King Falafel | Sebastopol

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

The falafel went faster than the camera. The gyro (above) was nearly as tasty.

Once you’ve had a perfect falafel, it becomes a lifelong quest to find another.

We’ve found a pretty solid contender in the Deluxe Falafel Sandwich ($6.99) at Sebastopol’s King Falafel. Balls of ground chickpeas and spices get a swim in the fryer, then stuffed into a roll of lavosh with pickles, hummus, tomato, lettuce, eggplant, pickles (yes!), tahini and shatta (a kind of Middle Eastern hot sauce).

Recently opened near the busy intersection of Sebastopol and Petaluma Avenues, it channels the ubiquitous mom-and-pop falafel shops that dot cities like New York and Philadelphia. Greek music blasts away on the boom box, the ambiance is dollar store chic and piles of pita bread sit for sale by the counter. Nothin’ fancy, just a simple mash-up of Greek and Middle Eastern street foods including Falafel, Kabob, Lebni, Gyro, Lahmeh and Tabouili.

If the menu’s all Greek to you, the ingredients won’t be — garlic, beef, lamb, lemon, parsley, mint, garbanzo beans, tomatoes, onions and plenty of oregano.

More familiar may be Gyro ($7.99), with slices of pressed lamb, tomatoes and tzatziki (cucumber yogurt sauce). This is comfort food with ancient roots — even if the “meat cone” it comes from isn’t. You can also get a Kefta Kabob (seasoned ground beef pressed into balls) Sandwich ($6.99) or vegetarian-friendly eats like theĀ  Lebni Sandwich ($5.99), a soft-cheese with cucumber, mint and spices.

Fried cheese in any language is music to the ears. But when its made with bits of chewy, salty Greek Halloumi wrapped in lavosh with tomato and Zattar spices, a Big Fat Greek Disco Party of a meal. ($6.99)

Combination plates are heartier ($7.99, $8.99), with sticks of chicken and beef kabobs served with hummus, tabouli (a salad of bulgur wheat, mint, tomato, cucumber, lemon and parsley) and pita.

The true test of a Greek’s cooking prowess: Baklava. Not to sweet, not too soggy. Here’s its buttery, flaky and just sweet enough to be dangerous.

Grab some fresh pita to take home, sold at the front counter. And don’t forget a mint or two, because even though you may love a falafel or two, your office mates may not be so appreciative.

King Falafel: 100 Brown St., Ste 150, Sebastopol, 824-4800. Also in Cotati 548 E Cotati Ave/. Cotati, 664-8200.

Author: biteclub

Food Dining and Restaurants in Sonoma County and beyond, is Wine Country dining with Drive-Thru Sensibility.

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  1. I had lunch at King Falafel in Cotati and was tickled pink with what I ordered, the deluxe falafel sandwich. It was hot, tasty and freshly made. The service was great… even picked up a container of Halvah for my mother. Was super happy to find out that they’ve a store in Sebastopol as well. I’ll definitely be back.

  2. king falafel was the best falafel i ever eaten . it is a casual place, good food, reasonable prices and friendly service. my friend had the kobob and it was delicious . i will go back again .

  3. i have eaten at several middle eastern restaurants, by far this is the best falafel i have eaten. service was good. prices very reasonable . i will go back again. keep up the good work.

  4. Just ate at the Sebastopol King Falafel for the second time. My Deluxe Falafel was even better than the first one that I had there. Hoorah! A person needs more fast food variety than Pho, Tacos, Pizzas and Burgers. I wish that we had some Middle Eastern food in Healdsburg. Sigh.

  5. A much needed spot in Sebastopol! This review is done from a Vegetarian perspective as that’s all I ate. The falafel are very good with whole sesame seeds sprinkled within and were well fried, not the soft mushy kind you find in some places. Probably the best deal on the menu is to buy a bunch of them to go and make your own pockets throughout the week.

    Now for the veggie sides: hummus, baba ganoush and tabouli. The hummus was a bit thick and tasted mostly of tahini. It could have used more lemon. Baba ganoush: though tasty, more eggplant works better for me. I thought the hot shatta sauce condiment was nothing special. I loved the tabouli salad. It had more parsley and is a variety I really like. Oh! before I forget, the chocolate halvah bars sitting near the register are great.

    The people working there are really nice and the atmosphere is good for a place like this. I will definitely give it another try.

  6. This place is WAY better than our other choices in Sebastopol for this type of food. I actually hope the deli by the Post Office steps up to raise the bar and we get some Falafel wars going. That would be great, Scharma oneupmanship.Yum….. Also , The place has hot chicks. I enjoy attractive women at the counter, not some pimple faced teenager….

  7. They just opened a King Falafel in Cotati… which was a nice addition to the Oliver’s market center. I have been there twice – First time tried the Deluxe Falafel sandwich.. delicious. Nice mix of creamy and crunchy, salty and spicy. I also ordered a side of the tabouli. Heads up – it is not your typical tabouli. It’s mostly cilantro and mint, with a tiny, tiny bit of bulgar. Not quite what I am used to or was expecting. It did, however compliment the sandwich. The second visit I ordered the Kefta Kabob sandwich. It was advertised as ground beef… but I swear it had lamb, which I dislike. It tasted very game-like and was a little odd to me. With enough Shatta sauce (spicy red chili sauce) it was do-able, but I don’t think I’ll be ordering it again. I would give this place a solid 3 stars…

  8. I had the falafel sandwich which I enjoyed thoroughly. It had a nice fresh taste with good combination of spicy, sour, salty. The sandwich was distinguished by what its not: not greasy, not mushy falafel, not too hard. Falafel is what it is. It’s not going to be a complex flavor bomb. I am very glad this restaurant opened. Sebastopol very badly needs places where you can get good fresh meals for 6-8 bucks. In my opinion, this place compares favorably with good falafel places in London and New York.

  9. After reading the review, we just had to go for a Sunday lunch. As I’m a local and falafel-o-holic, it just cried to be checked out.

    Friendly people, quick service, proper atmosphere. We both ordered the Deluxe Fafalel Sandwich, and a side of Baba Ganouj.

    It wasn’t until returning home and rereading the article that I noticed there wasn’t one word about the taste of any of the food. And for good reason.

    The food’s just not very good. No distinction between textures and tastes, more of a hot/garlicky/salty/sour (thanks, pickles, which we’ll forgo on future visits) glop on lavosh. Maybe other menu items are better, with more distinct flavors and interesting textures, but by that time, our enthusiasm had faded. I love hot food, and the sauce they use generously and without warning has quite a kick – more timid palates might request it left off or served on the side.

    I’d love to see this place work – friendly, convenient, well-priced, interesting, and fun. I look forward to trying it again and hope for improvement.

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