Chew On It
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By Andrew Kochirka GoErie.com staff blogger
Food has been an integral part of Andrew's life from a young age; from cooking with his mother and grandmother to creating recipes in his own kitchen. Now he scours the area's non-chain restaurant scene to find the best of the best of local food from chicken wings to French cuisine.   Read more about this blog.
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Falafel

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Middle-Eastern in origin, falafel is a ball or patty made from ground chickpeas and other herbs and spices. Erie has a lot of places that serve falafel and I wanted to compare some this week. Out of the five locations I put on the weekly poll, I went to the top three.

big-moes_falafelBig Moe’s at 7666 West Ridge Road in Fairview has a menu full of delicious food. They have a great selection of vegetarian dishes that all sounded great, but I was there for the falafel. Their falafel wrap is stuffed full. The falafel patties are fried in peanut oil and then rolled tight in pita bread with a choice of either hummus or baba ghanoush as well as lettuce, tomatoes, and tahini. I ordered mine with hummus, but asked for it on the side so I could tear it apart and dip it in myself. The falafel patties were wonderfully seasoned. The spice blend used was strong, but not overwhelming and the tahini helped keep the wrap moist. Overall it was really good.

jekyll-and-hydes_falafelThe corner of 10th and State is home to Jekyll & Hyde’s. I have been there countless times and have never been disappointed. The food is awesome and consistent. As much as I love the fried bologna sandwich or the steak burger, I was excited to try the falafel. Their pita sandwich was different than the first. The falafel patties were pan-fried and served in a folded pita. It was topped with mixed greens, tomato slices, tahini, and a cucumber-yogurt dressing. The falafel is not as heavily spiced so I could taste more of the fresh chickpea flavor and it paired well with the yogurt dressing. It didn’t have the hummus or baba ghanoush, which made this sandwich lighter than the other. I could easily eat at Jekyll & Hyde’s every day.

palm-tree-market_falafelThe Palm Tree Market and Cafe at 2705 Parade St. is full of Middle-Eastern products, foods, and spices as well as a deli serving traditional food. I ordered a falafel plate and it was the best choice I could have made. I watched over the counter as six large falafel balls were hand-made and pan-fried. The balls were served on a layer of seasoned onions and came with two large, fresh pitas, a side of hummus, baba ghanoush, pickled vegetables, lettuce, tomatoes, more onions, and lemon wedges. It was beautifully served and I couldn’t wait to eat it. I tore off a piece of bread, then a piece of falafel, topped it with some lemon juice and vegetables, and dipped it in the hummus. It was perfect. The falafel was really crispy on the outside, but still soft and moist in the middle. The bread was fresh and fantastic. The vinegar from the pickled vegetables added just the right amount of bite. Both the hummus and baba ghanoush gave the falafel even more flavor and the lemon provided brightness to the dish. I could have been full with three falafel balls and one pita, but it was so good that I had to finish it all. These really are a must try.

Who knew that falafel could be so different from place to place. All three were delicious and had their own unique flavors. I would gladly recommend all of them. Thank you to everyone who made this falafel comparison great.

Keep sending me your recommendations for local favorite vegetarian foods to akochirka@goerie.com or to the Beard Vs. Food Facebook.  Remember to come back and vote as well.

Until next time,

Andrew – Beard vs. Food

Read more of Andrew's thoughts about Vegetarian
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One Response to Falafel

  1. Kevin Marsh says:

    Beard,

    Thanks for triple review! I was initially disappointed when I saw that Moe’s might not win the popular vote, so I was pleased to read that you visited Moe’s and the two other establishments. Nice reviews….will have to visit the two places in Erie. Keep up the good work.

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