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

KING OF FALAFEL & SCHAWARMA, 29-18 Broadway (at 28th Street), Astoria, QueensIt’s easy enough for a business to call themselves the king. The King of tires, the king of beer, the king of burgers. It’s a marketing gimmick, of course, but it’s amazing how people tend to believe the royal decrees.

The King's Dish

King of Falafel is one such incredulous title, but Freddy¬†Zeideia has proven to much of the food world that he does indeed deserve the designation. He’s built up a kingdom of followers at his food cart in Astoria, he won the Vendy Award in 2010, and he’s expanded his regime to a food cart in Midtown. When it comes to falafel, there’s nobody else that can really wear the crown.

But how does his falafel stack up against all the lesser plebeian versions in this city? I’ve tried his falafel a number of times and remember them being good, but perhaps not worthy of royalty.

The Pleibans

I found the cart bustling in its usual spot just steps away from the Broadway stop on the N train in Astoria. Freddy was nowhere in site, but his workers were comptetent and fast (although not as personable and memorable as the king himself).

Falafel Pita at KING OF FALAFEL & SCHAWARMA

My usual on this journey has been a falafel sandwich with everything on it. And I got that here, but once I unwrapped it, I struggled a bit. This was wrapped up as opposed to stuffed in a pita pocket. I’ve seen this technique at other Jordanian and Lebanese restaurants with varying success. Here, the sandwich is quite messy and I found the falafel to get lost with all the other ingredients. The hot sauce was quite hot and the pickles and onions were very potent, reminding me of the flavor of a Big Mac (minus the meat, of course). The flavors were fine, but it became difficult to get a good sense of the few falafel inside.

Falafel at KING OF FALAFEL & SCHAWARMA

That’s why I turned around and ordered just a side portion of the falafel. This probably should have been my mode of attack from the get-go and from here on in, I think I will always try for an additional side of unadorned falafel.

Ah, But Inside

For $2, I received 4 logs of falafel and was able to get a good sense of why this guy is called the king. Each bite was impeccably crunchy with a soft, steamy interior. The textures were perfect (on each bite), but what was most impressive was the unique flavor from inside. Sure, it had that earthy chickpea flavor with pepper and herbs, but I got a hint of anise. I think there is fennel seed inside, which is impressive and refreshing. It gives the King the extra edge in this competition.

This might just be one King whose title is justified. All hail!

Does King of Falafel & Shawarma have the best falafel in NY? When tasted on its own, the falafel is unique and delicious and earns a 9 out of 10, but inside the pita wrap, it gets lost and muddied with too many other ingredients. 

KING OF FALAFEL & SHAWARMA
Broadway and 30th Street,
Astoria, Queens
(718) 838-8029
East 53rd Street and Park Avenue,
Midtown East
(718) 838-8029
thekingfalafel.com/#/dining
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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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