Food & Drink

The 11 best falafel restaurants in NYC

Published On 11/13/2014 Published On 11/13/2014

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.

King of Falafel

King Of Falafel

Astoria
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.
 

Zizi Limona

Williamsburg
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

Nish Nush

Tribeca
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.
 

Alfanoose

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.

Andrew Zimmer

Ilili Box

Flatiron
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.

Flickr/lattelal

Kulushkät Gourmet Falafel

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.
 

Kabab Café

Astoria
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.

Taim

taïm

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.
 

Wafa’s

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

Mamoun's Falafel

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 alishaprakash.com.

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1. Azuri Café 465 W 51st St, New York, NY 10019 (Hells Kitchen)

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 (Astoria)

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 (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.

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

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 (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.

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

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 (Tribeca)

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.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
9. Mamoun's Falafel 119 Macdougal St, New York, NY 10012 (Greenwich Village)

Mamoun’s has OG status in your book -- and rightfully so, they've got all the delicious hummus, falafel, baba ganouj, and more that you crave -- but it's often overrun with people, especially late at night, so time your visit carefully.

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