One of the quintessential street foods is falafel. It’s fun and easy to walk around the city nibbling on a pita bread stuffed with falafel balls and assorted toppings and sauces.
One of the best places in NYC to get falafel is from Taïm. They have a tiny storefront in the West Village, and a larger place in Nolita, but they also have the Taïm Mobile, which parks in different business areas for lunch on weekdays. We caught up with the truck on 5th Ave and 20th St earlier this week.
Instead of a falafel sandwich, which runs from $7-$8, we perused the menu and went for the mixed falafel platter for $12.75. It’s a bit more money for the platter, but you get a whole bunch of side dishes, plus a warm pita bread brushed with olive oil and sesame seeds. How else are you expected to eat the huge serving of hummus?
Each week, Taïm has a special falafel they offer. The mixed platter includes 4 balls of their regular falafel plus 4 balls of their weekly special falafel. This week it’s harissa falafel.
The falafel balls themselves are smaller than at other vendors we’ve been to, but there are 8 of them in a platter. That gives you 4 of their regular green falafel and 4 of the harissa falafel. Harissa is a spicy Middle Eastern sauce, which they also sell in jars at the truck. Don’t worry though, the harissa falafel isn’t spicy. The falafel are nice and crispy on the outside, but warm and soft (and not oily) on the inside.
One of the side dishes is quinoa salad, which mixes quinoa with baby spinach, parsley, cilantro, mint and lemon juice. Toasted, slivered almonds are put on top of the salad.
You also get a large serving of hummus. In fact, half the platter is hummus, but it’s one of the better hummuses (hummusi?) around. It’s very smooth and creamy, with paprika and a little olive oil sprinkled on top.
The last side dish is Israeli salad, which is made with tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley and mint-lemon dressing. Both the Israeli salad and the quinoa salad are light and refreshing.
Lastly, two Middle Eastern sauces come in small containers on the side. Amba is a tangy, vinegary, pickled mango and fenugreek chutney. Srug is a traditional Yemeni sauce made with cilantro, garlic and chili.
As you can tell, the falafel platter at Taïm is a commitment. You can’t walk around the city nibbling at it like you can with a falafel sandwich. But if you’re at a desk or table for lunch, and want to sample a bunch of different falafel, salads and sauces, the mixed falafel platter is your ticket.
We also highly recommend the sabich sandwich, which doesn’t include any falafel, but does have delicious fried eggplant and sliced hard-boiled eggs. If you haven’t figured it out already, Taïm translates as “pleasant to the taste”.