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ISO fantastic FALAFEL

loreeLB Jan 13, 2009 03:45 PM

I have not had fantastic falafel in years! Looking for a place to try this weekend! We live in the Long Beach area and would travel to OC or LA... HELP! :) The last fantastic one i had was not greasy, it was flavorful, light, crunchy on the outside moist on the inside, served in a warm pita with YUMMY tahini, hummus and lettuce. Perfect! Help me find this again..

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    estone888 RE: loreeLB Jan 13, 2009 03:57 PM

    Falafel Arax
    5101 Santa Monica Blvd. Ste. 2
    L.A., CA 90029
    (323) 663-9687

    Is the best I've found. A tiny little place. Also excellent shwarma.

    9 Replies
    1. re: estone888
      Mr Taster RE: estone888 Jan 14, 2009 07:26 AM

      Yes yes yes

      Incredibly crispy on the outside (like a potato chip), soft, light and airy on the inside. Never had another felafel like it. Superb.

      Mr Taster

      1. re: Mr Taster
        Mr Taster RE: Mr Taster Jan 15, 2009 08:38 AM

        P.S. ...and I've been to Israel :)

        Mr Taster

        1. re: Mr Taster
          a_and_w RE: Mr Taster Jan 15, 2009 09:39 AM

          So is this place Israeli style?

          1. re: a_and_w
            Mr Taster RE: a_and_w Jan 15, 2009 09:46 AM


            Mr Taster

            1. re: Mr Taster
              a_and_w RE: Mr Taster Jan 15, 2009 10:19 AM


              1. re: a_and_w
                Mr Taster RE: a_and_w Jan 15, 2009 11:09 AM


                It's not like felafel is so variant in nature that it's Chicago vs. New York pizza. The differences are much more subtle, and in my experience the dressing, pita, delivery method is far more regionally variant than the actual felafel itself. That's not to say there are no regional differences at all, but I think you get my meaning. I hope.

                Mr Taster

                P.S. I ate 2 ala carte felafels ar Arax once, so I am not vouching for anything other than the felafel itself. They were magnificent... far superior to my former neighborhood joint, the now-defunct "Eat A Pita"-- which were delicious, but Arax is in a whole other league.

                1. re: Mr Taster
                  a_and_w RE: Mr Taster Jan 15, 2009 12:53 PM

                  Yes, it's the dressings, more than the falafel itself that I mean by "Israeli style." As you may know, Israeli-style falafel places often have more salads, cole slaws, and fried vegetables available as toppings. Basically, I pine for the likes of Azuri and Olympic Pita in NY, if you're familiar.

                  1. re: Mr Taster
                    E Eto RE: Mr Taster Jan 15, 2009 07:35 PM

                    Are the falafels at Arax made from fava beans or chickpeas?

        2. re: estone888
          ns1 RE: estone888 Feb 24, 2009 07:01 PM

          Stopped by over the weekend, dear mother of god the falafel are GODLY

          .50 each, $3 for a small thing of tahini sauce

          I thought the shawarma @skafs was better. but their falafel (arax) is sooooooooo good

        3. ellen4441 RE: loreeLB Jan 13, 2009 04:24 PM

          How about checking out all those Middle Eastern joints on Brookhurst St. in Anaheim.
          I know I've had great beef schwarma at the Sahara Falafel place there....

          1 Reply
          1. re: ellen4441
            Das Ubergeek RE: ellen4441 Feb 20, 2009 07:26 PM

            Kareem's Falafel or Sahara Falafel -- and stop at Al-Sanabel for a Lebanese "pizza". :)

          2. TIRGL RE: loreeLB Jan 13, 2009 06:28 PM

            Across the street from LAC+USC medical center is a place called skewers. I had their falafel plate. It was fresh, light, crisp, and tasty. The ladies there fried it to order. Best I've ever had.

            1. n
              nosh RE: loreeLB Jan 13, 2009 07:39 PM

              There is a place that specializes in falafel called Bella Pita, which started in Westwood Village (in a small storefront on Gayley a few doors south of In'n'Out) and now has expanded to Westwood Blvd. (in a stand right next to Feast from the East). A very limited menu, limited to freshly fried falafel and a couple of other pitas. What makes them special is a do-it-yourself condiment bar, with different kinds of lettuces, vegies, pickles, and several types of sauces to dress your sandwich. Just under $5 per.

              1. Emme RE: loreeLB Jan 13, 2009 08:25 PM

                one of my friend's swears by amir's.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Emme
                  noshie RE: Emme Jan 13, 2009 08:46 PM

                  Amir's on Ventura in Studio City is terrific.

                  1. re: Emme
                    missliisa RE: Emme Feb 20, 2009 07:39 PM

                    peopel swear by Amir's like it's a cult thing.....

                    but this NYC girl thought it was very less than in all respects...... there HAS to be better out there........

                    ( i used to crave the falafel from the street stand outside Hunter college in the day)

                  2. westsidegal RE: loreeLB Jan 13, 2009 08:30 PM

                    i like the falafal at:
                    shamshiri grill on westwood blvd, best
                    second best
                    hungry pocket on pico across the street from santa monica college

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: westsidegal
                      nosh RE: westsidegal Jan 13, 2009 10:01 PM

                      I like the Hungry Pocket a lot, but I almost always order the lamb shwarma there. It is true that their falafel is very freshly fried to order, tasty, and on the lighter side. When I order it next time, I will request that it be fried a touch welldone, so perhaps it won't fall apart as easily. Two great things about the Hungry Pocket falafel -- you can't beat the price at $3.50 and I love their wonderful, addictive homemade hot sauce. One last hint: it appears that when you don't specify, they give you a whole wheat pita -- in my experience the white holds up a bit better and doesn't disintegrate as readily.

                      1. re: nosh
                        westsidegal RE: nosh Jan 14, 2009 10:01 PM

                        the whole wheat, though, tastes far better imho.
                        (all white pita, to me, has a sort of 'rubbery' texture, so i prefer the ww.)
                        i completely concur with you about the homemde piquante sauce--it is truly delicious, perfectly balanced with many other rich flavors other than just 'hot.
                        all their falafal is so fresh, it is handed to you withing 6 seconds of being pulled from the fryer. the bread is always warm without being AT ALL soggy or soaked (because they don't put on the tahini sauce until the moment before the sandwich is handed to you).

                        a also believe that they have some sort of ayce special on those sandwiches on monday and wednesday afternoons.
                        they have spoiled me.

                        1. re: westsidegal
                          nosh RE: westsidegal Jan 14, 2009 11:10 PM

                          Yep, but the AYCE for $6.99 is a penny less than two pita sandwiches. Maybe I could have downed more than that as a growing teenager, but I'd have trouble even polishing off two now.

                          1. re: westsidegal
                            a_and_w RE: westsidegal Jan 15, 2009 09:40 AM

                            Although I don't think Hungry Pocket is worth traveling out of one's way for, I agree that the freshly fried falafel make it a great choice in the area.

                            1. re: a_and_w
                              kevin RE: a_and_w Jan 15, 2009 07:43 PM

                              also, depending on the regionality couldn't eat be made from either Garbanzos, chickpeas, or fava beans???

                        2. re: westsidegal
                          1newyorkguy RE: westsidegal Aug 8, 2010 07:13 PM

                          I'd avoid hungry pocket for anything more than quick, cheap calories

                          1. re: 1newyorkguy
                            westsidegal RE: 1newyorkguy Aug 8, 2010 08:11 PM

                            it has been a long time since my original post on HP.
                            another chowhound, about 6 months ago posted that there has been a huge change in the food there.

                            i haven't had the heart to check it out again myself.

                            1. re: westsidegal
                              1newyorkguy RE: westsidegal Aug 8, 2010 11:55 PM

                              oh really? btw I had a good experience like others at Pita Bar and Grill on Fairfax.

                              Pita Bar and Grill
                              519 N Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

                              1. re: 1newyorkguy
                                westsidegal RE: 1newyorkguy Aug 9, 2010 02:49 PM

                                i'll keep it in mind if i ever get to that part of town.

                              2. re: westsidegal
                                Bjartmarr RE: westsidegal Aug 9, 2010 05:42 PM

                                I just had a HP falafel sandwich about an hour ago. It's still very good, although different than I remember; more lemony. They're now $4.25, and the Monday-Wednesday special is $7.77.

                                I got the kefta sandwich once and regretted it. I'll stick with the falafel.

                          2. e
                            epop RE: loreeLB Jan 13, 2009 10:08 PM

                            definitely none of the above (but I haven't tried Arax) but have heard better things about Anaheim. Where was the last great one you had?

                            1. DrBruin RE: loreeLB Jan 14, 2009 06:21 AM

                              You should go to a lebanese restaurant in the Belmont Shores area of Long Beach called Open Sesame. I just went there this past weekend for the first time. I had the kafka kabobs which were delish and my wife ordered the falafel. She let me taste them and they were the real deal and real tasty. She ordered the plate but I think you can get it sandwich style in a pita.

                              1. n
                                ns1 RE: loreeLB Jan 14, 2009 06:40 AM

                                How do you guys feel about the falafel @Skafs?

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: ns1
                                  monku RE: ns1 Jan 14, 2009 03:19 PM

                                  Good falafel at Skafs.....size of a golf ball. Great hummus too.

                                2. j
                                  js76wisco RE: loreeLB Jan 14, 2009 10:11 AM

                                  Some of these replies sound like advertisements.

                                  Agree that Arax has great falafel. My only gripe is that some of the produce that they put into the falafel pita doesn't always look like it's the freshest. I know I can just order it a la carte but I like the pita.

                                  If you're in the valley I also like the falafel from Pita Kitchen. The falafel is very crispy and light, not dense. My favorite menu items are lamb gyro, taboulleh and chicken schwarma. They also have those great middle eastern pickles, radishes and peppers as condiments but you have to ask.
                                  14500 Ventura Blvd
                                  Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
                                  (818) 990-7006

                                  1. n
                                    NYCnowLA RE: loreeLB Jan 14, 2009 01:04 PM

                                    Has anyone tried the falafel @ Marouch?

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: NYCnowLA
                                      condiment RE: NYCnowLA Jan 15, 2009 12:06 PM

                                      The felafel at Marouch is superb. It's one of the few places that actually makes them from scratch.

                                      1. re: condiment
                                        NYCnowLA RE: condiment Jan 15, 2009 01:25 PM

                                        thanks so much! that's great to know since i work near by there :)

                                    2. l
                                      ldodb RE: loreeLB Jan 15, 2009 06:38 PM

                                      My favorite Falafel place is on Pico just east of bundy
                                      Its called Habayit.
                                      Always cooked fresh really good. You can get it as a plate or as a sandwich.
                                      So good.

                                      11921 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

                                      1. p
                                        posh RE: loreeLB Jan 15, 2009 11:54 PM

                                        There's a lot of decent, but not great, falafel around, which I think of as being good for a bite or two but not so much by the end. I think the best I've had was at a kosher place on pico just west of robertson. They make their own pita and it makes the sandwich chewy.

                                        The worst by far was at Lulu's cafe on beverly. It was served as a burger, but it was baked rather than fried and not topped with much. Bland, dry, and embarrassing.

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: posh
                                          epop RE: posh Jan 16, 2009 09:34 AM

                                          I agree, nothing great found in LA. But I've yet to make it to Anaheim, where I hear of better things. So far I stick to having them at home.

                                          1. re: epop
                                            Peripatetic RE: epop Jan 16, 2009 10:03 AM

                                            I'll be interested to see what you think of Arax. I would use the word "great" for theirs.

                                            1. re: Peripatetic
                                              epop RE: Peripatetic Jan 16, 2009 04:38 PM

                                              Since you insist, yes, I will be glad to try Arax. The problem is few people know what a great falafel is, since few people make them and so many make pale imitations.

                                              1. re: epop
                                                Mr Taster RE: epop Jan 16, 2009 05:46 PM

                                                Please be sure to try at least one felafel all by itself. They're wonderful.

                                                Mr Taster

                                                Falafel Arax
                                                5101 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90029

                                                1. re: Mr Taster
                                                  kevin RE: Mr Taster Jan 16, 2009 05:57 PM

                                                  tried it today, it was good. i'll have to try it again to see if it's exceptional though, by mistake it was doused with hot sauce, actually srirachi to be exact, but yeah, will try again.

                                                  they also have soujuk on the menu along with lamb's tongue sandwich.
                                                  and they are really nice, and pretty cool, i think i went there once before a few years back, better than i remember it being on this try. prices are very reasonable. and the place is as tiny as all hell.

                                                  will have to try the hungry pocket so though to compare.

                                        2. j
                                          Jerome RE: loreeLB Jan 17, 2009 01:03 AM

                                          Agree with the above Amir's Falafel in Studio city -which i believe is just chickpeas but very well seasoned.

                                          Both Carnival on Woodman just north of Ventura and SUnnin on westwood blvd just north of santa monica blvd make excellent felafel with a mixture of fava and garbanzo beans.

                                          Falafel king in westwood isn't bad.
                                          And i like the "turkish salad" there as well on the falafel.

                                          6 Replies
                                          1. re: Jerome
                                            Rosiepigs RE: Jerome Feb 20, 2009 01:45 PM

                                            i still find amir's in studio city bizarrely tasted. everything--the falafel, the eggplant salads on top, the shwarma even--all seemed like they were hit with some sort of anti-MSG, so that instead of enhancing flavors, they muted them. (i wonder if there'd be a market for such a substance.)

                                            i had Arax falafel once, and wasn't that impressed.

                                            It has been noted elsewhere on this board that you just can't find falafel like l'As du Falafel in Paris. And if someone knows how they make their eggplant, I would be forever grateful.

                                            1. re: Rosiepigs
                                              epop RE: Rosiepigs Feb 20, 2009 04:37 PM

                                              that place in Paris makes lousy falafels, btw. I'd heard that rumor and couldn't wait to get there. It is the Mamoun's falafel (NYC) of Paris. Lines for nothing. there are many better places in London and all over the Near East.

                                              1. re: epop
                                                condiment RE: epop Feb 20, 2009 07:48 PM

                                                Mamoun's secret used to be that the felafel cost a dollar, but tasted like a buck fifty, easy. But the place in Paris isn't bad. Not the grail - not even as good as, say, Aroma here - but not bad. One tends to have lower standards for ethnic food in Paris.

                                                1. re: condiment
                                                  epop RE: condiment Feb 21, 2009 10:32 AM

                                                  Actually there are excellent Lebanese and Chinese restaurants in Paris...

                                                  1. re: condiment
                                                    Rosiepigs RE: condiment Feb 24, 2009 02:06 PM

                                                    aroma's really that good? i had the malawach a few weeks back, found it bland. unless it was supposed to be.

                                                    oh, and that was my point about amir's in studio city--totally tasteless.

                                                    1. re: Rosiepigs
                                                      kevin RE: Rosiepigs Feb 24, 2009 02:13 PM

                                                      if you mean Aroma Cafe in Encino, the Israeli expat joint, they have never had falafel on the menu, unless their newly opened Hollywood location has it.

                                            2. j
                                              jmorga11 RE: loreeLB Jan 17, 2009 09:00 PM

                                              You might want to try Sahara Falafel in Anaheim. I assume this in the little Gaza neighborhood. Atmosphere isn't anything special but the falafel is good (and fairly close to LB).


                                              1. p
                                                paprkutr RE: loreeLB Jan 17, 2009 09:26 PM

                                                Try Carnival on Woodman just north of Ventua. They are light and crispy. They also have some of the best salads around.

                                                1. DrBruin RE: loreeLB Jan 18, 2009 06:47 AM

                                                  So, where did you end up going to eat?

                                                  1. p
                                                    posh RE: loreeLB Jan 18, 2009 11:04 PM

                                                    I went to Arax the other day. It was way better than I remembered. The falafel sandwich was very flavorful and had a great texture. There wasn't much on it but it totally hit the spot.

                                                    Now I'm going to have to return to Nagila on pico in order to properly compare. But what if israel and armenian falafels are incommensurable?

                                                    1. b
                                                      bruinike RE: loreeLB Feb 21, 2009 01:34 PM

                                                      My friend swears by the falafel served at the new eatery, CABBAGE PATCH. Owner/chef is Persian (formerly of Rustic Canyon). She is Armenian and knows her falafel.

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: bruinike
                                                        epop RE: bruinike Feb 21, 2009 04:21 PM

                                                        curious, will report back soon. i did see this 9 dollar falafel listed...

                                                        1. re: epop
                                                          kevin RE: epop Feb 24, 2009 02:14 PM

                                                          any more info on the cabbage patch, is there a website or address link thanks.

                                                          1. re: kevin
                                                            bruinike RE: kevin Feb 24, 2009 04:47 PM

                                                            it's served with a thin flat bread, tomatoes, lettuce and a thin tahini type sauce

                                                      2. v
                                                        veggieyummy RE: loreeLB Feb 24, 2009 07:26 PM

                                                        I love Sunnin at Westwood blvd and Santa Monica. Friends have moved from here to the east coast and demand it whenever they're in town. It's a bit of a hole in the wall, but soo yummy!

                                                        1. j
                                                          js76wisco RE: loreeLB Aug 10, 2010 03:30 PM

                                                          The best falafel in LA is either at Mezza in Culver City or Alcazar on Westwood Blvd. They are both well fried, crispy, larger than some versions, soft in the middle and very tasty.

                                                          The best falafel I've ever had is at the Borough Market in London. For 5 quid you get the best falafel with tahini, spicy sauce and pickle salad which consists of beets and all varieties of pickles. My Lebanese friend said it was better than his mom's and made me swear that I'd never tell anybody. I think anonymously on CH doesn't count.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: js76wisco
                                                            bulavinaka RE: js76wisco Aug 10, 2010 07:00 PM

                                                            I have to agree with you on this one. I'm not an expert in this department, but I do enjoy falafel. And I do order them if we're at a place that should be competent at making these things. And of the places I've tried, both Mezza and Alcazar (in that order) are superb.

                                                          2. c
                                                            chris1621 RE: loreeLB Aug 11, 2010 05:16 PM

                                                            Has anybody tried Muma on Melrose? I haven't been there yet, but have heard their falafel is supposed to be really good...

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