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

RAKKA CAFE, 81 Saint Marks Place (between Second and First Avenue), East Village

Once upon a time, Cafe Rakka was an institution in the East Village. Back in the rough and tumble 80’s and 90’s, its two locations would be the place to grab a quick meal before heading to any one of the nearby music venues. Sadly those days are mostly gone.

Late last year, Cafe Rakka closed one of their locations and re-vamped their original turning it into Rakka Cafe.

The Menu Inside

I never made it to the original so I’m not sure how much different it is, but it still feels pretty old (in a good way) withot many frills. I do find it sad (and possibly telling) that the shop was empty on a Sunday afternoon while the restaurants nearby bustled with a lively brunch scene. Perhaps they still get the late night crowd here.

Falafel Sandwich at RAKKA CAFE

I can appareciate the price ($3 for a falafel sandwich), but I have to admit that the falafel wasn’t very good. The flavors were there – strong spices, vibrant chickpea flavor, and lots of potent hot sauce, but it had no crunch whatsoever.

Falafel at RAKKA CAFE

The pita was loaded down with lettuce, yet between the greens were about 3 falafel patties, most no longer intact. The flat shape really inhibited any potential for crispy texture. Plus I found the patties to be pretty greasy and a little too salty.

Falafel at RAKKA CAFE

It was a disappointing falafel sandwich to say the least. If you’re just interested in flavor with no crunch, then it could be passable. But I want some crunch with my falafel and I’m guessing kids hanging here in the 80’s and 90’s expected the same.

Does Rakka Cafe have the best falafel in NY? They may have before they changed the name back when the East Village was authentic, but now their falafel lacks much crunch or pizzaz. 5 out of 10.

RAKKA CAFE
81 St. Marks Place (between Second and First Avenue),
East Village
(212) 982-9166
rakkacafe.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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