North Americans have a long tradition of adopting the best foods from every other place on Earth. If it’s portable, cheap and delicious, we’re stealing it. Pizza, hamburgers, even the sandwich itself: we’ve appropriated, upgraded and called them all our own. A kid today could be forgiven for thinking burritos were invented in Los Angeles. So, please give a hearty welcome to our newest heist: the falafel. North America’s Next Great Lunch. The origins of the falafel are murky; Egypt, Lebanon and Israel all claim ownership. But we don’t really care, do we? It’s ours now. Falafels are made from ground chickpeas, deep-fried and then wrapped in a pita and smothered with delicious sauces and salads. Take our word for it—in 10 years, you’ll be lying to people about how your grandmother used to make them.
This Toronto eatery offers a solid point of entry: crisp chickpea patties—never soggy—savoury tahini and warm, homemade flatbread. Add a little hummus (there are several varieties available) and consider your introduction complete. (drlaffa.com)
New York, NY
Taim tweaks the standard magnificently. Its basic ball is a green herb explosion with parsley, mint and cilantro. You can also opt for falafels flavoured with red pepper or harissa, a North African chili with a solid kick. Wash it all down with fresh ginger mint lemonade. (taimfalafel.com)
San Francisco, Calif.
Falafel was always meant to be unfussy street food, so it’s no surprise San Francisco’s best comes from a truck. But that doesn’t mean Liba falafels are simple. Take advantage of California’s local produce and top this sandwich with roasted eggplant, olive-orange relish or red beets with thyme. Just make sure to grab a napkin for the road. (libasf.com)