Comparing falafel is sorta like comparing burgers. They're all in the same ballpark, but that's sorta where the similarities end. Like burgers, falafel sandwiches can differ dramatically in how they're made, the quality of their ingredients and toppings, and the freshness of their vehicle, the all-important pita. The potential for drastically different results in two different takes was underscored by a comparison between two local falafel sandwiches. See how they compare:
Uptown late-night haunt Falafel King serves up a falafel sandwich that comes bearing two decent-sized balls, a scattering of iceberg, tahini dressing, and just two tomato slices. The falafel itself looked and tasted like it was cut with cornmeal, its flavor indistinct. The accoutrements were equally unimpressive, and biting into the pita made me feel a little like a dog violently shaking a toy back and forth. The best thing going for it was the tangy tahini dressing, though there wasn't enough of it to boost the quality of the rest. All in all, a little weak for $4.59.
Dinkytown newcomer Wally's Falafel & Hummus fries up its falafel right before your eyes. The sandwich comes in a larger, thinner pita than Falafel King's, making for a more manageable meal. The numerous falafel pieces (at least five or six) come with cucumber, lettuce, lots of tomato, and enough tahini dressing to cover all of it. The falafel, pesto-green inside, has just enough of a fried crust to give it a satisfying crunch but doesn't detract from its soft interior. The jazz and blues playing didn't hurt either. And at $2.99, significantly cheaper than Falafel King.
The Winner: With the possible exception of its tahini dressing, Falafel King's falafel sandwich really doesn't approach Wally's in any category, price included. Wally's falafel's got it goin on. Wally's is fresher, has more ingredients, serves a more generous portion for your hard-earned cash money, and just flat-out tastes better. Bonus: Try it spicy, which includes the addition of a Sriracha-like sauce.