The Pocketful Leaves Your Pockets… and Stomach… Empty

My coworker and I decided to check out The Pocketful when I realized it was parked on 53rd and Park, a few blocks from our office. There was no line, though there was a woman in the front giving out samples – and we all know how some people react to ‘free samples’.

My coworker was drawn immediately to The Aztec, though she asked for no jalapenos. I decided to go classic with the Pocketful – I’d liked the falafel I tried from the lady, and wanted to let those flavors shine – but “bucked it up” by adding fries for $1 and then added a a drink as well for another $1. You can choose from any of the drinks – soda or water, which normally cost $1.50, or their ‘fresh brewed Gaucho Mint or Passion Fruit Iced Teas’, which normally cost $2.25. Passion fruit iced tea, please!

We were both amused by how adorable the packaging is; it’s like a little purse! My coworker was handed hers as-is, though mine was put into a brown paper bag with my fries.

My whole meal, in all its cute glory! Unfortunately, the passion fruit tea wasn’t worth more than the dollar it cost – if that. It tasted like slightly passion fruit tinged water; I mean literally the teeniest bit of passion fruit, with no added sugar whatsoever, and I’m pretty sure there was zero tea to it. It wasn’t what I expected nor wanted when I said “passion fruit iced tea” – and my coworker agreed. She thought it could have used a little sugar.

The fries fared no better; when my meal was ready within 3 minutes, I knew the fries were going to be sad. Not fried a la minute nor even fried properly but earlier, they were sad, limp pieces of potato. Fully cooked potato, at least, so they might be from a bag or something – which is fine, had they been revived properly. We munched on these just because they were there, but not really for any other reason.

My coworker’s Aztec; she said that though the combination sounded odd, it somehow worked – minus the tortilla chips. They were whole or close to whole, which threw her off, as she – and I – expected them to be crushed up a bit, there to add texture. Unfortunately, she noted, they also became saturated with the moisture from the guacamole/corn salad/salsa and as a result, were just soggy but large bits in her sandwich. Weird.

The sandwiches came with two small containers of sauce, but honestly I’d rather my sandwich be filled to the top instead of room made for sauces that were secondary – particularly for my coworker’s sandwich, as she decided they might not play well with her Aztec ingredients so she didn’t even use hers. I did use my tahini, because a falafel sandwich isn’t a falafel sandwich without it, imo.

So many things to talk about, where do I begin? Well, first and foremost: This was a tasty falafel sandwich. The falafels themselves held up well and remained crisp, with a good crust to them, to the last bite. The toppings were fresh, though the cabbage didn’t taste pickled like the menu said it would be, and I’m a little curious what cubed salad vs. tri-color salad is – cubed tomatoes and cucumbers, then lettuce, cabbage, and…? The parsley mentioned on the menu was also absent, but the most egregious mistake here isn’t the lack of those things – I’ve already said that the taste didn’t suffer – but the poorly constructed sandwich. For a place called The Pocketful, my coworker and I both noted the irony in that our pita sandwiches weren’t pockets. If you peeked into the container, it was obvious that the pita had been opened all the way, rendering the first part of the name “pocketful” a misnomer; the latter part is obviously inaccurate as I already mentioned and as you can see from my pictures that the top of the sandwich was completely empty. I peeled off the pita from that part and ate it separately before digging in, but as I tried to take hearty mouthfuls, everything fell out the bottom of the open-pocket into the container. Eventually, we both gave up trying to eat it like a sandwich – both of us dropped food onto our dresses – and used the forks we’d had the foresight to pick up from the self-serve utensil/condiment/napkin area.

To that end, while the packaging is adorable, I would have preferred a really well-wrapped, properly constructed, full-pocket sandwich over the falafel-purse-box. Maybe if they didn’t have to pay for the packaging, they could lower the prices? Which is the other complaint – they were parked across the street from Freddy’s, King of Falafel, where a falafel sandwich will cost you $4, the hero is $5, and the platter is $7 – which is how much my sandwich cost. What? Yes. While I might have had to wait on line for a few minutes more before getting a falafel sandwich at Freddy’s, the price differential is no small thing. Not just because it’s $3 – but because I was hungry again by 5. Though I can eat a lot and keep eating, I am not a bottomless pit – I can eat a lot because I will keep eating long after I’m full, and I stay full for a very long time. But by the time 5 pm rolled around, I was actually hungry, and my coworker said she was feeling hungry too. This isn’t normal; I don’t want or require a lunch that puts me in a food coma and knocks out my afternoon, but I DO want AND require a lunch that doesn’t have me full blown HUNGRY before dinner time!

Perhaps the title is a bit of an exaggeration. After all, they DO take credit cards (and the charge shows up on my statement as “Crisp on Wheels”), so I was able to keep the cash in my wallet, and my stomach wasn’t completely empty – it didn’t start growling, per se. But I wasn’t all that happy about paying $10.74 (including a $1 tip) for a lunch that left me hungry a mere 3 hours after I’d finished eating. Not cool.

BTW, it seemed like no one was really biting – there were very few people who were even interested in the samples as they walked by, and no one else ordered during our brief wait. Guess they all knew about Freddy, King of Falafel, just across the street… odd place for the truck to park.

THE + (what people who like this will say)

  • I like how they have so many different combinations with the falafel
  • As long as it tastes good, the price isn’t a problem
  • I love cute packaging
  • I have a very, very small appetite
  • The falafel are really flavorful

THE – (what people who don’t like this place will say)

  • Seriously? Why would anyone pay $7 for a falafel sandwich?
  • I have a HUGE appetite; this is barely a snack
  • It’s what inside that counts; packaging is just a gimmick
  • There’s too much going on in these fancy pants combinations; give me classic any day
  • Sad fries make sad panda sad

The Pocketful, rotating locations
They seem to have a set schedule on their website, but check their Twitter before you go – their schedule has them at 53rd/Park on Wednesdays, but they were there on a Tuesday when I went.


  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    With King of Falafel across the street, there’s no reason to choose these guys. They even offer free falafel samples, just like Pocketful.

    From your report, it sounds like even without them across the street, there’s still no reason to choose these guys.

    Also, I haven’t been to KoF in a few months, do they now have a hero sandwich option at the Manhattan cart? That’s new.

    • Good catch – the hero is on their website menu, but not on the sandwich board menu at the cart (photograph in the post from last week). Sorry about that! I’ll fix that. Thanks!

      Personally, I prefer the taste of the Pocketful’s falafel to Freddy’s falafel. Having said that, though, the above stands: I don’t want to pay that much for a sandwich that doesn’t fill me up.

      • User has not uploaded an avatar

        Bless you for making a stand for value. It’s irritating when this site and (the now pretty much dead) Serious Eats NY feature dinky $12 sandwiches that don’t really live up to their price tags.

      • Hey Humbucker, check out Real Cheap Eats for more ‘value based’ options. It’s not Midtown centric so take that as it is.

  • Goats will say otherwise, but Freddy > whatever this truck is trying to be.

    Serious misnomer on both the pocket and the ‘full’ aspect of this falafel sandwich. Just sad. Sad falafel is sad.

    Serving limp-wristed fries should carry the death penalty….but that’s just my opinion, man.

    • I can’t comment since I didn’t try pocketful, but I would be surprised if this was worse than Freddy’s. Pricewise, freddy’s may fill you up more for cheaper, but I’d bet that’d be the only plus. Stick to sam’s falafal downtown–it’s always worth a trainride.


  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    Wow $7 for a falafel sandwich and they don’t even pack it full? What a disgrace.

  • Nice review! Definitely an odd place for them to park given the competition next door.

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    The Pocketful truck was once the Crisp on Wheels truck, then Jack (owner of truck), had a falling out with the Crisp people…I’m not sure anyone really knows the full story besides Jack and Crisp.

    The AZTEC used to be the Crisp Mexican. You can compare and see the photo from Zach’s review back in 2008 here:

  • the odd location may be due to the recent “banning” of 50th btw 6/7, that’s where they were most days of the week.

    • They’re frequently on the Park part of the 53rd/Park corner, but I rarely see more than a couple of people waiting for food there when I’m waiting at Freddy’s.

      But then, I rarely see people get only falafel at Freddy’s. Maybe it’s not the top spot for vegetarians?

    • locondcoco – this was actually 2 weeks ago, before the banning seems to have started, but that could explain why they seem to be all over the place lately (based on Twitter).

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    I’m not a germophobe and I’m not over the top about the cleanliness of my food, but having sauce containers (who knows where those have been) thrown directly on top of my food skeeves me out a bit.

    • Ughhh, I am really skeeved by things like that in general and can assure you as someone who has worked in service before that those containers have been on the floor of the truck in all likelihood (at least; plus wherever they prep). I didn’t get sick, however, which is going to have to be the bright side here.

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    @RBS05 — I completely agree. That was my first thought on seeing that picture.

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