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Apr 7, 2009 03:19 PM

In Search Of Killer Falafel

Hey Folks,

Does anyone have a favorite place for finding a falafel in the D.C. metro area. I spent the first 35 years of my life really detesting falafel. Everywhere I had it, usually made lots of greasy falafel patties ahead of time and just heated them when you ordered. I never had a real one until I accidentally wandered into Max's deli in Wheaton. I was bowled over at the freshness. They shape and fry the falafel balls to order and they have an outstanding selection of homemade veggies and condiments to choose from. Its the only place I've ever found anything this good.

I'm curious to know if anyone has a great falafel experience to share?

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  1. It's not exactly traditional, but the falafel sandwich at Breadline is awesome.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Henry Spencer

      Breadline makes a great felafel sandwich, but its their own unique take. Open only for midweek lunch.

      But I agree that Max's felafel bar is the best.

      1. re: Henry Spencer

        Do they serve the falafel at Breadline every day? Craving it today and their daily menu isn't working (their website sucks btw!).

        Also what makes it nontraditional?

        1. re: Elyssa

          Sorry if this is a late reply, but there's always tomorrow.

          No choice of toppings, they add a spicy tahini-based sauce, deep fried whole chickpeas for added crunch, and some dark leafy greens. The whole chickpeas are a very nice touch.

      2. Actually, you were lucky enough to find the best,. Max's is by far the best falafel in the area!

        1. Pita Plus in College Park (Lehigh Road off Route 1) has good kosher ME food including falafel, schwarma and fresh Lafa bread. It can be a little slow at times and is kind of pricey, but if you find yourself at UMD and need a bite to eat it's a good choice.

          1. I love the falafel at Max's cafe also. Equally outstanding is Amsterdam Falafelshop in Adams Morgan. There you can load the pita yourself with about 15-20 toppings.

            9 Replies
            1. re: comestibles

              You should check out Amsterdam's competition on Columbia Road, Old City Cafe. Same concept, better execution in my experience. And more seating!

              1. re: hamster

                Very strongly second this recommendation. I love Old City's falafel and their topping bar is outstanding...I had it last night as a matter of fact

              2. re: comestibles

                Oh my, I love Amsterdam Falafel. So many toppings, it's different each time.

                1. re: katecm

                  I have always wanted to try Amsterdam falafel. It sounds great!

                2. re: comestibles

                  I am very surprised to hear anyone putting Amsterdam on the same level as Max's. Variety and execution of toppings plus the bread far better at Max's. like night and day. When I was there, bread at Amsterdam was small and tore easily.

                  1. re: Steve

                    We didn't say it is the same level - having never been to Max's, I couldn't compare. But for convenience for the carless, Amsterdam is a darn good option.

                    1. re: katecm

                      Maybe you didn't read the post I was responding to carefully enough. Here is the quote:

                      "I love the falafel at Max's cafe also. Equally outstanding is Amsterdam Falafelshop in Adams Morgan."

                      Who is "WE?"

                      Amsterdam is a neighborhood recommendation. If you live in the vicinity, fine. But I wouldn't go out of my way for it. Personally, I probably wouldn't go back even if I was in the neighborhood. I'll save my felafel cravings for Max's, Breadline, and and the Lebanese Butcher.

                    2. re: Steve

                      I think we are talking about several things here. The falafel balls at Max's and Amsterdam are equally good IMO. They are both tasty, crusty, crunchy on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside; and they are both made fresh or in small batches.

                      As for the toppings, AF has more variety. I don't know exactly what "execution of toppings" means. Is it quality of preparation or the way they put the toppings in your pita at Max's? because you cannot stuff your own pita at Max's the way you can at AF. I have seen nothing wrong with the topping quality at AF.

                      The white bread pita at Max's is very good and is a larger pocket than AF's whole wheat pita (they only kind I've ordered there) which does tear more easily. But my Max's falafel sandwich also tears as I eat into it, what with the juices from the toppings and the tahini. I also like to really stuff my pita at AFwith tons of toppings till it bulges. I don't mind torn/leaky pita they way you seem to. I enjoy my falafel sandwich at both places very much.

                      1. re: comestibles

                        Well, I have never counted the amount of toppings, but when I went to Amsterdam Falafel, I was disappointed in what they offered. When I went to Max's, I saw several interesting house-made sauces with varying degrees of spiciness, other condiments that clearly were made there, and some toppings using items like sauteed onions, etc. The whole thing was just fantastic, as where AFH in Adams Morgan was a let down. I don't know if there are other Chowhounds who have been to both (more recently than I) but that was my impression.

                  2. It's been awhile, but the Woodside Deli on 16th St/Georgia Ave (just S of the Beltway) used to be decent -- I believe the Israeli Embassy staff frequented it, which is about the best falafel recommendation you can get.

                    The fact that Amsterdam Falafel (described below) has 15-20 toppings makes it a good bet IF the falafel themselves are properly cooked.