109 NW 15th Street
I enjoyed my Nearly Nasty Burrito so much during our last lunchtime rundown that I couldn’t wait to go back for the falafel. Nearly Normal’s did not disappoint. Cukes, lettuce, tomatoes, chickpea patties, and a side of tzatziki sauce came with the pita bread. All that greatness came in a box to go. I was also pleasantly surprised to see it deliberately unassembled. That’s perfect for a biking vegetarian on the go! No mess, just flavor. Thanks, Gonzo!
2240 3rd Street
I’m a newcomer to the world of falafel, and I must say my welcoming wasn’t what I hoped it would be. I like my food a little on the crunchy side of the well-done spectrum, but even these little crusty patties were a little off-putting to me. I’m completely willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, though, and say I caught them on a bad falafel night, because the Sinbad pita wrap I also ordered was despankinglicious. So go ahead and wander in sometime, you can always take the falafel patties to the park and play bocce.
121 SW 3rd Street
The falafel patties themselves are the least important part. It’s just deep-fried garbanzos meant as an anchor of the sandwich. Like bologna, only, you know, not disgusting. Alley Gyros knows this well, and they serve one of the least remarkable falafels I’ve ever tasted. But they are the only joint in town, that I’m aware of, that lets you customize your order with a toppings bar. Anyone who’s been to the Middle East recognizes this as a crucial feature. I’m also historically susceptible to foods served in an alley, which is why you may have spotted me rooting through your trash last week.
Café Flamingo Internationale
453 SW Madison Avenue
Walking into Café Flamingo Internationale is like walking into a local café in Greece. Baklava-filled tins cover the front counter and quaint knick-knacks adorn the room. Even before ordering the vegetarian falafel, the owner provided the most magnanimous customer service I have ever received and threw in a free katifi to go with my two baklavas. The falafel was fairly basic: lettuce, tomato, a touch of tzatziki, with hints of fresh mint and parsley. Warm, fluffy pita bread sealed this delight, and we all know the pita is what makes or breaks a good falafel.
Crystal’s Cuisine and Café
1425 NW Monroe Avenue
On a descending scale from an unnamed stall in Old Jerusalem to Trader Joe’s frozen, Crystal’s falafel ranks a solid London, England. In other words, it’s darn good. People too busy or drunk to deal with cutlery can get the same wrapped sandwich-style for the road. Hours for this Monroe strip gem can be spotty. I’ve walked in to a crowd at 9 p.m. when the sign clearly states 7:30 p.m. closing. I’ve found dark windows at 2 p.m. on a Sunday. They also close entirely over long holiday weekends, like most OSU strip businesses. All you can do is raise your eyes skyward and yell, “WHY?!”
The Pita Pit
1425 NW Monroe Avenue
I’ve devoured food at Pita Pit a good handful of times. It was good. The falafel balls, however, tasted like they fell off the truck three months prior and were picked up by the next transport. Like they had been microwaved three times over and then warmed up in the sun. Like they were out to get me.
Now I have to live my life looking over my shoulder.