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

MAOZ VEGETARIAN, 38 Union Square East (between East 16th and East 17th Street), Union Square

There are many countries all over the world that are legendary for their falafel. The Netherlands is not one of them.

DIY Falafel

Yet Maoz is a Dutch-based company (its owned by Israelis living in Amsterdam) that opened up a handful of NYC falafel fast food joints over the last few years. They were the first in the city to showcase a DIY salad bar that enables you to stuff your pita high into the sky.

An Excellent Salad Bar

At the original Union Square location, the salad bar was varied and fresh – I was impressed at how well-stocked it was at the in-between hour of 4pm. I wanted to try everything from the mint-laced tabbouleh to the caramelized broccoli to the spiced carrots. Unfortunately, I found it very difficult to fit much into my half falafel sandwich.

The half portion was just over $4 and I chose it because I also wanted to try a side of the falafel unadulterated. I was not leaving here hungry, that was for sure.

Half Falafel Sandwich at MAOZ

Turns out I didn’t really need to order untopped falafel because the pita came very plain – literally just falafel and lettuce inside pita bread. No tahini, no tomatoes, no hot sauce, nothing.

Lots of Add-ons

It was all either $1 extra (for hummus, avocado, babganoush, etc.) or you could choose an unlimited number of veggies and sauce from the salad bar. The cashier was pushing hard to upsell me to additional toppings, Belgian frites, or a drink. This fast food chain is being Americanized quickly.

Loaded Falafel Sandwich at MAOZ

Although the pita was soft and fluffy, the sandwich was terribly dry. I continually had to get more tahini sauce from the bar. The big problem was the lukewarm falafel. The hockey pucks were sadly limp and dry with a softness that didn’t give way to any flavor or crunch. Really, the only saving grace here was the wonderful vegetable toppings.

Dry Falafel at MAOZ

Tasting the falafel on its own brought on more disappointment. Perhaps these falafel were a little cold and underwhelming due to the off-hour of my visit. Of course, that’s not a great excuse, especially considering the quality of the salad bar. After this experience, I suggest the Dutch leave the falafel to those that do it well.

Does Maoz have the best falafel in the city? They might have the best vegetarian salad bar, but the cold and limp falafel suffer in the wake of excellent vegetable toppings. 6 out of 10.

MAOZ VEGETARIAN
38 Union Square East (between 16th and 17th Street),
Union Square
(212) 260-1988
558 Seventh Avenue (at 40th Street),
Midtown West
(212) 777-0820
59 East 8th Street (between Broadway and University Place),
Greenwich Village
(212) 420-5999
2047 Broadway (between 70th and 71st Street),
Upper West Side
(212) 362-2622
683 Eighth Avenue (between 43rd and 44th Street),
Theater District
(212) 265-2315
maozusa.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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