We are quite squarely in the dog days of summer now here in the northeast (although it seems our European, midwestern and southern counterparts are suffering similarly). So this means I don't have a lot of interest in doing much of anything really, or at least anything that doesn't include a cool cocktail. Cooking is a fairly unattractive option, and frankly so is eating. Food that I generally find appealing is anything but, with a few choice exceptions of course. When the mercury climbs I crave cool briny oysters, peaches and nectarines and falafel.
Falafel? Although its a crispy, warm food, somehow it jibes well with warm weather. Something about its Middle Eastern origins? Perhaps. Or perhaps I like the cool tahini sauce and the fresh veggies that accompany it, and the unchallenging pita that keeps the whole mess together. Either way, I am lucky to work in the great falafel mecca of New York...Union Square.
You were perhaps expecting some obscure neighborhood far from Manhattan? As would I, but there's no accounting for these things I suppose.
Everyone has their loyalties in these situations (the eternal debate between Pat's and Gino's cheesesteaks in South Philly comes to mind), and although I adore the salad bar at the Dutch falafel franchise Maoz ($3.25 for a small container of whatever you'd like), it is the hole in the wall option on the west side of the square on 17th Street...Rainbow Falafel....that I am drawn to time and again.
The shop is a tiny storefront, with not a seating option to be found.
But the men behind the counter are kind and the falafel is unusually dark and crispy, studded with bits of onion, garlic and herbs which lends a real like-your-mom makes it feel to the little fritters. The pita itself is either flimsy or the man behind the counter adorns the whole mess with more delicious sauces than average, but either way you must be sure to keep the sandwich in the foil as you eat, otherwise you will end up with falafel on your lap. But I must admit I don't consider this a flaw...I feel that this is the type of food that should get everywhere. It shows a welcome exuberance if food simply cannot be contained.
As for the other menu items, the greek salad is far more interesting than just about any other greek salad I've ever had. But that's the only non-falafel item I've ever eaten, and I've only had it once...you can tell that I rarely deviate from my tried and true? I suggest you get here posthaste and follow my lead.