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Sep 26, 2013 07:21 PM

Best Shwarma in NYC

I am hosting friend who wants to recreate the shwarma he had in Israel. This had been discussed before on this board, but nothing recently. Any recommendations out of the following list or some others I missed? We would prefer lamb, but it isn’t clear on a lot of the menus whether the shwarma is lamb of beef or both.

Jerusalem Restaurant
2715 Broadway, NYC (Broadway & W 104th St.)

Sido Falafel & More
267 Columbus Ave, NYC (72nd and 73rd)

Azuri Cafe
465 W 51st St, NYC Btwn 9th & 10th Ave

Olympic Pita
58 W 38th St, NYC

Mamoun's Falafel
22 St Marks Pl/119 MacDougal St, NYC

University Pita
21 East 12th St, NYC
(between 5th Ave & University Pl)

187 E Houston St At Orchard St, NYC

King Of Falafel & Shawarma
Broadway, Long Island City, 11106

100-05 Metropolitan Avenue, Forest Hills, NY 11375

Cedars Meat House
30th Ave, Astoria, NY 11102

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  1. I always see a long line at omar's on 55th street midtown east.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Monica

      Omar's Bakery is very good, but it's not going to be Israeli style. Neither is Bereket. The OP's best bet is going to be Azuri or Olympic Pita.

      1. re: JungMann

        What do you recommend at Omar's?

        1. re: Monica

          I usually get the kafta kebab pita with tahini and extra "hot" sauce (it's not actually very hot). The Egyptian pita (eish balady) is very pillowy and delicious.

          Most people in line get the shawarma platters but I would fall asleep at my desk if I ate that big a lunch. If you get the platter, the lamb is better than the chicken and the eggplant salad, hummus and tabbouleh are their best sides.

          1. re: JungMann

            thanks. Good to know that they have lamb shawarma.
            Will try the platter and see if I fall asleep.

    2. There's a cart on 53/Park selling shawarma that's like the equivalent of the Halal cart on 53/6th for chicken and white sauce.

      1 Reply
      1. re: ipsedixit

        That would be the Manhattan branch of King of Falafel.

      2. Having lived in Israel, I don't think you're going to get the same experience here. But one that is somewhat similar and that isn't mentioned above is Ali Baba on Amsterdam and 84th. It's really more Yemenite food, but it has shwarma and it has a nice big collection of additions.

        As to lamb vs. beef.... I don't remember knowing that when eating at shwarma stands in Tel Aviv (although it usually tasted like lamb).

        1. Here's my input on the beef/lamb at the ones that I've been to:

          Bereket: This is actually doner, not shawarma, which means it tends to be in thinner, wider shavings and greasier (in a good way). I like Bereket's doner, but if you are expecting shawarma you might be disappointed.

          Mamouns: I haven't had the shawarma here in a while, but I remember it being pretty good, although it was more shaved like doner, rather than the thicker shreds that shawarma usually comes in. My reason for not going back recently, is that the price for a small half-pita sandwich here is now similar to what you pay for a full pita sandwich at other places.

          King of Falafel: The beef/lamb shawarma here is served with a very tangy sauce, so you should be prepared for sourness. Also, the texture of the shawarma is highly dependent on when you go. Sometimes they'll have it already sliced in a warming tray, sometimes you'll get it cut off the spit from the crusty outside or maybe all the crusty outside will be gone and you'll get meat from the less well-done interior. Generally the texture tends towards dry (not in a bad way) but tender. If you've eaten tenderized or highly marinated meat, you'll know what I mean: it's sort of that broken down protein fibers feel.

          Another place you might consider is Naya Express, usually I go for they're chicken shawarma, but I imagine their beef is good too. Sandwiches are on the expensive side (maybe 8-9 dollars after tax), but are very generous with the fillings. The real selling point is their toum (garlic sauce) which is manna to a garlic lover like myself. Prepare yourself for pungent breath if you go here. Wraps are made with very thin lavash.

          1. University Pita does a great job. It's kosher, so a bit more expensive.