East Village newcomer Taj-Almoulouk has charged to the top spot in eca’s personal falafel ranking. Its fresh, light, fried-to-order falafel eclipses those from Taim and Chickpea (which now drop to second and third place). As good as the falafel is, the house-baked bread used for falafel sandwiches may be even better–soft, chewy, and more substantial than the usual pita.

Opened late last year by alumni of the popular Moustache restaurants, Taj-Almoulouk also serves salads, meze (hummus, tabouleh, babaganoush, etc.), beef shwarma and chicken or lamb kababs, and stuff from the oven such as zaatar bread, fatayer (spinach-cheese pies), and lahambajin (spiced ground lamb on flat bread).

There’s another houndworthy falafel at Ashkara, a newish vegetarian place on the Lower East Side, says rollergrrl. The falafel is fresh, handmade, and served with first-rate pickles, sauces and other fixings. Good hummus, too, plus soups, salads, house-made pita or malawach (Yemenite flat bread) and something unexpected: Belgian-style fries with a variety of dipping sauces.

For a cheap, filling Middle Eastern feast, bigjeff recommends Cinderella Falafel’s $9 vegetarian combo platter–falafel, hummus, feta, tabouleh, chickpeas, garlicky babaganoush, a rice-stuffed grape leaf, lettuce-tomato-cucumber salad, and nice fried cauliflower (which they sometimes neglect to include, so make sure you get some). It’ll feed two, especially if you order extra pita bread.

Taj-Almoulouk [East Village]
125 E. 4th St., between 1st and 2nd Aves., Manhattan

Ashkara [Lower East Side]
189 E. Houston St., between Orchard and Ludlow, Manhattan

Cinderella Falafel [East Village]
129 2nd Ave., between E. 7th St. and St. Marks Pl., Manhattan

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