Another falafel enabler

mohamed

photo from Yelp.com

There’s a cheap falafel restaurant in the East Village. Groundbreaking news, no? Well, if you’re like me and eat cheap East Village falafel weekly, branching out to a new location is, in fact, a significant deal. So it was an exciting Tuesday evening when I trekked an extra couple blocks in the rain to Mohamed Falafel Star (178 E 7th St., Manhattan–map), at the bottom of Tompkins Square Park.

I was originally attracted to the spot by a memory I had of a sign in the window: Falafel Sandwich $2. So I was a bit disappointed when I arrived and that $2 had been changed to a $3. But I was willing to shell out the extra buck to see what Mohamed had to offer. And the first thing he has to offer is a friendly face. It seems a one-man shop, and the man behind the counter is talkative and cheerful as he stuffs your pita.

My first observation, before sinking my teeth in, was that this is the biggest falafel sandwich I’ve examined yet (bigger than Yatagan kebab, and much bigger than Mamoun’s). Upon devouring the sandwich, I discovered that Mohamed also adds chopped cucumber to his sandwich, another new revelation I greatly appreciated. When it came to the patty, however, Mohamed’s was just as bland as all other comers when compared with Mamoun’s. Nevertheless, his counter is worth checking out, if only for the over-the-counter banter. I’ve also heard high praise for Mohamed’s shawarma–I’ll report back after my next trip.

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Snacklicious Tuck for a Buck

snacklicious1Just when I thought a falafel sandwich couldn’t get any cheaper, I scoured 8coupons.com for New Year deals and found one for only 88 cents. From now until January 25, you can stop by Snacklicious Cinderella Falafel in the East Village (129 2nd Avenue, Manhattan–map) any time between 2 and 8 pm and get your falafel fix for under a dollar.

All you have to do is text this coupon from the 8coupons site to your phone. Flash the message to the friendly man at the counter when you get there and he’ll hook you up.

To be honest, this is no Mamoun’s. The 88 cent sandwich is smaller and less tasty than what you’d get for $2.50 around the corner. But two crisp falafel patties, lettuce, tomato and tahini in half a pita for 88 cents is certainly nothing to turn your nose up at.

Mideast meets Mid-Brooklyn

sahadiFor Brooklynites and other New Yorkers willing to hop the river, the path to any number of Arabian nights starts at Atlantic (Avenue, that is). Sahadi Importing Co. (187 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn–map) is your one stop for hard-to-find Middle Eastern goodies at cheap prices: chickpea flour for $1.98/lb, a 32 oz. jar of tahini for $7. Sahadi’s will also save you money on staples you can get anywhere: packs of 6 pitas for 80 cents, a pound of couscous for $1.80.

nutsI walked in for the first time in search of tahini to make hummus, and my eyes bulged at the vats of grains, nuts, seeds, dried beans, and spices, all for cheaper than supermarket prices. I left with an armfull of groceries, but not an empty wallet.

Before you head out the door, stop at the counter in back for a lovingly prepared, yet inevitably messy, $3 falafel sandwich, or any of a host of other Mediterranean goodies.

The cheap eater’s cheap pita

One block on MacDougal Street separates two of the cheapest falafel sandwiches you’ll find in New York. In the north corner: the Goliath of cheap falafel, winner of titles, awards, and accolades, with the line busting out the door, ringing up at $2.50, Mamoun’s (119 MacDougal St.*, Manhattan—map). In the south corner: an undeniable David, waiting in the shadows, with ample seating room and minimal bustle, also ringing up at $2.50, Yatagan Kebab House (104 MacDougal St., Manhattan—map).

yataganyatagankebabYatagan does have a chick pea or two to sling at its neighbor. Their sandwich is bigger than Mamoun’s—3/4 of a pita compared to 2/3. Also, while Mamoun’s stuffs their falafel into the bottom of the pita and puts lettuce, tomato, and sauce on top, Yatagan mixes it all in together, so you get a bit of everything in each bite.

mamounsBut then there’s the question of taste, and here Mamoun’s reigns. Their falafel patties are crispier and better seasoned. Their tahini sauce is stronger. Their ingredients all taste a tad fresher. And their logo is more loveable.

Both joints are incredible deals, and there are times you should opt for Yatagan: when you’re extra hungry, or looking to sit down to a peaceful meal. But the bustle at Mamoun’s is there for the flavor, and for our money it can’t be beat.

*Mamoun’s also has a location on St. Mark’s Place in Manhattan, and in New Haven, CT.