You Don’t Win Friends With (Barbanzo’s Falafel) Salad

Bar Banzo

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.

Bar Banzo Interior

Anyone familiar with Meze Grill’s Chipotle-esque scheme of ordering should feel right at home with Barbanzo’s menu. Step into the bright and immaculately clean restaurant and you’ll spot slowly turning shawarma spits of chicken and beef in the back. And up at the front counter, tubs of ingredients such as the fried falafel, clinging to life underneath a heat lamp. Choose your protein, your vehicle for delivery, then your toppings and sauces. But please choose better than I did.

Bar Banzo Falafel Platter

To their credit, Barbanzo packed a whole lot of food into my $8.50 falafel platter salad, and most of it was certainly fresh, filling and Zach’s least favorite word — healthy. The order included five falafel, which while plenty crisp on the outside, were a bit too dense and disappointingly mealy. I was almost glad that they showed restraint when spooning the hummus on my platter, for it wasn’t as silky and appealing as the version found at Taim Mobile, or even Maoz. And the wan tahini and gutless harissa served better as coloring then flavoring.

Bar Banzo Shawarma

But perhaps my biggest issue with this dish is calling it a ‘platter’, for it was most certainly a salad. In any other reputable falafel slinging shop, a platter would include a layer of rice, or perhaps a side of pita. In this case, a bed of shredded lettuce provided the foundation, making it a salad in my book. I’ll certainly check back at some point to see if their beef or chicken shawarma make this place a visit – it’s harder to screw those up. But with salad like this, you probably won’t win friends.

The + (What somebody who likes this would say)

  • It’s a healthy lunch
  • Clean, brightly lit space with plenty of seating.

The – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)

  • It’s a healthy lunch
  • The food is middling — better perhaps than Pita Grill but not nearly as good as Taim, Maoz, etc

Bar Banzo, 969 3rd Ave (at 58th st); 212-317-1900


  • Two posts back to back about healthy food. You best redeem yourself soon, ML. Let’s see some ice cream or pie or something.

    • Meh. There was a pic on the shawarma so I assume you can also get all that here too. And while this was a falafel expedition it wasn’t wise to refer to this whole ‘thing’ as vegetarian.

      Oh well. This may be worth one visit if I’m around there.

  • Is someone gonna go back and try the meat?

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    I tried the meat platter a few weeks back when they first opened. The platter is assembled in the back, so you do not get your choice of sides. I’d much rather purchase a sandwich so that you can pick out the extras.

    About the meat…it really wasn’t memorable to me – I don’t recall what the dish looked like or tasted like. They shaved the meats fresh from the spit, but because it was busy, there was no char on the meat.

    This place is always packed with Bloomberg employees.

  • I went a couple weeks ago. I had the beef shwarama. It was absolutely terrible. The beef was tough and mostly flavorless. They don’t have french fries. The person I went with got the felafel. It wasn’t very crispy or flavorful.

    Barbanzo’s was very mediocre. It’s factory style mediocre crap. People are better off going to Omar’s which is a few blocks away. Omar’s food is homemade style. It’s fresh and delicious. Omar is always in there working hard. And they have french fries!

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