Wednesday, April 14, 2010

My Top 5 Falafel in Berlin

Berlin's culinary scene is remarkable for many reasons, one of which is the plentiful abundance of falafel and other vegetarian delights, most for super cheap. Not all falafel was created equal, however...the Imbiß (snack stand) on our street for example reheats frozen falafel in the microwave and serves it in too-thick bread with lackluster veggies. This is all too common at your standard snack stand, which is what makes it so exciting to find truly top-quality falafel, and I seek it out all the time. Thus I present to you my five favorite falafel places in Berlin! All of these places cost 2.5 or 3eur for a falafel sandwich, the standard price for above-standard quality :)

1. Nil
This place serves "sudanese style" falafel which means, as far as I can tell, that they add peanut sauce to the usual falafel-bread-veggies equation. But it has earned the top spot because I don't think I will ever forget the feeling of first biting into that hot, crispy falafel. There was something about the über-crispy outside of the falafel balls that just tasted so above and beyond regular falafel stands. The peanut sauce added some nice dimension and the pita and veggies were good quality as well. A+

2. Dada Falafel
I was told by a friend before I arrived in Berlin that this place was "widely considered the best falafel in town," but hadn't tried it until recently. O the error of my ways! It was truly smashing, with three kinds of delicious sauces including hummus, fresh falafel, and lovely fresh veggies. Scrumptious. The hip decor and music don't hurt either.

3. King of Falafel
This little hole in the wall is another recent discovery and earns a high place on the list not just because of deliciousness but because of the obvious care they put into making their product. I stepped up to the window and ordered, then spent an enjoyable 15-20min (it was worth the wait) watching the man carefully scoop out mashed chickpeas and shape it into balls, then while it was frying, lovingly build a pile of carefully placed veggies and hummus on thin pita. When the falafel balls were done, he arranged them just so and wrapped it all up burrito-style with an expert hand. Watching him make it was half the fun, but man was that falafel wrap delicious. Lucikly this one's actually near my house, so I can return frequently.

4. Maroush
I should kind of try this place sober before I put it at #4, but what the heck. It always fills me up good when I happen to be hungry and in the vicinity of Oranienstrasse late at night. Quality stuff and friendly service. Plus I like chillin at their outdoor picnic tables when it's warm enough. Good times.

5. Luxa
People rag on this place, but I have a certain affection for it since it fed my oddly timed jet lagged tummy when I first arrived in Berlin and was staying around the corner. I've never had a bad sandwich here--in my experience the falafel is fresh, as are the veggies, and wrapped up in a pita pocket with delectable sesame sauce it's pretty gosh darn tasty. It's clean and has modern decor and plenty of seating, plus I've met some colorful local characters. For my money it's a keeper.

*Honorable Mention* Mustafa's Gemüse Kebap
Ok so this isn't technically falafel but in the realm of delicious veggie sandwiches it's definitely an amazing variation. Basically they fry up a bunch of veggies (potatoes, zucchini, peppers etc) with seasoning and then pile it into some bread with salad-y topping just like on a falafel or schwarma. They then add a sprinkling of crumbly feta and some lemon juice. And the result is nothing short of divine. I regret the number of times I went to Curry 36, the famous currywurst place just down the street, instead of trying this gem. Now it is a favorite. A must-try for the veggie enthusiast in Berlin! They also have a chicken version for all you carnivores.

So there you have it. Stay tuned for more Berlin "best of" lists from yours truly.
Bis bald,

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