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Falafel/Lebanese cuisine in Austin?

r
rhubarb Feb 2, 2011 03:55 PM

Looking for some really good falafel, shwarma, etc.....in the Austin area. Anything?

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  1. popvulture Feb 2, 2011 05:42 PM

    Ok, this is a little tricky because there are so many opinions that people may have on what good Lebanese / middle eastern means. BUT...

    Tarbouch on Oltorf is good for some things. Their lamb and kafta are good, and their hummus is fantastic. Their baba ghanouj is really some of the worst I've ever had. Their falafel is ok, but it's not by any means the best I've ever had.

    I lived in NY for seven years, where there's a falafel place around every corner. I think falafel should be green on the inside, whereas most places around here tend to be more just tan. A lot of times they're not fried enough and the outsides aren't very crunchy. They're also not usually served in pitas in the typical NY way (not sure how it's done in the true middle east), more wrapped up in flatbread like burritos. IMHO, Phonecia bakery doesn't have very good falafel, nor Milto's. The best falafel I've had in Austin was at a place off of the drag right near Urban Outfitters... I don't remember the name, but it was a college joint owned by middle easterners who weren't very friendly, probably because they have to deal with drunk frat kids all the time. I've also heard that there are some good places up north.

    Another really good ME place is Jerusalem Gourmet on E.Oltorf. It's kind of a grungy place, but the people who own it are super nice and the food's great.

    If anybody else has some recs, I wanna hear em!

    3 Replies
    1. re: popvulture
      dinaofdoom Feb 2, 2011 07:01 PM

      popvulture, i concur with your description of how you think falafel should be.
      i would also add that there needs to be a reasonable size for the frying to work its magic.
      i've had cutlet/patty abominations, plus balls that are just too big and so the inside is cold and/or googly.

      i am also a big fan of good quality pickles and condiments that accompany my pita-nestled-falafel.

      1. re: popvulture
        t
        topodrinko Feb 3, 2011 05:28 AM

        the place near Urban Outfitters is called kismet cafe.

        tom's tabooley has good falafel and for a great deal too. $4.99 for falafel wrap with handcut fries.

        arpeggio grill does awesome falafel, but i've only had the ones at the airport location. can't speak for the guadalupe location.

        don't ever get them from tino's. they're not even round, but instead flat patties that are soggy and flavorless. so awful.

        before it closed, Obee's on Anderson had good falafel with whole cumin seeds. they also served a really delicious shish tuwaq (sp?) and another spiced beef wrap, both had pickles and lots of fresh parsley. it's too bad they're gone..

        1. re: topodrinko
          h
          heyzeus212 Feb 3, 2011 09:59 AM

          The Arpeggio Grill on Airport (just north and west of Highland mall) is better than the one on the drag.

          And I'll second Sarah's on Burnet - very good food, very good prices, very friendly people. Plus, they have a neat middle eastern food market to browse through while you wait.

          -----
          Arpeggio Grill
          6619 Airport Blvd, Austin, TX 78752

      2. popvulture Feb 2, 2011 05:44 PM

        Oh and Kebabalicious isn't ideal for falafel, but it's pretty damn good!

        1. a
          auspr Feb 2, 2011 05:48 PM

          My favorite falafel place is Sarah's on Burnet Rd. They are Palestinian; but everything I've tried there is very god.

          1. f
            foodiegal71 Feb 3, 2011 02:46 PM

            I love the falafel at Marakesh on Congress and about 9th. They're my favorite in Austin by far. My second favorite is Sarah's on Burnet. I just love the people that own it. When I'm having a bad day, I love to go to Sarah's because they always make me smile.

            7 Replies
            1. re: foodiegal71
              b
              bbq1995 Feb 11, 2011 10:29 AM

              I thought Marrakesh closed a while ago?

              1. re: bbq1995
                f
                foodiegal71 Feb 12, 2011 12:51 PM

                Nope, it was open when I went last about a month ago. It's so good.

                1. re: foodiegal71
                  b
                  bbq1995 Feb 15, 2011 05:54 AM

                  Weird. not sure why I thought it was closed.

                  1. re: bbq1995
                    a
                    achtungpv Feb 15, 2011 10:06 AM

                    I posted that it had closed. Went about a month or more ago and it was shuttered and the sign was even gone. If foodiegal71 went since then I don't know what's going on.

                    1. re: achtungpv
                      b
                      bbq1995 Feb 15, 2011 10:33 AM

                      Yeah, I had thought it had closed a long time ago since I remember it not being there when I walked by in the last year or two. Weird.

                      1. re: bbq1995
                        f
                        foodiegal71 Feb 21, 2011 01:23 PM

                        We're talking about Marakesh on Congress near the capital right? Because that's what I'm talking about and it's still there. It's in my regular lunch rotation.

                        1. re: foodiegal71
                          b
                          bbq1995 Feb 22, 2011 05:34 AM

                          Yeah. For some reason I had it in my head that it closed. Not sure why.
                          I will now remind myself that it is open.

            2. c
              chrhenry Feb 10, 2011 02:04 PM

              Nobody's mentioned Phoenicia, which does a good falafel. One on Burnet, one on South Lamar

              1. b
                budgethound Feb 13, 2011 05:25 PM

                my $0.02, with specifics at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/388438#4832192:
                North Central: Sarah's Mediterranean Market
                UT: Kismet Cafe
                South: Jerusalem Gourmet Market

                I haven't tried it, but according to a few local 'hounds, Flying Falafel & Po-Boys near UT is good.
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/620562
                Come to think of it, just in the UT area there are at least 6 options (Flying Falafel, Kismet, Longhorn Po Boys, Milto's, Tom's Tabooley, and El Greco)!

                4 Replies
                1. re: budgethound
                  t
                  tr463 Feb 14, 2011 08:46 AM

                  Sadly, I'm pretty sure both Flying Falafel & Po-Boys are closed! :(

                  I'm 100% sure that Po-Boys is closed because they took the cafe next to it as well (most likely owned by the same person).

                  Flying Falafel I believe is closed too, but I'm not quite sure...

                  1. re: tr463
                    d
                    debegone Feb 14, 2011 09:07 AM

                    Flying Falafel is not closed. I was there on Saturday, but we were the only people there, pretty quiet.

                    1. re: debegone
                      t
                      tr463 Feb 17, 2011 12:14 PM

                      ahh my bad! Sorry for the misinformation!

                      1. re: tr463
                        s
                        skik2000 May 14, 2011 08:09 PM

                        I just tried Flying Falafel tonight. It was terrible. I'm pretty sure the falafel was pre-made/frozen.

                        I thought Tarbouch's falafel had a good fry on it but was way too bland.

                        I'm hesitant to try Marrakech's falafel because their food in general isn't very good. A restaurant named after a Moroccan city (the food is nothing like in Morocco) that is owned by an Israeli woman doesn't quite cut it in my book. I want to like it as it's close to my office but it's just not that great.

                        Also, falafel is usually in the form of a patty, at least in the Middle Eastern countries I've been in. That allows it to get a crispy outside and still be cooked through on the inside. If you serve up big golf balls it's not going to have the right texture throughout.

                2. a
                  AustinBear May 18, 2011 02:55 PM

                  Another vote for Jerusalem Gourmet. I'm picky about my falafel (very, I'm middle-eastern) and they do a good job.

                  tom's tabooley? really? They don't even make good Tabouleh (or Humous).

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: AustinBear
                    a
                    auscohen May 22, 2011 04:02 PM

                    I go to Kebabalicious every chance I get. The one on 7th opens at 10:30 PM, so it's hard to make it there. The felafal is pretty darn good.

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