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Jul 9, 2012 06:37 PM

Amsterdam Falafel: The Good, The Bad, The Sad

As a former DC resident, I was delighted and tickled to learn that Amsterdam Falafel was opening up shop in Davis Sq. Mr. Swank and I headed over tonight after work.

The scene: rather jammed. There was a longish line and some confusion over where to order. This is because the toppings bar is situated right next to the ordering station, so people loading up their sandwiches also appear to be in line waiting to order. It can get a bit tight sneakers.

The service: as efficient as can be expected for a new place. The owner was on the line, affably guiding people about.

The toppings bar: extensive!! Do not miss the chopped jalapeno, chopped tomato relish, delicious yogurt sauce, cuke salad, or the hot pepper relish! The curry mustard and garlic mayo (available, oddly, around the corner by the soda fountains) are also must-gets. The only problem is, it's tough to stuff the toppings into your falafel sandwich. Mr. Swank ended up splattering a puddle of condiments on the floor. The sandwiches are not designed for easy toting. Plus, once you bite into a few falafel balls, your toppings are gone unless you've thought to open up your sandwich, stuff the toppings inside, and then replace the balls. This isn't an easy feat when you're holding up production at a busy toppings bar! Oh the stress.

The large fries are super large -- opt for a regular.

On another note, Diva was positively booming next door. Maybe offloading the "lounge" has helped business?

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  1. Sounds like a classic Israeli falafel shop, in Israel. Not just an absolute delicious and chaotic mess, many of them don't even have napkins or sinks to wash the backsplash. And they are usually crewed by the owner, who makes the guy from Azuri in NY look like your friendliest uncle.

    1. I was at the preview this weekend, I thought they did a good job keeping the food true to the DC operation. The atmosphere is different but what can you do? Also if they keep the cashier after the sandwich-loading zone it's going to be ridiculously messy- if you don't have both hands to keep your food vertical, your precarious sandwich is going to all topple out during the payment process. It's key not to let your sandwich run dry as you work your way down, you gotta keep poking that shit with the wooden stick and redistributing the ludicrous pile of salad stuff you put on top. I liked the new curry ketchup quite a bit, as I found their mayo to be too cold and stiff to really be ideal for the fries.

      1. I was there yesterday as well (though for lunch). I didn't have the ball replacing issue. I always just smoosh down the sandwich so that the falafel is flattened, then I pull up one side of pita and place toppings on top of the falafel all the way to the bottom. Makes it easier to eat, too! I wish Rami's would do this; I end up just eating a salad first, then falafel because the toppings are all sitting on top.

        My favorite topping was the roasted eggplant. And the two hot sauces. I didn't see curry mustard, that sounds delicious!

        Didn't they have a metal tray by the cash register to sit your falafel in while you paid? I might be completely remember this wrong... If they don't, they probably should.

        2 Replies
        1. re: maillard

          Love your lesson in how to assemble one of these, squishing and all. Brilliant. I hope people are paying attention because they will have a much better eating experience if they follow your lead! so thnx. Btw, do you think they'd give me trouble if i brought in my own plate or sandwich container? I have a hard enough time when i'm wearing a napkin and using a plate; w/o one it would be pigpen delux.

          1. re: opinionatedchef

            Thanks, I actually learned about the ball smooshing from signs at the DC Amsterdam location! It really does make a difference.

            I've found the people there to be super nice, so I don't think it would be an issue. I wish they would just wax paper the trays. That would keep fallen pieces nice and clean without having to go for actual plates etc.

        2. The original comment has been removed
            1. re: Bob Dobalina

              Do they have little containers or anything to put the condiments/sauces in or do you have to put whatever you want on the pita itself?

              1. re: Gordough

                Sauces (peanut/ketchup/mayo/garlic) can go in cups and you can top off whenever you want. Salad items go on your pita and you can't go back for more.

              2. re: Bob Dobalina

                "Mr. Swank ended up splattering a puddle of condiments on the floor."

                If that doesn't make you cry, you're a hard-hearted man.

                1. re: FoodDabbler

                  Like the ice cream that fell of the cone.

                  1. re: FoodDabbler

                    I'm not super fussy, but the topping bar set-up as described doesn't sound all that sanitary. Hope that's a mistaken impression.

                    1. re: katzzz

                      ha-ha! Y'know, I love the falafels in Israel *because* of the topping bars...but I always wondered what would happen if they were attempted here for that very reason. I never thought the powers that be (i.e. health dept), would allow it here, considering you are required to take a new plate every time at any buffet to prevent cross-contamination. works in Israel, though, so why not here!

                      BTW, Swank....what about the falafels themselves? Could you tell us a bit about how they rate (compared to, say, Rami's or Fordee's)? Spicy? Tame? Crunchy? Bready?

                      1. re: Science Chick

                        Where would the cross-contamination come from? I don't think there is any double-dipping, since if you want more sauces you have to put them in a little paper cup. There is however, some crossing of topping on the bar itself, which is a sad thing for dill haters.

                        I found the falafel to be bigger and greener than Rami's, but about as tasty. I've only been to Fordee's once and it was awhile ago, but I think Amsterdam is pretty similar to theirs.

                        1. re: maillard

                          In Israel, you can eat a bit, and then go up and add more toppings after you've already bit into your sandwich. Touching the serving pieces to your partially eaten sandwich and returning the serving piece to the buffet transfers bacteria from your sandwich into the vat on the buffet. Multiple by umpteen users and you have a nice bacterial cocktail! Of course, *if* they keep the bar at proper temperature, the bacteria won't have much of a chance to multiple. That's *if*....!!!! I haven't been to Amsterdam, so I don't know if they allow the double dipping as in Israel....

                          1. re: Science Chick

                            Yuck. No, at Amsterdam you can't get more toppings and additional sauces have to go in little paper cups. No double dipping. Just dill creep.