The 11 best falafel restaurants in NYC

Whether it's because it's fried, or because it seems kind of healthy (even though it's really not, because: fried), you love falafel. Especially when it comes from one of the 11 best spots in all of NYC to grab these delicious fried balls -- for lunch, dinner, or drunchies. Speaking of which...

Azuri Cafe
Azuri Cafe

Hell's KItchen
Owner Ezra Cohen = The Soup Nazi, but that won’t stop you from coming back to this hole in the wall time and time again -- for falafel sandwiches and platters packed with baba ghanoush, pickles, red cabbage, mixed red peppers, and hummus.

Best Falafel NYC
King of Falafel

Meet the king -- Freddy Zeideia -- himself at this popular Queens street cart. His crunchy, spice-flecked falafel, loaded with lettuce, tomato, onions, pickled turnips, tahini, and hot sauce, helped him win a Vendy Award for best street food in NYC in 2010.

The closest you’ll get to Tel Aviv in New York, these crispy-on-the-outside, light-on-the-inside, non-greasy balls are stuffed with cilantro, lemon, and coriander, and sit atop a bed of curried yogurt and tahini, crunchy pickled cabbage, onions, and smoky tomatoes.

Nish Nush Best Falafel NYC
Nish Nush

The falafel trio at this Tribeca eatery 1) includes the tried-and-true Classic Forever, Red Hot Chili, and Popeye Delight with spinach and mushrooms, and 2) is so freaking good. A dollop of tahini, skhug, velvety humus, and a kaleidoscope of slaws, salads, and pickles round things out nicely, including you.

Financial District
This Syrian-Lebanese spot is a power lunch favorite for Wall Street types, but the falafel sandwich with crisp, cumin- and coriander-spiced nuggets in thin pitas is well worth the pilgrimage for anyone willing to make the trip downtown.

Ilili Box Best Falafel NYC
Andrew Zimmer

Forget what you know about falafel: Lebanese chef Philippe Massoud puts his own mind-blowing spin on the grab-and-go snack, with international takes incorporating stuff like cucumber kimchi, fresh scallions, Korean tahini, and basil.

Kulushkät Best Falafel NYC

Park Slope
Owner of this mecca for all things Middle Eastern, Israeli/Moroccan Yagil Kadosh was inspired by his Mother’s recipe, and this takeout shop doles out Mom-approved falafel in four flavors -- classic, mushroom-and-spinach, spicy, and Mediterranean chicken -- all tucked into pillowy pitas. The name translates to "shut up and eat", sooooooo do that.

The hearty moussaka and kofta kabab are both musts at Alexandria-born Ali El-Sayed’s spot, but the falafel, with its layers on layers on layers (on layers [on layers]) of flavor, is the move.


Multiple locations
There are three things you need to remember about the chickpea fritters at this joint. Green = parsley and mint; red = red pepper; and yellow = spicy harissa. Down them one at a time or go balls to the wall with a three-in-one pita pocket. Whichever you choose, taïm -- "tasty" in Hebrew -- lives up to its name.

Forest Hills
Don’t let the off-the-beaten-path location scare you away from this family-owned, traditional Lebanese spot -- it's one of the reasons Queens might just be the best borough in the city. The fried morsels come wrapped in pita with all the fixings -- pickled turnips, lettuce, tomato, pickles, and a swipe of tahini -- and deliver some serious flavor.

Mamoun's Best Falafel NYC

Greenwich Village
Mamoun’s has OG status in your book -- and rightfully so -- but it’s often overrun with people, especially late at night, and it’s important to see other falafel, too. You can always return to this spot with a fresh outlook on fried balls.

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Alisha Prakash is a contributing writer at Thrillist and once ate falafel for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the same day in Israel. See more of her musings on