After living in Israel for a few months four years ago, I nearly swore off falafel upon my return to the US. Not because I was sick of it (impossible), but because I lost hope of finding any falafel that could even remotely compare to the quality that I had gotten used to in Israel. Words can’t describe the extent of my eternal joy when I finally tried Taïm falafel this year. Hummus Place may be a worthy competitor in terms of hummus, but for falafel, this stuff is the reigning champion. Located in an adorable tiny storefront on tree-lined Waverly place, Taïm Falafel and Smoothie Bar is the project of an Israeli couple who felt homesick for the phenomenal falafel street food that adorns virtually every street in Israel. In a city brimming with cheap, yummy falafel and Mediterranean food, I can say with great certainty that this is the most authentic, delicious and best value falafel in Manhattan.
Taïm Falafel just nails the whole experience; there are three different types of falafel to choose from (or you can sample them all), and my personal favorite is the harissa—slightly spicy and oh-so-flavorful. I am a sucker for the falafel sandwich. You customize your pita and handpick your embellishments. The sandwich ($6.25) comes with hummus, Israeli salad, pickled cabbage and tahini sauce, but you would be wise to add in boiled egg and feta ($1 each). The sandwich is like biting into heaven. If you close your eyes, you are practically transported to a beautiful beach in Tel Aviv. For me, it’s definitely a nostalgia food. But it’s also filling, fresh, and always exciting.
Sure, you can get cheaper falafel elsewhere in the city, but nothing compares to Taïm. NYU students have a penchant for the incredibly cheap Mamoun’s, but I can guarantee you that Taïm is a billion times better. It’s very reasonably priced and you are getting the most bang for your buck. Be warned, however, that it is easy to rack up your bill at Taïm, only because everything is so yummy. I, for example, am a slave to their pistachio baklava (and occasionally to their smoothies as well—there is one that is strawberry, raspberry and Thai basil! AAH!). I simply have no self restraint and usually cave into the 2 pieces for $3; not the cheapest, but man is that stuff yummylicious.
Bottom line: if you haven’t been and are a lover of all things falafel, get your tuchis to the West Village and eat up! But penny-pinchers and gluttons, remember to be weary of your spending because that place is Temptation Island. Also, make sure you bring cash, because it is cash only!! And be prepared to take your food elsewhere if there is no room, which there probably will not be. Ready yourself to become thoroughly addicted; I now schlep 30 minutes across town every time I want falafel (which is a lot), so get pumped. Other good news? They’ve also got a food truck, so maybe you can catch them in your hood!