My search for the best falafel in New York continues….
Whether they’re stuffed with pickles, hummus, tahini, or hot sauce, most falafel sandwiches look the same. It’s usually a pita pocket overflowing with toppings. But leave it to Zaytoons, the long-time Middle Eastern restaurant on Smith Street to change things up.
Now with three locations around Brooklyn, the two cousins who own Zaytoons put a spin on what we expect from spots like this. For instance, the specialty here is not shawarma or spinach pie (although they do have both) but a unique creation called pitza. You guessed it, these are Middle Eastern pizzas on pita bread.
So the falafel sandwich was also not served in the typical presentation. It comes out looking more like something I’d get from a generic deli in Midtown. It’s wrapped up with a toothpick holding it together. I’ve seen a similar presentation once before at Alfanoose, but it was cleaner and more composed here at Zaytoons.
I was actually impressed at how well the sandwich held together. The soft pita was a nice vessel for the falafel and unlike most pita pockets where the chickpea fritters fall to the bottom, here everything was well dispersed.
The sandwich had lots of crunch throughout, but the falafel on its own wasn’t terribly flavorful. It was certainly moist and tender, but I was missing a definitive herb or spice flavor. Still, with the creamy hummus and salty cornichons, it made for a nice sandwich. I asked for some hot sauce to liven things up and I ended up with a slightly numbing sensation. No wonder they don’t automatically add it to the pita.
Zaytoons is a comfortable spot that re-thinks the falafel sandwich for the better. This presentation, while not traditional and perhaps not as conducive to overloading, keeps the falafel clean and the ingredients well-distributed.
Does Zaytoons have the best falafel in NYC? They get major points for re-constructing the sandwich. But while it has a nice consistent crunch, the falafel is lacking a bit of flavor. 7 out of 10.
|283 Smith Street (between Sackett and Degraw Street),
Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
|472 Myrtle Avenue (between Washington Avenue and Hall Street),
Fort Greene, Brooklyn
|594 Vanderbilt Avenue (between Bergen Street and St. Marks Avenue),
Prospect Heights, Brooklyn