GOLDEN BALLS OF DELICIOUSNESS at The Golden Falafel Balls in Santa Clara
Ever since I read THEIR BALLS ARE INDEED GOLDEN in my friend, Dan B.’s Yelp review, I’ve been fixated on visiting The Golden Falafel Balls. Except I kept misquoting it, and I’ve been calling the place, GOLDEN BALLS OF DELICIOUSNESS. My version sounds like an American porno that’s been translated into Japanese.
I had the $9 Veggie Combo plate. That included six falafel balls, hummus, baba ganoush, pita, and a cup of pickles and peppers. The falafel balls were very slightly oily but the insides were perfect. They were cooked to order and piping hot with a nice crust, without being too hard or dry. (Take it from me, no one wants dried out, hardened balls.) Unfortunately the hummus was on the bland side, but the baba ganoush was good. (However, they didn’t hold a candle to the garlicky versions at Gourmet Express’s.) These sides were attractively garnished – it seems weird to mention but they really were.
The pickles and peppers were definitely needed because there just wasn’t enough variety on the plate, and my palate called out for something with a little kick. The combo came with thick Israel-style pita, which was fresh and possibly house-made (which puts it a step above many other Mediterranean places).
There is a glossary of foods on the wall, about as big as the posted menu, describing hummus and the like to the uninitiated.
If you want some GOLDEN BALLS OF DELICIOUSNESS in your mouth of your own, you should know that this place is a little tricky to find. In fact, I missed it the first time. Although the address is on Stevens Creek, the storefront faces Cabot.
Not including places that I have on my Turkish, Persian, or Afghan lists…
Katya’s Israeli/Middle Eastern/Falafel/Greek Rankings:
1) Gourmet Express, Milpitas
2) La Mediterranee, Berkeley
3) Holy Land, Berkeley
4) Shai's, Kensington (closed)
5) THE GOLDEN FALAFEL BALLS, SANTA CLARA
6) Falafel's Drive-In, San Jose
7) Athena Grill, Santa Clara
8) Cafe Nefeli, Berkeley
9) Sinbad Mediterranean Cuisine, San Mateo
10) Armenian Gourmet, Sunnyvale
11) Jerusalem, Santa Clara
12) Old Ironsides Cafe, Santa Clara
13) Daphne's, Sunnyvale
14) House of Falafel, Sunnyvale
15) Olives Greek Cafe, San Jose
16) Krivaar, San Francisco
17) Pita Pit, San Jose
Oh man. I was all set to make some super fun delicious balls jokes, but you totally beat me to it.
LOL, Katya! I'll have to try these out sometime. You rank them higher than #14 -- which is the House of Falafel off Lawrence, yes? It changed names (owners?) recently, but the falafel was the same, which I liked.
Of course, some of the best falafel I've had has been from the Flying Falafel, which shows up at the Sunnyvale Farmers' Market. Have you tried them? Both the regular and spicy varieties are delish, served in their thick housemade (I think) pitas. Need to be vigilant as they fill the pita, as they tends towards over-packing the vegetables, which increase the sogginess rate a bit. Alternatively, they sell the balls frozen, which fry up quite nicely (I took a hint from the vendor and used a wok).
It's on Saturdays (year-round, except during the annual arts'n'crafts fair in June), 9am to 1pm. The Market takes place on the 1 block of Murphy Ave. that is downtown, and part of intersecting Washington Ave. Flying Falafel's stall is usually somewhere on the part of Washington east of Murphy.
Iirc, the filled pockets are $7 each (pricey, yeah), containing about 7 balls. Boxes of 16 frozen balls are $13.
Silly me, I forgot to describe the balls. They're small, about the length of a pingpong ball, but about half as thick. Crunchy on the outside, tender (not dense or dry) on the inside. "Regular" has quite a bit of sesame seeds (which I like), and the spicy reduces the need to pile on the chili sauce. The stall also has this nice sweet sauce, which goes well with the spicy falafels.
I personally believe Falafel Bite has the best falafels in between San Diego and San Francisco. I travel too often and I am a falafel frequent flyer. Long ago I was a fan of Falafel Drive in. No way Drive in or Golden rank higher than Bite, not a chance. The
Tahini, hot sauce and Hummus there are uncomparable as well.
I grew up eating Falafels on street corners in the Middle East, I know my way around Falafel tastes. :D my $0.02.
I've heard Neto's is really good, but I haven't been there yet.
My list is more for overall Israeli/Armenian/Greek (maybe I should take "falafel" out of the name but some places - like Pita Pit are more falafel joint than ethnic). I only had falafel at a handful of the locations listed so my list isn't so good as a falafel ranker, more for overall food.