My search for the best falafel in New York continues….
Upon entering Alfanoose, I thought I’d get something you don’t usually get with falafel: table service. The large dining room is unusual for a falafel joint in NYC, tying into its old history of being traditionally a street food.
My instincts were wrong at Alfanoose. You still had to approach a counter at the back of the long dining room to place your order, pay, and wait for the preparation before you can take a load off and start munching. Still, unlike most establishments that serve falafel, Alfanoose did offer a comfortable environment to enjoy the sandwich.
Focusing on Lebanese food, Alfanoose has been very popular since they opened downtown in 1999. They even expanded a few years ago to this larger restaurant space from a more expected take-out joint down the street. It’s only recently that I’ve started spending more time in the Financial District (giving food cart tours) so it’s no surprise (to me at least) that this was my first visit.
I was surprised, however, by the sloppy presentation of the sandwich. The ultra-thin pita was wrapped more like a burrito than the Middle Eastern pockets I’ve come to expect. The bread ripped easily as I picked it up, forcing me to embark on a knife and fork endeavor.
As I bit into the sandwich, I got a lot of lettuce, tomatoes, and onions. Where are my pickles, eggplant, or tahini? It also took a few bites before I got to the falafel itself. These were chopped into strips rather than shaped into balls. I have nothing against shape, as long as they taste good.
And just like the unusual presentation, Alfanoose’s falafel had a distinct flavor. There was a raisin-y sweetness that was unique and pleasant, along with some hints of cumin and garlic. It had a decent crunch, but I found the falafel itself dry. Unfortunately, there was just a light schmear of tahini sauce (although I could have sworn it was yogurt) so not even that helped with the dryness.
It wasn’t a bad falafel, but it certainly doesn’t warrant all the accolades it has received over the years. Even early on in my falafel journey, I know there are better options out there. But those places might not offer a place to sit down.
Does Alfanoose have the best falafel in NY? The sandwich itself is a mess and while the falafel had a nice, unique flavor, it only gets a 7 out of 10 since the fried pattys were a little dry.
|8 Maiden Lane (between Broadway and Nassau Street),