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.

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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.