The Best Falafel In LA
11 great spots for our favorite fried and crispy chickpea snack.
When it comes to falafel, there isn’t much of a middle ground - either it’s absolutely delicious or feels like dense balls of fried blah. But this Middle Eastern classic holds a special place for good reason. When done right, falafel is full of interesting textures, bright spices and peppery herbs, and a satisfying density that hooks us in like some sophisticated pyramid scheme. They’re great as a part of a mezze, tossed into salads, or eaten inside a wrap at 3am as we wait 25 minutes for the nearest Uber.
Falafel is claimed by Egypt, Israel, Palestine, and several other cultures across the Middle East, making them a popular menu item at Mediterranean restaurants worldwide. LA’s prominent Middle Eastern community has also given us plenty of falafel to choose from - with spots dotted across the map from Glendale to Anaheim - but these are our 11 favorites.
Dune has the falafel sandwich down to a science, with each component syncing harmoniously like an overly enthusiastic show choir troupe. For starters, the falafel here is very big and very green with tons of herbs like cilantro and parsley bringing a natural freshness to the fried patties. It’s also pleasantly garlicky, which pairs super well with the sandwich’s nutty hummus and tangy pickled turnips. Served on the house flatbread, this sandwich has a lot going on with its crispy shoestring potatoes and fresh herbs as well, but the falafel still shines as the brightest soloist of the group.
This Kosher restaurant off Fairfax and Melrose is a treasure trove for all things shawarma and mezze, with portions big enough to last you an entire Lord Of The Rings marathon (or at least halfway through The Return Of The King). But other than the massive quantities of food you’ll get, plus an extensive array of sides, Ta-Eem Grill’s falafel is as boldly flavorful as their juicy shawarma, and comes nicely crisp without being overly dry. You can taste the fresh parsley with each bite, and the whole fritter is well seasoned with a good amount of salt and cumin. The large falafel plate comes with a heaping serving of Israeli salad and some of the creamiest hummus around, so we recommend fixing yourself up a DIY falafel sandwich with warm pita bread.
Choosing what to include in your pita at Dr. Sandwich often presents the mentally taxing problem of having too many good options to choose from. But once you sort out which cabbage salad you’re feeling today, the final result is a large (and delicious) pita sandwich that’s usually followed by a stroll down Beverly Blvd. in a hummus-induced daze. While this Fairfax spot serves some great chicken shawarma and tender beef kebabs, their falafel is the meat-free option that sneaks its way to the top of our list with its crispy edges. They’re on the smaller size but are made from a smooth, cohesive mix that browns nicely in the frier. There’s also some great color contrast between the outer crust and creamy green inside that tastes of onion, garlic, and hints of fresh parsley.
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Hasiba’s hummus-focused menu makes this Pico-Roberston spot a designated sanctuary for all things good. OK, that might be a bit of a stretch, but you can choose between options like the earthy wild mushroom hummus with caramelized onions, the roasted eggplant hummus with hints of lemon juice, or, because you’re here, the classic hummus topped with Hasiba’s fresh falafel. The hummus is bursting with nutty sesame flavors and the smokiness of paprika, making it an excellent base for their herby falafel. These fried bites are intensely green on the insides with flecks of chopped cilantro thrown into the mix. Besides their bold flavor, Hasiba’s version is also wonderfully moist on the inside and perfect for scooping up heaping amounts of hummus.
As the only Kosher restaurant west of the 405, Habayit has kept westsiders’ falafel cravings at bay for over two decades and arguably makes some of the best in town. This is the kind of place we like to slide into on a rainy day for a warm matzo ball soup or a hot shakshuka that’ll make us feel something again, but the falafel still makes its way onto the table each time. Habayit’s falafel has an extra crispy (and somewhat chunky) outer crust with visible bits of chickpea and fried herbs in each bite. They pack a great crunch and have a crumbly texture where you can see each of the ingredients once you take a bite. They’re salty, garlicky, and taste great when drenched in a healthy serving of smooth tahini.
We owe Mizlala some credit for giving us plenty of delicious meals over the past few years, but also for single-handedly ruining all other methods for eating brussel sprouts after we tried theirs. Ridiculously good sprouts aside, their falafel is also a highlight: they’re big, soft on the inside, and feel very light with their creamy interior that’s bright green from its mix of fresh herbs. The falafel at this West Adams restaurant also acts as a good mediator between the other flavors of the plate, pairing well with the tangy sumac fries, nutty hummus, and those sweet, spicy, and crispy brussel sprouts that we keep mentioning.
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This East Hollywood restaurant has become a bit of an institution over its four decades in business, bringing people from all over town to fight over a parking spot in the strip mall it calls home. The menu remains pretty straightforward, ideal for a quick lunchtime stopover, and consists of a few protein options like kebab, shawarma, and tender lamb tongue served on either a plate, pita, or fluffy sandwich roll. But the place is called Falafel Arax for a reason, and its Lebanese-style fritters are the definition of satisfyingly crunchy. The falafel is made from a smooth chickpea puree that is deceivingly simple but is actually very well-seasoned with its garlic and cumin really shining through. Take things up a notch by drowning these golden-brown bites in the shop’s delicious garlic sauce that’s tangy and potentially pungent enough to keep a date six feet away from you post-falafel - or at least if you lay it on like we do.
Joe’s Falafel is one of those hidden strip mall spots that you either hear about from a friend of a friend or accidentally come across after peeling off of weekday traffic on Cahuenga Blvd. Luckily for you, you can wait out the mass exodus into the Valley at this spot with some great falafel, which is best enjoyed when smushed into some freshly baked lafa. Their light, creamy falafel has a nice nuttiness to it, some heat from chopped garlic, and tastes excellent with the lafa wrap’s tahini, hummus, and pickled turnips. And if you’re willing to subject yourself to the horrors of Cahuenga Pass traffic, these wraps are decently portable for a mid-rush hour bite.
This family-owned Palestinian restaurant in Garden Grove makes saying “no” very, very difficult, especially with its unlimited toppings special on the menu. We can’t resist their silky smooth roasted eggplant, charred cauliflower, or their selection of pickled vegetables that bring tons of briny flavor to the pita, even if our sandwich starts to look like an overstuffed TJ Maxx suitcase. The falafel at Sababa is also smaller and comes in a beautiful yellow color rather than the usual dark brown from its chickpea and spice mix. They’re super crispy and have a crumbly texture that contrasts nicely with the pillowy soft pita as well.
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X’tiosu Kitchen is a casual food window operation in Boyle Heights that specializes in Oaxacan/Lebanese food. Not only do we enthusiastically support this mash-up, but credit it for hooking us on the chicken shawarma taco with its tangy arabesque salsa and the Oaxacan hummus with black beans that’s whipped until fluffy enough to eat by the spoonful. We also love their spin on the classic falafel that throws black beans and jalapeños into the mix. The beans don’t necessarily alter the taste too much, but instead add a richness in texture that you don’t get from the coarser chickpeas. The brightness from the jalapeño chilis also makes these fried bites pop and ideal for dunking in that Mexican-inspired hummus that vaguely reminds us of refried bean dip but in the best way possible.
Similar to that earthquake emergency kit that you should’ve prepared by now, you should always keep Sunnin Lebanese Kitchen in your back pocket for any unexpected circumstances. The answer to an indecisive appetite should always be deliciously varied mezze, and this Westwood restaurant prepares some of the best in town. We love the creamy kibbeh nayeh, tangy labneh drizzled with olive oil, and, of course, the very good falafel. Interestingly, Sunnin’s recipe calls for fava beans instead of chickpeas, which gives the falafel an especially earthy flavor and smooth texture when you bite into it. You can also taste other components like the minced onion and garlic in the rich mix, which pop even more when you pair the falafel with the smokiness of babaganoush or any of the other savory dips on their menu.