and Greek places.

                                                                                                                1. Pick a pita is good and a great find in midtown. I have been eating in and carrying out for a few years. The soups and hot sauces as well as falafel are good. Only nit pick is the salad - to my mind the Israeli salad is is too coarsely cut and wan - veg bits should be miniscule, salad bursting with lemon, onion, parsley, spices in the pita and on the plate! They also don't offer all the wierd falafel condiments like pickled turnips which I love.

                                                                                                                  1. Hey all--

                                                                                                                    Great thread! Chalk up one more vote for Mamoun's. I was raised on 'em, so I have a real soft spot for them. They are dependable, affordable, and the falafel is perfect. I usually go with the falafel/hummos combo.

                                                                                                                    1. Gazala Place now has a web site:
                                                                                                                      http://www.gazalaplace.com/
                                                                                                                      Including photos of Gazala making pita by hand. The falafel there are still #1, as is the baba ganush.

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

                                                                                                                      1. Has anyone been to Olympic on 12th Street near University Place? It looked crowded, and I hadn't noticed it before, I think it's new.

                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: hungrycomposer

                                                                                                                          This is my favorite place! First of all, they are SO nice. Secondly, I love that you can guy balls by themselves, and oh man are they delicious and perfectly crunchy.

                                                                                                                          1. re: SAF

                                                                                                                            Funny typo alert!

                                                                                                                            1. re: SAF

                                                                                                                              that is pretty hilarious typo!! I enjoy the falafel at Ba"al on Sullivan St. As far as the best falafel it's a matter of taste. Yemenite, vs,Isreaeli vs Palestinian vs Egyptian vs Turkish vs Syrian . Chick pea vs Fava. There is no best,, But my favorite falafel is the Syrian falafel in Paterson NJ on Main St. absolutely amazing and for $2.50 The Shwarma and kefta there is amazing also I haven't tried Taim falafel yet, but I intend to. Their falafel is Isreali. In Israel, the best falafel is made by Arabs or Yemenites ( Jews and non Jews).

                                                                                                                          2. Are we the only ones who've been to Naya (Second Ave between 55th & 56th) a bunch of times? Their version of felafel is phenomenal - along with their Fatoush, etc etc. You are missing a wonderful meal, fine service and attractive spot for snacking or meals.

                                                                                                                            1. Azuri Cafe is the best. I can confidently say this after trying many of the other options listed here. I would say a close second is Taim, which is also delicious. Any other is in a lesser category. And those of you who put Mamoun's on top of their list, I hope you were drunk and it was 3 am, because their falafel's only good quality is its price, thats about it. Enjoy.

                                                                                                                              1. J'rusalem Grill on 62nd and 1st ave...the best fallafel i have eaten..they make it daily because they alwayse seem to run out so they have no choice BUT to make it fresh
                                                                                                                                and for 5 bucks?...yea lunch is on me =)

                                                                                                                                1. Taim, hands down!

                                                                                                                                  1. Sahara on Coney Island Avenue (off Ave T) in Brooklyn. Great falafel.

                                                                                                                                    1. Looks like this topic has legs.

                                                                                                                                      Best falafel balls hands down is the Moishe's falafel cart on 46th and 6th (not sure if they are still there though). However, their salad and pitas leave a lot to be desired.

                                                                                                                                      The best overall falafel has to be Murrays on 15th and 1st. Amazing falafel balls, salads and pita.

                                                                                                                                      1. Also consider the unfortunately-named Wrapido, 23rd just east of 7th. Good falafel, Israeli style (point out your accompaniments and sauces), and the "wrap" is on freshly made (while you watch) laffa, including whole wheat as an option.

                                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: CatoUWS

                                                                                                                                          Finally tried Rainbow Falafel (it is tough to get to on the weekend because I believe it is closed). It is one darned good falafel in that it is literally drowning in Tahini (I got the hummous and hot sauce with onions version). I still think Azuri wins because the salad fixings are better and their bread is sturdier. There is no place to sit at Rainbow and if you try to eat the falafel while sitting on a park bench you will end up wearing it. If you want a falafel that is not giant and costs less than $5.75, King Falafel (formerly Ali Baba's) on MacDougal is pretty good. Their falafel with hummous is only $3.50.

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

                                                                                                                                          Rainbow Falafel
                                                                                                                                          26 E 17th St, New York, NY 10003

                                                                                                                                          1. re: jcmods

                                                                                                                                            Falafel aren't typically meant to explode upon the first few bites or turn into a health food salad. I'd be impressed if anyone could eat a Rainbow falafel without it falling apart, or dripping.

                                                                                                                                        2. Does Pick A Pita still exist? We do not live in NY so our first meal always was there. However, when we were there in August, it was closed with plywood over the front. We would like to know what happened.

                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                          1. re: ruchel

                                                                                                                                            As per Yelp, it is closed.

                                                                                                                                          2. What's the best current restaurant?

                                                                                                                                            Anything new people are raving about?

                                                                                                                                            So far I see Azuri, Moustache, and Taim as being the top choices.

                                                                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                                                                            1. re: quddous

                                                                                                                                              I'm really impressed with Omar's Kitchen & Bakery on 55th btwn Lex & 3rd: http://www.omarsplace.com/

                                                                                                                                              1. re: LeahBaila

                                                                                                                                                Huh... had not noticed this place yet, though it seems it's there almost a year. Will definitely check it out, thanks!!!

                                                                                                                                                1. re: falafel

                                                                                                                                                  Ya, check it out and report back! Pita bread is made in-house, and the hummus is great. Enjoy :)

                                                                                                                                              2. re: quddous

                                                                                                                                                Lately, I've found that the best falafel I've had has been at Jerusalem Restaurant on 105th and Broadway. Delicious shawarma there, too, and the food is cheap.

                                                                                                                                                I haven't been to Moustache in ages, though, and haven't been to Omar's, which LeahBaila is recommending.

                                                                                                                                                Taim has good falafel, but I prefer their sabich (fried eggplant).

                                                                                                                                              3. Hands down best falafel in NY is soom soom on 72nd street.

                                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                1. re: LittleWave

                                                                                                                                                  Agree 100%. Plugged them earlier, but I get the sense they're still a hidden gem.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                                                                    Soom Soom has decent falafel , and is hands down the most disgusting, uncomfortable fast food place on a street that includes Grey's Papaya. The "salad bar" is a revolting, composting mess, and every touchable surface is either sticky or slippery.

                                                                                                                                                2. Taim has some pretty fantastic falafel, and Taim Mobile, their food truck, is a great way to try it on the go. Amazing falafel sandwich, and their hummus is killer.
                                                                                                                                                  Kabob Shack in Williamsburg, a relative newcomer, also has fantastic fried falafel. Delicious flavor, and the balls are perfectly crisped but not greasy.
                                                                                                                                                  They're different animals, but both are pretty special.

                                                                                                                                                  www.tastecation.com