In the West Village, Late-Night Falafel Trumps Dollar Pizza

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It’s no secret that a quick, cheap lunch in NYC is usually neither quick nor cheap. But lucky for you, we’re on a mission to find the most affordable lunch options in the city -- that actually taste good. We’re traveling all over New York in search of the best lunchtime meal in several popular New York neighborhoods -- but it has to be under $5.

With a frayed brown awning and a glass front door, Mamoun’s is easy to miss among famed West Village neighbors like Dante and JG Melon. But in spite of its dingy facade, the place often plays host to a line that stretches out the door and up MacDougal Street. Founded in 1971, the venue claims to be the first falafel joint in New York.

While daily lunchtime crowds drop in with frequency to pick up heaping plates of baba ganoush on their way to Washington Square Park, Mamoun’s does its best business late-night. Rivaled only by Joe’s Pizza in the locale of West Fourth Street station, Mamoun’s is the longstanding 3am choice of hordes of NYU students and Downtown locals. The place often stays open until 5am on the weekends, only to reopen its doors promptly at 11am the following morning.

The eatery itself has just three tables, a narrow countertop, and a maximum occupancy of no more than 12-or-so patrons. The menu hangs on the wall to the right of the register, and pita sandwiches are distributed rapid-fire to crotchety West Village natives, post-party finance bros, and local celebrities. Whether you prefer house-made hummus, sticky baklava, or chicken shawarma, your meal will come in a plastic yellow tray. And in spite of its low-brow packaging, the food, which is typically less than $5, puts most sit-down Middle Eastern joints to shame.  

Watch the video above to learn more about what to get at Mamoun’s.

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Eliza Dumais is a writer with a firm belief in 3am baklava.