It’s an oldie, but such a goodie. I hadn’t been back since junior year in college, making that over 5 years. While I don’t naturally seek out falafel joints, I haven’t really found another that’s as authentic, affordable, and resilient as Mamoun’s. Its first location is on MacDougal Street, at the heart of the NYU campus. Its recently opened second location is right smack in the middle of St. Mark’s block.
The two locations are almost identical, not just in set-up and decor, but in quality and service as well. Even after 5 years, the man behind the register still had that uncanny ability of running an almost one-man show. He takes orders, rings it up, tends to the front-of-house, and on the rare occasion when the line isn’t a dozen people long, he’ll mold spoonfuls of falafel balls into the fryer.
It’s not about service here, although its noticeably efficient. (Some of us actually did a group operations management project in college, counting the number of customers they service and how quickly they assembled sandwiches. And while I have no idea how to crash a “critical path” any longer, I do remember how astonishingly efficient they were…and still are.) Anyhow, you’ll find the falafels, shawarma sandwiches, and hummus platters unlike other commercialized Middle Eastern eateries. But as I said, I’m not experienced in the realm of Middle Eastern cuisine. So even though Mamoun’s is listed as one of the 1,000 places to see before you die, if you’ve made a discovery, please let me know!