I’d just come from the Guy Fieri demo the weekend of the NYC Wine and Food Festival and needed something cheap to eat before seeing Adam Richman. I left the auditorium, walked a few blocks into the West Village, and I figured I was going to see a celebrity. TaÃ¯m is in a cute part of the city; you’d definitely want to live across the street from this place.
As a NYC food blogger, I get the TaÃ¯m vs. Mamoun’s question a lot. You might think I’d get the Carnegie vs. Katz’ more often. Nope. People care about their falafel when they come to the city. Just look at all the halal carts everywhere.
“if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere,” is nowhere less true in NYC than the halal carts. You can pretty much buy a license, mark your cart halal food, and survive. On 14th and 3rd, there are two guys posted up next to each other selling the exact same thing at the lowest price you can find in the city ($4 for a chicken/lamb/falafel in a pita with a soda). You’d think that with so many halal carts slangin’ these fried balls of veganness, there would be stiffer competition for taste buds here, but the carts are largely of similar quality throughout the city.
Especially when it comes to falafel. Yes, I know that’s a picture of French Fries. I know the picture below is of french fries. I know that I probably shouldn’t be ordering french fries here, but when I asked what side I should have, the guy behind the counter told me I should have the fries.
“Not the fried eggplant?” I challenged.
“No.” He said, “You want the Fries.”
They weren’t bad. The saffron aioli and the kicked up spices were pleasurable, but in reality, these were just decent fries and nothing to crave or come back for.
Someone said something about the pickles and peppers on Foursquare, so I had those. Again, nothing special. Sometimes, I don’t know why I listen to dbags on Yelp and Foursquare, and sometimes I’m quite thankful I did. This was one of the times I shouldn’t have listened. I go to a lot of restaurants and I know how to order. Could have probably finagled a sample pepper from these guys if I’d asked, but I ordered them like a chump.
And, what I came here for: the Falafel.
I was intrigued by the three options. Looking at them right now, they’re confusing.
OK, green is not spicy, yellow is medium spicy, then red is not spicy. I’m guessing that the owners of TaÃ¯m were failed civil engineers before they started up in the restaurant industry. And I know you like how easy it is for me to whip that umlaut out – I’m a pro at this shit. Ã¯ Ã¼ Ãœ. That’s it; that’s my new emoticon.
Oh… the Falafel. I’ll admit it. It’s a much better quality Falafel than Mamoun’s. Much, much better. It’s downright creamy inside these little guys, and the selection is interesting. The mislabled red falafel was my favorite. You see that I didn’t have an actual falafel in a pita – well readers; I did that for you. I had to try all three, and I wasn’t going to get to do that with a pita. Probably would have enjoyed the pita sandwich falafel more than this platter sample style.
I’m still going to give my edge to Mamoun’s. There’s no way that TaÃ¯m is twice as good as Mamoun’s by price. It’s just not plausible that you’re going to derive $2.50 more of enjoyment from TaÃ¯m’s falafel than Mamoun’s. Two fifty is how much Mamoun’s costs and is twenty-five cents less [plus tax] than the difference in price between the Falafel at TaÃ¯m.
You won’t see any celebrities at Mamoun’s though.
222 Waverly Place
New York, NY 10014