The Ten: Top Falafels


With over 3,000 restaurants in NYC and only three meals a day, how do you choose your food wisely? We’ve foraged through the five boroughs tasting everything we can get our mouths on, and these are The Ten favorites (for right now).

You never have to look far to find a falafel sandwich in this city — they’re sold at seemingly each corner and from every sidewalk vendor. But finding great falafels can be a bit trickier. Here are the top spots to find the falafel ideal: crisp on the outside, moist on the inside and well-seasoned with parsley and spices.

With a tiny West Village shop, sizeable Nolita location and a food truck roaming about town, Taïm has managed to make themselves well-known across NYC as the best falafel in town. The falafel comes in three flavors – harrissa, traditional and roasted red pepper, and their stores often have a special flavor of the day (sun-dried tomato at last visit).

The Falafel Shop
Perhaps the only shop dedicated to falafel on the Lower East Side, this simply named spot is so popular that its deliveries can sometimes take up to two hours. You’re best off strolling there in person to nab straight-out-of-the-fryer balls. The veggies here are fresher than at most falafel joints, and their falafel salad comes with mixed greens instead of generic chopped iceberg.

Murray’s Falafel
Unlike the rest of this list, Murray’s has a full menu with a plethora of Israeli specialties and other seemingly random “international” dishes, including a beef and lamb Kufta burger, fish and chips, and Italian sausages. Regardless of what you get, make sure you at least try the falafel and the special green sauce.

Soomsoom Vegetarian Bar
Pronounced “zoom-zoom,” this Upper West Side Middle Eastern joint does fast food right. It’s fresh and relatively healthy, and service couldn’t be quicker or friendlier. Order any sandwich — the falafel and sabich rank at the top — and you’re given free access to the toppings bar, where babaganoush is excellent everything. If you have the room for it, try the uniquely shaped Hagalil Fries.

Azuri Café
With a slogan like “Where the heart of Israel is,” this place doesn’t stray far from traditional Israeli fare. Perfectly seasoned shawarma, borecas and, of course, falafel dominate the small menu. Choices of a sandwich, small plate or large plate ensure there is a falafel fit for everyone.

Maoz Vegetarian
This chain originated in Amsterdam, and has quickly grown to satisfy falafel lovers worldwide. Place your order at the register, and they’ll start you off with a solid falafel and pita base which you can customize at the toppings bar with all the slaw, pickles, and sauces you desire.  With seven locations in Manhattan, there’s never one too far away.

FiDi’s falafel institution is known for churning out perfectly wrapped falafel sandwiches in ultra-thin, almost wrap-like, pita. They offer a full Lebanese-inspired menu, including various savory pies, lamb sausages and rose water-date cookies.

University Pita
Despite having a sad, unassuming exterior, University Pita does falafel extremely well, and offers a great lunch deal: $5 for a falafel sandwich and drink. You can ask them to top your sandwich with any of their toppings at no additional charge; the almost-creamy fried eggplant and onions take the sandwich to new heights.

If you ever find yourself in Forest Hills with a hankering for authentic Lebanese food, stop at Wafa’s for falafel, babaganoush, mujadara and lamb shawarma. Vegetarian and meat combination platters make it easy to try a little bit of everything. If only they had a location in the city.

King of Falafel and Shawarma
This cart circumvents circles, serving oblong falafels that are best when toppd with pickled beets and turnips. Lines can be long, but the owners often doled out samples to whet your appetite for a sandwich or rice plate. The original is found in Astoria (30th Street and Broadway), but the Midtown cart (53rd Street and Park Avenue) is equally delicious.

  • Omri