A couple of weeks ago, before Robyn skipped town to frolic in Bologna she told me that she was going to dinner with friends to a place, which she announced had the best falafel in New York. I'm supposed to be Mr. New York Eats, I thought to myself. How could our Robyn, barely old enough to legally drink, know where to find the best falafel in New York when I didn't. So after Robyn left town I hightailed it down to her choice for falafel superiority, which turned out to be little more than a kitchen and six stools (there's also a bench outside for the inevitable overflow).
At Taim (Hebrew for delicious) they have three different falafel flavors; tradtional green, seasoned with parsley, cilantro, and mint; red, made with roasted red pepper, and harissa, a mildly spicy variety made with the red Tunisian pepper paste (or sauce). On the day I went they also had Porcini mushroom falafel. I asked if I could have the mixed falafel platter made with all four falafel flavors available that day. The woman behind the counter said that I could, but it would cost $10.50 (instead of the usual $9.50). I would describe the service at Taim as grudgingly cooperative. The falafel platters are served with hummous, tabouli, and Israeli salad. I asked if we could substitute another side dish for the Israeli salad. I opted for the carrots, which were crunchy, ingeniously spiced, and delicious. The falafel were superb, crunchy outside, tender inside, and full of spicy flavor. Even the porcini falafel worked, though I wished they had a more pronounced porcini flavor. The side order of fries, highly touted by both Robyn and the people working at Taim, were wan, limp and not crisp at all. I washed my falafel down with a refreshing glass of housemade ginger mint lemonade.
Robyn was right, I said to myself. She's 22, just graduated from college, and she knew where to find the best falafel in New York when I didn't. I take solace in the fact that she was wrong about the french fries, at least the only time I had them.
222 Waverly Place (just west of Seventh Avenue) New York, NY Ph: 212-691-1287
I was going to list my other favorite falafel joints in New York, but then I discovered this fine list from 2003 from Robin and Rob from New York Magazine. Amazingly, they're all still open. In fact, Olympic Pita now has two more locations, 58 W. 38th St. (bet. 5th and 6th Aves.), ph: 866-659-7482 (PITA), and an express location at 21 E. 12th Street (bet. University and Fifth) 212-924-4433.