Last night a friend held a birthday party in Paterson at Salah Edin (995 Main Street, 973-225-0575), his favorite Middle Eastern place. The food was fabulous. I highly recommend the hummus (nutty and silky), babaganush (wonderfully smoky), fattoush salad (super-fresh side salad strewn with tasty chunks of fried pita), falafel sandwich (the best I've ever had, utterly greaseless and so flavorful and crunchy), ayrun (a salty yogurt drink; comes in a bottle but still good) and several of the other appetizer dips, including a wonderful yogurt, nut and garlic combination that I forget the name of. Spinach and meat pies (triangular dough-- dense rather than flaky--wrapped around the filling; a special available Saturdays only) were a tad greasy and heavy, rendering them merely good but still worth trying (especially at the price). Everyone was enjoying schwarma, kebabs and other seasoned meat dishes (all of which come with stacks of pita and sides of hummus and babaganush), but I didn't try them.
The birthday boy and I started talking restaurants, and he's clearly a chowhound. I asked him about Kervan (mainly because I've never been but have always wanted to try it), and he said Kervan is good but overpriced, and that Salah Edin is better. He said he's eaten at just about every Middle Eastern place in Jersey and NYC, and I believe it.
Most appetizers and salads run about $3, most appetizers are around $7 (with the most expensive being $8.50), and the Saturday special pies are only $1. Portions are generous. No alcohol allowed. I think this place is definitely worth a trip from NYC.