Various Locations in Chicago, IL
The Eaters – especially L – are pretty particular about falafel. It’s no exaggeration to say we make a point to try falafel in pretty much every city we go to. In all our travels, a few places stand out above the rest. Pita Inn in Skokie has some of our favorite falafel in Chicagoland; while the expanding fast-food joint Maoz remains our all-time favorite, owing to their great falafel and toppings. Maoz’ Philadelphia location remains the standard by which L judges all other falafel, a shining beacon of perfection on the Delaware River, never to be equaled….Until today.
Falafill, a brand-new falafel lunch spot in the Loop, may have perhaps the best topping bar we have ever encountered, and while its falafels may not be as good as Maoz, the topping bar and the excellence of the falafel otherwise may actually put this place over the top in L’s rankings. Falafill starts out appealingly, with a sleek and appealing dining area decorated with falafel witticisms perfectly suited to the Facebook generation. On the food side, the simple menu is complemented by an impressively wide range of sodas and juices: M got a mango yogurt drink , while our old salty yogurt favorite Ayran was also available. The menu is simple. Pick your falafel (classic, curried, or seasonal – all with fries) in a pocket or a bowl ($5.95/$7.95). The seasonal falafel when we visited was white bean, and we heard from our dining companions that it was out of this world. L opted for some classic falafel and M for the curried, and a side of some sweet potato fries ($2.95).
Both falafels, curried and classic, were cooked to order, and perfectly spiced. L’s classic had the hallmark appealing green color that means there ‘s fresh parsely and cilantro inside. Yum! The fries were also tasty and crisp, not soggy like many other sweet potato fries. Yet what REALLY sets Falafill apart is the Mezza bar, where you can select all the toppings you want for your falafel. As expected, the salad bar contained hummus, baba ghanouj, lentils, tatziki, harissa tabbouleh, all middle eastern standards we love. In addition, we were really excited to see some awesome new flavors at the bar, including cracked wheat with pomegranate, beets, toum (garlic sauce), zough (jalapeno sauce) black bean and corn salad, and cabbage and mint. Each order of falafel includes a trip to the salad bar, and there is no limit to how many toppings you can add. For those who are obsessed, you can order simply a bowl ready to fill with mezza toppings ($6.95). All in all, for under 8 dollars you can create an out-of-this-world falafel experience with a wide variety of contrasting flavors that will have you full for days. Falafill is now one of our go-to Loop lunch spots, and like L has sacrilegiously stated: if not her favorite falafel place in the United States, it is definitely giving Maoz a run for its money.