I have been dating a serious falafel snob for the past two years. One trip to Jerusalem and he thinks he's an expert. Brandon loves falafel, and we have made it a quest to find the best offering here in Memphis.
I have learned quite a bit about the green and delicious balls of chickpea. Fried up crispy, yet tender, I don't like one that's too crumbly, served with all the fixins. (Don't know what falafel is? Read HERE.)
A few of the places I've eaten falafel around Memphis:
- Sean's Cafe (on Union)
- Casablanca (Cooper-Young)
- Kabob Int'l (in Cordova on Dexter Rd.)
- Mount Olive (also in Cordova on Dexter Rd. What are the odds?)
- Jerusalem Market (on Summer)
Add another to the list: The Kwik Check on Madison. My friend Claire took me there during Lent, falafel is quite the fasting staple when meat and dairy are a no no. This place is a convenience store. It's is as much a dive restaurant as any, including the cool hipster kid clientele. I was terribly skeptical, but trusted her judgment. (I had good reason, she introduced me to Sean's Cafe last year and I occasionally dream about the hummus they make.)
The Kwik Check is pretty bare bones, there's a cash register near the door with the usual tobacco offerings, a few refrigerated cases, a couple of rows of grocery items and a long high table with bar stools next to the window facing Molly's La Casita across the street. It's a fun place to people watch, the Memphis College of Art crowd likes to frequent the restaurant.
We ordered the falafel and sat down to wait for the cook to notify us it was ready. Pretty soon we heard "two falafel," grabbed our handheld meals wrapped in white butcher paper, picked out a few bottled waters and took our seats. I had to get back up and search for napkins, there were none to be found, obviously this is a problem they have on a pretty regular basis, the cashier knew exactly what I was looking for and handed me a stack.
I opened up my falafel and found a round pita with a small opening cut into it. They kindly include the small bit of pita that is left over with the the wrapped up sandwich, like it's your sandwich's little hat. It was stuffed to the brim with hummus, lettuce, tomatoes and my personal favorite falafel condiment bean sprouts. The actual falafel balls were glorious. They could never be confused with greasy, the were fried crispy and just tender enough on the inside without being mushy. It was relatively simple to eat, which you will probably know if you've ever eaten falafel, is no small feat. The best part? The sandwich cost only $4.50, no wonder the starving art students love the place.
I fell in love and notified the falafel snob, Brandon, immediately. We at there the following Sunday and he was hooked. I think we've visited at least five times in the past month.
I highly recommend trying the Kwik Check, they make great falafel and baklava. And don't worry, I'm not cool enough to fit in either.