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

OMAR'S MEDITERANEAN CUISINE, 154 East 55th Street (between Lexington and Third Avenue), Midtown East

While crossing 55th Street to get my lunch, I noticed a horde of people outside Omar’s Mediterranean Cusine (formerly known as Omar’s Kitchen & Bakery). Could this modest little Mediterranean restaurant have a line to rival the infamous cronut? As I got closer, I did indeed notice a line out the door. But more surprisingly, along the front of the store were a few dozen men on their knees praying.

A Ball of Activity They might have been saying thanks for some heavenly falafel. But more likely I stumbled upon the Friday prayers of the Islamic Society of Mid Manhattan which happens to be located conveniently next door. It was quite a sight to see so many people praying outside a restaurant. Only in New York. I considered taking a photo of the gathering, but thought better of it.

Swarms For Schwarma

I didn’t refrain from taking photos inside the bustling shop. It was after 2pm on a Friday (when most restaurants are slowing down) and Omar’s showed no sign of taking a break. The line moved fast and I noticed I was one of only a few people not ordering the shawarma or kebab. Perhaps something to consider for next time.

Falafel Sandwich at OMAR'S

Of course, I was all about the falafel and Omar’s did a pretty good rendition. The soft pillowy pita held the tender falafel, which really began to fall apart upon the first bite. It got very difficult to get a photo actually.

Where'd the Falafel Go?

But I managed. Inside the falafel, there were hints of cumin and pepper with a very aromatic and fresh quality. I thought the chickpea mixture could use some more fresh herbs like mint and cilantro and some more crunch to the exterior, but the flavors were nice and the falafel balls were filling.

Inside the Falafel Sandwich at OMAR'S MEDITERRANEAN CUISINE

Perhaps the overabundance of fresh parsely inside the sandwich was to make up for the lack of herbs inside the falafel balls. I appreciated that Omar’s substituted the usual wilted lettuce for bright green parsley. Along with fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions, there was some creamy hummus on the bottom layer of the pita and some tangy tahini (possibly mixed with mayo). If anything, the sauce was a bit too much and overwhelmed the sandwich. Perhaps some hot sauce (which somehow never got on my sandwich) would have helped.

Holy Falafel!

I’m not quite sure this is falafel worth praying for, but I’m sure it’s not coincidence that this place was jamming after Friday prayers. If it’s good enough for devout Muslims, it better be good enough for me. And it was.

Does Omar’s Mediterranean Cuisine have the best falafel in NY? Despite the overly tangy white sauce and the lack of crunch, the falafel balls were full of flavor and freshness earning them an 8 out of 10.

OMAR’S MEDITERRANEAN CUISINE
154 East 55th Street (between Lexington and Third Avenue),
Midtown East

(212) 207-8302
omarsmediterraneannyc.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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