Deliciously simple, mouth-wateringly delectable and satisfyingly tasty. Few things beat falafel for a taste of authentic fast food. Quick to make, messy and gratifying to eat, falafel has soared to popularity over the past few years and can now be seen cropping up at almost every street-food market, in virtually every major European city. It is impossible to ignore and even harder to forget once you’ve tried it.
Paris’s Jewish quarter boasts the very best falafel in the city – we sample four restaurants offering this sought-after and celebrated culinary delight.
Chez Marianne: Occupying the corner of Rue de Rosiers and Rue des Hospitalières Saint-Gervais, Chez Marianne is unimposing, casual and warm. There is a vast array of tempting meze on display in the window and traditional middle-eastern cakes on the other side.
The meze accompaniments range from pastrami to artichoke with orange. Crunchy deep-fried ‘kefta’ meat balls with baked aubergine in tomato sauce. A particularly divine houmous with a samosa-style, flaky pastry ‘brick’ stuffed with minced meat.
The falafel itself is flavoursome, though not overly spiced, chickpea mash in a crisp shell.
Chez Marianne, 2 Rue des Hospitalières Saint-Gervais, 75004 Paris
Telephone: 01 42 72 18 86
L’As Du Fallafel: This is regarded by many as the very best. Whilst it is possible to eat in here the atmosphere leaves a little to be desired and, as falafel is one of the few meals that can be justifiable eaten on the street, it is far pleasanter to order and go. A warm soft pitta is spread first with a generous helping of houmous then, with well-practiced deftness, pinches of shredded cabbage, onion, chopped tomato, baked slices of aubergine and crunchy falafel are stuffed into the doughy pocket with an ample serving of tzatziki spooned on top.
The falafel is spicy and pleasantly salty. Soft and warm in the centre with a crunchy coating.
L’As Du Fallafel, 32-34 Rue des Rosiers, 75004 Paris
Telephone: 01 48 87 63 60
Mi Va Mi: Located directly opposite L’As there is constant healthy competition between the two. For ease of ordering Mi Va Mi definitely has the edge. A window to the street displays a selection of fresh fillings, alongside the very best baked aubergine and a variety of sauces. The falafel appears to be straight from the fryer and was less salty, crispier and more flavoursome than the L’As offering. It also retained its crunch even with the generous helping of tahini smothered on top.
Mi Va Mi, 23 Rue de Rosiers, 75004 Paris
Telephone: 01 42 71 53 72
Chez H’anna: A counter that opens out onto the street makes it easy to pick up a falafel to go, though in comparison with the others along the street, it is not the best. The deep-fried aubergine is a little tasteless, however the delicious humous compensates for this. The falafel is not too salty but doesn’t keep its crunch for long. It is slightly cheaper than the others but, in my opinion, you do get what you pay for.
Chez H’anna, 54 Rue de Rosiers, 75004 Paris
Telephone: 01 42 74 74 99
So, where can you find the best falafel in Paris? For the unhurried pleasure of a restaurant, Chez Marianne has the most pleasant ambiance and the variety and quality of the accompaniments far exceed the others. However, to enjoy falafel at its best (that is, awkwardly, messily, walking down the street) Mi Va Mi has the perfect blend of crunchy falafel, delicious fillings and speedy, made-to-order service.