My search for the best falafel in New York continues….

OLYMPIC PITA, 58 West 38th Street (between Fifth and Sixth Avenue), Midtown West

Many people consider Midtown to be the worst food neighborhood in Manhattan. Even Zach Brooks has been trying to disprove his own declaration of it being a “food wasteland” on the well-known blog Midtown Lunch.

At first look, yes, the area is over-run with fast food chains, generic delis, touristy Italian restaurants, and expensive steakhouses. But upon closer examination, there are lots of wonderful hole-in-the-wall joints and food carts serving some solid (and affordable) meals. And the one food that Midtown has got all the other’s beat with is falafel.

I think there are more serious falafel joints per block in Midtown then there are in any other neighborhood of Manhattan (areas of Brooklyn and Queens are a different story). There are probably three big reasons for the saturation of falafel. 1) Businessmen in the neighborhood want fast, cheap sandwiches. 2) The abundance of food carts (mostly Middle Eastern or South Asian-operated) make falafel nearly impossible to avoid. 3) The mostly Jewish workers in the Diamond District make great customers for the nearby kosher and Israeli restaurants.

The Center of Falafel

Olympic Pita is one such Israeli-kosher establishment in Midtown, although it’s an outpost of a restaurant in Midwood, Brooklyn. As you first enter, it looks like this might be a take-out only spot with meat spits and salad bar. But then you notice the hostess and the dining area further inside the restaurant.

Who Needs a Dining Room?

I have a tough time being waited on at a falafel joint, so I ordered a sandwich from the counter, stocked up on some salad toppings and chowed down.

Falafel Sandwich at OLYMPIC PITA

Like many Israeli falafel sandwiches, this pita was stuffed to the gills with french fries. It was even a challenge to find the falafel themselves.

Leaky PitaTurns out they had fallen to the edge of the pita with all the sauces and vegetables that had started leaking out the bottom of the flimsy bread.

French Fry Guy

The limp and tepid fries were not nearly as good as they looked.

Inside Falafel at OMLYPIC PITA

I found the falafel to be ok with some decent seasoning, but they didn’t exhibit any crunch. Mealy textures were the same as the french fries, which made for a rather disappointing experience.

IMG_9125

Some decent hummus, potent hot sauce, and salty pickles found their way into the sandwich, but it wasn’t enough to save the lifeless main ingredient.

The good news is that there are plenty of other places in Midtown to get falafel and some of them have to be good. Stay tuned!

Does Olympic Pita have the best falafel in NYC? Afraid not and not even the best in Midtown. Big disappointment with the lackluster fries and falafel earn it a 5 out of 10.

OLYMPIC PITA
58 West 38th Street (between Sixth and Fifth Avenue),
Midtwon West

(212) 869-7482
olympicpita.com
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Category: Falafel

About the Author

Brian Hoffman is a classically trained actor who is now a full-time tour guide, blogger, and food obsessive. He leads food and drink tours around New York City, which not only introduce tour-goers to delicious food, but gives them a historical context. He also writes food articles for Gothamist and Midtown Lunch in addition to overseeing this blog and a few food video series, including Eat This, Locals Know, and Around the World in One City.

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