Archive for 'Falafel'

Eating Through the Menu at the New Kosher Oasis Cart

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The new Kosher Oasis Cart has had an interesting first couple of months. It first appeared on 44th street (btw. 6+7th) at the end of last year, but then like a mirage (or oasis?) it reappeared on 47th, only to disappear and reappear again a few times throughout August. It seems to have settled in over on 47th Street (btw. 6+7th), but it was forced to move somewhere else on Wednesdays (possibly related to the intimidation reported by the local news?)

But what about the food?  I headed over recently to sample a few of their menu items. (And by “sample” I mean stuff my fat face with pretty much everything they make.)

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First Look: Meze Grill Really is the Middle Eastern Chipotle

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When yesterday’s post about the newly opened Meze Grill (on 8th btw. 55+56th) described it as a “Middle Eastern Chipotle” some commenters were quick to point that most authentic falafel and shawarma stands (here and abroad) operate in much the same way a Chipotle does.  That is, “you pick Pita or Laffa, choose protein, and pick out of an array of salads and sauces. This is a formula that has existed since the days of wandering in the desert. If anything, Chipotle is a Mexican Meze Grill.”

Right.  Except for one thing.  Meze Grill goes a little beyond just the “pick your fillings” on a buffet line formula.  The metaphor extends not just to the way the place operates, and looks… but also to its core essence.  I checked Meze Grill out yesterday, and I think once you do too, you’ll come to the same conclusion:  Meze Grill is the Middle Eastern Chipotle.

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Thank You Baraca For Not Changing Too Much About Olympic Pita

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It’s never a shock when a bad restaurant resorts to something crazy to help boost business.  You’ll see name changes, expensive redecorating, crazy specials, and yes, even sushi being added to a Kosher falafel and kebab place.  But Olympic Pita (on 38th btw. 5+6th) was not a bad restaurant!  Home to my favorite falafel in Midtown (you may say the secret ingredient is their fresh baked laffa bread) Olympic Pita shouldn’t have to resort to this nonsense.  And yet there it was, last week their new sign, with their new name (Baraca), promoting their new menu item (sushi?!?)  Oh, and of course there was the gussied up interior.  Why Olympic Pita?  Why?

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The name change is not just for show, according to an employee Baraca is no longer owned by the same people who own the original Olympic Pita in Brooklyn (not good.)  Thankfully, the take out area in the front looked like it hadn’t changed- so yesterday I stopped by to survey the situation.

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Baguette Express Brings Their Kosher Brooklyn Falafel Stand to Midtown

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A new little kosher falafel & sandwich nook has popped up on 37th Street btw. 5+6th.  The owner used to have a small restaurant in Brooklyn, until his customers encouraged him to move to Midtown.  With Olympic Pita (on 38th btw. 5+6th) and Crisp (on 40th btw. B’way+6th) just a few blocks away, and Maoz coming soon to Broadway and 40th, Midtown South is starting to get a little falafel heavy.  But the price is right, and everything is Kosher so who knows?  You can probably never have too much falafel in Midtown.

I couldn’t decide between their baguette sandwiches (pastrami, corned beef, etc.), their schnitzel (fried chicken cutlets) or their falafel. But in the end the falafel won out. (You’ve got to start with the basics.)

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Maoz Vegetarian Expands into Midtown

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It looks like Sahara Grill, the old Turkish take out place on 40th & 7th that closed in January, is being replaced by a branch of Maoz Vegetarian- the European falafel chain. Maoz has locations all over the world, including three in NYC, but this is their first in Midtown; and while I haven’t tried it yet, Serious Eats:New York called it the best falafel in Union Square. The positives: you get your choice of some tasty looking toppings (like eggplant, hard boiled egg, avocado, or feta) and they have Belgian fries (the chain started in Amsterdam).  The negatives: another small, individually owned Midtown Lunch place is being replaced by a chain.

I doubt it will supplant Olympic Pita (on 38th btw. 5+6th) as my favorite falafel in the area- but it does set up the inevitable Maoz vs. Crisp falafel chain showdown.  Crisp’s second location is opening just down the street at the end of the week (on 40th btw. 6+B’way).  No word yet on when Maoz will be opening.

Moshe’s Falafel Moves 2nd Truck from Union Sq to Midtown

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The Moshe’s Falafel truck that has been parked in Union Square for the past 6 months has given up on that spot and moved to 57th and Broadway.  According to the guys running the 2nd truck, business started off ok but has tapered off significantly during the winter.  So this week they decided to try out the NW corner of Midtown.  They haven’t settled on a permanent spot as of yet, but plan on being somewhere near 57th and Broadway every day starting around Noon.  Yesterday they were on Broadway btw. 56+57th on the West side of the street, and have already started to draw a crowd.

It’s been awhile since I’ve eaten at the Moshe’s Cart, so I decided to re-sample the goods…

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Crisp: Abomination… Or One of the Best Falafel in the City

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I think I’m finally ready to go out on a limb here, and say that Crisp is one of the best falafel places in the city.  That’s right.  The yuppie-fied, way overpriced, unconventional falafel place (on 3rd Ave. btw. 43+44th) is serving up some of my favorite falafel in New York City.  Is their bread as good as Olympic Pita (on 38th btw. 5+6th)?  No.  Is their menu as authentically Israeli as Azuri Cafe (on 10th Ave. and 51st). Uh… definitely not.  And yet, each time I go there I really enjoy trying the strange flavor combinations they create.  Sandwiches you cannot find anywhere else in NYC.  And for that they deserve some recognition.

Last week, they introduced their entry into the Midtown Lunch Sandwich Challenge. The Taj: Falafel with mango chutney, lime chili pickles, greens, cherry tomatoes, poppadums, and a cold curry sauce inside a traditional Israeli pita. I tried it on Friday, and it solidified my feeling that Crisp may be one of the best Falafel places in New York City.

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Moshe’s Falafel Gets Stomped by Union Sq. Competition

Apparently Moshe’s Falafel (on 46th and 6th) has another truck parked in Union Square, but according to Ed Levine it doesn’t hold a candle to the other falafel options in the area (Maoz, Rainbow, and Pita Joe). If they expand the competition to other areas, Midtown Lunch would totaly get behind Olympica Pita (on 38th btw. 5+6th) and the Azuri Cafe (on 51st btw. 9+10th).

New Cart Alert: Kosher Oasis

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It looks like Moshe’s Falafel (on 45th & 6th) is no longer the only Kosher cart on the block. Kosher Oasis popped up on the SW corner of 44th & 6th a few weeks ago selling falafel, schnitzel (fried chicken cutlets), soups, and kosher hot dogs.  The schnitzel hasn’t been selling well so they plan on taking it off the menu, but maybe if enough people go ask for it (hint hint) he’ll keep it around (what can I say?  I love the idea of schnitzel from a cart!)

The kosher hot dogs have been the most popular item so far, but they are still tweaking the menu.  Any early adopters tried this cart yet?  Feel free to comment below.

Crisp Introduces New Exotic FrankenFalafel

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Crisp, Midtown NYC

Speaking of Crisp-the overpriced falafel place on 3rd Ave. btw. 43+44th that I reluctantly admire for its boldness and tastiness-they’ve done a little menu switcheroo this week. They’ve gotten rid of the Milan (a falafel sandwich with roasted red peppers and feta) and added two new sandwiches. The first is the CLT. At $5.75 it is the cheapest option, and made with falafel, lettuce, tomato, and pickles. I admire them for trying to add a cheaper option, but how can you have a falafel without hummus (or at least tahini.) And, if you are going to get a standard falafel, Crisp is too expensive. There are cheaper options, that are good enough… like at the Prince Deli on the same block. If you are going to eat at crisp, you should get one of their special combos- like the Mexican (falafel with corn and avocado) which I’m kind of into.

Which brings us to their latest creation… “The Exotic”. Falafel with coriander spread, eggplant, cabbage, pineapple, and wasabi vinaigrette. I shit you not. How could I walk away without trying this monstrosity?

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