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best falafels in Berkeley?

Robert Lauriston Apr 19, 2013 09:48 AM

Who makes the best falafels in the area now that Maoz and the Berkeley Holy Land have closed and Sunrise has maybe gone downhill?


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  1. r
    Rapini RE: Robert Lauriston Apr 19, 2013 10:44 AM

    The best falafel in Berkeley might be in Montclair, at Amba

    1. s
      sundeck sue RE: Robert Lauriston Apr 19, 2013 10:54 AM

      Coming up short in Berkeley.

      Have had plus/minus experiences in Oakland. Haven't been to Holy Land @ Lakeshore recently, but they were quite good when I had them a while back (and I'm still missing their Elmwood location, even if enjoying the Cambodian restaurant that replaced them). I thought the falafel @ Amba in Monclair were truly terrible.

      And no idea if the Liba truck gets to Berkeley these days--have eaten their falafel @ the Alameda Antique Fair a couple times and see that they're in Oakland for food truck events--I thought they were really good (the salad bar on the truck makes for falafel that can be a little over-the-top/incoherent--the Yiddish expression, "unkepatchked"--but it is possible, albeit challenging, to exercise restraint re freebie-add-on's....).

      2 Replies
      1. re: sundeck sue
        Robert Lauriston RE: sundeck sue Apr 19, 2013 11:30 AM

        Padi, the place that replaced the Elmwood branch of Holy Land, is Indonesian.


        1. re: sundeck sue
          drewskiSF RE: sundeck sue Jun 4, 2013 06:39 PM

          Amba has had ups and downs. Not sure when you tried it, but thought they were on an up-swing (last tried ~2 months ago)

        2. e
          ernie in berkeley RE: Robert Lauriston Apr 19, 2013 11:22 AM

          Zand on Solano in Albany is consistently good, I think.

          2 Replies
          1. re: ernie in berkeley
            Robert Lauriston RE: ernie in berkeley Apr 19, 2013 11:31 AM

            Oh yeah, I forgot Zand has falafel. They're very good.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston
              sundeck sue RE: Robert Lauriston Apr 19, 2013 12:11 PM

              I also forgot Zand and agree.

              And meant Indonesian re Padi. Moving too fast.

              And this will likely destroy any cred I might have--but when I go to Barney's (w/ kids in years past, when they would get burgers and shakes, and more recently w/ friends to eat salads on the pleasant outdoor patio on College on a pretty day), I always get the falafel salad--surely made w/ frozen falafel, but w/ the greens and veg and dressing, a very satisfying lunch.

          2. d
            Dieppe RE: Robert Lauriston Apr 19, 2013 11:49 AM

            The brunch menu at Zut! on Fourth St. includes delicious, herb-filled falafels that are fluffy inside and crunchy out, plated with chewy flatbread, red pepper sauce and vinegary pickled cucumber. Outstanding.

            6 Replies
            1. re: Dieppe
              Robert Lauriston RE: Dieppe Jun 1, 2013 01:24 PM

              Mmm, yes.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston
                Glencora RE: Robert Lauriston Jun 4, 2013 02:36 PM

                Shared this for lunch today. They very nicely brought it out on two plates. Very good, lemony, crunchy. I really enjoyed it. The pizza, however, was a soggy mess.

              2. re: Dieppe
                drewskiSF RE: Dieppe Jun 4, 2013 06:42 PM

                That's good to hear. I tried them awhile ago and they were horribly bland. I really liked the flatbread, though.

                1. re: drewskiSF
                  Robert Lauriston RE: drewskiSF Jun 4, 2013 06:45 PM

                  The seasoning was really nice, lots of fresh herbs.

                  The way it was plated the salad dressing ended up making the bottom of the second pita soggy, I'd rearrange things to avoid that.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston
                    drewskiSF RE: Robert Lauriston Jun 4, 2013 08:21 PM

                    Didn't have that issue, but I'd rather have well seasoned falafel. Will need to try it next time on 4th St

                    1. re: drewskiSF
                      Robert Lauriston RE: drewskiSF Jun 5, 2013 08:36 AM

                      We were sitting outside at a table that slanted slightly. If I'd just turned my plate 180 degrees the dressing would not have pooled under the pita.

              3. c
                chocolatetartguy RE: Robert Lauriston Apr 19, 2013 12:45 PM

                What makes you say that Sunrise has gone downhill? I was a regular there for a while, then switched to Maoz because of convenience and the toppings bar. Now back to Sunrise. I haven't found falafel that I like any better and especially like the pickled vegetables and hot sauce. I tried Turkish Kitchen on Tele, but I like Sunrise better, especially right out of the cooker.

                4 Replies
                1. re: chocolatetartguy
                  Robert Lauriston RE: chocolatetartguy Apr 19, 2013 12:47 PM

                  Maybe Sunrise was just having a bad day:


                  1. re: chocolatetartguy
                    hungree RE: chocolatetartguy Apr 19, 2013 03:29 PM

                    Sunrise is stil la go-to for me. Lack of crunch only happens if you let the falafels stew in hummus or some other soft substance. They are super crunchy. The hot sauce is still good as ever as are the pickled veggies. It's not mind blowing but it's not any worse. The meat there is pretty weak and the pitas aren't good, but the falafel veggie plate has been consistently solid throughout the last year. Had them as recently as two weeks ago no complaints.

                    1. re: hungree
                      chocolatetartguy RE: hungree Apr 19, 2013 04:01 PM

                      Me too. They recognize me when I go in and I imagine they would make me freshly cooked falafels, if I asked. I like the falafel enough that I never order anything else.

                      One difference since I returned from my Maoz sojourn is that the middle-aged woman who used to be in charge has been replaced by the younger man who I think used to be the cook. I have noticed no difference in the quality.

                      1. re: chocolatetartguy
                        vulber RE: chocolatetartguy Jun 5, 2013 10:29 AM

                        also enjoy sunrise

                  2. Glencora RE: Robert Lauriston Apr 19, 2013 02:35 PM

                    Zaki Kabob House makes fairly good falafels, but they're not consistent and the prices there keep rising. The absolute best I've had lately are at Mediterranean Wraps, down in Palo Alto. Crunchy and fluffy and spicy. I wish they were closer.

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