Mamoun’s opened in 1971 and claims to be the original falafel shop in New York City. For that reason alone it’s worth a trip, and luckily, the falafel is delicious. But, of course, with fame come crowds, and it’s true that Mamoun’s popularity makes it packed all the time. They’ve got two central locations in downtown Manhattan, so if you happen to walk by when the line isn’t long, definitely stop in for a bite.
The most important thing to know about Taïm is that it’s amazing. Come to the SoHo location during the weekday lunch hour, and you’ll see lines rounding the block, which is usually a good sign. There are three kinds of falafel here: green (a traditional falafel with parsley, mint, and cilantro), harissa (a mildly spicy version with Tunisian spices), and red (a roasted red pepper version). You really can’t go wrong as each piece is perfectly fried to order each and every time.
Hazar Turkish Kebab
Bay Ridge, Brooklyn is a neighborhood of Lebanese, Syrians, and Turks, so it’s no surprise that it would be full of incredible falafel. And while you can certainly find the dish in many restaurants in the neighborhood, the falafel at Hazar Turkish Kebab is a cut above. You’ll want to order it in a pita because the thin layer of tahini and hummus between the pita and falafel is what makes this version extra moist and juicy.
Hazar Turkish Kebab, 7224 5th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY, USA, +1 718 238 4040
King Of Falafel And Shawarma
Freddie Zeideia is the Palestinian man behind the falafel at King of Falafel and Shawarma in Astoria, Queens, which is starting to become a falafel legend in NYC. Freddie started his business 14 years ago, at first with a falafel cart on Broadway and 30th Street in Astoria, Queens. He then opened a cart in Midtown, Manhattan, and has only opened his brick-and-mortar shop this year. The falafel here is distinctly egg-shaped with square ends (not round), which, according to Freddie, allows for more crispy crust without sacrificing a tender interior. Whether it’s this unique shape or the ‘secret spices’ that make it so good may remain a mystery, but one thing that’s clear is that Freddie’s falafel is truly worth seeking out.
King of Falafel and Shawarma, 3015 Broadway, Astoria, NY, USA, +1 718 340 8068
Run by Israeli chef Ezra Cohen, Azuri Cafe is a tiny, counter-service-only hole in the wall that’s become an institution in Hell’s Kitchen in Manhattan. He stays true to his kosher roots, so that means Azuri is closed on Saturday. Azuri is known for its top-notch toppings, they do all the classics (tabbouleh, hummus, pickles, etc.) perfectly, and they’re definitely worth a visit.
Azuri Cafe, 465 W 51st St, New York, NY, USA, +1 212 262 2920