Falafel: Worth the Wait, Even for Parisians

The rue des Rosiers is in the center of Le Marais, a section of Paris where designer boutiques bump up against galleries, museums and hip cafes, and it’s the busiest street of what remains of the area’s once thriving Jewish quarter.  Next to boutiques that attract international fashionistas, you’ll find shops that sell religious books and gifts, bakeries with cheesecakes (Florence Finkelsztajn’s reputation rests on cheesecakes and strudels) and, on Fridays, braided loaves of challah, and falafel, falafel, falafel.

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This is the famed pita sandwich from l’As de Fallafel.  As you can see, the pita is very thick, which is just what it needs to be because what’s tucked into its pocket is heavy, wet and unruly.  And so delicious, too. What’s in there is about 6 ping-pong-ball sized falafel (chick pea fritters), shreds of white and red cabbage, tahini (Middle Eastern sesame sauce), julienned cucumbers, oil-soaked eggplant cubes (I know oil-soaked doesn’t sound so appealing, but that’s what they were and they were great!) and a healthy shot of hot sauce.

This is street food at its best and it was fun to be on the street with all the other falafel munchers.  Having played against character by waiting in line, the falafel-loving Parisians made another exception: they ate standing up, on the street and with only one utensil, a fork.  If you know anything about Parisians’ eating habits, the fact that they’d eat like this is probably the best measure you can find of L’As de Fallafel’s deliciousness.

Michael and I staked out a sunny spot and ate our hefty sandwiches down to the bottom — neither of us could find a speck of room for the bread — tossed our wrappers away, walked to the end of the street, turned a corner and left the hustle and bustle of the Jewish quarter for the completely different hustle and bustle of Le Marais.  It was as though we’d gone out of town for lunch.

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And while we were convinced that we’d never be hungry again, when we passed the 1950s-style Cafe Pick-Clops and there was a table in the sun, we settled in for dessert.  Having missed the cheesecake at Finkelsztajn’s, we had a completely different and very New York-like cheesecake here. 

If you’d like to follow in our footsteps, here are the addresses:

L’As de Fallafel, 34 rue des Rosiers, Paris 4

Florence Finkelsztajn, 24 rue des Ecouffes (on the corner of rue des Rosiers), Paris 4

Cafe Pick-Clops, 16 rue Vielle du Temple, Paris 4

Dorie Greenspan