Food & Drink

The 11 best falafel restaurants in NYC

Published On 11/14/2014 Published On 11/14/2014
Azuri Cafe
King of Falafel
Nish Nush
Andrew Zimmer
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1. Azuri Café 465 W 51st St, New York, NY 10019

You'll come back to this Hell's Kitchen hole in the wall time and time again for its amazing falafel sandwiches and platters, packed with baba ghanoush, pickles, red cabbage, mixed red peppers, and hummus.

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2. King Of Falafel 30th St , New York, NY 11106

Meet the king himself, Freddy Zeideia, at this brick-and-mortar expansion of his popular Queens street cart. His crunchy, spice-flecked falafel pitas are loaded with lettuce, tomato, onions, pickled turnips, tahini, and hot sauce -- a formula that helped him win a 2010 Vendy Award for best street food in New York City. The recognition led Zeideia to expand his cart empire and open this Astoria fast-casual, where not much has changed regarding the food. Falafel is still the main event, but with a grill that’s nearly the size of his former mobile kitchen, he’s serving more shawarma, mezze spreads, and spinach-cheese turnovers than ever before. If lines are ever too long, you can expect free falafel samples to curb hunger pains. Long live the king.

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3. Zizi Limona 129 Havemeyer St, Brooklyn, NY 11211

The food Zizi Limona isn't so much Mediterranean as much as it's a combination of the distinct cuisines of the Middle East. The menu is meant to be shared and as such, it's split into three different categories, or "Zi's"; small Zi's like falafel and charred hummus work well as appetizers, while classic Zi's like shakshuka and shawarma are a familiar comfort alongside the large Zi's -- lamb kebab, chicken tagine, and five-hour braised short ribs with freekah risotto. The Williamsburg spot is tucked away from the main drag on Havemayer and South 1st.

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4. Alfanoose 64 Fulton St, New York, NY 10038

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.

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5. ilili Box 24th and Broadway at Flatiron Public Plaza North, New York, NY 10011

Phillipe Massoud's Mediterranean joint right next door to Eataly is slinging all kinds of shawarmas, falafels, and sides like Phoenician fries.

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6. Kulushkät Gourmet Falafel 446 Dean St, Brooklyn, NY 11217

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.

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7. Kabab Cafe 2512 Steinway St , Astoria, NY 11103

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.

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8. Nish Nush 88 Reade St , New York, NY 10013

This TriBeCa eatery serves up casual Middle Eastern fare. The falafel trio here 1) includes the tried-and-true Classic Forever, Red Hot Chili, and Popeye’s 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.

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9. Mamoun's Falafel 119 Macdougal St, New York, NY 10012

Mamoun's is the premier Greenwich Village spot for 3am falafel. On weekends, the place is open as late as 5am, serving rowdy throngs of post-bar millennials, and hungry sleepless locals, alike. Open since 1971, the Manhattan mainstay has become something of a staple, consistently dishing out high quality Middle Eastern food with rapid-fire service. The standout item on the menu is the pita sandwich, stuffed with warm falafel and fresh veggies, and coated in tahini sauce, while the bread pockets can be stuffed with shawarma or chicken kebab, instead. The house-made tabouli and baba ganouj are vegetarian delicacies, the hummus is expertly spiced, and while you await your home-ward bound Uber in the fast-casual, hole-in-the-wall eatery, the baklava is well worth a try.