A well-done falafel sandwich brings about a revelation that’s always the same: Why am I not eating this every single day? With New York’s insane amount of Middle Eastern options, you and your buddies very well could. The ingredients are typically about the same – a fresh pita pocket stuffed with fried chickpea balls (crunchy on the outside, oh-so-tender on the inside), veggie toppings, and secret sauces – but, like a block of pristine marble (or a blank canvas, or a tuba), when placed in the hands of a maestro, infinite artistry is possible.
From Wall Street to the West Side, you can’t go wrong with the delicious vegetarian goodness at New York’s 5 best falafel shops. Pick the closest one–or just go right down the list–and discover just how wonderful this simple sandwich can be.
Ravenous Wall Street traders are a killer litmus test when it comes to a delicious – and nicely-priced – lunch in the Financial District. So there must be something to the fritters at Alfanoose, fueling the stock market since ’99 and expanding from just three stools to a slick 48-seater on Fulton Street. Creator Mouhamad Shami uses fresh oil when frying up his shop’s nuggets, and you won’t just dig into the traditional lettuce, tomato, pickles, and tahini — you’ll get a magical mix of garlic, cumin, and coriander, too. It’s the perfect power lunch for when you’re hungry like the wolf.
Head to Hell’s Kitchen for Israeli eats that are decidedly non-Hell’s Kitchen. You’ll find an unassuming café tiled in black, but inside is serious pita game from the infamous Ezra Cohen. The Jerusalem native has eaten and scoffed at fried chickpeas citywide, and when you sink your teeth in his uniquely topped masterpiece – crafted with baba ganoush, tabbouleh, hummus, Israeli salad, and two sour pickle spears – you taste the flavor of Cohen’s homeland right at your fingertips.
Touristy? A bit, so expect that long line on weekends. But you can’t talk falaf’ in NYC without mentioning the big M. Stop in the original on MacDougal Street right in Greenwich Village, which is simply a counter and a line out the door. What can be said? Each ball is smashed right up against a small but mighty pita for perfectly distributed bites. Snag that huge bottle of Mamoun‘s hot sauce to light a fire on your tongue from all flavor angles: sour, sweet, and devilishly spicy. Wrap your hands around a classic, and race your friends back to the counter to order just one more.
Call the patrons “hipsters,” call them “cheapskates,” just don’t take away the best falafel $4 can buy you anywhere. Right across from the Bedford Avenue L stop, Brooklynites end (or begin) many a night at Oasis, with a simple dream dancing in their heads of the sauciest sandwich this side of the East River. Order yours with hot sauce – a lip-smacking zing that separates this guy from any other. After it is piled high with homemade pickles and red cabbage, all that’s left to do is feast – and people-watch all the characters springing from the subway.
Many a city dweller calls Taim the one and only mecca for fried chickpea balls, and it’s thanks to freshness packed in each ever-changing bite. Served with a conservative amount of sweet pickled cabbage and Israeli salad, your fried-to-order falafel comes in one of three colors: green with parsley, cilantro, and mint (matching the tiny outfit’s bright walls in West Village), slightly spicy yellow harissa with Tunisian spices, or red roasted pepper. Settle on one flavor for the sandwich, but don’t hit the streets without a side sampling of all three. Don’t worry: You don’t have to share.