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Best Falafel in NYC?

GilloD Jul 22, 2007 01:19 PM

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. j
    JFores RE: GilloD Jul 22, 2007 01:23 PM

    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. g
      GilloD RE: GilloD Jul 22, 2007 02:14 PM

      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
        piccola RE: GilloD Jul 24, 2007 03:55 PM

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

        1. re: piccola
          Huffy RE: piccola Jul 25, 2007 03:56 PM

          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
            piccola RE: Huffy Jul 26, 2007 11:24 AM

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

          2. re: piccola
            fooodie RE: piccola Oct 31, 2007 07:47 PM

            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
              piccola RE: fooodie Nov 1, 2007 05:19 PM

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

        2. d
          dorian RE: GilloD Jul 22, 2007 03:05 PM

          Azuri Cafe - 51st between 9th & 10th

          1. Gorilla Bob RE: GilloD Jul 22, 2007 03:54 PM

            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. s
              smidget RE: GilloD Jul 22, 2007 05:30 PM

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

              1. jinet12 RE: GilloD Jul 22, 2007 06:32 PM

                We love Mamoun's

                1. Bottom Feeding Foodie RE: GilloD Jul 22, 2007 06:34 PM

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

                  1. t
                    theannerska RE: GilloD Jul 22, 2007 07:23 PM

                    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. w
                      wryorwhite RE: GilloD Jul 23, 2007 01:53 AM

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

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: wryorwhite
                        JulesEV RE: wryorwhite Jul 23, 2007 07:07 AM

                        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
                          foodmonk RE: JulesEV Jul 23, 2007 02:41 PM

                          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
                            howboy RE: foodmonk Aug 21, 2007 02:08 PM

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

                      2. j
                        jdream RE: GilloD Jul 23, 2007 09:56 AM

                        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
                          Michigan Mishuganer RE: jdream Jul 25, 2007 12:54 PM

                          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. a_and_w RE: GilloD Jul 23, 2007 10:26 AM

                          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
                            twiggles RE: a_and_w Jul 23, 2007 11:46 AM

                            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. a
                            arbitary RE: GilloD Jul 23, 2007 11:22 AM

                            Alfanoose on Maiden Ln. Never disappoints and reasonable prices.

                            1. m
                              Med618 RE: GilloD Jul 23, 2007 12:33 PM

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

                              1. s
                                spicynuts RE: GilloD Jul 23, 2007 12:38 PM

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

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: spicynuts
                                  eatnyc RE: spicynuts Jul 23, 2007 01:04 PM

                                  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
                                    a_and_w RE: eatnyc Jul 23, 2007 01:11 PM

                                    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
                                      noya RE: a_and_w Jul 24, 2007 08:03 AM

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

                                      1. re: noya
                                        a_and_w RE: noya Jul 24, 2007 08:25 AM

                                        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
                                          a_and_w RE: a_and_w Jul 25, 2007 09:35 AM

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

                                    2. re: eatnyc
                                      bosun RE: eatnyc Oct 11, 2007 07:57 AM

                                      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. z
                                    zEli173 RE: GilloD Jul 23, 2007 03:12 PM

                                    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
                                      a_and_w RE: zEli173 Jul 23, 2007 06:48 PM

                                      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
                                        piccola RE: zEli173 Jul 24, 2007 03:57 PM

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

                                        1. re: piccola
                                          rmcase13 RE: piccola Jul 24, 2007 06:52 PM

                                          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
                                            zEli173 RE: rmcase13 Jul 25, 2007 06:36 AM


                                            1. re: rmcase13
                                              josh L RE: rmcase13 Jul 25, 2007 07:05 AM

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

                                              1. re: josh L
                                                a_and_w RE: josh L Jul 25, 2007 09:04 AM

                                                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
                                              a_and_w RE: piccola Jul 25, 2007 09:06 AM

                                              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. r
                                            RawTunaFan RE: GilloD Jul 24, 2007 08:53 PM

                                            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
                                              foodmonk RE: RawTunaFan Jul 25, 2007 08:13 AM


                                              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. w
                                              wanderjahr RE: GilloD Jul 25, 2007 06:39 AM

                                              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
                                                dude RE: wanderjahr Jul 26, 2007 01:07 PM

                                                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
                                                  ruchel RE: wanderjahr Aug 21, 2007 01:32 PM

                                                  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!

                                                2. r
                                                  rifbat RE: GilloD Jul 25, 2007 07:02 AM

                                                  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. pinkylechat RE: GilloD Jul 25, 2007 09:32 AM

                                                    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
                                                      simkhele RE: pinkylechat Jul 25, 2007 11:03 AM

                                                      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
                                                        MMRuth RE: simkhele Jul 25, 2007 11:05 AM

                                                        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
                                                          jdream RE: MMRuth Jul 25, 2007 12:44 PM

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

                                                          1. re: jdream
                                                            MMRuth RE: jdream Jul 25, 2007 12:58 PM

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

                                                    2. g
                                                      GilloD RE: GilloD Jul 25, 2007 03:21 PM

                                                      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
                                                        a_and_w RE: GilloD Jul 25, 2007 03:42 PM

                                                        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
                                                          Ora RE: a_and_w Jul 25, 2007 03:54 PM

                                                          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
                                                            a_and_w RE: Ora Jul 25, 2007 05:00 PM

                                                            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
                                                              soultasto RE: a_and_w Jul 25, 2007 11:06 PM

                                                              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
                                                                a_and_w RE: soultasto Jul 26, 2007 07:37 AM

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

                                                                1. re: soultasto
                                                                  rruben1 RE: soultasto Jul 31, 2007 01:53 PM

                                                                  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
                                                              GilloD RE: a_and_w Jul 25, 2007 04:07 PM

                                                              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
                                                                a_and_w RE: GilloD Jul 25, 2007 05:03 PM

                                                                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
                                                              twiggles RE: GilloD Jul 26, 2007 11:16 AM

                                                              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
                                                                GilloD RE: twiggles Jul 26, 2007 01:33 PM

                                                                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
                                                                toum RE: GilloD Aug 22, 2007 10:29 AM

                                                                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
                                                                  a_and_w RE: toum Aug 22, 2007 10:52 AM

                                                                  For example...?

                                                                2. re: GilloD
                                                                  Borat RE: GilloD Nov 1, 2007 07:57 PM

                                                                  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
                                                                    a_and_w RE: Borat Oct 2, 2008 01:23 PM

                                                                    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. h
                                                                  henrysalt RE: GilloD Jul 25, 2007 05:03 PM

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

                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: henrysalt
                                                                    a_and_w RE: henrysalt Jul 25, 2007 06:00 PM

                                                                    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
                                                                      henrysalt RE: a_and_w Jul 27, 2007 03:43 PM

                                                                      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
                                                                        a_and_w RE: henrysalt Jul 27, 2007 06:06 PM

                                                                        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. David_NJ RE: GilloD Jul 25, 2007 05:11 PM

                                                                    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. g
                                                                      gabbagal RE: GilloD Jul 25, 2007 05:25 PM

                                                                      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
                                                                        josh L RE: gabbagal Jul 31, 2007 01:49 PM

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

                                                                      2. g
                                                                        GilloD RE: GilloD Jul 25, 2007 08:54 PM

                                                                        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. n
                                                                          nosidedown RE: GilloD Jul 25, 2007 09:59 PM

                                                                          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. l
                                                                            lamgelinaoly RE: GilloD Jul 26, 2007 09:08 AM

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

                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                            1. re: lamgelinaoly
                                                                              rmcase13 RE: lamgelinaoly Jul 26, 2007 10:35 AM

                                                                              Where exactly in midtown?

                                                                              1. re: rmcase13
                                                                                lamgelinaoly RE: rmcase13 Jul 26, 2007 12:43 PM

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

                                                                              2. re: lamgelinaoly
                                                                                thenamesdiana RE: lamgelinaoly Jul 24, 2008 08:55 AM

                                                                                Moshes Falafel's are tasteless and bad. Yuck!

                                                                              3. l
                                                                                LilKitchenDiva RE: GilloD Jul 26, 2007 10:34 AM

                                                                                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. b
                                                                                  bookofmoons RE: GilloD Jul 26, 2007 11:23 AM

                                                                                  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. h
                                                                                    hgeller RE: GilloD Jul 29, 2007 06:10 PM

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

                                                                                    1. j
                                                                                      joeyz RE: GilloD Jul 29, 2007 07:55 PM

                                                                                      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. LeahBaila RE: GilloD Jul 31, 2007 02:09 PM

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

                                                                                        1. t
                                                                                          tarantula142 RE: GilloD Aug 21, 2007 02:33 PM

                                                                                          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. f
                                                                                            falafel RE: GilloD Sep 27, 2007 02:06 PM

                                                                                            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
                                                                                              foodmonk RE: falafel Sep 27, 2007 02:13 PM

                                                                                              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
                                                                                                theannerska RE: falafel Sep 28, 2007 06:54 AM

                                                                                                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
                                                                                                  a_and_w RE: theannerska Sep 28, 2007 10:19 AM

                                                                                                  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
                                                                                                    theannerska RE: a_and_w Sep 28, 2007 10:38 AM

                                                                                                    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
                                                                                                      a_and_w RE: theannerska Sep 28, 2007 12:26 PM

                                                                                                      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
                                                                                                        theannerska RE: a_and_w Sep 30, 2007 01:48 PM

                                                                                                        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
                                                                                                  a_and_w RE: falafel Sep 28, 2007 10:18 AM

                                                                                                  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
                                                                                                    josh L RE: falafel Sep 28, 2007 11:14 AM

                                                                                                    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
                                                                                                      LloydG RE: josh L Oct 1, 2007 11:08 AM

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

                                                                                                    2. re: falafel
                                                                                                      Jill RE: falafel Oct 29, 2007 11:36 AM

                                                                                                      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
                                                                                                        financialdistrictresident RE: Jill Oct 31, 2007 08:03 PM

                                                                                                        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. holland_oats RE: GilloD Sep 28, 2007 12:37 PM

                                                                                                      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
                                                                                                        holland_oats RE: holland_oats Oct 11, 2007 08:38 AM

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

                                                                                                      2. z
                                                                                                        zatar RE: GilloD Oct 10, 2007 09:36 PM

                                                                                                        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. kcijones001 RE: GilloD Oct 11, 2007 08:43 AM

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

                                                                                                          1. Nina_P RE: GilloD Oct 11, 2007 08:48 AM

                                                                                                            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. f
                                                                                                              falafel RE: GilloD Oct 17, 2007 10:00 AM

                                                                                                              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. gnocchi RE: GilloD Oct 29, 2007 08:58 AM

                                                                                                                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. z
                                                                                                                  zatar RE: GilloD Oct 31, 2007 06:33 PM

                                                                                                                  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. gaharu RE: GilloD Nov 10, 2007 04:43 AM

                                                                                                                    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. Nina_P RE: GilloD Nov 10, 2007 12:21 PM

                                                                                                                      Gazala Place now has a web site:
                                                                                                                      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. h
                                                                                                                        hungrycomposer RE: GilloD Nov 14, 2007 05:37 PM

                                                                                                                        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
                                                                                                                          SAF RE: hungrycomposer Sep 3, 2009 01:19 PM

                                                                                                                          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
                                                                                                                            KTinNYC RE: SAF Sep 3, 2009 01:54 PM

                                                                                                                            Funny typo alert!

                                                                                                                            1. re: SAF
                                                                                                                              foodwhisperer RE: SAF Jun 30, 2012 05:08 PM

                                                                                                                              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. s
                                                                                                                            Steve OBrien RE: GilloD Sep 3, 2009 06:06 PM

                                                                                                                            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. s
                                                                                                                              Student Eater RE: GilloD Dec 15, 2009 12:51 AM

                                                                                                                              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. c
                                                                                                                                CrackFood RE: GilloD Feb 16, 2010 03:45 PM

                                                                                                                                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. varsel RE: GilloD Jul 26, 2010 09:20 AM

                                                                                                                                  Taim, hands down!

                                                                                                                                  1. j
                                                                                                                                    jse997 RE: GilloD Nov 30, 2010 09:03 AM

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

                                                                                                                                    1. s
                                                                                                                                      shaytmg RE: GilloD Nov 30, 2010 02:47 PM

                                                                                                                                      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. c
                                                                                                                                        CatoUWS RE: GilloD Jan 4, 2011 10:13 AM

                                                                                                                                        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
                                                                                                                                          jcmods RE: CatoUWS Dec 5, 2011 11:14 AM

                                                                                                                                          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
                                                                                                                                            sugartoof RE: jcmods Dec 5, 2011 11:34 AM

                                                                                                                                            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. r
                                                                                                                                          ruchel RE: GilloD Dec 5, 2011 02:12 PM

                                                                                                                                          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
                                                                                                                                            quddous RE: ruchel Jun 29, 2012 01:26 PM

                                                                                                                                            As per Yelp, it is closed.

                                                                                                                                          2. q
                                                                                                                                            quddous RE: GilloD Jun 29, 2012 01:26 PM

                                                                                                                                            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
                                                                                                                                              LeahBaila RE: quddous Jun 29, 2012 01:36 PM

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

                                                                                                                                              1. re: LeahBaila
                                                                                                                                                falafel RE: LeahBaila Jun 29, 2012 01:44 PM

                                                                                                                                                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
                                                                                                                                                  LeahBaila RE: falafel Jul 2, 2012 07:58 AM

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

                                                                                                                                              2. re: quddous
                                                                                                                                                Pan RE: quddous Jun 30, 2012 12:28 AM

                                                                                                                                                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. l
                                                                                                                                                LittleWave RE: GilloD Jul 1, 2012 05:05 AM

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

                                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                1. re: LittleWave
                                                                                                                                                  sugartoof RE: LittleWave Jul 1, 2012 11:11 PM

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

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sugartoof
                                                                                                                                                    knucklesandwich RE: sugartoof Jul 20, 2012 01:42 PM

                                                                                                                                                    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. tastecation RE: GilloD Jul 2, 2012 02:36 PM

                                                                                                                                                  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.


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