Oh falafel, such delicious garlicky goodness. Bringer of flavour and slayer of hunger pangs. It’s practically impossible to decide which destinations serve the best falafel but we’ve had a go anyway.
Falafel being prepared in Cairo
The origins of the falafel are controversial at best but while the argument rages on, at least travellers can be sure that they’ll get a decent falafel sandwich in downtown Cairo. Specifically at Felfela, a restaurant that has been serving falafel since 1959, alongside the classic Egyptian fuul (a bean stew flavoured with lemon, cumin, and olive oil). Sleep it off at The Freedom Hostel, a 9-minute walk from Felfela.
Our favourite iftar staple
The Landmark Hotel in Amman, Jordan, is currently the Guinness Record holder for the world’s biggest falafel disc and the city is also home to the legendary restaurant, Falafel Al Quds. Despite the name, Al Quds is not exclusively for falafel but it does serve sundried tomato and/or kashkawan cheese stuffed falafels, alongside the more traditional varieties. When you've tried some of the many options, The Sydney Hotel is only 9-minutes’ walk from Al Quds.
Seattle is for chickpea cheerleaders
For adventurous chickpea cheerleaders, Seattle’s most popular falafel joint, the Mawadda Cafe, is a must try. Chai tea is served alongside the falafel, a combination usually enchanced by a slice of spanakopita (filo pastry, spinach, and feta). Once you're done, The Georgetown Inn Seattle is less than 10 minutes' drive from Mawadda Cafe.
A falafel sandwich in Beirut
In 2010 the University of Beirut set the world record for the biggest serving of falafel (a jaw-dropping, mouth-watering 5173kg). Head to the city’s Hamra neighbourhood where traditional falafel sandwiches are served with tahini and Lebanese pickles. There’s no one particular falafel restaurant that stands above the others, instead visitors are advised to just have a wander and check out the dozens of falafel bars, before heading to The Standard 1 by Beirut Homes self-catered apartments in the heart of Hamra.
Making falafel in Athens
When it comes to falafel many of us forget just how good the Greeks are at producing these deep-fried delights. Visitors to Athens will not regret checking out The Falafel Project, a restaurant that makes its own falafel right in front of the customer and serves it alongside traditional Greek staples like tabbouleh and crispy aubergine fritters. Elements Hotel Apartments are mercifully close, only 8 minutes from The Falafel Project by car.
Vegan dining in Berlin
While claims that the falafel was invented in the Berlin neighbourhood of Kreuzberg (known locally as ‘falafel village’) are almost certainly bogus, you can still get absolutely brilliant falafel in Germany’s capital city. Thanks to West Berlin’s large Arab community it’s possible to get a variety of different falafels, most of which tend to come with sweet mango relishes, as opposed to the more savoury sauces favoured in Middle Eastern countries. Vilhelm 7 in the Kreuzberg neighbourhood is recommended for a place to stay by food-obsessed travellers.
Middle-Eastern-inspired cuisine in Santiago
Santiago’s large Palestinian and Turkish communities mean that Chile’s capital city has become internationally famous for it’s Middle-Eastern-inspired cuisine. The neighbourhood of Patronato is especially popular with falafel lovers who flock here to make the most of the area’s shawarma, falafel, and Turkish coffee. Try popping into Falafel Asly, a small, bustling restaurant where all the ingredients are kept kosher and there are always plenty of vegan options available, before turning in for the night at Las Condes Town is only 4 minutes' walk from Falafel Asly.
Paris, home to 'The Falafel Wars'
Travellers who head to the Parisian neighbourhood of Le Marais will be greeted with a near bewildering variety of falafel sandwiches. The menus on offer range from massive pittas, stuffed full of traditionally-made falafel balls and swimming in fragrant tahini, right through to pint-sized chickpea fritters, served with fresh salad in gluten-free wraps. Although be warned: this neighbourhood was recently the centre of what VICE dubbed ‘The Falafel Wars’, with restaurants competing to produce the most flavoursome sandwiches. Self-catered Maison Paris Marais is nearby, in case you feel inspired and fancy attempting your own falafel.