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what is the best falafel in Boston?

I just watched the PBS documentary "Sandwiches you will like" and heard of Sepal in Watertown, but I guess it's closed now? (or does it still exist somewhere?)

I have a friend who has NEVER had a falafel sandwich in his life, and want to take him out for the best one possible to introduce him to it.

what're your suggestions?

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  1. Yes, the Watertown one has been closed for awhile now. I think there's still a Sepal at MIT. The falafel at the one in Watertown was indeed one of my favorites.

    My personal favorites these days for falafel are probably from Rami's in Brookline and The Reef Cafe in Allston. They both do falafel sandwiches as well as regular plates of falafel.

    BTW, the falafel sandwiches at Whole Foods are surprisingly good, too.

    3 Replies
    1. re: hiddenboston

      What's the difference between a falafel plate and a falafel sandwich? Have you tried the shawarma in a pita at Rami's?

      1. re: buffet king

        Falafel plates can be a number of different things depending on where you go, but at Rami's, the falafel plate is falafel and houmous (with the falafel not being in pita bread). In addition to the falafel plate with houmos,Rami's also has a houmos falafel in pita bread, a houmos Salad in pita bread, and a falafel houmos salad plate, so there are a few options there.

        Yes, I've tried the turkey shawarma there. It's pretty amazing stuff!

      2. re: hiddenboston

        Sepal is open at the Lobdell Student Center at MIT. They are open for lunch and dinner every day but Saturday. I was there a few weeks ago and the food is still delicious. Can't beat the prices either. Not really a place to go on a date, but if you work in the area or pass by on your way home, Sepal is the best food bargain around.

      3. Sepal reportedly has a location on the MIT campus...hopefully that one is still open, as I miss the Watertown one as well.

        Rami's in Coolidge Corner Brookline has good falafel (different style than Sepal's, but very good). I remember reading that he imported his falafel - making machine from Israel..

        3 Replies
        1. re: Ralphie_in_Boston

          There is a Sepal location in the upstairs dining hall in the student center at MIT, which is at 84 Massachusetts Ave in Cambridge. I don't think they're open on weekends.

          1. re: monicall

            yeah and if you're a woman, the likelihood is about 99.9% that at least one or perhaps all of the men working there will hit on you, including the owner. I worked on campus for many years and liked that they had healthy dining options but I finally had to stop going because it was so bad (and I'm a thick skinned kind of girl, especially where chow is concerned!)

            Plus, I like the falafel off the 77 mass ave truck way better (and very nice people) - it's not high end, but it's great comfort food.

            and FWIW I think Moody's in central square is disgusting. I was drunk on quite a number of brown liquor drinks (shout out to Misty at Green Street Grill!) and even drunk I threw the sandwich out - ICK!

            1. re: MB fka MB

              i've thrown out moody's sandwiches drunk before. horribly bland.

        2. Long live the Falafel King (on Winter Street, near Park St. station).

          9 Replies
          1. re: Bob Dobalina

            FYI, Felafel King has an outpost in Quincy where his brother has a Middle Eastern Market (with a small kitchen for felafel and other items) on Hancock st. in Wolloston--Delicious felafel!!

            1. re: SeaSide Tomato

              Is that the little Halal store across from Dunkin Donuts?

              1. re: teresacooks

                That's it, just south of the Hancock/Beale intersection.

                1. re: teresacooks

                  o.k., I went today. They are super nice in there. He gave me a falafel to eat dipped in hummus while I waited for my sandwich. It was probably the best falafel I've had. Here's the weird thing. . . the sandwich was a little bland and a little dry. . . maybe you have to ask for all the usual things on it? I had a falafel sandwich at Saabs in Norwood (next to staples on Dean st. and route 1) the other day, and the falafel itself was good (but not great like here) but the sandwich was great, lots of tomatoes, turnip, sauce, fresh herbs (mint, basil I don't even know what else -also, it was $4). Maybe the spectacular falafel is better in a salad at the Wollaston place. . .

              2. re: Bob Dobalina

                Are you sure FK is closed? There's a review at Yelp as recently as this Tuesday:

                http://www.yelp.com/biz/falafel-king-...

                1. re: Gio

                  LOL...I didn't mean it THAT way. He's alive and well.

                  1. re: Bob Dobalina

                    I agree that Felafel King on Winter Street and the excellent Quincy source on Hancock Street (free or almost free parking!) are great places.

                    1. re: Bob Dobalina

                      Good.... I think I'm brain dead. LOL

                  2. re: Bob Dobalina

                    Had FK yesterday and it was delicious. Def need to get there more often

                  3. Sultan's Kitchen has an awesome falafel. They offer the sandwhich w/tahini, or you can get a combo plate with a couple sides as well.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: chowciao

                      Sultan's does some great food indeed, but I have to give the nod to FK as they're cheaper and just have that "ugh what is this place, wow the food's really good" ambiance. Plus, it's the first place I tried Falafel where I actually liked it.

                    2. I can't comment definitively on the Best in Boston as I really don't eat them that much. However I can say that Cafe Jaffa on Gloucester Street is excellent.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Gabatta

                        Cafe Jaffa ain't bad, I live just around the corner from there, and their falafel is better than Steves, but I'd still vote for FK. However, Jaffa has a bar, and tables, and wait staff, and FK is a take-out counter.

                      2. My personal favorites are Falafel King and Rami's (chickpea) and Reef Cafe (fava).

                        1 Reply
                        1. I hadn't actually been to Sepal since I moved out of Watertown. The fact that they closed is quite disappointing, especially since I was planning on going there next weekend with some friends :-/

                          They really did have a fantastic falafel sandwich!

                          ~Droid

                          1. I love Samia's in West Roxbury.

                            1. I'm a big Falafel King fan myself. Also, I've discovered that the Fill-A-Buster deli, on Bowdoin St. near the corner of Beacon St., makes an absolutely delicious Falafel as well.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: mwk

                                Thanks MWK that's good to know. I pass by there every so often and would never have though to seek falafel that place. But I will from now on!!

                              2. There's a new place coming with papered-up windows (or has it opened this week?) on Mass Ave in Cambridge between Shepard and Linnean that says "MIddle Eastern Cuisine". The woman who works at Huron Ave Formaggio who makes their hummous, baba, etc. says that she knows the guy (they're both Lebanese) and that he makes a good falafel. We'll have to see...

                                For now, I'll echo that Rami's is excellent- little ping pong ball-size falafel, Israeli style. Israelis I know say its the closest to what they get at home, but that's just one style.

                                1. You should definitely do the falafel with hommous at Rami's at Coolidge Corner. It is really good!

                                  1. As noted, Rami's and Reef Cafe, but also add Samia's on Centre Street in West Roxbury, almost next to Sugar bakery. Rami's is Israeli style while the other two are Lebanese. Samia makes the best and largest rolled pita sandwiches and also has great soup (when she makes it).

                                    1. I like Moody's Falafel Palace right in Central Square.

                                      1. I would answer in this order:

                                        1) Rami's--mmmm. This is definitely where I'd go.
                                        2) Boston Shwarama (near Northwestern)
                                        3) Reef Cafe

                                        I don't remember the falafel at Sultan's Kitchen, but everything there is good so I'll recommend that too.

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: aventinus

                                          Shawarma King in Brookline is pretty good and easier parking on Beacon than on Harvard.

                                          1. re: phatchris

                                            Is the falafel better at Shawarma King or Rami's in Brookline? Is the shawarma better at Shawarma King or Rami's? How are their prices compared to each other?

                                            1. re: buffet king

                                              I guess I'm in the minority, but I personally much prefer shawarma king over rami's! I think I must be making a tactical error in ordering at Rami's? I always find it kinda dried out and... meh. Shawarma King can be too, though, so maybe I'm being swayed by their soup, or the drink options :) Anyway, prices are comparable (Shawarma King is maybe a little cheaper? been a while since I've been to Rami's, though)

                                              1. re: another_adam

                                                I thought Rami's was kind of overpriced. Friend got a falafel sandwich and while they looked super fresh, $8.95 for a sandwich (w/ hummus)? I wanted schwarma but they were out and he insisted I'd like this chicken stuff, maybe it was the turkey schwarma someone else mentioned, but I wasn't into it. Little pebbles of meat, not the schwarma I envisioned from a cart walking back to the hotel in Dublin one nite or you get anywhere in Germany for $3. And I didn't want hummus on the sandwich but it was still $8.95, no way around it i found out. Too pricey in my mind, but the guys working there were fun.

                                        2. I guess this isn't really an answer to your question, but I really really enjoyed the spinach falafel served in my vegetarian tasting menu at Oleana recently. Definitely not traditional falafel, and not a sandwich (they were served on top of pita with tahini sauce, beets, and greens, so I guess you could have rolled it up like a sandwich), but really very delicious. They had a really nice texture. Not where I'd take a falafel virgin, though.

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: fbf242

                                            Is Rami's the guy who used to have the truck next to Children's hospitala? I used to love those falafel (or is it falafels? falafi?)

                                            1. re: raddoc

                                              No, that's Sami. Close, though (you were only off by one letter!).

                                              1. re: raddoc

                                                No - that's Sami's. Still in the Longwood area - they have an outdoor stand on Avenue Louis Pasteur at the corner of Longwood (right across from the medical school campus) and it was mentioned on another thread that they also have an indoor stand in the Longwood Galleria food court.

                                                1. re: Allstonian

                                                  right, right, I remember now. Good falafel, though. worth a mention on this thread.

                                            2. Strictly take-out, but I like Bytes @ University Park down an "alley" off Sidney Street.

                                              1. I find that almost all falafels have a unique taste to them, but most are good in my opinion...with the exception of Whole Foods, which was so dry the couple times I had it there that I hesitate to try again...but maybe I will since hidden recommended it. My personal favorite is actually out in the burbs at Big Fresh in Framingham...that might come as a suprise but I'm pretty sure either the owner or head cook is Middle Eastern...maybe someone else on here knows for sure...almost everything they make is excellent though...its the only place I miss from my year out in the burbs. After that I'd say it's a toss up between Baraka, Greek Corner and Falafel King, but I haven't tried Rani's. I do miss working in the city and going to Falafel King though, overall it's a great take out place. I'm also looking forward to the new place coming on Mass Ave, hopefully its a good one.

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: Aphex

                                                  Aphex, I find that the prepared foods at Whole Foods can be pretty inconsistent, so take what I said about their falafel with a grain of salt--it's possible that either I had it on a good day or you had it on a bad day (or a combination of the two).

                                                  1. re: hiddenboston

                                                    It's that there's such inconsistancy between the different Whole Foods; some are great, some are tasteless...

                                                  2. re: Aphex

                                                    We used to get the falafel when back in the day when Big Fresh was Rami's. Rami's didn't last too long in that location, but we were really disappointed when they folded. Then we discovered that the falafel at Big Fresh tasted very similar to Rami's, and wondered if Rami shared his recipe as part of the restaurant change.
                                                    Anyway, it's good, and the piccalili adds a nice tang to a wrap. and you can get whole wheat pita.

                                                  3. I like Rami's the best - most authentic Israeli. But Cafe Jaffa is also very good!

                                                    1. The Red Fez at 1222 Washington St. has delectable falafel with just the right ratio of crunch to soft.

                                                      A very appealing room as well.

                                                      1. Rami's is mediocre. I went in there with high expectations and left feeling a little deflated. The problem with them, like many other falafel joints, is that they precook the patties. Precooked patties = dried out falafel. If you happen to catch them hot off the presses, you're in luck, but that doesn't happen too often.

                                                        1. Sepal Watertown used to be the best hands down.
                                                        2. Craigs Cafe in Quincy used to make great, really fresh/made to order ones but they recently changed owners and I haven't been back.

                                                        Enough with the deceased. Among the living I'd have to say:
                                                        1. Middle East in Cambridge. They need to thicken their tahini a bit, but aside from that it's great. Cooked to order, fresh produce, good stuff.
                                                        2. Cafe Barada - this place is hit or miss to an extent, but is generally pretty good.
                                                        3. Moody's - similar deal to Barada, although usually patties are precooked. The nice thing is that they grill the whole sandwich for a bit giving the syrian bread a nice little crunch on the outside. Nice touch.
                                                        4. Falafel King - can be really good, but again depends on the freshness of the patties because they precook as well.

                                                        Note - If anyone ever happens to be in the Hartford, CT area be sure to hit Tangiers. This is by far the best falafel I have EVER tasted. It is truly above and beyond any other.

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: BangoBilly

                                                          Rami's used to be better! When the big man was there few years back, the food was fresher(always fresh if eating in)and better seasoned as well, I believe. The young guys are fun, but not as good as "Pops"...

                                                          Best recent Falafel? Azuri Cafe NYC (51st &10th)--So tasty!

                                                          1. re: Trumpetguy

                                                            Sorry, I would have to say if you are talking NYC it has to be Taim!!

                                                          2. re: BangoBilly

                                                            that is INSANE!!!! I LOOOOVE Tangiers in Hartford and was wishing I could take my friend there!!! it was, in part, how the "best falafel in Boston" discussion began between us....Tangiers is BY FAR the best falafel *I* have EVER tasted, too! I love their market as well, and the old-fashioned diner-y seating in the back where they prepare your food right in front of you!!! ahhhh memories.

                                                            thanks for your Boston suggestions, though!!!

                                                          3. Sepal in Watertown is closed (too bad) but there is a new place in Watertown which is actually in the original space of Sepal. It's called Fordees Falafel and it is really good. I've been there twice and they make the falafel balls fresh, they don't prefry them and get cold & dry. The bread is fresh as there are many pita bakeries in the same 'hood. The dressing is good and you can get pickled beets in the sandwich for extra crunch. They have good lentil soup to go with it too. I am super picky about felafel and I like this place. Also for Israeli style, Ramis in Brookline or Cafe Jaffa on Gloucester St Back Bay are pretty good.

                                                            12 Replies
                                                            1. re: mr mangia

                                                              The original storefront on Mt. Auburn?

                                                              1. re: Aromatherapy

                                                                been out of town in one of the worst food cities in us, orlando (was there for work) but yes, the fordees falafel is in the original sepal location on mt auburn next to a chinese restaurant. i went there last saturday & was delish although all the other diners were eating chicken teryaki subs. go figure.

                                                              2. re: mr mangia

                                                                I think the Fordee's on Mount Auburn is still open. Did they open a second branch down the street?

                                                                1. re: hiddenboston

                                                                  They were open when I drove by last night, but no easy parking, so I didn't stop.

                                                                  1. re: hiddenboston

                                                                    I think Mr Mangia is saying that Sepal started in the space on Mt. Auburn, which is now Fordees. Concur on the goodness of their chow.

                                                                    1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                                                      Fordees is my favorite falafel place around here. I love those pickled turnips! The chicken schwarma is really good too. You rarely get a gristle-y piece of chicken which is often the problem with schwarma.
                                                                      I haven't been to Rami or Falafel King but I think Fordee's is superior to Schwarma King in Brookline. Fordee's is just a lot fresher.

                                                                      On a separate note, if I'm ever in Providence RI I love to get a falafel from East Side Pockets on Thayer Street.

                                                                      1. re: heypielady

                                                                        Place link for Fordees (mostly so I remember this thread)

                                                                        -----
                                                                        Fordee's Grill
                                                                        555 Mount Auburn St, Watertown, MA 02472

                                                                        1. re: heypielady

                                                                          I went to Fordees in Watertown last week and have to agree that their falafel is delicious. I didn't think I was going to like the pickled turnips but I did. I never had a falafel until last week. I also liked their 10oz cheeseburger and fries. The cheeseburger was cooked just the way I wanted it and not greasy. Their fries are also very good. When I'm in the Watertown area again I'm going back to Fordees. Note: parking near Fordees can be difficult. I had to drive around the block until I found a parking spot nearby.

                                                                          1. re: buffet king

                                                                            fordees lentil soup rocks too and they give you homeade pita chips to dip. if you park on the side streets you dont need to have a resident sticker so i usually just park around the corner and walk. then i go grocery shopping at the 2 awesomne armenian shops called sevan and massis and buy all sorts of delights.

                                                                            1. re: mr mangia

                                                                              I saw the lentil soup on their menu but didn't try it. I also saw that they have beef chili. Have you tried the beef chili at Fordees? What else would you recommend at Fordees?

                                                                              1. re: buffet king

                                                                                falafel & the soup are all i haved tried so far. i figured i would stick with the middle stuff but a lot of people were ordering burgers and chicken teryaki subs when i was there last week

                                                                    2. re: mr mangia

                                                                      I just tried Fordees' falafel for the first time for lunch today and it was okay. It is similar to Sepal's sandwich, just not as good falafel. Nice sized rollup with those great pickled turnips. Perhaps slightly dry falafel, not as flavorful as those from Rami or the aforementioned Sepal.

                                                                    3. The new place on Mass Ave Cambridge between Porter and Harvard Square will be called "Wrapro" and depite the cheesy name the menu looks straight ahead Lebanese. I chatted up the contractor the other day-- amidst tons of unfinished stuff and junk, he said "mid-week!" and that included the City of Cambridge inspection. Hope springs eternal! Chime in when somebody's been!

                                                                      7 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                                                          As of Saturday, it's still not open, but it's on Mass Ave at Shepard, in the Chez-Henri-Starbucks-Kabloom-Floyd's Barber Shop row.

                                                                          1. re: newhound

                                                                            I go by this place everyday on my way to work two blocks away, I've been waiting for them to open with great anticipation- since well before Xmass. Progress seems very slow...
                                                                            Hope its worth the wait!

                                                                            1. re: jlny

                                                                              i walked by yesterday and it still wasn't open but they had nice pictures of falafel, hummus, & kibby on the window. if felt like a kid in a candy shop !

                                                                        2. re: newhound

                                                                          They opened last weekend. I plan to get lunch there today and report....

                                                                          1. re: jlny

                                                                            please let me know because it will be easier for me to get there than to always go to watertown at fordees, although i do have an allegiance to fordees. they're lentil soup rocks. barada isn't too bad either on the other side of mass ave.

                                                                            1. re: mr mangia

                                                                              I went to wrapro for lunch on Thursday - had a chicken shwarma plate and it was really good. They are still getting going - longer wait than typical, didn't have any beef or lamb yet but it was quite good - the fallafel (you can buy a plate, a sandwhich or just a piece to try) was excellent as well, similair to at barada

                                                                        3. If you don't mind driving west for a bit, you might want to give Sahara in Worcester a try. We checked it out today and found the falafel to be at least as good as any in Boston, including Rami's and The Reef Cafe.

                                                                          I posted a more detailed review on the New England board:

                                                                          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/483737

                                                                          1. We got Fordees takeout last night. It was very good. Two of us got falafel/combo wraps, with a choice of hummus, baba or tabouli. The falafel was very fresh and well-seasoned. it also came with harissa and pickled turnip, which was tasty. The combo wrap was very good-sized for $5.50. One got the falafel platter, which was falafel, hummus, pickled turnip, baba and tabouli, along with harissa. Quite a hefty plate for $6.95.

                                                                            We'll definitely be back. Right up there with Rami's.

                                                                            1. I tried Falafal King at Park Street last week based on this thread, and I found it abhorrent. I liked the texture contrast between the crispy exterior and the smoother interior of the falafel patty, but they were very dry, and I found myself choking them down. The sauce didn't taste right, and the pickles overpowered everything else. It can't always be like this if so many people on here rave about it, but I'm doubting...

                                                                              My favorite falafel in the Boston area (I haven't tried them all) is at Algiers in Harvard Square. I've enjoyed the falafel at the Lower Depths in Kenmore as well.

                                                                              1. Pure accident that we stopped at Fordee's tonight - we were hungry after watching a t-ball game and just wanted to eat - saw a sign for falafels and it brought us instantly back to Paris in the Marais. Sooooooo delish, we've been trying to find something close to Paris and hadn't until tonight. Nice fresh flavor, fabulous crunch, nice proportion of vegies, sauce, falafel. Wow, We'll have to got down there again. All the food at tables around us looked fantastic too. They do everything to order. Love try some other things but will be tough because that falafel was out of this world. Homemade hummus, the tahini was outstanding.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: lexpatti

                                                                                  Fordee's is one of my go-to's now. Try the homemade hot sauce next time if you haven't yet. And definitely get yourself into a sarcastic conversation with the guy doing the cooking.

                                                                                2. It's great that someone revived this thread. I recently discovered Falafel King and I'm so happy to hear that there are other spots that the hounds consider to be at that level. I'm taking notes and will have to make the next couple of months a time of Falafel discovery.

                                                                                  It's about time for me to make a Watertown shopping safari so Fordees will be added to that trip.

                                                                                  Thanks everyone for the list of places to try. Falafel King photos are at these links.

                                                                                  http://www.bostonzest.com/2008/05/fal...

                                                                                  http://www.bostonzest.com/2008/05/fal...

                                                                                  1. You're in luck- Sepal moved to MIT (it's the same one).

                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: sfumato

                                                                                      The Sepal at MIT has very limited hours, though, doesn't it?

                                                                                      1. re: hiddenboston

                                                                                        Not sure... we haven't been since they moved.

                                                                                      2. re: sfumato

                                                                                        I'vve never been to the MIT location, but I can certainly say that they had taken a horrific turn for the worse before they closed down. Rancid olive oil, hummus that was mealy, greasy falafel. Certainly not the quality that I had come to expect from earlier visits. Hopefully the MIT site is better managed.

                                                                                        1. re: Science Chick

                                                                                          don't know about the hours, but the falafel is usually outstanding, as is the baklawa.

                                                                                      3. Big Fresh restaurant on Rout 30 in Framingham is the best you'll find in the Metro West area.