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My Vote for Best Falafel In Midtown, whats yours?

s
shaytmg Aug 18, 2011 10:56 AM

My vote for best falafel in midtown has got to be the halal cart of the south-east corner of 52nd and 7th. It has become my mainstay for lunch. $4 for a falafel sandwhich can't be beat.

Also, they are very vegetarian friendly, making fresh falafel in the fryer when you order, not warming anything up on the flat top with the meat and using separate tongs for it all.

Anyone have any nominations? I am bit obsessed with falafel and would love to try some others.

  1. a
    apples Mar 17, 2012 07:51 AM

    For a "fast food option try Meze Grill...I was pleasantly surprised
    Its a build your own bowl, pita or salad place

    http://www.mezegrill.com/

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    Meze Grill
    934 8th Ave, New York, NY 10019

    1. o
      orthorunner Mar 13, 2012 08:48 PM

      My favorite is a somewhat unconventional style falafel, served at Balakanika, with the somewhat-unfortunate name "curry balls." I have found them to be always fresh, not greasy, and hearty. The curry adds flavor yet does not overpower the dish at all, and the garlic yogurt sauce they are served with is fantastic.
      On a side note, I increasingly think that Balkanika is relatively underrated for 9th avenue; it has some great mezzes and is a reliable spot for a quick bite without a wait. And no grumpy proprietor like Azuri!

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      Balkanika
      691 9th Ave, New York, NY 10036

      3 Replies
      1. re: orthorunner
        p
        Pan Mar 13, 2012 09:07 PM

        I was extremely underwhelmed the one time I went there, and in fact, I seem to remember that one of the mezes I tried was some extremely dense falafel that I considered among the worst I had ever tried and didn't come close to finishing. Perhaps it's improved drastically since that visit, shortly after it opened, but I have no desire to try the place again. And I wasn't very impressed with their sister restaurant/shop, Kashkaval, either.

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        Kashkaval
        856 9th Ave, New York, NY 10019

        Balkanika
        691 9th Ave, New York, NY 10036

        1. re: Pan
          o
          orthorunner Mar 16, 2012 07:47 PM

          These are not one of their mezes, but instead one of their main course options. Regardless, even if you tried the same thing I did, I did preface my post with the fact that they are "unconventional." This may lead to some people not liking them at all. However, for my taste, they are a great twist on falafel.

          1. re: orthorunner
            p
            Pan Mar 16, 2012 08:16 PM

            Unconventional is one thing; extraordinarily dense and having less taste than cardboard is another. And exactly how their menu is now, as opposed to what my girlfriend and I got shortly after they opened, I wouldn't know and wouldn't care unless they've drastically improved.

      2. k
        keith Mar 12, 2012 02:47 PM

        I like Olympic Pita. The falafel is fresh and you can get in in a sandwich made with either fresh pita or laffa. Also, a fantatic salad bar (of fried eggplant, salads, pickles) to augment your sandwich/platter.

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        Olympic Pita
        58 W 38th St, New York, NY 10018

        1. Ike Mar 11, 2012 09:58 AM

          My vote goes to the new place, Pitopia, on 37th just off Broadway. It's just like Maoz, but with MUCH tastier falafel balls! Truly excellent.

          That said, I went there at *night* when it was nearly empty. Not sure how good it is at lunchtime, when it's reportedly totally packed with hungry office workers.

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          Pitopia
          1369 Broadway, New York, NY 10018

          1 Reply
          1. re: Ike
            s
            small h Mar 11, 2012 10:37 AM

            Ooh, interesting. It does look like a clone of Maoz.

          2. b
            barberinibee Feb 23, 2012 07:19 AM

            I give a huge thumbs down to Maoz, which I finally tried yesterday based solely on Chowhound recommendations. I live in Europe and come to NYC about twice a year, and stay in a midtown hotel, and I love falafel. I had been meaning to try Maoz for sometime because of all the reviews, and even stood in line. I thought the falafel was bland with no spice aromas, the tahini had no nuttines, the hummus was tacky, and I threw away most of the fries (mix of sweet potato and reg) that had every indication of being a processed food made of potato pulp, not sliced potatoes.

            I will hand it to Maoz that the portions are large, the lettuce is fresh, the price is cheap and the falafel is not greasy (although the potatoes were). But there's no distinct flavor of the middle east and the mouth feel is mush. After a few bites, I was really sorry I hadn't taken a chance on the nearest push cart.

            5 Replies
            1. re: barberinibee
              s
              small h Feb 23, 2012 07:43 AM

              I've found Maoz to be hit or miss. I've had much better luck when they're busy and cranking out sandwiches. And for me, the biggest attraction is the salad bar. I love the pickled eggplant, especially. I've never had a decent falafel from a pushcart, because they use crappy pita and the oil often tastes a little rancid.

              1. re: barberinibee
                Pedr0 Feb 23, 2012 08:10 AM

                Where in Europe? I've seen a couple Maoz places in Paris.

                Not midtown but I think Mamoun's on MacDougal is still the best.

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                Mamoun's Falafel
                119 MacDougal St, New York, NY 10012

                1. re: Pedr0
                  b
                  barberinibee Feb 23, 2012 08:45 AM

                  Pedro,

                  Italy, near Genova. No falafel there but strips of chickpea flour batter are deep fried to make a treat called "panissa," which are salted and served in a paper cone like Belgian fries and eaten with a wooden skewer, not one's fingers. It's highly dependent on the quality of the oiive oil used.

                  smallh,

                  Didn't try the Moaz salad bar but obviously more than one person says that's the real draw of Maoz, not the falafel. I've had great pushcart falafel near Hunter college, and also around the diamond district and in NoHo, but I'm not here often enough to be sure those carts are still there to make a recommendation, and one really does run the risk with pushcarts of greasiness, old oil, etc. if you just charge forward on your own. But I think people should qualify their recommendations for Maoz. Surely this is not a great falafel sandwich.

                  1. re: barberinibee
                    s
                    small h Feb 23, 2012 03:47 PM

                    I am frequently near Hunter College, and I've noticed two falafel guys on 68th between Lex & 3rd. Is one of them your guy? (Stay away from the falafel guy on 3rd & 71st, who is a very pleasant person but makes bad falafel.)

                    No, Maoz isn't great. It's good, 75% of the time. I've only had two truly great falafels in my life. One was in Berlin. The other was at a place called Pita Express on 1st Ave., near 15th St., which closed a long time ago. That place was killer. They made the pita in-house, and it was soft, puffy and excellent. The falafel was perfectly fried, light, crisp, and a bit spicy. And the hot sauce they served would take your eyebrows off. There's a Pita Express on Ann St., but I haven't been and don't know if it's run by the same people. In Manhattan, I've tried - among many others - Alfanoose, Taim, Mamoun, and Rainbow. All good (and Alfanoose is very good), but not great.

                    1. re: small h
                      b
                      barberinibee Feb 23, 2012 03:55 PM

                      Could be! I haven't been up there in 18 months. The guys I liked hung out on the SW corner of 68th + Lex, but they could have moved. There was another cart directly across the street from them.

                      Anyway, I hate to recommend a cart I haven't visited in so long. As for Moaz, for me it was merely filling, which is different from good. I thought the actual falafel lacked any aromatic distinction.

              2. f
                fondaddict Feb 22, 2012 10:12 PM

                That is so funny. I was just going to start a post asking for the best falafel. I tried the very famous Mamoun's and it was I thought, really small and not that good. Today I tried Ba'Al Cafe on Sullivan St. after trying a slice of potato pizza at Grand Daisy, which was amazing.
                The falafel at Ba'Al was very good. They toasted the pita to slighlty crisp and actually made two half sandwiches. They filled it with hummus and salad and put 2 balls in each half. Topped off with tahini sauce and hot sauce. It was a really good falafel. It was also what I thought was expensive. I paid $6.00 for one falafel. The falafel appeared to be a mix of fava and chick pea. The owner is Palestinian, but he was not there, so I could not get a good answer as to what it was made from. The falafel was fried fresh.
                Oops, really sorry, I did not read the original post well. It said falafel in Midtown. I got excited to see the falafel post, as that was what i was going to post, I just typed my response.

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                Ba'al Cafe and Falafel
                71 Sullivan St, New York, NY 10012

                1 Reply
                1. re: fondaddict
                  f
                  foodwhisperer Feb 23, 2012 04:36 PM

                  I will have to try that Cafe Ba'Al, I go to Grand Daisy often, so that will be easy to check out. Mamoun's switched a few years back to tiny pita breads. It is the equivalent to a half of a falafel sandwich in the Middle East. Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn has some decent falafel, but if somehow you end up in Paterson on Main St, there is the best falafel I've had in this country. I hope Cafe Ba al compares to those

                2. j
                  JoJoBlackhawk Feb 22, 2012 01:14 PM

                  I second Crisp!

                  I never really ever enjoyed falafel before having it at the Crisp on Wheels truck. Crispy outside, soft inside, flavorful and healthy. Definitely a winner.

                  1. r
                    RosalineS Feb 13, 2012 07:49 AM

                    CRISP. I love the African sandwich with includes spicy peanut sauce. My fiance loves the Parisien sandwich with includes goat cheese. They also have a food truck and a newly opened location in Greeley Square.

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                    Crisp
                    110 W 40th St, New York, NY 10018

                    Crisp on Wheels
                    , New York, NY 10001

                    Crisp
                    1271 Broadway, New York, NY 10001

                    1. Ike Aug 24, 2011 10:44 AM

                      I'm also a little obsessed with falafel. I really miss the Taim truck, which used to park in midtown on certain days, but the police have kicked them out of midtown entirely, along with all the other trucks, due to some BS court ruling.

                      Kwik Meal #1 (a cart) has a really amazing falafel sandwich at the southwest corner of 45th and 6th. The sandwich is a bit small though, but it's excellent. I just read somewhere that it's brushed with butter, though. Isn't that cheating?! :) I don't know, I just feel like falafel sandwiches shouldn't have butter. But that won't stop me from going back again and again anyway! The bread (pita? thin laffa? something great anyway) seems to be homemade.

                      Of course, there's also Maoz at 40th & 7th as well as a new location on 8th Ave. near 43rd. But for me, that's more about the falafel salad bar (especially the pickled red eggplant) than the falafel itself. Their falafel is good but not as good as Kwik Meal's or Taim's.

                      I tried Gazala once. It was OK. I'd put their falafel at about the same level as Maoz's.

                      Any other suggestions that aren't too far west? I generally have to stick to places east of 7th Ave.

                      I've been meaning to try Azuri for years, but it's way too far out of bounds for me for lunch. I keep meaning to get over there for dinner, but I often work late. I don't want to get there close to closing time and incur the wrath of the proprietor. There are some scary stories in an older thread about what happens if you go there as late as, say, 8:30.

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                      Gazala Place
                      709 9th Ave, New York, NY 10019

                      Kwik Meal
                      45th St and 6th Ave, New York, NY 10036

                      Maoz
                      200 W 40th St, New York, NY 10018

                      Taim Mobile
                      , New York, NY 10001

                      Maoz
                      683 8th Ave, New York, NY 10036

                      1. w
                        wasny Aug 18, 2011 07:46 PM

                        Gazala Place can be quite good too. 9th and 49th. Not always perfectly consistent, but when they're on they make a great sandwich.

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                        Gazala Place
                        709 9th Ave, New York, NY 10019

                        1. g
                          gutsofsteel Aug 18, 2011 11:27 AM

                          Azuri Cafe.

                          -----
                          Azuri Cafe
                          465 W 51st St, New York, NY 10019

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: gutsofsteel
                            a
                            Alan Henderson Aug 18, 2011 06:20 PM

                            Agree with Azuri, the balance of fillings and the patties are both excellent. I've never found the guy to be surly. I believe they are now $6.00 or so, but I'd say you are getting a better product than from the cart (no anti cart bias, just really like Azuri).

                            -----
                            Azuri Cafe
                            465 W 51st St, New York, NY 10019

                            1. re: Alan Henderson
                              D...DF Feb 23, 2012 09:41 AM

                              I third Azuri. The proprietor has mellowed in recent years.

                              1. re: D...DF
                                f
                                FoodDabbler Mar 11, 2012 03:23 PM

                                Over the last two years the Azuri proprietor has been rude to me, looked at me as if I were an idiot, and hung up on me. What was he like before he mellowed?

                                I've found the felafel there acceptable-to-decent, but no better. Gazala has been turning out better felafel in the last year or so.

                                1. re: FoodDabbler
                                  p
                                  Pan Mar 13, 2012 12:58 AM

                                  I went to Gazala again recently. The falafel was solid but a bit salty, but one thing about that place is that their hummus is fantastic - nutty, just delicious, and probably the best I've had anywhere, so far. I also love their labane. But I must warn anyone who wants to try their tasty osh al-saraya dessert that it's now very small and costs $7.60. Gazala used to be a better value.

                                  -----
                                  Gazala Place
                                  709 9th Ave, New York, NY 10019

                                  1. re: Pan
                                    f
                                    FoodDabbler Mar 13, 2012 04:06 AM

                                    They have different varieties of hummus, too -- chickpea, fava, etc. Slightly smoky, I seem to recall. I agree that it's very good. Their very thin flat bread, clearly the middle-eastern inspiration for Indian rumali roti (handkerchief bread), is also excellent.

                                  2. re: FoodDabbler
                                    D...DF Mar 13, 2012 10:38 AM

                                    You have described what I considered his pre-mellowing demeanor. Perhaps you just have to catch him on the right day. I haven't tried Gazala recently but I'll give it a whirl.

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