Archive for 'Falafel'

Add Dune and Madcapra to Your L.A. Falafel List

Apparently today is International Falafel Day (who knew!?) and our good friends over at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs reminded us of this great falafel round up we posted last year.  If you’re looking for some lunchtime falafel action today, all of those places are still rolling strong.  But here’s two new spots that have opened since then that could both lay claim to serving the best falafel in L.A. right now.

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When Dune first opened in Atwater Village at the beginning of this year a very specific kind of food writer induced hype commenced, and for good reason.  It’s good.  Really good.  This tiny storefront with less than 10 stools serves up the kind of the things you might expect from a new school Mediterranean take out spot in Atwater. There’s a beautifully simplistic blood orange salad with black olives, tabouleh with organic gluten free quinoa, and a pickled beet sandwich with sheep’s milk feta, an 8 minute egg, and shoestring potatoes.  But the insanely good flatbread makes the two pita sandwiches the thing to order. The lamb meatball one is surprisingly great, especially considering that Dune’s owners also own the vegetarian Elf Cafe.  But today isn’t National Meatball Day.  It’s National Falafel Day, so you’ll want their green falafel sandwich topped with house made pickles, tahini, hummus, tahini, and shoestring potatoes.  Did I mention the flatbread is amazing?

Even newer is Madcapra, a falafel stand that opened recently in the Grand Central Market cut from the same cheffy cloth as Dune.

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L.A. is Having an Israeli Falafel Moment (Capped Off by NYC Chef Einat Admony’s Visit This Week!)

Between Pico’s Kosher corridor and the Valley there has never been a shortage of good falafel in Los Angeles.  And the past few years have seen some new spots worth getting excited about (Joe’s Falafel in 2012, Hummus Bar Express in 2013). But since the beginning of the year there has been an explosion of new and delicious Israeli falafel joints, enough to make it feel like L.A. might be on the brink of having a falafel moment.  Here are four new’ish falafel places all worth checking outm and, if that isn’t enough, the chef behind New York’s best falafel is doing a series of dinners  in L.A. week.  Details about that are at the end of the post…

The Newly Expanded

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IMG_9606Name: Ta-eem
Address: 7422 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles
Phone: 323-944-0013
Falafel in Pita Price: $6.95
Laffa: Yes ($9.95)
This popular but tiny falafel shop on the lunch (and t-shirt) wasteland that is Melrose Ave. isn’t tiny anymore. At the end of last year this small lunch counter with limited seating took over the hair salon next door, and morphed into a full fast-casual restaurant with plenty of room and loads of places to take a load off.  The one thing that didn’t change? The delicious menu of shawarma, kebabs, merguez and, of course, falafel, topped with their vast assortment of salads, and all served on fluffy Israeli style pita or laffa.

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How to Navigate the Menu at Urban Garden

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When Urban Garden first popped up on Fairfax last year I heard mixed things about the fast casual Mediterranean joint from the owner of Mercantile and Delancey. Hosted bloggers seem to like it enough (shocker!), while real customers complained a bit about the price.  But the thing I heard the most about was how confusing the menu was. Always up for a dissecting-the-menu challenge I finally got myself over to Fairfax for a good old fashioned falafel and rotisserie chicken face stuffing.

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Hummus Bar Express is Now Open (and Dominating Lunch) on the Promenade

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Back in August, when word broke that Hummus Bar & Grill in Tarzana was opening an “express” location on the 3rd Street Promenade, I wondered just how excited Santa Monica should really be.  After all, there was no guarantee that some of the best parts of the original (the fresh baked laffa, the all you can eat salads, the french fries in the sandwiches) would be making the journey down the 405.  Well, last month Hummus Bar Express opened on 3rd between Arizona and Santa Monica and the answer is a resounding very excited.  Santa Monica should be absolutely pickled tink. (See what I did there? Because, you know, there are a lot of pickles in Israeli food… and people say “tickled pink”, so I just took the first letter of… oh nevermind.)

As expected, there is no all you can eat salad option.  But there is enough of the original in this express location to immediately make this one of if not THE best lunch option on or around the Promenade.

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How Excited Should Santa Monica Be For Hummus Bar Express?

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I don’t know how you feel, but hearing that a place called “Hummus Bar Express” is coming soon to the 3rd Street Promenade does not cause me to automatically celebrate.  We are talking about the Promenade after all, home to such wonderful Mediterranean cuisine as Falafel King.  And Greek Cuisine Stop N Cafe.  I’m not saying the Promenade couldn’t use an excellent Middle Eastern option (only a crazy person would say that!) but I do question what kind of Middle Eastern options the Promenade attracts.  Of course once you add the words “from Tarzana” to the end of the Hummus Bar Express, that changes everything. Tarzana?  That’s in the Valley.  And the Valley has pretty awesome Middle Eastern food.  Santa Monica could sure use some of that.

The question is, how excited should we be for Hummus Bar Express?  Well that depends on how much of the original Hummus Bar & Grill is going to make it down the 405?  They did call it “Express”, which means not everything is going to make the trip.  But here’s what we should be hoping for…

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Ta-eem Grill’s Laffa is a Surprising Melrose Discovery

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It’s been almost two years since I moved from New York to Los Angeles, and I have to say I’m almost at the point where there is nothing I miss about lunching in the Big Apple. Sure, I’d like to have a decent $2 slice available 15 feet from the front door of my house. And I’ve resigned myself to the fact that there will never be a proper plate of chicken and lamb over rice with white sauce and hot sauce in this city- after all if the Guru can’t really find one, nobody can. But beyond that, I can’t think of too much that NYC has for lunch that L.A. doesn’t do at least as well (if not better, if we’re talking ethnic food.) And that’s especially true now that I’ve discovered Ta-eem on Melrose.

Israeli style falafel is everywhere in Midtown Manhattan, and while I finally found an excellent (albeit expensive) version at Habayit in West L.A., there was still one thing missing from L.A.’s falafel repertoire: laffa. And not the generic, store bought bullshit lavash that a lot of places around here try to pass off as laffa (I’m looking at you Pita Bar & Grill!) I’m talking the fresh baked, super fluffy, gigantic discs of bread that when rolled around falafel make a pita pocket look like a tea sandwich. So when a Kosher friend (apparently real Jews can’t eat pig, but they can have lunch with one) told me that a falafel place on Melrose served up real deal laffa, I got excited. Very excited.

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Habayit’s Pita Sandwiches Are Small & Expensive, But Perfect

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There is not much to draw you into Habayit, a small Kosher restaurant tucked into the corner of a small strip mall on Pico near Bundy.  Their little rectangle of signage states, simply, “Kosher Restaurant 310-479-7173″; sharing space with other cleverly named establishments like “Coin Laundry” and “Food-Mart”.  I’d like to pretend that at some point I would have been lured in by the “FALAFEL” sign with an arrow hung high on a neighboring lightpost, but I was really there because back in May The Find got all gushy about the place- writing about their falafel as if it was the best that ever existed.

Truth be told, I love falafel but I’m not big on falafel platters.  For me falafel is meant to be eaten in sandwich form, and I was hoping Habayit would deliver.  Because you can have the greatest falafel in the world, and still have your falafel sandwich ruined by dry pita or poor layering.

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