Earlier this month, we reported that Crisp‘s 3rd Ave. location closed after their lease ran out. We were sad to see them go, but before it can really set in, Crisp Express opened this week on 43rd St. (btw 3rd+Lex), where Simply Sliders used to be. Their menu looks smaller than before (it is ‘Express’ after all), offering a few different falafel sandwiches, hummus, and salads. So we’ve got out gourmet falafel back in Midtown East, but we’ve lost our sliders. Are you happy with the trade?
Archive for 'Falafel'
Got some bad news from a couple of tipsters at the end of last week. Gourmet falafel chain Crisp has closed it’s 3rd Ave. location (btw 43rd+44th). According to the sign seen above, their lease is up and they’ve chosen not to renew it. Sure, their falafel was overpriced, but some of their more inventive offerings were pretty damned good (I personally enjoyed the Africa), and it was one of the only places I know of that let you add french fries inside your sandwich. Their location on West 40th is still open, but they’ll be missed over on 3rd.
When I was visiting 99 Miles to Philly last week, I noticed a lunch spot next door that I’d never heard of, Chopita (45th St. btw. 1st+2nd), and decided to check it out this week. Specializing in kosher Mediterranean food with a decidedly Israeli bent (the owners spent time in Israel), Chopita offers falafel, shawarma, schnitzel, and shakshuka, among other things.
Pitopia opened in November, and it proceeded to narrowly overtake falafel favorite Taim in the 2011 readers’ poll. It’s pretty shocking for a newbie to win over Midtown — we are, after all, a pretty tough crowd — so quickly and easily and with such stiff competition. I’m of the mind that Taim is one of the best trucks on our streets today, but since they clearly must be doing something right at Pitopia, I finally went to check it out.
At first glance, the allure of Maoz Vegetarian is the top notch salad bar with which you can construct a pretty substantial falafel sandwich. Although I wouldn’t count their falafel as best in Midtown (in my opinion, that accolade belongs to Taim, even though it came in second in the 2011 reader’s poll), the endless toppings are a big (and messy!) draw. But, the reason I go to Maoz? The Belgian fries.
In this week’s New York Magazine the Robs take note of how ubiquitous and eclectic falafel has become here in NYC, pointing out 12 different takes on the fried chickpea balls. Olympic Pita (on 38th btw. 5+6th) got singled out for its delicious laffa, Maoz got the nod for its DIY set up, and Taim for its different flavors. But we couldn’t help but notice that Crisp was left off the list entirely. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, how can you have a “unique falafels of NYC” list, and leave off the place that is responsible for these monstrosities! We’ll chalk it up to harmless oversight…
Since we first posted about Barbanzo (58th and 3rd), we’ve been tracking the opening with interest. Aside from Omar’s Kitchen and Bakery, there aren’t too many brick and mortar shops to get a civilized plate of falafel and hummus in upper Midtown East, a gap which Barbanzo could have potentially filled.
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3rd Ave between 57th & 58th St is getting a couple of new lunch options this summer, and both seem to be a little more forward thinking than your average deli. On the east side of the street, a Mediterranean concept called “BarBanzo” will be opening soon. The google didn’t turn up anything definitive about this place, but it seems like their menu will likely focus on falafel. On the west side of 3rd Ave, Naked Pizza is a slightly more interesting opening. Founded in New Orleans shortly after Hurricane Katrina, and backed by investors Mark Cuban and Robert Kraft, the chain has expanded to over 25 locations across the US, as well as presence in Dubai.
They seem to have embraced the healthy, organic, sustainable, whole wheat pizza model (looks like Pizza by Certe will have some competition). They’re also big into the social media game, one article interestingly quoting the owners saying that, “Naked Pizza isn’t a pizza company, but a social media company that sells pizza”. So for the lunchers of Midtown East that have been craving more garbanzo beans, or eco-friendly, healthy, whole wheat, preservative-free, organic social media pizza, time to get excited.
When Kolache Mama closed on 45th Street between Madison+Vanderbilt, they were the second such business to close in that very location. One might even say the spot was cursed… that is, until now. Chickpea of the “always baked, never fried” Downtown falafel fame had moved uptown, and by the looks of Friday’s crowd, it’s here to stay. I’ve never seen anything on that street with lines out the door!
Taim is a veritable New York institution at this point. The quality of their product has earned them a legion of devoted followers, plenty of superlatives from food media, and recently received the prestigious distinction as the “Best Falafel Sandwich in New York City” by the folks from Serious Eats. On the back of their popularity, they’ve spun off a sister restaurant, the upscale bistro Balaboosta, and they’ve recently hit the streets with a mobile food truck. A few weeks ago, downtown correspondent Andrea got a first look at the Taim Mobile truck, and last Friday, I was lucky enough to nab lunch from the Taim truck in my neighborhood of Midtown West.