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Berkeley: Chick-O-Pea's - The falafel place with a falafel bar

Located next to Triple Rock on Shattuck where there was a bakery long ago.

I have no feelings about falafel. It never does much for me. However, a restaurant billing itself as the falafel place plus the promise of a falafel bar with over 25 toppings and condiments had an appeal to me.

I forgot my takeout menu, but it is pretty simple - beside falafel there is chickpea soup, flavored fries, takeout salads, and various types of baklava - regular, apple, and choclava.

I'll leave the evaluation of the falafel to others as this is not my thing. There were three. They were tasty enough, not oily like some and on the small side.

The pita seemed to overwhelm them, but the point seems to be to load up the $7 sandwich with toppings. I thought the house-baked pita was tasty. It was a little softer and thicker than most with a slight background sweetness. It tore easily though. It might just be the way they cut the top, there's 3/4 of a pita and that makes it hard to stuff it with toppings. .

I'll list them in the first reply, but oddly enough one of my favorites was the salsa fresca which was standard tomato, onion, cilantro, Serrano peppers, salt AND fresh ginger. This was really a swell addition. I can hardly wait to make some at home with fresh ginger.

The dressing I liked best was the zchug - cilantro, parsley tomatoes, hot peppers, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, spices and salt.

They have some very nice rough chopped fresh herbs - parsley, cilantro, dill and scallions. I sprinkled sesame seeds over everything and was quite happy.

The jerk fries was a flavor that didn't do it for me. There was some spice in there I personally don't like. However, the matchstick fries in a paper cup were pleasant. For an extra 50 cents you can get a dip. Since I wasn't crazy about the jerk flavor I got pesto ... there are pesto fries ... it was just a cup of pesto and didn't do much for me. I also tried the saffron aioli which was fine. I'll give some of the other dips a try, but I hope they have catsup too.

They also have pita fries.

Totallly vegetarian and very vegan-friendly.

I think they could do better in the drink department. There are fountain drinks, organic coffee, some sort of bottled mint drink and Numi organic tea bags.

It is really a pleasant place. The staff is really nice. At the falafel bar I could see the pita lined up and ready to be put in the oven.

There is a nice patio area outside with about 5-6 tables, one sidewalk table, three two-tops inside and three high bar tables where you can stand and eat.

Hours are in flux. They hope someday to be open till 1 am on Saturday, but currently they are closing up nine-ish.

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Chick-O-Pea's
1926 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA

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  1. To tell you the truth, I couldn't tell what some of these were despite looking at the menu. I also think some items weren't available yet. For what I know I tried for sure, I'll comment. I agree with the yelp poster who said instead of a sheet of paper, they should put labels on the sneeze guard ... or somewhere next to each item.

    Hummus - Pretty good. Nice and smooth. It didn't blow me away but it was pleasant enough

    Baba Ganouj - I don't think it was there today

    Lab Kusa - Zucchini, onion, olive, fresh mint, lemon juice salt, pepper

    Fattoush - pita bread, cucumbers, tomatoes, scallions, parsley, mint, cilantro, lettuce, yogurt, lemon juice ... I'm positive they didn't have this today

    Tabouli - not bad

    Beat (sic) salad- roasted beats, parsley, chico-o-peas vinaigrette - there weren't even roasted BEETS, these were straight from the can and chopped.

    Sauteed chard salad - Swiss chard, onions, garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinaigrette, dried cranberries, parsley, pecans ... definitely didn't have this

    Daikon radish relish - Shredded Daikon radish, fresh squeezed orange juice, sugar, salt

    Raw turnip relish - Raw turnip, lime juice, harrisa

    Onion relish - Onions, fresh mint, olive oil, lemon juice

    Lebanese-style slaw - Cabbage, tomatoes, scallions, parsley, mint, Anaheim pepper, olive oil, lemon juice salt

    Salsa - Tomato, onion, cilantro, lemon juice, ginger, Serrano peppers, salt

    Lobio - chickpeas, kidney beans, cilantro, parsley, olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper

    Cucumber relish - Cucumber, salt, vinegar, dill, olive oil, spices, salt

    Ensalada coliflo - Cauliflower, Anaheim peppers, olives, pimento, olive oil, parsley, vinaigrette

    Aioli - didn't see it

    Zchug - Cilantro, parsley, tomatoes, seasoning, hot peppers, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, spices, salt - This was a dressing in a squeeze bottle which I thought was great

    Harissa - hot dried peppers, garlic, spices, salt, olive oil - also in a squeeze bottle and labeled as 'hot' - it was

    Tara boor - tahini, water, lemon juice, garlic, salt - in a squeeze bottle. I'm not an expert in this area. It was fine, but I liked the zchug much better

    Rough chopped herbs - parsley, cilantro, dill, scallions - very nice and very fresh

    Carrot relish - carrots, garlic, vinegar, salt - tasted like shredded carrots to me

    Sahara dust - sesame seed, cilantro, garlic

    They also had a squeeze bottle of the house vinaigrette. The chopped herbs overwhelmed the flavor on this, so can't say.

    There was also some stuff to sprinkle on the pita - dried cranberries, sesame seeds, raisins, slivered blanched almonds, chopped pecans

    4 Replies
    1. re: rworange

      I tried it today for lunch and I loved it. The zchug was my favorite topping too...I wanted to "zchug" it, LOL. The pita and the falafel itself taste so fresh. I'll be back for sure.

      1. re: rworange

        Thanks! That reminds me of Amsterdam Falafel in DC. Does it look anything like these pictures? I remember Amsterdam being cheaper though, about $4 or $5 for a small pita (maybe 4" diameter) with three falafel, and $7 for a larger one that I assume has at least 4.

        http://www.chezpei.com/2009/05/amster...

        1. re: Pei

          The fries looked exactly like that. The pita seems larger.

          The condiment bar is really tiny though ... about a quarter of that size with small containers of condiments.

          NOW I have the takeout menu. They also have the options to order salad and top it with stuff from the falafel bar. There is a choice of Romaine or organic baby greens. Salad is $7.50.

          The menu also lists corn on the cob for $3.

          What is cool is a kid's plate with kid's falafel and fresh corn $4.

          They also have frozen chocolate covered bananas $2

          Today there was a plate of hard boiled eggs and roasted garlic cloves near the register. They seem to have a nice fruit cup. It had fresh peaches and strawberries and other fruit.

          1. re: Pei

            Just back from DC, I ate lunch at Amsterdam on Memorial Day. The small is $3.50, the large is $4.99. Choice of white or whole wheat pitas - delicious. As we sat eating, I told my companions that if someone opened a similar place in the Mission in San Francisco they would have lines out the door......

        2. Not to be crabby, but $7 seems a lot for a build-it-yourself with only three small falafel balls. $5.50 and I'd be there.

          1 Reply
          1. re: rccola

            It is organic.Also,looked at the menu today and it turns out to be $6.50.

          2. There used to be a place on Telegraph that was a falafel shop with a "salsa" bar.about 25 years ago. It was great and I've missed it.
            Ecclesiastes 1:9
            The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun

            1. This sounds interesting and worth a try.
              Has anyone who has eaten here been to Israel before? Is it similar to felafel stands wtih lots of bowls of condiments and pickles in front?
              Also, do they have Israeli or other style pickled veggies? That's the best part of felafel!

              1 Reply
              1. re: milklady

                What they have is in the first reply. There were some hot pickled peppers and a few other chopped pickled stuff. The inside of the take out menu has a long history of falafel and the regional variations such as Egyptian falafel being made with fava beans and Lebanese a mixture of fava and chickpeas. They mention that in Israel falafel is often served with french fries.

                I went back and had

                - the soup
                - Sahara dust fries
                - pita fries
                - Lab Kusa - Zucchini, onion, olive, fresh mint, lemon juice salt, pepper
                - free water with mint, strawberries and lemon

                I forgot on the first visit yelpers kept mentioning the water. In the back corner is a water tank that has strawberries, lemon slices and fresh mint floating in it. It looks so pretty. The water isn't strongly flavored, mainly lightly minty, but very nice.

                Where one yelper was wrong was about the soup calling it oily. I was expecting some sort of lentil-like soup ... but with chickpeas ... however it was nothing like that.

                The menu just says fresh herbs, organic chickpeas with pasta.

                It is more of a rich vegetable broth, the greens dominating just a few whole chickpeas and kidney beans. There are some nice noodles along the lines of short spaghetti, but flatter. It was rich with olive oil.

                It is vegan and it gives vegan food a good name. The broth was almost as rich as chicken broth. Why was vegan food so bland and boring for so many years. I'd get this again. It is $5 and the size is somewhere between an small and medium deli take out container.

                They have $4 takeout containers of hummus, and other things ... one of which was the Lab Kusa. Think the texture of hummus only with zuchinni. Three fresh mint leaves topped it and olive oil was drizzeled over it. It was mild tasting and light with mainly citrus accents.

                The Sahara dust (sesame seed, cilantro, garlic) didn't stick to the fries but fell to the bottom of the bag. When you get takeout the fries are in a paper bag rather than a cup. They are swell fries though. They do have packets of Heinz catsup if you ask, so I just mixed up the dust with the catsup. Didn't add a lot of flavor though. The menu says these are spicy hot, but there was no heat at all.

                The pita fries are cold. They are waiting in bags behind the register. It is strips of pita deep fried and sprinkled with herbs. They weren't outstanding, but they weren't bad. I meant to save them for home and try heating in the microwave, but one piece of pita led to another and by time I got home the were gone.

                Other frie options
                - Saffron Aioli (not vegan)
                - Moroccan Harrisa (spicy hot)
                - Mediterranean pesto (not vegan)
                - Jerk ... it says spicy hot, but they weren't

                1. Coupon good for one free fry with Falafel order in latest East bay Express.

                  Expires 6-30-09

                  1. I hope they come down off that $7 asking price. Unless the price falls to $5 or less no reason to go back for the sandwich I had. Overcooked the falafels a bit. Plus, they need to try harder to keep the toppings available. 1/3 of the bins were emptied out. (One of the bins actually had dolma/dolmae/dolmades or whatever the plural form is). That tiny patio was actually pretty enjoyable on a such a bright, sunny day.

                    1. I had lunch here today. It was really delicious. The fafafel themselves were flavorful and were not greasy. I loved the housemade pita. It fluffy and almost sweet. The condiments were delicious. I especially loved the zhug. There was a combination of pickles and olives that definitely met my needs for pickles with falafel.. The cucumbers with dill, turnips and other little salads were great additions.

                      I also got an order of the plain fries. They were crispy and delicous. But, an order of fries and a falafel was way too much food. Next time I won't order fries unless I'm with someone else and we can share them.

                      Service was pretty quick (less than 5 minutes to fresh fries and falafel) and very friendly.