Editor's note: In "Fast Food International," Krista Garcia will take us around New York to the many international fast food chains that have landed in the five boroughs. She blogs at goodiesfirst.com.
Country of Origin: The Netherlands
Locations Worldwide: 24 in France, The Netherlands, Spain, US, and UK
NYC locations: Five
Even though New Yorkers have never suffered a lack of falafel options, Dutch vegetarian chain Maoz has been creating converts since they opened their first shop here in 2004. Their glossy red, white, and green branding and diminutive, minimalist interiors create a modern (albeit corporate) hole in the wall.
What also sets Maoz apart from scruffier favorites like Rainbow Falafel or Mamoun's is the salad bar. You may have thought that tomato chunks, shredded lettuce and a drizzle of tahini were enough—but customizing your pita with the dozen or so choices on display opens a world of possibilities. You're only limited to how many condiments you can pack into a bready pocket. I happen to like the tiny, stained-red, pickled eggplants, fried cauliflower, and powerfully hot, herby, green spread.
The chartreuse-hued falafel balls clearly rely on a large proportion of parsley and cilantro. Dark, crunchy and greaseless, the tender chickpea blobs hold their shape without crumbling apart.
After 11am (yes, they serve breakfast) your choices are straightforward. You can have the standard royal sandwich ($4.95) with five falafel balls, hummus and grilled eggplant, the junior sandwich ($4.25) with three falafel balls and no extras, or the salad box with falafel ($7.95). Pitas, which are soft, pliable, and sturdy enough to overstuff, are available in white or whole wheat. And anything else deep-fried won't disappoint: the fries are just about perfect, even better when dipped in any of those self-serve sauces.
Various locations throughout the city
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