Falafel Mecca Offers City Gluttons a Challenge Not Easily Refused
We love Forest Hills, and we love falafel, at least in the form in which it appears at On the Grill, our number one go-to shawarma-and-falafel place in the five boroughs. But are we, or you, man or woman enough to beat On the Grill’s falafel challenge? Gothamist’s Joe DiStefano reports that the restaurant has instituted the Great Falafel Eating Contest, which stipulates that anyone who eats five falafel sandwiches in 29 minutes gets them free, plus a $50 gift certificate – presumably, to be spent on more falafel sandwiches. If you’re thinking, “Pshaw! There’s no meat in falafel! I can eat all I want!,” be warned: Tzur Kalaf, On the Grill’s colorful owner, bakes huge, puffy pitas in-house, every one of which could paralyze an average person. And his sandwiches aren’t small. Which is maybe one more reason why you should go to On the Grill and make the effort.
On the Grill, 98-102 Queens Blvd., Forest Hills; 718-897-4829.
Competitive Eating Comes to Forest Hills, Well Sorta [Gothamist]
Falafel Innovations Power Chickpea’s Expansion Plans
Chickpea’s decision to give up frying their falafel filled us with sadness. Even if, as Eater suggested in their item on the subject, it was as a prelude to expansion, was this really the direction we wanted to see falafel go? The only good thing about these “nosh puppies,” for our money, was their oil-fried goodness. But Chickpea is expanding, executive chef Alex Schindler tells us, with locations planned for the Upper West Side, the meatpacking district, and Times Square, in the next year alone, and with the expansion must come plans to diversify and modernize the Chickpea trinity of falafel, hummus, and shawarma.
Merkat Busts Out Its Own Secret Room; Red Hook Vendors Safe Through FallMerkat has its own secret, PDT-style back room, Merkat Negre, with a chalkboard menu and a “young, pleasantly noisy crowd.” [Restaurant Girl]
A typical weekend for a Red Hook soccer-fields vendor involves endless prep work, setting up by 7:30 a.m., cooking all day, and breaking the stand down at night … [NYT]
But the vendors’ rituals are safe until October 28, thanks to the intercession of Senator Chuck Schumer. [Serious Eats]
Euro Falafel Titan Making Waves in Union SquareRainbow’s long-standing monopoly on Union Square falafel has been challenged with the recent opening of Maoz Vegetarian, the first New York outpost of a chain that launched in Amsterdam in 1991. Maoz’s cheery green-and-white façade is already a beacon for Euro expats familiar with the signature salad bar, a spotless stainless-steel roughage trough where customers can take their garnishes into their own hands.