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Falafel in Philly?


afarbs
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So I'm writing an article for my campus food magazine (shameless plug, Penn Appetit ) and I need to find all the falafel places in Philly, preferably within walking distance (although I can walk far) of Penn's campus. I'm trying to determine the best falafel in the city.

So far my list comprises:

Mama's

Maoz

Hummus

there's a lebanese (?) place at like 4th and south

maccabeam

Rami's food truck (40th & locust)

magic carpet food trucks

HUP falafel food truck

maccabeam

So if anyone knows of any other places, or has particular recommendations or dis-recommendations (is that a word?), I would greatly appreciate it.

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I put in a vote for Bitar's felafel. Grilled, not fried so it isn't greasy. Delicious.

There used to be a really good felafel cart at 17th & Market. Anyone who works downtown know if it's still there? It was across from Liberty Place at the southwest corner.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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There's a good falafel cart at (I think) 20th and Market. It's on the northeast corner. The proprietor is more or less completely insane (I don't think I'm the only person that calls him the Falafel Nazi). He piles on lots of weird stuff (grilled grapes, beet(?) couscous, etc.) but the end result is delicious, albeit tough to eat.

Edit: A google search confirms that 1) the cart is on the northeast corner of 20th and Market; and 2) I'm not the only person that calls him the falafel nazi.

Edited by HD73 (log)
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:hmmm: I don't remember the 17th & Market guy being particularly nuts, or piling weird stuff on the sandwiches, so maybe we're talking about two different felafel vendors, rather than one that has been geographically misplaced.

I'm going to have to make a trek to TOSOB (the other side of Broad) and investigate this felafel cart sitch when it warms up a bit...

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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since we're makng falafel recommendations, anyone have any for outside philly? the only place i know in chester county is the mediterranean, but it's a little formal.

Edited by SaxChik (log)

"The perfect lover is one who turns into pizza at 4am."

Charles Pierce

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I put in a vote for Bitar's felafel.  Grilled, not fried so it isn't greasy.  Delicious.

There used to be a really good felafel cart at 17th & Market.  Anyone who works downtown know if it's still there?  It was across from Liberty Place at the southwest corner.

Hmmmm.... The two noteworthy falafel carts in that general neighborhood are at 15th and JFK and 20th and Market. Both very good, the cart on 15th St. is a bit cheaper and more straightforward. At 20th St, I don't recall any particular weirdness. He did put a bunch of different things on the platters, as opposed to the pita sandwiches, but all of it was thematically appropriate.

He's not at all Nationally Socialistic, he's a pretty nice gentleman. He is very methodical, however, and there can be a bit of a wait. His food is absolutely worth it, though. If you are certain you can never get excited over grilled chicken, try his, and feel foolish.

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I'm recalling another felafel cart at 16th & JFK, southeast corner across from that odd little round structure that used to be the Visitor's Center. Is that the one you speak of? It was always very good. I'd always have whatever the daily "special" was and was never disappointed. Awesome lentil soup too, as I recall. It's been a long while since I worked in that 'hood, so I'm not as familiar with the cart culture as I used to be, but that Middle Eastern cart at 16th & JFK was 'da bomb...

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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I'm recalling another felafel cart at 16th & JFK, southeast corner across from that odd little round structure that used to be the Visitor's Center.  Is that the one you speak of?  It was always very good.  I'd always have whatever the daily "special" was and was never disappointed.  Awesome lentil soup too, as I recall.  It's been a long while since I worked in that 'hood, so I'm not as familiar with the cart culture as I used to be, but that Middle Eastern cart at 16th & JFK was 'da bomb...

Yeah, that's the one. I still think the cart at 20th and Market is tastier, but I'm partial to the grilled chicken there. And the falafel at 16th and JFK was just dirt-cheap, and also very good.

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Re: Alyans. Haven't been there for five or six years. Do they still have those incredible french fries fried with the hot peppers (and onions, iirc)?

Re: 20th Street. And he sings! I was a regular of his until I stopped working across the street eight years ago, and he'd feed you falafel while you waited for your chicken. In the late 1980s (or perhaps it was the early 1990s, the mind tends to go) in addition to the cart he cooked at night at a now defunct greek restaurant on South Street (might have been called Mykynos, somewhere around 6th?), where I enjoyed wonderful grilled quail.

Pita Pocket, 16th btw Walnut & Locust. Like eating in a Jerusalem fast-food joint: hummus, falafel, schwarma (mostly chicken), schnitzel, kabobs, etc., and a self-serve bar with all the fixings you'd find in an Israeli joint: pickled carrots, eggplant, beets, olives, pickles, cabbage, etc.

Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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Re: Alyans. Haven't been there for five or six years. Do they still have those incredible french fries fried with the hot peppers (and onions, iirc)?

It's been a couple of years for me too, but last time I was in, they still had the fries, which, I agree are rocking! The falafel is good, but I have a hard time resisting a kebab platter there.

Overall, I vote with Katie: I love Bitar's grilled falafel.

Edited by philadining (log)

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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Pita Pocket, 16th btw Walnut & Locust. Like eating in a Jerusalem fast-food joint: hummus, falafel, schwarma (mostly chicken), schnitzel, kabobs, etc., and a self-serve bar with all the fixings you'd find in an Israeli joint: pickled carrots, eggplant, beets, olives, pickles, cabbage, etc.

Pita Pocket has been closed for a few months now, the space is currently Mi Lah Vegetarian.

Don't miss Saad's at 45th and Walnut, though I'm fighting my reluctance to send Penn undergrads tramping further west to overwhelm my favorite falafel and schwarma establishment.

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Re: Alyans. Haven't been there for five or six years. Do they still have those incredible french fries fried with the hot peppers (and onions, iirc)?

It's been a couple of years for me too, but last time I was in, they still had the fries, which, I agree are rocking! The falafel is good, but I have a hard time resisting a kebab platter there.

You know, I've been to Alyan's lots of times, but never ordered the french fries. My mistake, clearly! They do have very good lemonade, made with honey. Yum.

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Philly Falafel on Sansom near 18th Street. Also, the truck on 17th between Market and Chestnut is still there. Falafel cart near on JFK near 16th, and of course 20th and Market. Plenty of falafel choices in Center City.

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Pita Pocket, 16th btw Walnut & Locust. Like eating in a Jerusalem fast-food joint: hummus, falafel, schwarma (mostly chicken), schnitzel, kabobs, etc., and a self-serve bar with all the fixings you'd find in an Israeli joint: pickled carrots, eggplant, beets, olives, pickles, cabbage, etc.

Don't miss Saad's at 45th and Walnut, though I'm fighting my reluctance to send Penn undergrads tramping further west to overwhelm my favorite falafel and schwarma establishment.

Sorry to burst your bubble but I've already been ... Arabic class field trip of course

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Philly Falafel on Sansom near 18th Street.  Also, the truck on 17th between Market and Chestnut is still there.  Falafel cart near on JFK near 16th, and of course 20th and Market.  Plenty of falafel choices in Center City.

Philly Felafel closed about a year or more ago, and their stuff was really good too!

Rich Pawlak

 

Reporter, The Trentonian

Feature Writer, INSIDE Magazine
Food Writer At Large

MY BLOG: THE OMNIVORE

"In Cerveza et Pizza Veritas"

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:hmmm: I don't remember the 17th & Market guy being particularly nuts, or piling weird stuff on the sandwiches, so maybe we're talking about two different felafel vendors, rather than one that has been geographically misplaced.

I'm going to have to make a trek to TOSOB (the other side of Broad) and investigate this felafel cart sitch when it warms up a bit...

The guy at 17th & Market has some other jobs that are apparently doing well, so if the weather is lousy he stays home. He also travels to Isreal & Russia for extended periods of time. I really like his felafel and found him to be very friendly.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have very little to add except to say that I work at 19th & Market and the cart guy at 20th & Market is absolutely and completely off the reservation. Some days he seems angry and miserable and mute; other days he'll sing, shout and talk to you nonstop, even though his thick accent makes it VERY hard to understand what he's saying. I generally just nod and pray to the heavens for him to hurry up (it can be a long wait if there are more than 2 people in front of you).

Having said all that, his stuff is really inventive, fresh and incredibly flavorful, although I think he's a little heavy-handed with the garlic. You never quite know what you are going to get, but it always blends perfectly, is made with the freshest ingredients (he is a stickler for only natural and fresh stuff -- if you want to hear a rant, start talking about processed foods and fast food restaurants!) and the grilled chicken is out of this world.

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(he is a stickler for only natural and fresh stuff -- if you want to hear a rant, start talking about processed foods and fast food restaurants!)

I've never had to ask to hear one of those rants. In my experience, they come free with every falafel. Maybe I just look particularly rant-worthy.

I agree completely with your assessment - great food, but the dude is nuts. It's mostly benign, although I have seen a couple of ugly scenes unfold while in line at the cart.

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