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The Best Falafal in Boston

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DemBellyFull Mar 12, 2013 10:56 AM

There is a new king of falafals in Boston, and it not the Falafal King, the new champ in my mind is Pita Thyme a new opening in PO sq on the corner of Batterymarch and Liberty. I've been a long-time fan of the Falafal king, and their new location on Winter St is every bit as good as the old seedy Downtown Crossing location, so this is not a knock on the FK. I just enjoyed my 4th Falafal from Pita Thyme in about two weeks, I wanted to test their ability to consistently deliver before posting. The Falafals are made from all fresh ingredients and fresh herbs so they are more greenish in color than the traditional light brown one's often made from dry ingredients (you can see them being made almost to order during lunchtime) . Complementing the extremely fresh and flavorful falafal, are two types of pickels, one of which is purple that it seems to me that they may pickle themsleves, they also add some nice spicy banana peppers to give it a little extra bite, it also has the traditional lettuce, tomatoe and some fresh herbs, I think mostly parsely. Not only is it the tastiest Falafal, it is also the neatest to eat, they have a unique construction process that results in a nice tightly-rolled wrap, even when adding in the tahini and extra hot sauce, it still holds its form. It is a husband wife team running the operation and they are always there overseing quality control. Definitely worth checking out!

  1. Bob Dobalina Mar 18, 2013 09:44 AM

    Oh I wish I had read this thread before I went to lunch today. Was in the neighborhood of Batterymarch and Liberty, but got my falafel at the Chubby Chickpea food truck.

    It was awful. Falafel, hummus, "israeli" salad (cucumber, onion, tomato) - absolutely no flavor whatsoever. I would be willing to bet that blindfolded tasters could not tell you what it was they were eating. Where's the garlic? pepper? salt? The falafels were also rather coarse on the inside, and yet somehow still mushy. The outside was fried seemingly well enough but just so meh. The pita bread seemed fresh. The cucumber salad did not seem fresh. The hummus had no discernable tahini flavor or any flavor at all.

    I tried these guys once several months back and was sort of underwhelmed. Now I remember why.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Bob Dobalina
      d
      DemBellyFull Mar 18, 2013 09:48 AM

      I could not agree more, I work in the area, and in my constant search for a good falafal tried that truck once, and only once. Hope you get a chance to try Pita Thyme!

      1. re: Bob Dobalina
        nsenada Mar 18, 2013 09:50 AM

        I had a similar experience there - just really unmemorable. I did go back to Pita Thyme again today and got the chicken shawarma sandwich. I really like this place a lot, and even preferred the chicken rollup to Fordee's. While the chicken did come out of a tray, it had clearly been amputated recently. It's a good bit leaner than Farm Grill, but fattier than Zo. I think there was some thigh meat in there. The combo of garlic mayo, pickled turnips and pickles is really excellent, along with the cinnamon and other spices I couldn't readily make out. They also have whole wheat pita bread, so I'm going to be hitting this place a lot.

      2. gini Mar 18, 2013 05:58 AM

        While I adore the condiment bar at Amsterdam Felafel, they overcook their balls. I like crispy, but I don't like tooth-breaking. Felafel King is just ok. I am still searching for the felafel of my dreams.

        2 Replies
        1. re: gini
          StriperGuy Mar 18, 2013 07:06 AM

          Nothing worse then overdone balls.

          1. re: StriperGuy
            gini Mar 18, 2013 07:15 AM

            You speak the truth.

        2. opinionatedchef Mar 18, 2013 01:43 AM

          my fav in boston is at Amsterdam falafel. Pluses: whole wheat pita option, cooked in front of you, crispy outside, moist inside exc texture and flavor, and, equally great-the salad/condiments bar. and choice of delicious sauces.
          For me, rami's shows really poorly compared to AF.

          After AF, i am impressed by Boston Kabob Co.

          1. nsenada Mar 15, 2013 10:27 AM

            I just went there on a colleague's recommendation. I was feeling beefy, so I got the shawarma. It was cold by the time I got it back to work, but excellent. I loved the pickled turnips, and they spread aoli on the bread. I was a little sad that the meat wasn't cut right off the spit, but taken out of a steamer tray, but whatever - no one but Farm Grill and Zo seem to do that anyway, and that would probably have doubled the line. Psyched to have a shawarma with mayo option nearby.

            6 Replies
            1. re: nsenada
              g
              Gordough Mar 15, 2013 12:11 PM

              I've noticed that even Farm Grill and Zo don't always cut it right off the spit to order. I am not a fan of the shawarma stored in steamer tray. The key to do shawarma in my opinion is the little crispy pieces.

              1. re: Gordough
                nsenada Mar 17, 2013 01:27 PM

                Yikes - I hope I never have that experience. Especially at Farm Grill, where the meat tends to have more fat in it.

                1. re: Gordough
                  opinionatedchef Mar 20, 2013 12:53 AM

                  absolutely,g. My spontaneous thinking is that steam table schwarma is a reflection of the owner's a) disrespect for 'the american palate' and/or b) laziness and/or c) profit motivation. I can't imagine that the 'best schwarma place' where the owner grew up- would serve schwarma from a steam table.

                2. re: nsenada
                  d
                  dulce de leche Mar 18, 2013 07:25 AM

                  They always cut off the spit at Sabra Grill in Harvard Square. Their chicken shawarma is delicious. The nice family that has owned it for ages just recently (as in a couple of months) sold it, though. The new owners are ambitious and are making some nice changes. I haven't had the falafel, and I'm going to have shawarma again before I make a judgement.

                  1. re: dulce de leche
                    d
                    deglazer Mar 18, 2013 11:45 AM

                    I had completely forgotten about Sabra. I used to go all the time in the 90s and liked it a lot - it was easily my favorite in Harvard Sq. Looking forward to trying the new version.

                  2. re: nsenada
                    Beachowolfe Mar 18, 2013 04:23 PM

                    I think they slice off the spit at Cafe de Boston as well. The falafel there is not great though.

                  3. c
                    calvnhobs6 Mar 15, 2013 07:28 AM

                    I've had mostly excellent experiences with Cafe Jaffa on Gloucester in Back Bay, Chubby Chickpea (truck), Jake's Falafel Corner in Newton, Falafel Palace in Central Sq...

                    But the best, to me, has always been Rami's in Brookline. Unfortunately, it's also the most expensive, but you're paying for their Kosher certification.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: calvnhobs6
                      Science Chick Mar 15, 2013 09:29 AM

                      Interesting take that Rami's is more expensive because they are kosher. I never really considered this....how expensive is that, I wonder, and do they have to re-certify every year? I always figured their higher prices were simply reflecting their Coolidge Corner location/rental......

                      1. re: Science Chick
                        c
                        calvnhobs6 Mar 15, 2013 10:51 AM

                        Sorry I should have clarified. It's not the certification, but the fact that all of the meat they purchase must be certified kosher, which is more expensive. The location is definitely a factor as well.

                        1. re: calvnhobs6
                          Science Chick Mar 15, 2013 11:21 AM

                          ahhh....of course! As a non-meat-eater, that never would have occurred to me! Ha!

                    2. g
                      Gordough Mar 15, 2013 07:20 AM

                      I stopped in for lunch the other day and have been meaning to post my thoughts. Perhaps my expectations were too high after reading this thread proclaiming this the best in town. As a caveat, I did eat at 2pm after the rush so maybe it would be better if I came earlier.

                      My falafel was ok. Definitely not bad but it was not warm at all and wasn't very flavorful. I prefer Falafel King's falafels. I'd even give a slight edge to Pipieri at One Beacon.

                      1. t
                        thefoodster Mar 14, 2013 10:14 PM

                        Spinach falafel at Oleana. Melts in your mouth!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: thefoodster
                          m
                          Madrid Mar 15, 2013 06:14 AM

                          oh yes, that spinach falafel is amazing.

                        2. u
                          Uncle Yabai Mar 13, 2013 01:29 AM

                          I say Falafel you say Falafal...

                          1. d
                            deglazer Mar 12, 2013 01:59 PM

                            Thanks for the tip. Falafel is one of my favorite things of all time, so I'll be checking that out soon. My top list does not include Falafel King and goes something like: Fordees, Boston Kebab Co., Sepal, Rami's, Amsterdam.

                            8 Replies
                            1. re: deglazer
                              d
                              DemBellyFull Mar 12, 2013 02:04 PM

                              I've had 2 of the 5 you listed, I'm petty sure you'll be pleased w/ this, I am a fanatic about Falafal's and Reubens, both of which are hard to find a good one, more often than not I am disappointed w/ the result

                              1. re: DemBellyFull
                                Allstonian Mar 13, 2013 04:51 AM

                                Which two have you tried?

                                1. re: Allstonian
                                  d
                                  DemBellyFull Mar 13, 2013 05:02 AM

                                  Boston Kebab and Sepal

                                  1. re: DemBellyFull
                                    Allstonian Mar 13, 2013 05:34 AM

                                    I have not yet tried Boston Kebab House in downtown Boston, but Boston Kabob Company in Allston is going to be hard to beat.

                                    1. re: Allstonian
                                      d
                                      DemBellyFull Mar 13, 2013 05:39 AM

                                      I was referring to the Boston one, that is not a high hurdle to beat, l'll have to try the Allston one, curious how Pita Thyme compare if you end up trying it

                                      1. re: DemBellyFull
                                        Allstonian Mar 13, 2013 06:39 AM

                                        I suspected that might be the case. I'm pretty sure that deglazer is referring to the Allston place, which is not related to the Boston one - different names, different spellings (Kebab vs. Kabob.) The Allston one has superb falafel, even better than Fordee's, which had been my previous favorite.

                                        1. re: Allstonian
                                          d
                                          deglazer Mar 14, 2013 07:10 PM

                                          Indeed, the Allston one, which is my favorite (and which I probably followed your rec. on!)

                              2. re: deglazer
                                iL Divo Mar 18, 2013 07:13 AM

                                I really want to get to Sepal after seeing it numerous times on TV as superbly delicious. how to get there from BC though? any suggestions-bus?

                              3. r
                                redips Mar 12, 2013 12:48 PM

                                Although I have not yet had Pita Thyme, Falafel King is not even in the same zip code as Amsterdam Falafel (Davis). Time for a Falafel challenge!

                                Can't wait to check it out.

                                1. Science Chick Mar 12, 2013 12:27 PM

                                  I'm always on the lookout for a good falafel.....thanks for the review! Are the purple pickles the classic pickled turnips, or do you think it's something else?

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Science Chick
                                    d
                                    DemBellyFull Mar 12, 2013 12:44 PM

                                    they were not cucumber-based pickles, though those were in it too, they may have been turnip but I was uncertain as they are a bit softer than I'd expect for that, deliscious nonetheless

                                    1. re: DemBellyFull
                                      trufflehound Mar 13, 2013 04:41 AM

                                      Purple top turnips pickled with beets.

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