Philacatessen | Mamoun’s Falafel a Great Addition to the Middle Eastern Food Scene

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falafel and hummus with tahine sauce
Combo platter (Photos by Keri White)

Mamoun’s Falafel, a New York institution since 1971, now has nine locations — the latest one in our fair city.

Situated on the corner of Third and Market streets in Old City, the bright, spare, clean, casual restaurant offers excellent quality at a reasonable price. The place ain’t fancy: You order at the counter, and they shout your number to collect your food in plastic baskets and paper plates. But after one bite, the atmosphere is irrelevant.

My friend is a regular, so she advised me to try the combo platter ($8.95). It comprised falafel, hummus and baba ganouj over salad or rice, with a side of freshly baked pita. I ordered lamb shawarma ($4.75) as an add-on — chicken ($4.00) and kafta kebab ($5.50) were also available — but in the end that was gilding the lily for me.

The combo platter was a feast on its own. The falafel were perfectly crisp, well-seasoned and not too heavy. The hummus was just right — smooth and flavorful, laced with tahina, garlic, lemon and salt. The baba was sublime, smoky and creamy with parsley, garlic and tahini. In an attempt at virtue, I opted for the salad bed and it was ideal; crisp fresh lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes served as the perfect backdrop for the substantial, yet healthy dish.

We also enjoyed the pickled veggies ($2.75), a small cup of briny olives, half-sour pickles and crispy turnips, which were a nice flavor foil to the rest of the items we sampled.

Cubes of grilled chicken in foil
Chicken side

My companion ordered a falafel sandwich ($4.75) with a side of chicken, which was sublime. It was perfectly juicy, well-seasoned and cooked through to done but not dry, which is not always achieved, especially in a high volume quick-serve restaurant.

We also had the lentil soup ($3.50), which was a lovely cup of healthful warmth on a chilly spring day. It was served with pita croutons, which added the right amount of crispy crunch to the soup.

For dessert, baklava, knafe (shredded filo with pistachios) and mebrume (filo with mixed nuts) were on offer for under $3 each, but we had filled up on the main dishes. Next time, I shall know to save room.

While not kosher, the restaurant has plenty of vegan items for kosher-style diners. They also have catering menu, and offer delivery through Caviar.

If you go:

Mamoun’s Falafel

mamouns.com/

300 Market St.

Philadelphia

215-351-5400

Monday-Sunday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

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