Falafel info overload
Is good falafel evenly distributed throughout the five boroughs? Is the best in Manhattan or should I take my post to the Outer Boroughs board?
In the mean time, I have some questions that I can't seem to answer in the large and helpful falafel thread that's already on the site.
Who's got the really good condiments? Salads? Pickles? A rainbow of sauces? I half remember, as though it were a dream, a falafel sandwich of my youth I had on a trip to Israel. Red sauce, green sauce, yellow sauce, spicy, sour...
What about cultural differences in condiments? Who has distinctly Iraqi, Israeli or Lebanese sauces?
I tried a nice place in Queens many years ago. Judging from what I read on the internet since then, they make their own pita. Which of the top tier Manhattan falafelerias do this? Pita Hot also added fries to their schwarma. Is this available or even common in Manhattan's finest falafel shops?
My favorite spot in Manhattan for falafel is an Israeli owned joint in the West Village called Taim (on Waverly Place, just west of 7th Ave). It's perfectly constructed with lots of different textures and flavors. They use an Israeli style pita (puffy) that I believe they get from some place in Bklyn. They heat the bread over a gas flame for a nice charred flavor, then they spread a layer of hummus before adding their perfectly fried balls of falafel, Israeli salad (diced tomatoes, cucumbers, & parsley), a vinegar-based cabbage slaw, and tahini. They have various additions (hard boiled eggs, pickles, and pickled peppers) and sauces you can request (some w/ a supplemental charge) including harissa and amba (an Iraqi mango based sauce). This place is great -- I was hooked after my first bite. They put thought into every aspect of the sandwich, from contrasting textures to the order in which all the ingredients are stuffed into the pita. Highly recommended!!!
I do think I also prefer the Israeli style pita. I've heard of amba. How common is that?
Anyway, this place sounds like it might be a good choice. Hard boiled eggs sounds like a great idea for a falafel pita sandwich.
I'll report back wherever I end up going but it won't be for several weeks.
In the mean time, I'd like to thank everyone for all the good info. So far. Please keep it coming.
I can't comment on the differences between Iraqi/Israeli/Lebanese. But I very much like the falafel from Maoz (there's 2 I think but I've only been to the one on the UWS). They have a very large selection of things to put on it -- it's like a mini salad bar even. I was so surprised the first time I went and found out the entire "fixings" area was included in the price.
You are looking for Azuri Cafe on 51st and 10th, which is the best Israeli-style falafel I've ever had with a dozen different delicious salads on each pita or plate. Be sure to take home a tub of the proprieter Ezra's hummus, which is transcendant. Taim is also excellent Israeli-style falafel, but it's vegetarian and lacks the diversity of salads that Azuri offers. Pick-A-Pita is also great Israeli-style falafel, and offers shawarma (try the shawafel for a real gut bomb) but the salads aren't quite as fresh as Taim or Azuri. Be sure to ask for fried eggplant and french fries on your sandwich at Pick-A-Pita.
PS: If Olympic Pita still exists in Brooklyn, that's worth a trip now that the Manhattan location apparently has changed hands. Take the Q to Avenue J.
I choose Azuri. My plans were foiled by Simchas Torah. I ended up at Taim. They were very friendly. I modified my order twice and it wasn't a big deal even though they were quite busy. I got amba, srug, pickles and the standard toppings. It was good but I have to say that I've had better in Cleveland (at a restaurant that has since closed *sigh*). They didn't add much of any of the sauces and I didn't get a lot of flavor from them. The balls themselves were tasty and well cooked. The pita was also nice.
I'm looking forward to trying Azuri on my next visit but I'll make sure to check my all faiths calendar before I hit the subway.