Falafel: SFBA Dish of the Month June 2014
The goal of Dish of the Month is to collectively try as many versions of falafel as we can in the Bay Area.
To keep things lively, focus on places where you have not eaten falafel before and report back. Bring pictures!
Voting thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/976998
I just had the falafel salad @ Barney's on College in Oakland. Surprisingly satisfying--the falafel patties well seasoned and fried, a good contrast w/ the crisp salad greens; and a good, creamy garlicky dressing set it off. I'm not saying I stumbled upon Jerusalem in the East Bay, but this is a salad that works quite nicely.
Yesterday I tried the Flying Falafel at a festival. They were frying as fast as they could to keep up with the crowd. Service was incredibly friendly.
$8 bought you a full falafel. I was given a whole wheat pita (soft and thick), and then there were bowls set up with falafel, pickles, cabbage, sliced tomatoes and shredded carrots to fill your own pita. There were squeeze bottles of hot sauce and tehina.
The falafel were very fresh. They were crispy but irregularly shaped. They were lightly golden brown on the outside, and light brown on the inside. They tasted good, but definitely lacked salt. The pickles seemed like pretty good Israeli pickles. The sliced tomatoes were sad looking. The tehina also lacked salt.
Overall, it was a pretty satisfying falafel. My 4 year old was thrilled with it, but I wouldn't go out of my way for it.
What makes a wonderful falafel? Recently had them at Falafel stop in Sunnyvale. They were freshly fried. I have not tasted many versions beyond that, Dish Dash an a few others. Somebody recommended falafel drive through as the best of the area but I haven't been.
Are there regional variations?
I stopped by Amba in Montclair Village for a late lunch. The falafel sandwich was good, but made me miss the glory days when there were 3 falafel joints with the Israeli style add your own salad bar to the top, and now there are none. The falafel balls were well-fried, crispy, without a distinctive spicing. The tahini sauce was good, and the rest of the sandwich was filled out with some cucumber pickles with allspice/clove type spicing, lettuce, tomato, and thick hummus. The salads in the case, particularly the cauliflower, looked good, but are only available as side orders or platters that I did not end up ordering. I actually really enjoyed the french fries offered as an add-on, they were double fried, crispy, and tasty. Ordering took place at the counter, but I was asked if everything was okay and if I'd like hot sauce while at a table (though not offered any namesake amba). The hot sauce was homemade, tasting mostly of red chili.