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Israeli Restaurant & Falafel

Will be in NY for a few days in May. Would love some recommendations on what may be my best options for an Israeli restaurant as well as the best falafel in Manhatten.
Appreciate the help.

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  1. I would heartily endorse Azuri Cafe--51st St between 9th and 10th Ave.

    2 Replies
    1. re: 10yrresident

      i'd second azuri for manhattan's best falafel....really outstanding. for overall israeli dining experiences, you might be better off looking to the outer boroughs, especially brooklyn, maybe consider posting on the outer boro board?

      1. re: 10yrresident

        Another strong vote for Azuri. Great schwarma as well.

      2. Agree with the Azuri Cafe for falafel. I also like Taim in the West Village, especially for their fries with saffron aoili. For a slightly nicer ambiance, you've got Olympic Pita in midtown. Falafel is OK, but I love their laffa bread.

        1. For falafel I love Taim in the west village [waverly place & 7th avenue]. It's a 'hole in the wall' but excellent food. Enjoy!

          5 Replies
          1. re: maxandcoco

            YUMMY SCHWARMA is pretty darn good too.

            1. re: mrnyc

              Yummy might be closed, according to menupages but I'll double check today as I live around the corner.

              1. re: villager21

                Did anyone find out the status of Yummy? I really hope they didn't close! They were one of my faves.

                1. re: Mel loves food

                  I won't be home until later this evening (sigh), but i'll be sure to report back if no one gets to it before me

            2. re: maxandcoco

              Yes, I love Taim! Also, Bite (on Bleecker/Lafayette and 14 St./3 Ave.) has a good vegan middle eastern sandwich (kind of like a banh mi) and a fried eggplant sandwich.

            3. You might also try Humus Place. There are three locations, I'm aware of, but the original in the East Village also happens to be across the street from an Israeli grocery store.

              Hoomoos Asli on Kenmare and Lafayette has good falafel too. There's probably better out there, but these two places are convenient options if you end up downtown.

              1. I second Taim in the West Village...three types of falafel, the one made with harissa is excellent and my personal favorite. They glaze their pita with zaatar, and also have excellent drinks and smoothies, especially the Ginger Mint Lemonade, garnished, of course, with nana (mint).

                1. I don't eat falafel so much, I'm more of a shawarma fan, two places I like are: 1) Ali Baba, on Amsterdam bet. 84th and 85th - nice laffa sandwiches, decent shawarma and good salatim, you can also get melawach (though it's parve) and other yemenite stuff. Also, for shawarma, I really like Kosher Delight on Broadway bet. 36th and 37th. I know that their other food can be awful, but the shawarma is in a separate stand and is really well done, nicely seasoned, served in these very nice fluffy pitas and with excellent salatim, especially the tomato salad. Both places serve the elusive amba sauce.

                  If you don't keep kosher, Jerusalem felafel is also very nice, at 103rd and B'way. They have very nice lajmajun in addition to the usual stuff. The owner is Palestinian and often plays Israeli music in his store, a mix I find appealing (this is all as of 5 years ago, I have not been since I started keeping kosher).

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: tzmack

                    I second Jerusalem, if you don't mind hole-in-the-wall restaurants. I live around the corner and can atest that they're still quite good, and they'll fry up your falafel right in front of you.

                  2. 12 Chairs cafe on Macdougal & Houston is a great israeli cafe, their hummus & falafel platter is unmatched, they serve a fantastic brunch too with great sandwiches and salads.

                    1. Taim has the best Israeli food in the city, IMO. It is not a restaurant, but more of a takeout/counter place. The falafel, veggies, salads, and shakes are exceptional.

                      1. i'm chiming in and giving jerusalem a well-deserved shout out. it's a hike for most people, though conveniently around the corner from me, but it's got awesome food. the falafel is amazing. and the guys behind the counter are characters. i'd feel comfortable eating by myself here or just ordering and bringing home.

                        1. I'm generally not much of a food snob, but I am a snob when it comes to falafel. I've never had falafel in this country that could compare to what you can get in the middle east. But I do regularly eat at Taim and would put among the city's best. I have to admit that I have never been to Azuri cafe (I'm not a midtown person), so maybe that place is a shining start amidst the darkness.
                          The best tasting falafel I have had was at Perilla restaurant in the village. However, this is as far from an Israeli (or middle eastern) restaurant as you are likely to find. The restaurant is run by a former Top Chef winner and the falafel is made from--Edamame! A totally different texture compared with normal falafel, but the crispiness and seasoning is perfect. I wouldn't send you there to satisfy a falafel craving, but I do recommend trying it if you happen to dine there.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: dg5411

                            That sounds great, dg5411. I can't believe I still haven't been to Perilla. I am a huge fan of Taim, though.

                          2. Here's my take on the contenders:

                            Azuri: Easily the best Israeli-style falafel and hummus. You don't want to know the fuss I raised when they wouldn't let me take Ezra's hummus through security at JFK. I think I made the no-fly list...

                            Olympic Pita: Only a small step below Azuri. Their falafel is a little heavier and their shawarma a little too greasy. But their laffa is tasty and makes the perfect wrap for sandwiches. Plus, you get an extra container for salads, including their delicious fried eggplant. Also, they will put fries on your shawarma or falafel if you ask.

                            Taim: Also only a small step below Azuri. Their falafel is great but the limited salad options on sandwiches is really disappointing. Also, this is one of the few places you can get sabich, though it's not the best version I've tried. Fries are freshly cut and come with a tasty lemon aioli, but you have to order them separately and they tend to be undercooked. Unfortunately, Taim is vegetarian, so no shawarma.

                            Pick-A-Pita: Below Olympic and Taim is this hidden gem in the garment district. You have to go back through a loading dock on 38th to get to it, adding to the appeal. The owners and counter guys are super friendly and the shawafel is great. This is another place that will put fries on your sandwich if you ask.

                            Yummy Schwarma: I wanted to like this place, but the falafel is just average and the shawarma is gamy and gristly. Plus the counter guys are really obnoxious. If they've closed, it's really no great loss.

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: a_and_w

                              I keep forgetting about Pick a Pita. Yeah, their falafel is pretty good, but I put it a bit above Olympic Pita. The only thing Pick a Pita doesn't have is Olympic Pita's lovely laffa.

                              1. re: Miss Needle

                                IMO, the quality and selection of the salads is inferior at Pick-A-Pita.

                                1. re: a_and_w

                                  I see. You're right about the salads being better at Olympic. But for some reason, I learned after 3 times I couldn't eat their hummus. Don't know why but I always felt nauseous afterwards -- perhaps too much tahini for me or something.

                                  1. re: Miss Needle

                                    I've only had Olympic's hummus on sandwiches, so I can't really comment. But I share your distaste for lots of tahini in my hummus -- both for flavor reasons and because it upsets my stomach, too. I think that's why I like Ezra's hummus above all others.

                                    1. re: a_and_w

                                      I dont know squat about real/ authentic falafel....but I love Olympic Pita...i love taht they bake their own bread

                              2. re: a_and_w

                                Hit Olympic Pita last night for a falafel on laffa. They were out of hummus and fried eggplant (boo!) but my sandwich was still worlds better than anything I've found in LA.

                              3. Hummus Place is opening in a new location...where Yummy Schwarmy was!! Not sure if the location on MacDougal is closing or if they just plan on operating two locations in the same neighborhood, but either way, its a win-win for the village!

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: villager21

                                  I found the hummus at hummus place to be extremely bland. A tub of sabra's from the supermarket is better.

                                2. There's a place threatening to open on 14th Street just west of 5th Avenue, called something like Pita Joe's Schnitzel. I wonder if it will be Israeli-style chicken schnitzel and hummus sandwiches? I hope so!

                                  1. As someone who lived in Israel for a few years, I know about authentic and good. Twelve chairs, as mentioned has the best schnitzel and good, fresh hummus. For the best, best authentic felafel I suggest Moshe/Moishe's truck(which is very clean and Kosher, very high standards) usually on the corner of 5th Ave and 17th St, on 17th. I recommend picking it up and eating a block a way at Union Square. When Chickpea was open on 3rd Ave and St Marks, they were the best for chicken and turkey schawerma(all the Israelis pack in the back watching football(soccer) would agree with that). They have moved to 14th and 3rd and I haven't been there since they moved. It is still the same owners and the same menu. If you want good Israeli coffee and burekas go to Aroma on Houston near Greene. It is the same coffee as their Israeli locations but the menu is different.

                                    1. for food, other than just falafel, try rectangles, on first ave and about 76 st nyc.. israeli/yemmentite food...israeli food is a lot more than just falafel !!

                                      1. I ate last night at Maoz. I went to the one on 8th st., but there are several other locations. The falafel was good, though there are better places for falafel. However, what really impressed me was the salad bar. You can help yourself to a variety of israeli style salads--spicy carots, chopped tomatoes, red cabbage, pickles, olives, etc.