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Friday Freakout #1: Where’s my local falafel joint?

In the interest of diversifying this blog beyond my standard “photo with recipe” formula, I’m instituting a new feature called Friday Freakout. No explanation needed, right?

Having recently returned from Israel, falafel is on the mind more than usual. Walk down the streets of Jerusalem with me for a moment: you won’t make it a block without passing at least one falafel/hummus/shawarma joint — more likely 2. Some are truly falafel stands, where all orders are to go, salad bar is DIY or done in a jiffy by the man behind the counter (trust me, you’ve never seen hands move so quickly). Others are hummusiot — hummus is what’s for dinner, served on its own or with any number of topings, ranging from tehina and chickpeas to sauteed mushrooms or even meat. Lastly, you’ve got the do-it-all places that have shawarma, falafel in pita or laffa (the big peasant-bread wraps), and hummus platters. And like I said, they’re everywhere.

So why is it that there’s no really, really good middle eastern food spot within walking distance of my house? To sharpen the gripe: there are three hummus/falafel/shawarma places within two blocks of my pad. The two best ones (Amsterdam Falafel and Old City Cafe) are decent, the third one (Shawarma spot) is really horrible — like, effervescent hummus and bug-in-plate horrible. AmFal and OCC are fine, and they do the trick in a pinch: their falafel is crispy and pretty flavorful, their salatin (salads) are varied and some are pretty ok, but nothing out of this world — and their hummus simply isn’t so good. Last time I checked, hummus makes or breaks the whole sandwich.

The real joke here is that considering how many options are around me, I’m relatively lucky: outside of Adams Morgan, the hummus-falafel-shawarma food group is pretty endangered.

And that’s not to mention the severe lack of other middle eastern food in the area: labneh (tangy, thick yogurt with a hint of salt), kubbeh hamousta (sour Yemenite soup with zucchini, sorel, and meat-filled dumplings) and good, not-overly-sweet baklavah are nowhere in sight. grr.

That concludes this installment of Friday Freakout. Do you live in DC and know of good ME food joints? Are you brewing over the lack of this food in another city? Comments, people, comments.

Now that the mood is off my chest, happy Friday and a wonderful weekend to all!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • michael February 27, 2009,

    Skewers on 17th and P st near Bua is good, but not great middle eastern food.

  • Sarah March 2, 2009,

    true. amster does not have the best hummus. But the fact that they have beet salad on the bar and the best french fries in town makes up for it. call me a heathen…

  • Sara March 5, 2009,

    I don’t eat much ME food, but here are some things I can think of. You might try Zorba’s Cafe on Q & 20th by Dupont Circle metro. They are more greek influenced, but have some ME stuff. Also, Levante’s on 19th street, south side of Dupont Circle. And if you are ever out in College Park by UMD, try Pita Plus – it is run by israeli jews and they have great hummus and their lafa bread is so good.

  • rivka March 6, 2009,

    Skewers is ok but not great, Zorba’s is good for a quick fix but definitely Greek, Levante has a couple tasty things but overall I’m not such a fan. I like Pita Plus, but it’s too far for a regular outing. Gosh, I’m kind of a kvetch, eh?

  • At first I thought you are in WA State and was hoping to discover a good place for ME around here, ha ha ha… DC!