Freddy is Still the King of Falafel (And His Kofta isn’t Bad Either)

Even though I live in Queens and multiple people have raved about Freddy’s to me, I never went. Why? Because it takes two subways for me to get there. Now that I work in Midtown, I can just walk over and boom.

The menu can be dizzying if you are just walking up for the first time with no prior research.

There was a bit of a line on a Friday afternoon around 1:15, but it moved really fast.

Cheese ordered the Ashley platter for $8, which is over salad. He said the hot sauce isn’t all that hot, but sometimes I think he’s burned his taste buds off and no longer tastes spicy. I didn’t try it.

I opted for the Freddy’s Junior, as it had kofta (what I really wanted to try) and chicken, so I could have a wider variety. I’ve been looking for good kofta forever (so if you have a tip, please leave it in the comments!) – since I first had it in Turkey in 2007 – so when I watched the guy take a couple of balls out of the warming drawer, toss them on the griddle, and then proceed to mash them flat, then chop them up, I was slightly horrified. Uh… what is he doing?? I was informed that most street meat items tend to be chopped up by the guys working the carts, and realized I am way out of my element when it comes to street meat. I’ll learn. It’s okay.

In any case, once I dug into my platter, I realized how hard it is to eat such a messy, huge platter of food without getting rice all over yourself (just me? oh, okay) – and that it’s even harder to eat most/all of it and not fall asleep at your desk after lunch. Whatever. The falafel – of which we were given samples while we waited, despite the brief wait – boasts an incredibly crunchy exterior, almost like it’s rolled in crushed peanuts (though it’s not). I think it tastes like that because the chickpeas aren’t mashed completely before being mixed into falafels. It had such a crunchy exterior, with a hot, moist and fluffy center, that I was really surprised. It was tasty… definitely different from other falafels I’ve had. However, I’m a Lebanese falafel fan, and these are markedly different in the specific proportion of spices/seasonings used (please don’t ask me how, I am not well-versed enough to tell you that, though the taste difference is pretty obvious and even looks alone, Lebanese falafel tends to have a very green-flecked center with a pronounced herbaceous flavor).

As for the chicken – supremely juicy and flavorful; the kofta was good, but as part of the experience of good kofta involves the texture of your first bite, of the overall mouthfeel, the experience lost something from the balls being completely mashed up. However, even mashed up, you could tell that the balls were seasoned extremely well and were quite lovely. Some bits hadn’t been mashed up as much and boasted a very nice crust from being griddled. I really liked it – and the white sauce wasn’t just mayo – and would definitely go again. Though maybe next time I’ll ask for no onions – the raw onions added to the platter were a bit overwhelming, and I reeked for hours after lunch. The pickles included were also a nice complement to the various flavors of the platter! … oh yes, also, next time? Salad. It has to be over salad. The rice, while cooked to a pleasing springiness, was just too much and gave me the ITIS for the rest of the afternoon.

I definitely see why people are huge fans and why there are frequently long lines. Check them out!

King of Falafel and Shawarma, NW corner of 53rd and Park


  • I’m pretty sure their white sauce is tahini.

    • There may be tahini in it, but it certainly isn’t plain tahini. I would not be surprised if there was a little yogurt mixed in.

      • They have a white sauce, a tahini sauce, and the hot sauce. The tahini has a green tinge.

        Also, cue Goats in 3, 2, 1…

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        They do two white sauces. They have a tahini sauce and also a mayo based one. For the sandwiches, if you order beef or falafel, you get tahini. If you order chicken, you tend to get the mayo based one.

        Also, thanks Yvo for pumping some life into this site again in recent weeks. I’ve been reading your blog for a number of years and always enjoy your reporting. We just need you to work on upping your spice tolerance!

      • Yeah, I don’t know about the full composition of it, but it was definitely heavy on the tahini. It certainly didn’t appear greenish though, and on top of it,my stomach didn’t get wrecked from intolerance so I don’t think yogurt was a main component, though it probably helps as an ingredient to cut the tahini.

    • Ah, thanks for the info, based on the photos then I had the mayo based sauce.

      Humbucker – thanks! You’ll be surprised to know that I have increased it dramatically in the past few years – a DROP of Sriracha in a bowl of pho used to give me the sweats and tears. Now I can actually turn my bowl a little orange and still be okay :) I’m now able to forcibly finish foods that previously I’d have just given up; the problem now is that I don’t see a point in going further! I mean I still like to be able to TASTE my food, and some hot sauces – not all, of course – just obliterate that option entirely…

  • IT’s been so long, maybe it’s improved? I doubt it though…I remember how i hated the falafals….But perhaps it’s as yvo said–not lebanese. Maybe i only like lebanese style. I don’t even know. I had sam’s falafal 2 weeks ago. I really like Sam’s….And taim. Freddy’s just was flavorless to me….but again, it’s been 2 or 3 yrs, so maybe i should try it again….or maybe not….

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    The only cart that I know of with charcoal grilled Kofta is an Egyptian cart called Farid Grill on Steinway street near 25th ave in Astoria. It comes with 4 cigar sized pieces of kofta lamb over rice for $11. Salad comes in a separate container. They have a 4 lamb chop platter over rice for $20.

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    Naya Express (one on the East side and one on the West side) has Lebanese food and carries both falafel and kofta (though not sure how it is prepared).

    • Thanks! I’ve had it at I believe the east side one, and it wasn’t quite what I’m looking for. Tasty but much smaller and “tighter”/denser texture than what I had previously.

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    The kofta from the Farid Grill cart in Astoria is just like the ones I’ve eaten in Egypt, Morocco and Turkey. The ground lamb mixture was freshly hand formed onto a sword-like blade and grilled over charcoal.

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    Ordered the Omar plate. The falafel was good, but the shawarma was rather dry and the meats mixed and chopped up together just had an overall curry-ish flavor, not really what I was expecting. Rice and salad were pretty standard, not sure if I would go back, maybe for the falafel.

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