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Apr 19, 2013 09:48 AM

best falafels in Berkeley?

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

    1. 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

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

        1. re: sundeck sue

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

          2 Replies
          1. re: ernie in berkeley

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

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              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. 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: Robert Lauriston

                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

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

                1. re: drewskiSF

                  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

                    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

                      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. 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

                    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

                      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.