I LOVE falafel, so I was quite excited to be in the neighborhood of Falafel King this past week at lunch time. I have been there a few times already but it had been a LONG time since my last visit. Why? Certainly not the food! They have fantastic food. When I walked in with my friend, who had never been there, it smelled heavenly – warm rich mid-eastern spices.
The Middle Eastern man who took our order appeared to be the owner. My friend conversed with him and learned he was from Lebanon and asked if he would open a restaurant on the east side of town, but apparently he had been there, done that, and, sadly, was happy where he was.
I wanted falafel - those wonderful bundles of mashed chick peas green with crushed parsley. My friend saw Turkish coffee on the menu and excitedly placed an order. We decided to split a Greek salad, a falafel platter, and baklava for dessert with Turkish coffee.
The platter was 2 large falafel balls with tahini sauce, tabouleh, hummus, and soft pita bread--all delicious and done perfectly. Falafel is usually fried, but FK bakes theirs. The tahini sauce was the perfect consistency. The tabouleh was loaded with parsley that was still recognizable. I was so focused on the falafel, I have to admit I wasn't paying attention to the quality of the hummus. If it were mediocre or not as good as the rest of the food I probably would have noticed, so let's just say it is equal to the other food.
There are several different types of baklava and we picked the pistaschio. Perfect! And was elevated even further by the coffee. I am not an expresso person - even regular coffee can be bitter to me. The Turkish coffee was served in a small pitcher so I thought, "Uh oh - expresso." But it was amazingly smooth and very good - and without cream. No doubt the baklava helped. In my experience, coffee is the only drink where the flavor improves by several magnitudes when it is taken with food. It's a strange but welcome experience.
The ambience is sunny and airy – and there are some very inviting pictures of the Middle East on the walls, but, really, it IS a fast food restaurant. Sure enough, the food is served on styrofoam or paper. That was actually good because even though we were sharing, my friend wasn't able to finish her half (it wasn't the food -- she eats like a bird!) and we already had the means to take it with us.
The next things I want to try at Falafel King are the grape leaves, which are apparently vegetarian -- stuffed with rice and spices -- and the vegetarian kibbi, mashed potatoes mixed with crushed wheat, parsley, onions, and FK's special spices and then baked and topped with tahini sauce.
I do wish that Falafel King would come back to the east side of town. I could eat FK falafel at least once a week. But the SW Archer Road location is discouraging for someone on the north side of NW 13th St. I love falafel, but I don't love traffic! As it is now, I go in a blue moon and I am sorry I don't go more often.
The Pluses and Minuses of Falafel King:
The + indicators : The food is great AND healthy; take out is easy; reasonable prices
The - indicator: Archer Rd location
Offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about Falafel King Sandwiches. Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments. - THANKS!
- Phone Number: 375-6342
- Address: 3252 SW 35th Blvd., Gainesville, FL
- Urban GLOB Location: Archer Road
- Web Site: Falafel King
- Latitude: 29.6236311
- Longitude: -82.3778079
michele Thursday, 22 August 2013 12:59 Comment Link
I think Falafel King is amazing. It never has disappointed us, and we have been going there for years! You didn't mention some of the secret treats available there. Did you go to (ominous music here....) the back of the store??? They have groceries back there. Granted, Falafel King does not make these items, but they do have for purchase some interesting, exotic, and oh-so-tasty goodies. Next time you go to the store, head back there and have a gander. Pickled turnips, lupini beans, cheese, olives, and oh so much more. I am making myself hungry
just writing this!
Also, did you know you can purchase their gyro meat by the pound? It's great and convenient. I can pick up some pita bread and a pound of meat, and make up some yumminess at home. I wish they still made their own bread there. Now they get it from Jacksonville, and sometimes they run out.
John Wednesday, 07 March 2012 23:19 Comment Link
Stephanie - they were owned by relatives. The location in Butler Plaza has been there nearly forever - more than the 20 years I have been in town. The owner is a very kind person and makes awesome falafel and gyros.
Mindy Edwards Friday, 24 February 2012 09:49 Comment Link
I have eaten at Falafel King for years. Their food is very authentic. The baklava is the best! And always consistently good. Good choice for vegetarian friends. My teen son loves their gyros. I guess you could say, there's something for everyone.
Stefanie Thursday, 23 February 2012 09:38 Comment Link
They used to be in the same building as Burrito Brothers before it was all torn down to make way for University Corners. University Corners you say? Where's that? Can you picture a large green field at the corner of 13th and University?