Comparing Crisp with the Pocketful Truck
Back in January we reported that the Crisp on Wheels Truck was splitting with the growing fast food chain of the same name. Just a few weeks after that, the truck was re-branded as The Pocketful with no trace of the Crisp logo anywhere. I’ve walked by this new truck on multiple occasions along Sixth Avenue and see people lining up for free samples trying to figure out what happened to Crisp on Wheels.
I also attempted to ask the owner about the split on my recent visit, but he was hesitant to say much more than they parted ways and assured me the food on the truck has not changed, aside from the branding. I decided this would be a perfect time for a side by side comparison of the newly named truck and one of the Crisp storefronts.
Both companies serve unique falafel combinations influenced by different cuisines. The names are slightly different now – for instance, the falafel with guacamole and salsa is called the Mexican in the store but the Aztec on the truck; with peanut sauce and sweet potatoes you get the Africa in the store and the Moroccan on the truck. So far the truck wins for specificity.
And the prices are exactly the same on both, which is an entirely different story. Both these are pushing the limit of what I’d like to spend on a falafel sandwich before fries and a drink. But for scientific research purposes (and because it was the cheapest option on the menu), I stuck with the classic namesake pita sandwich at both locations.
I was pleased with the free falafel sample that was handed to me as a sort of amuse bouche from the truck. It was crispy and flavorful.
And inside, the moist herby mix had little flecks of black sesame seeds. So far, so good.
The sandwich itself was rather messy, falling apart as soon as I picked it up. And all the good stuff fell to the bottom leaving the top loaded with colorful vegetables, like lettuce, onions, tomatoes, and cabbage. It took some digging to find the falafel, but when they were discovered, they added a wonderful crunch to the sandwich.
Crisp’s sandwich stayed together better. I could tell right away that the ingredients were slightly different. The big shreds of iceberg were absent, but replaced by lots of herbs. The mint and parsley really took center stage with the first few bites of the sandwich. I also liked that tahini sauce was already drizzled on top (as opposed to on the truck where you have to do it yourself).
These falafel balls might have had a deeper flavor, but their texture wasn’t as strong. The inside was a little too soft (perhaps they were undercooked) and the exterior had some crunch, but not as much as I like from my falafel.
In the end, it’s definitely a close call between the two businesses. Both are putting out tasty falafel sandwiches (if a bit overpriced), but I can’t say they are identical any longer. The Pocketful nails the crisp exterior and soft center of the falafel itself, but Crisp is more successful at the construction of the sandwich, especially with the heavy-hand when it comes to the bright herbs and spices.
Now if only these two businesses could merge into one, we’d have a perfect falafel sandwich. Oh, wait – been there, done that.
Crisp (Two Locations)
- 684 3rd Ave. btw. 43+44th, (212) 661-0000
- 110 West 40th btw. B’way+6th, (212) 278-8978
- Twitter: @ThePocketful